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alfonso soriano hittingNext season, the Chicago Cubs will send $13 million to the New York Yankees to cover the final portion of Alfonso Soriano’s eight-year, $136 million contract. Then they will be done with it.

For some of you, such a statement causes latent relief, as though a sickly elder finally moved on to a better place. Indeed, for most in the mainstream media, Soriano’s time with the Cubs will stand for nothing more than the dollars he collected, and the dollars he purportedly didn’t earn.

The legend of how horrible Alfonso Soriano’s contract was for the Cubs continues to grow, even as he’s long gone from the Cubs, and the payments enter their final year. Example: in discussing the largess of the Shin-Soo Choo deal, the Dallas Morning News compares it, in terms of dollars committed, to the “semi-disastrous deal Alfonso Soriano signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2007.” The Rangers recently signed Choo, who turns 32 in July, to a seven-year, $130 million contract.

The Soriano deal, eight years and $136 million, is frequently held up as among the worst contracts handed out during the spending boom of 2007 and 2008. But the truth is, it looks to some like a disaster only because of the Cubs’ rebuilding-driven desire in recent years to move the aging star. Soriano was 35/36/37, making $18 million per year, and playing for terrible teams. The Cubs were desperate to move him for any number of reasons.

Of course his contract looks semi-disastrous at that point. Guess what? All mega contracts do!

You sign guys like Soriano (or Choo) primarily for the value they provide in the first years of the deal, not the last. In the first two years of his deal with the Cubs, when they made the playoffs, Soriano posted WARs of 6.6 and 3.9 – the Cubs got exactly what they wanted in those two years, at least.

Hell, in the most recent two years of the deal, Soriano has actually earned his paycheck by WAR/$ (6.5 WAR over the last two years). To act as though the Cubs were being crushed by the weight of a disastrous deal (at least the Dallas Morning News had the good sense to soften it as “semi” disastrous) is to ignore the fruits of the early years, the success of the later years, and the very nature of mega contracts.

So, please, stop with this legend. The Cubs mostly got what they were hoping for from Soriano, whose megadeal arguably worked out better than most of those types of contracts do. Soriano’s is not a scary story to be told to future generations to justify clutching tightly to the pursestrings.

If there’s any cautionary tale, it’s simply this: teams go through many cycles over the course of an eight-year deal. If you’re going to pay tomorrow for a hamburger today, you better make sure your team is sufficiently good today to justify it. And you should make sure you’ve built up a sustainable base of farm depth to weather the later years of these kinds of contracts, when they necessarily don’t generate as much value as they once did.

Oh, and be sure to choose your hamburgers very carefully.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    come on brett come clean,do you have a soriano jersey in your closet?? Happy New Year to Cub nation!!

  • Northsidegrant

    It’s not so much that he didn’t earn the value of the contract. It’s that the team had money tied up in someone who wasn’t part of their future and couldn’t invest it into younger bigger FA’s. We realize now that they probably would have just saved the $ the past few years and waited to spend it until the prospects were ready.

    • Jay

      The other problem was Soriano was a master of putting up numbers when they didn’t count. He got hot for about two weeks twice a year and carried the team during those times. The rest of the time, he hit solo homers in 8-3 losses or swung at sliders in the dirt in the clutch. Against any kind of good pitching, he was usually toast unless he was on a tear. Plus, he waited two years too long to get it thru his head that he needed a lighter bat.

      • Danny B

        ^ Exactly. Well put sir.

      • http://tootblan.tumblr.com wv23

        This simply is not so. I tackled this canard in 2008 by going home run by home run for the season, and it is just flat-out wrong.

        • http://tootblan.tumblr.com wv23

          But, anyway, here is when he hit all of his home runs in his career:

          http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/event_hr.cgi?id=soriaal01&t=b

          213 of his 406 career HRs came while tied, +1, -1 (or 53 percent). By comparison, Albert Pujols hit 55 percent of his in the same window. Ryan Braun 49 percent. Prince Fielder 51 percent. Josh Hamilton 51 percent.

          These are picked at random. So, let’s be done with this myth as well, shall we?

          • Kyle

            “didn’t put up numbers when it counted, racked them up in garbage time” is just something dumb people say about players they don’t like.

            • hansman

              Well, to be fair, the Cubs have had a lot of players, recently, who have put up a lot of stats in “garbage time”.

            • notcubbiewubbie

              sometimes the truth really hurts all little cubbie wubbies.

            • notcubbiewubbie

              let me know when the cardinals sign players like soriano and ramirez.

              • hansman

                What does this even mean?

                • notcubbiewubbie

                  it means they dont sign losers thats why all those world series trophys are there.i hate the cardinals and the packers but you cant help but be a little jealous they do it the right way, just like theo and jed are trying to do now. now. and all the little cubbie wubbies complain . if you were as smart as you imply you are you would know what it means.

