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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cubs - Signed Soriano

Chicago Cubs - Signed OF Alfonso Soriano to an 8-year, $136 million contract.

Unless someone goes nuts over J.D. Drew or Chicken-Fried Lee after losing out on Soriano, this should be the biggest contract this offseason.

My opinion?  It had to be done.  The Cubs have clearly shown that, like the Orioles, building from within efficiently is something that sounds more fun for them to do than it is.  They don’t want to take the negative headlines, the losses, the goodbyes, the patient waiting and knowing that not everything will work out on each player.  If you’re not going to build from within, then you’re going to have a hard time building a team at an efficient cost and this is exactly the move you have to make - get the best players that are on the market.  Is Soriano worth this contract?  Almost certainly not.  However, the way the Cubs would like to build the team rules out value as a consideration.  I think this is a far better move in the NL Central than the NL West as out West, you have teams like the Diamondbacks and the Rockies that are playing the patient route.

It is a good thing that Dusty Baker isn’t employed by the Cubs anymore.  Soriano did a great job in 2006 not flailing at those tantalizing sliders 3 feet off the plate, but does anyone really believe that Baker would be a good influence on Soriano?  I don’t.

Translated to a 2006 neutral park, Soriano went from 272/316/527 to 294/368/605.  Sammy Sosa may have had a similar improvement at around the same age, but remember, so did Larry Hisle.  I feel comfortable with saying Soriano will be a good player in 2007, but given how hard it probably is to project him in 2007, I don’t want to even try 2014.  Not all these mega-contracts look cheap thanks to inflation - Vaughn’s still looks pretty bad and even though he was good during part of it, nobody really wanted Kevin Brown at $15 million at the end.

All in all, I can’t be too mean as, with the Dodgers and Juan Pierre, it seems like it only took 24 hours for another team to sign a worse contract.

2007 ZiPS Projection - Alfonso Soriano
———————————————————————————————————
          AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG
———————————————————————————————————
Projection   642 100 170 38 2 36 98 50 150 27 .265 .327 .498
2008       602   92 161 39 2 31 77 44 144 24 .267 .325 .493
2009       578   83 151 39 2 26 67 41 136 21 .261 .321 .471
2010       550   75 141 39 2 21 59 38 126 17 .256 .314 .449
2011       502   66 127 36 2 18 50 35 114 12 .253 .312 .440
2012       423   53 105 30 1 13 38 30 96   8 .248 .312 .416
2013       370   45 92 26 1 10 30 26 82   6 .249 .315 .405
2014       384   49 95 27 1 11 33 29 88   6 .247 .317 .409
———————————————————————————————————
Opt. (15%)  667 124 194 46 4 46 114 62 142 40 .291 .361 .579
Pes. (15%)  505   69 122 26 1 25 56 34 130 17 .242 .295 .446
———————————————————————————————————

(No, ZiPS doesn’t care for Soriano - I think he’ll beat those numbers, though he won’t be great)

 

Dan Szymborski Posted: November 21, 2006 at 03:59 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. pweber Posted: November 21, 2006 at 04:45 PM (#2242897)
Wow. How can you like that forecast if you're a Cubs fan? I don't think the optimistic scenario is a $17 million/year player for 2007, let alone 2014.
   2. AROM Posted: November 21, 2006 at 04:50 PM (#2242899)
I don't think the optimistic scenario is a $17 million/year player for 2007, let alone 2014.

And that's better than Soriano's actual stats in 2006.

If you take a 31 year old player coming off a career year, project him to improve slightly, and he's STILL not quite worth the money, then that is one bad contract.
   3. pweber Posted: November 21, 2006 at 04:52 PM (#2242901)
And that's better than Soriano's actual stats in 2006.


Not after adjusting for RFK.
   4. 1k5v3L Posted: November 21, 2006 at 04:54 PM (#2242903)
I think MOST Cubs fans would be thrilled with Soriano if he achieved his Opt (15%) projection
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:01 PM (#2242913)
Out of curiosity has anyone ever had fewer RBI's than Soriano in 06 with 46 hrs and/or 362 total bases?
   6. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:11 PM (#2242919)
Out of curiosity has anyone ever had fewer RBI's than Soriano in 06 with 46 hrs and/or 362 total bases?

Jose Canseco had 107 RBI with 46 homers in 1998, although only 302 TB.
   7. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:13 PM (#2242922)
And then there's Barry Bonds:

2000: 49 HR, 106 RBI, 330 TB
2002: 46 HR, 110 RBI, 322 TB
2003: 45 HR, 90 RBI, 292 TB
2004: 45 HR, 101 RBI, 303 TB
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:20 PM (#2242926)
well Soriano had only 95 Rbi's ....
   9. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:26 PM (#2242931)
Damn, I thought you were talking about his optimistic projection. My mistake.

