I’ve been dreading writing about the Cubs. After I got over my instant reaction to the Soriano deal, I found I really didn’t have anything to say about it yet, and I’m still kinda waiting for the non-yet part to happen.
I don’t know if the Soriano deal is a good deal or a bad deal. I don’t think we’ll know for sure till the deal is done or he’s gone (given the A-Rod and Manny drama, it seems likely they’ll at least try moving him sometime in the ’10s), but I don’t think I should wait eight years to write something about it.
The deal a high percentage of the payroll and he probably won’t produce at a level where it’s an even bargain…but if he contributes towards a World Series win (or, gasp, multiple ones!), then everyone will be fine with whatever he’s getting paid. At least for a year, anyway.
I think my real problem with thinking about how this affects the team, is that they really haven’t taken care of their biggest problems. I wanted more offense at the end of the season, which Soriano and (marginally) DeRosa takes care of that, but the Cubs ended the season with 2 pitchers for their 2007 rotation, and they’ve really done nothing there. I don’t believe in Cotts or Miller as a starter, and they’ve done nothing else. Yes, the pitching hasn’t gone off the free agent market, but if the Cubs don’t pull good pitchers out of it (not the remains of Jason Schmidt), then all the offense they’re signing might not get them past the Brewers. If all the money used for Soriano means that they’re settling for Gil Meche (or that they’re signing Gil Meche at all), than I don’t know how much progress they’ve made.
Other small things that bug me about this
– I’m not high at all on this idea of hitting Soriano leadoff. I think I spent a good third of a Nationals game at Wrigley mocking this very tactic, and it’s now coming back to haunt me. I don’t know who you leadoff instead – probably eventually Pie, but he hasn’t been that kind of hitter in the minors
– the idea of Murton/Jacque/Soriano in the OF really defeats the point of trying to have a good fielding infield. And Jacque/Lugo/Soriano isn’t really using money well. They kinda have to move Jacque to make this work, and now the market has changed where’s he actually worth the money based off last season (though he’s likely to fall off).
– they really have no lefty hitters and no place to get them into the lineup.
But if he HITS, and they take care of all the other problem, this is overcome. So who knows. At least they didn’t sign Matthews.
You know, when this site went down that week, I was actually writing a post how Hendry might have made the deal which everyone will point to when he got fired as an example of him over paying – but I was talking about the DeRosa deal. I think I may be wrong on that one, but that deal is looking even less great now. Even though they promised to keep Mark primarily at second, I still figured those promises don’t last forever, and they’d eventually move him around a bit – particularly if Theroit hit and Jacque still couldn’t against lefties. If Jacque is being swapped out for Soriano, then you don’t have that platoon advantage, and unless Derosa can suddenly play shortstop, no other place to use him except in rest day situations. That’s great for him personally, because they won’t be able to take back their promise, but not so much for the Cubs, since they’ve made it unlikely they’ll get any value from his ability to play multiple positions. In that sense, he’ll still be a a prime example of Hendry’s reign – an overpaid ill-utilized utility player.
The starting 25 is looking like
CF Jones (again, this will not work at all, but that’s what they got at the moment)
SP Miller (?)
SP Marshall (?)
SP Cotts (?)
RP Wuertz (?)
RP Ohman (?)
XP Prior or Novoa or Marmol or Guzman
XH Cedeno or Coats or Moore
Bench needs definite help, now that I look at it. Since Pagan and Bynum hit from the left, I think they’re safe, even though they can’t actually HIT from the left. (Same think for Izturis, really.) I was sure Mabry was signed thru 2007, but he’s not, and that’s actually great. They need a lefty hitter who can actually hit; normally, I wouldn’t care which side they get it, because the bench so needs a hitter, but they’re going to be see so many right handed bullpen guys, it’d be nice to have a guy on the bench that puts fear into them. Luis Gonzalez doesn’t have that power anymore, but if he’d be okay with taking up the position he had with the Cubs previously – part time OF – he’d work.
I wouldn’t argue with Craig Wilson to replace one of the outfield bench guys, but the Cubs will never take me up on that.