                  • hansman

                    I am still confused. Ramirez was a helluva ballplayer for a long time.

                    • http://bleachernation.com woody

                      He was the best of that era in my opinion. Was good for 30 homers and 100 rbi’s for several years. But he left the cubs at the right time.

                • mjhurdle

                  [img]http://postimg.org/image/xnxd4iip9/[/img]

              • josh ruiter

                Like Matt Holliday? Or Carlos Beltran? Maybe Jhonny Peralta? Just so happens that most times…those deals work out well for St. Louis…for us? well they haven’t been as awesome. Oh, btw, Lance Berkman was a bigger if when they signed him than Soriano was when we signed him. Just so happens long contracts to aging players doesn’t pay out in the end…as the Cardinals will surely find out with Wainwright, Molina, Holliday if we can hope for equality!

              • Drew7

                Pete Kozma says hello

              • mjhurdle

                [img]http://s27.postimg.org/5ttt5uuk3/provacative.jpg[/img]

            • jt

              After his 4.3 2007 WAR, BR has Soriano’s 2008 through the moment he left for the Yanks to be at 3.5.
              I don’t see where Fangraphs splits the 2013 Cubs WAR from the 2013 Yanks WAR? BR has his 2013 Cub WAR at 0.8 and his 2013 Yanks WAR at 1.6 although he had 140 more PA’s with Chicago

  • Voice of Reason

    The best comment ever was when Hendry said he had lunch with Milton Bradley and after the lunch he knew that he was a “Cub guy”. Oh brother….

    Hendry had more financial resources than any other Cub G.M. and he couldn’t pull it off.

    • Scotti

      Hendry didn’t have resources by the time Milton Bradley was signed (that’s why he was shopping in the bargain bin). When he DID have resources it was limited to 2 off-seasons (and one of those was just primarily resigning players). He won two division titles with that and then was not allowed to spend afterwards.

      • Edwin

        What really hurts is how limited he was in spending in the draft.

        • Scotti

          Bingo. He only had two years to spend on the draft the entire time he was GM: Samardzija (before the sale to act as if Zell/Trib was spending on the farm) and 2011 (Baez, Vogelbach, Dunston, etc.) when he was (secretly) fired between the draft and signing the players. 2011 and Samardzija show what he could have been doing all along…

          • CubFan Paul

            “Hendry didn’t have resources by the time Milton Bradley was signed”

            “He only had two years to spend on the draft the entire time he was GM”

            False. Spin. Lies. Whatever.

            The money was there, it’s all in how you allocate it

            • Scotti

              “…it’s all in how you allocate it.”

              No, it’s all in how you’re ALLOWED to allocate it. In 2007 the GM was given a budget to spend that was in line with the market the Cubs play in and he was told to turn the team around. He was not given that budget when he started (late 2002). He was not, for instance, given resources to go get Carlos Beltran in 2006.

              And in 2008, he was given resources to keep the division winning team together but NOT to improve upon it. Henrdry added a big bat and two good arms in 2007. He was allowed to keep his marquee players (Zambrano, Ramirez, Wood, etc.). From there on out the only free agents that he was allowed to pursue were guys with hickies (J. Jones, Milton Bradley, etc.). And he literally had to give away talent to make room in the budget to sign even those guys.

              Again, he was given the credit card in a very short window. He didn’t decide to allocate the monies all at once, that was decided for him by owners who were, variously, too cheap to spend for the market (Trib), looking to “flip” the team by making cosmetic changes (curb appeal) like winning without a strong farm (Zell) and a guy who is over-burdened by a high debt to income ratio (Rickets).

              • Scotti

                Tribune = just north of a slumlord. From 2003-2006 Hendry’s Cubs averaged only the 7th highest payroll despite being in a bigger market and the owners having zero team debt (bought for $20 million decades ago) and zero ballpark debt (bought with the team). During this span the Cubs had VERY high attendance, VERY high ticket prices and VERY high ad revenue (through Trib owned WGN TV and radio).

                Zell (still technically the Trib but with different intents) was a glorified house flipper. Take a run down property, renovate the kitchen, put in some new shrubbery and throw paint on everything. Flip that for big profits. He didn’t touch a single structural element. Not a damn thing.

                Ricketts is the new homeowner. He is constrained by the debt of the purchase (more precisely the intricate, likely overturned by the IRS, non-sale purchase agreement). He looks to be fixing the structural deficits of the team one step at a time. Yet he has to fight city hall, the rooftops, creeps like Tunney and all with the handcuffs the non-sale partnership with the Trib (who technically never sold the Cubs).

                I think this house has the right homeowner. Time will tell. But both the current president and the former GM have/had their spending curtailed.