So Bonds' 2003. There.
   10. zonk Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:36 PM (#2242941)
In a backwards sort of way -- the Cubs are really in a similar boat to a lot of small market clubs -- but coming from a totally opposite direction.

A small market club has a small window to win because it's just a matter of 2-3 years before those good, young, cheap players become too expensive to keep... or at least, keep them all.

The Cubs, on the other hand, now have what appears to be a 2-3 year window before some of these mega-contracts --- Soriano the most glaring, but Lee (31 this year) and A-Ram (29 this year) are certain to start declining before the decade flips, too.

By 2010 -- they'll have what... 50-55 million tied up in 3 players clearly on the downside of their careers? I worry, too -- that Zambrano's workload to date means that he ages quickly, too (I'm thinking Livan Hernandez)

Spending spree or not -- when you have 50 million tied up in players you can no longer count on as your core, you need an awful lot of good, cheap options elsewhere... and the Cubs have shown absolutely zero ability to identify that type of talent.

I don't like this signing -- but if nothing else, it means the next 2-3 seasons are really the window to break the drought. If they don't, I foresee at least the first half of the next decade being awfully slim times.
   11. NBarnes Posted: November 22, 2006 at 12:11 AM (#2243374)
Wow, I didn't expect to see this one defended here. This is a disaster for the Cubs and their fans. Soriano simply isn't that good, and for eight years? When Hendry says that he can't pursue a true top-tier talent because of all the money he gave to second-string stars like Soriano and Ramirez, will you still like this?
   12. Russ Posted: November 22, 2006 at 12:23 AM (#2243391)
I don't understand the dissing of Ramirez. Here are his top 10 comps from bbref:


1. Scott Rolen (939)
2. Gary Sheffield (931)
3. Eric Chavez (928)
4. Bob Horner (925)
5. Dale Murphy (914)
6. Shawn Green (907)
7. Robin Ventura (905)
8. Greg Luzinski (902)
9. Troy Glaus (897)
10. Ken Keltner (896)


Given that his injury history is a lot better than many of those on the list, there's a pretty good chance that he's going to be outhitting Soriano at the end of Soriano's contract.

Soriano's comps for comparison (and I don't think it's even close to Ramirez's set):



1. Howard Johnson (892)
2. Tony Batista (883)
3. Matt Williams (880)
4. Bob Horner (873)
5. Jeff Kent (873)
6. Danny Tartabull (873)
7. Geoff Jenkins (870)
8. Ken Boyer (870)
9. Joe Gordon (869)
10. Raul Mondesi (864)

   13. zonk Posted: November 22, 2006 at 02:02 AM (#2243492)
Wow, I didn't expect to see this one defended here. This is a disaster for the Cubs and their fans. Soriano simply isn't that good, and for eight years? When Hendry says that he can't pursue a true top-tier talent because of all the money he gave to second-string stars like Soriano and Ramirez, will you still like this?


I don't think anyone has really defended this deal... the only points I've seen in it's favor (ones I nominally agree with, though I hate this signing):

1. If nothing else, Soriano is likely to an offensive plus next year, and likely 2 additional years if not longer. He's certain to be an upgrade over whoever's lineup spot he cancels out (be it Pierre or Jones).

2. At least this isn't the usual Cubs MO -- as I and others have been arguing on the Pierre thread, normally the Cubs are handing out a 5/45 contract to likes of a mediocrity of Pierre. We can argue about what level of star Soriano is, but I think most people would admit he is one (whatever that means). I steadfastly maintain I'd prefer 8/135 to Soriano than I would 5/45 for Pierre -- of course, I'd jump at option c)none of the above, but I'll take this one if it has to be one or the other....Hell, maybe we'll lose the last 2 years of Soriano to a labor stoppage (a man can dream!).
   14. NBarnes Posted: November 22, 2006 at 03:09 AM (#2243530)
I don't buy the Ramirez ~ Rolen comp one little bit. If Ramirez's glove was as good as Rolen's, I'd like his contract a lot more. As it stands, Rolen is probably more than two full wins better than Ramirez defensively. And Rolen's career OBP is a full 43 point higher.

