Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Serpentine, Albie!  Serpentine!Andy Dolan, as he so often does, took the time to lay out the case against Alfonso Soriano. He correctly notes that Soriano has become a DH far sooner than anyone expected:

Sensible Cubs fans knew that when he signed that contract before last season that the last few years of the deal were going to be bad. He was going to be a DH playing on a National League team and getting paid way too much money. We just didn’t know that it was going to happen with seven years left. We thought two, maybe three in the worst case.

The question is, “What do you do about it?”

Well, the answer seems to me Mike Hampton. You remember him. He was the pitcher that, in 2000, the Colorado Rockies signed to an 8-year, $121 million contract. This remains one of the largest contracts in the history of baseball. Colorado had seen enough of Hampton to dump him less than two years later. Via a complicated series of trades, Hampton ended up with the Atlanta Braves. Of the remaining $103 million Hampton was due, Colorado was obligated for $30 million. Florida, a middle man in the transaction, was obligated for $38 million, and Atlanta was obligated for the balance of $35 million.

The reason the deals made sense for everyone. Colorado took some large contracts back from Florida and ended up saving money. Florida also ended up saving money by passing Hampton on to the Braves. And the Braves believed Leo Mazzoni could remediate Hampton’s career.

Jim Hendry needs to start laying the groundwork now to get Soriano into the American League. Now, this trade cannot happen during the 2008 season. Despite how lousy Soriano has been, the Cubs are woefully unprepared to fill the gap that Soriano’s leaving would create. Because the Cubs had him locked in for 6 years, they only have Matt Murton ready to play left and Murton is no better in left. Unless the Cubs, primed to win this year, could obtain a quality left fielder in return for Soriano (unlikely given the amount of salary needed to be dumped), they have to stick with him through the end of the year.

But the Cubs cannot go into 2009 with a guy in left who approaches the warning track like he’s headed into surgery, who is not mentally strong enough to bat where he’d be most useful in a lineup, who no longer has the confidence in his legs to be a leadoff hitter, and who cannot go from first to third on a single.

Hendry needs to start analyzing teams with bad, long contracts now and get a few trade scenarios setup to pitch to other teams in November. It has to get done as the Cubs cannot afford the albatross of Alfonso Soriano after this season has concluded.

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