  • jh03

    Seemed semi-relevant. ha

    “Alfonso Soriano is … John Locke. He’s bald, getting older, and has gimpy legs. We also haven’t heard from him in a while and he may or may not be dead. Imbued with a sense that he’s here for a greater purpose, he always seems to come up just short. And you can be sure: by the time Alfonso Soriano’s deal with the Cubs is up in 2014, he’ll be in a wheelchair.”

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Milton Bradley and Todd Hundley worked out worse than Soriano.

    I think the Kevin Brown signing (the first $100M+ contract) has got to be in the top ten. The Dodgers ended up paying for 2 or 3 years of good production. I think the second highest bidder came in at $60M, so they over payed for him, as well. The injury bug over the life of a contract, you just can’t fault a player for that, but he did end up breaking his hand on the last year of that contract, too (by punching a wall). So, there ya go.

  • http://www.eyecanseeinc.com Leo the Cub

    After seeing these mega contracts for people like Albert Poulos, Soriano and now Robinson Cano….I think if I were running a club i would never enter into one of these deals…….

    build your club and organization and run it like Devil Rays and to some extent the Diamonbacks and then add a couple of high end pitchers whenver possible…perhaps over paying on these guys…….get your positon players from your farm system as much as possible.

    • Scotti

      That’s backwards. You’d be paying higher, free agent dollars on a premium cost product that is much more likely to break down. Draft your pitchers and pay big $ for the more stable players. Had Soriano been a pitcher (and injured his arm in season three instead of hitting his knee on the wall) he’d likely not have returned the WAR value Soriano has the last several years.

      • josh ruiter

        Scotti I agree to an extent, but the same theory can be used against your argument in that you are drafting guys who are more likely to break down before they reach the big leagues or excel. Chances are better of developing and getting it right on stud position players, a la Mark Prior. And going and signing big name healthy FA pitchers ensures as much as any other method the health and effectiveness of big term starting pitching.

        • Scotti

          Here’s the problem with doing it the other way: finding healthy free agent pitchers is a fantasy. That isn’t to say that the occasional healthy FA pitcher isn’t signed, but, to be a TOR guy, he’s generally been rung through the ringer by his original club (i.e. MASSIVE IP at early ages). Take a look at how OAK used their TOR guys before discarding them.

          And, yes, drafting pitchers comes with risk–it just never comes with $150-200 million dollars in risk (as top FA command). When you plunk down THAT kind of cash you want to be plunking it on someone who will give you value even of he does get hurt.

          To put this another way, if Houston had been allowed to sell its 1(1) in either of the last two years, the final bid would have been WAY LOWER than $150-200 million. That pick has value but it ain’t anywhere near that kind of scratch. So, use the DRAFT for the *riskier* of the two purchases (TOR pitching in draft or TOR pitching in free agency) precisely because even 1(1) (much less, a lower pick) isn’t worth what you’d pay for a top FA pitcher (not even close).

          So, if you roll the dice on a FA pitcher you could lose massively. If you roll the dice on a first round pick and lose it cost the pick and several million (at most).

  • SenorGato

    The only thing that I ever have to say about the Soriano deal – my only complaint on it really (it’s major THO) – is that Carlos Beltran got 7/119 the year before. Still pisses me off to weird levels that they passed on an actual elite CF in his prime for a theoretically pretty good one at the time.

    I never liked the Soriano contract (not the kind of player I/assume we all like), but in the end that is not what brought down the Cubs. The thought process behind it, maybe/probably, but not Soriano.

    Still way more pissed they passed on Beltran only to try to fill CF with a bigger contract (then came Jacque Jones ffs after Soriano failed in CF) an offseason later. The FO and ownership back then just didn’t get it…

    • Chad

      I think that was my biggest issue. He was never a CF and he was magically going to become one. That and they continued to bat him leadoff when his power would have been better lower in the order.

  • Darth Ivy

    My thought on the soriano thing is that the problem was how quickly the window closed after those two years. That was it, two years of playoff baseball. If the team made it in the post season in 2009 and 2010, then it would’ve been seen differently. But that’s the essence of that going-for-it/short-window strategy. Plus, without doing the research, soriano wasn’t that good during those middle years. Maybe that was one of the reasons the window closed so fast (side note, I still can’t believe henry signed bradley over ibanez)

    • CubFan Paul

      “how quickly the window closed after those two years”

      Ricketts bought the team.

      It’s hard to maintain a contender when ownership wants payroll cut back

      • Chad

        Yep, that’s the reason the aging, big contracts, poor farm system cubs were in decline i because Ricketts bought the cubs. If you think that is the only reason then you are silly. The cubs, Ricketts or not were going to be in decline. As much as they are a big market team they were/are never going to be the Yankees or the Dodgers as far as payroll goes.