Saying that Ramirez is going to be a better hitter than Soriano in 2014 is a safe bet, but also not saying much.
   15. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: November 22, 2006 at 03:41 AM (#2243546)
Mm hmm. Does anybody want to really predict that Alfonso Soriano will hit just 34 HRs over the last three years of his contract? Which ballpark will he be playing in by then, Bizarro Coors?
   16. bookbook Posted: November 22, 2006 at 02:53 PM (#2243759)
Bubble,
When a hacker loses bat speed, it can get ugly fast.
   17. Answer Guy Posted: November 22, 2006 at 03:15 PM (#2243780)
Well, Soriano hacked less in 2006 than he had in previous years, and put up good power numbers despite a ballpark very hostile to power numbers.

That said, 8 years of him sounds like a pretty hefty premium since that contract will be a massive albatross, certainly by 2011 at the latest.
   18. zonk Posted: November 22, 2006 at 09:07 PM (#2244239)
Now that time is progressing --

It's becoming painfully obvious we could have gotten Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews Jr. - plus still had enough to bring Steve Traschel home for this price ;-)
   19. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: November 22, 2006 at 09:46 PM (#2244306)
Soriano did a great job in 2006 not flailing at those tantalizing sliders 3 feet off the plate, but does anyone really believe that Baker would be a good influence on Soriano? I don't.

Well, most of the players who have played for Dusty have increased their walk rate while doing so. Whatever effect Dusty has, it doesn't appear to be negative.
   20. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 22, 2006 at 09:48 PM (#2244308)
Harmon Killebrew once had 45 homers and 96 RBIs.
   21. H. Vaughn Posted: November 22, 2006 at 09:57 PM (#2244318)
It's becoming painfully obvious we could have gotten Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews Jr. - plus still had enough to bring Steve Traschel home for this price ;-)

Hey, I advocated they buy out Maddux's arb years and sign him at 19/$152 million back in '89, but no-one on Darpanet would listen. . .
   22. Astro-Bonilla Posted: November 26, 2006 at 07:51 PM (#2246083)
I don't think many people will argue that this is a good signing by the Cubs. But it could have been worse. This deal is better than the Matthews deal, the Pierre deal, and miles better than the Carlos Lee deal (heavy players lose value much faster than average sized players, and Lee is as heavy as they get).
   23. John Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: November 26, 2006 at 08:50 PM (#2246107)
I don't think many people will argue that this is a good signing by the Cubs. But it could have been worse.

Well, it's obviously a good signing in the sense that it improves the Cubs. It improves the Cubs by miles. That, in and of itself, makes it a good signing.

It's an expensive signing, no doubt. Very expensive, and if the Cubs had only those dollars to spend, they might have been better off spending it in some other combination. But are the Cubs meaningfully constrained, budget-wise? Not really... they make loads of money and certain can justify making a free agent splash, considering how long it's been since they made one.

In order to justify Soriano's signing, the Cubs probably need to go out, as Szym suggests, and make some other serious free agent signings in the next couple of years, and start trying to buy a pennant. That's probably a good thing for Cubs fans.
   24. Dusty's Least Favorite Base-Clogger (Roy Hobbs) Posted: November 26, 2006 at 09:20 PM (#2246131)
I think the Soriano signing and the stated desire to persue at least two "mid-tier" starting pitchers (either by free agent signing or trade) is a good sign for the Cubs. I think they've admitted to themselves that they've screwed up as an organization and with a weak farm system they realize they have to buy their way out of their most glaring weaknesses. (Hopefully they also realize that SS is a black hole for them as well).

The speculation in Chicago is:

a. The Cubs have the money to do this and it may even be in the current ownship's interest to dramatically raise payroll. If the Tribune Corp wants to sell the Cubbies, a competitive season of a team with a national fanbase, can raise the franchise value. A winning season can dramatically raise the value.

Also, the Cubs TV audience fell to the White Sox gain last year. All those empty bleacher seats, turned off TV sets, and unsold Cub's merchandise may just have sold the Cub management in getting a exciting player to put fans in the seats--or watching on TV--while wearing Fonzie jerseys and drinking the sponsor's beer out of Cubbie glasses.

True or not, this is the talk in Chicago and Cub fans are expecting even more spending to make this team respectable and offset the failure of the farm system (although they've done fine producing pitchers that have either gotten injured or been traded for little value). The current ownership doesn't appear likely to pay years 5-8 of the Soriano deal and may not even pay beyond the first year of the contract if the Cubbies are sold in the next 12 months.
   25. Dusty's Least Favorite Base-Clogger (Roy Hobbs) Posted: November 26, 2006 at 09:20 PM (#2246132)
I think the Soriano signing and the stated desire to persue at least two "mid-tier" starting pitchers (either by free agent signing or trade) is a good sign for the Cubs. I think they've admitted to themselves that they've screwed up as an organization and with a weak farm system they realize they have to buy their way out of their most glaring weaknesses. (Hopefully they also realize that SS is a black hole for them as well).

The speculation in Chicago is:

a. The Cubs have the money to do this and it may even be in the current ownship's interest to dramatically raise payroll. If the Tribune Corp wants to sell the Cubbies, a competitive season of a team with a national fanbase, can raise the franchise value. A winning season can dramatically raise the value.

b. Also, the Cubs TV audience fell to the White Sox gain last year. All those empty bleacher seats, turned off TV sets, and unsold Cub's merchandise may just have sold the Cub management in getting a exciting player to put fans in the seats--or watching on TV--while wearing Fonzie jerseys and drinking the sponsor's beer out of Cubbie glasses.

True or not, this is the talk in Chicago and Cub fans are expecting even more spending to make this team respectable and offset the failure of the farm system (although they've done fine producing pitchers that have either gotten injured or been traded for little value). The current ownership doesn't appear likely to pay years 5-8 of the Soriano deal and may not even pay beyond the first year of the contract if the Cubbies are sold in the next 12 months.
   26. Astro-Bonilla Posted: November 28, 2006 at 02:40 AM (#2246963)

Well, it's obviously a good signing in the sense that it improves the Cubs. It improves the Cubs by miles. That, in and of itself, makes it a good signing.
I disagree. I agree that it is better for Cubs fans that the Cubs spend money than if they do not. However, if they are going to spend money, they have to be thinking about opportunity cost. Money spent in one place cannot be spent elsewhere. It would be better if the Cubs spent it elsewhere; I'm convinced already. They could have had Delluci and Eaton for little more than 35.5 million bucks for three years, leaving them with 100 million to spend elsewhere, for example.

Where to spend the 100 million? I'm pretty sure J.D. Drew gets less than that (and is not worse than Soriano; almost the same VORP over the past three years, actual quality experience playing center, and Soriano's vorp was not cut down by a freak wrist HBP). And signing Delluci opens up a trade of Jones(coming off his best year since 03)+ for a starter. But they would have enough to sign one anyway still.

Look at it this way: Soriano for age 32-39 or, for the same price Drew for age 32-36, Eaton for three years, Delluci for three years, and Maddux for two years. I'd take the latter for sure. And this assumes Drew at 5 years 80 mil, Eaton and Delluci need extra $ do head to the Cubs, and Maddux at 9 mil a year.
   27. Astro-Bonilla Posted: November 28, 2006 at 02:42 AM (#2246966)
With the latter choice they are contenders for the next two seasons, for sure.
   28. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: November 28, 2006 at 02:51 AM (#2246973)
Look at it this way: Soriano for age 32-39 or, for the same price Drew for age 32-36, Eaton for three years, Delluci for three years, and Maddux for two years. I'd take the latter for sure. And this assumes Drew at 5 years 80 mil, Eaton and Delluci need extra $ do head to the Cubs, and Maddux at 9 mil a year.

With the latter choice they are contenders for the next two seasons, for sure.


Doesn't work that way. The way the Cubs have it, they are paying 17 mil per year for 8 years, probably back loaded. You've got them paying, what, about 40 mil for each of the next two years, then 20 something for the next 3. The present value of your proposed contracts are significantly higher than what the Cubs are paying Soriano.
   29. Astro-Bonilla Posted: November 28, 2006 at 02:57 AM (#2246981)

Doesn't work that way. The way the Cubs have it, they are paying 17 mil per year for 8 years, probably back loaded. You've got them paying, what, about 40 mil for each of the next two years, then 20 something for the next 3. The present value of your proposed contracts are significantly higher than what the Cubs are paying Soriano.
This is true; inflation exists. However, given that Soriano probably isn't going to even be league average for the last half of the deal, I'd rather have just Drew plus any one of those three players.
   30. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: November 28, 2006 at 04:33 AM (#2247056)
This is true; inflation exists. However, given that Soriano probably isn't going to even be league average for the last half of the deal, I'd rather have just Drew plus any one of those three players.


INflation is part of it, but more significantly, you're spending a big chunk of their 2012-2014 budget today. What business wouldn't be better off today by spending revenure from 8 years hence today? But how will they be in 8 years? What if they took Soriano's contract and got both Soriano and Drew for 1 year, 30 mil each, Zito for 1 year 25 mil, Suppan for 1 year 18 mil, and traded Murton, Jones, Hill, and 3-4 pitching prospects for Manny? They'd win the pennant and save money!

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