        • Kyle

          The farm system wasn’t poor when Ricketts bought the team.

          • Jason P

            Letting Henry “go for it” one more year with the Garza trade and such was Ricketts’ mistake. The farm system went from ranked 9th preseason 2010 to 20th before 2011 (based on an average of the 4 major rankings).

            • YourResidentJag

              Hendry should have been let go after the 2009 season. Sorry, but if you’re going to bring someone else in, it should have started a yr earlier.

              • Jason P

                After the 2010 season, I would agree yes. But when Ricketts bought the team, they were coming off an 83-win season one year removed from winning 97. It was not unrealistic at all to think that they could have gotten back to at least 90-wins with a few shrewd moves. And realistically, how often do GM’s get fired after winning 180 games their 2 prior years?

                • CubFan Paul

                  “how often do GM’s get fired after winning 180 games their 2 prior years”

                  Doesn’t change the face Ricketts should of cleaned house before 2010

                  • hansman

                    So he should have fired Hendry after the best three year run in a century?

                    Now you’re just being silly.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      At the time, I remember feeling very strong about it.

                      New Owner, New Direction, but instead Ricketts delayed the inevitable thus delaying future success.

            • Chad

              I think that had more to do with the absolutely horrible 2010 draft. It was simply awful.

              • CubFan Paul

                “the absolutely horrible 2010 draft. It was simply awful”

                This is nonsense. That Draft had hella talent.

                • Chad

                  what is hella talent? Also I’m not saying it was a bad draft, it was just bad for the cubs.

          • Chad

            No, but as I have said the 2010 draft was hamstrung by the 2010 payroll and it was awful.

        • YourResidentJag

          Big market is an irrelevant term here.

      • Darth Ivy

        they did not have a healthy organization and could not sustain that window. The ricketts bought the team when they already started declining

        • Darth Ivy

          I mean, its no secret that the tribune inflated the payroll just to get a higher sale price. They weren’t building a sustainable model

          • Kyle

            It’s “no secret” that the Ricketts’ ownership wants people to believe that, sure, as a way of deflecting away from the financial problems they’ve caused

            There is no reason why the success when Ricketts took over couldn’t have been sustainable. The farm system was good, revenues were at all-time highs, and the MLB team was on a run of success.

        • caryatid62

          We really don’t know what was sustainable and what was not. It all depends on whether you believe the current ownership group.

          There has never been (and will never be) an independent audit of the Cubs’ finances, so declaring that their payroll was or was not sustainable is impossible.

          • Darth Ivy

            Not the payroll amount, but the on field success.

            • CubFan Paul

              “Not the payroll amount, but the on field success”

              Payroll/Budget..

              “It’s hard to maintain a contender when ownership wants payroll cut back”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not for nothing, but the 2009 Cubs lost only one more game than the 2007 Cubs.

      • Darth Ivy

        Thats true, its not like the 2009 was terrible.

    • hansman

      Hendry also left the 2010 rotation woefully under-staffed.

      • CubFan Paul

        Because (see above).

        • Scotti

          Not true. Zell cut off Hendry before the Ricketts ever finished purchasing the team. Zell gave Hendry one season to spend (and bring in new talent) then one season to re-sign old talent. After that it was bumpkis.

          • CubFan Paul

            The 2010 rotation was limited because of a lack of resources. Zell had no control over the 2010 budget. Ricketts held the purse strings and began to take away financial flexibility.

            • Chad

              In 2010 the cubs had the 3rd largest payroll in MLB at $146.8 million.

              http://baseball.about.com/od/newsrumors/a/2010baseballteampayrolls.htm

              They then proceeded to budget pick in the draft: 1:Hayden Simpson, 2:Reggie Golden, 3:Micah Gibbs, 4:Hunter Ackerman, 5:Matt Szczur, 6:Ivan De Jesus, 7:Ben Wells

              http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?team_ID=CHC&year_ID=2010&draft_type=junreg&query_type=franch_year

              • Cedlandrum

                I’m not sure why you listed the top 7 pics, because only the first pick was a budget pick. Well maybe the 3rd too, but Golden went where he was supposed to and Szczur was a good pick and Ben Wells was a great pick.

                • Chad

                  The 7 were the ones that popped up on google initially. And yes some of those were good picks, but the first pick is the one where you can make the most impact generally and where you have the most opportunity to spend money to do so. That was the big flop there.

                  • Cedlandrum

                    fair enough.

                    • Isaac

                      This is crazy…check out MLB’s Draft Tracker from the first round of the 2010 draft. The ONLY player without a write-up is Hayden Simpson. They had to be going “who the heck is this?”

                      http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/draft/y2010/drafttracker.jsp

                    • Isaac

                      Further, anyone who doesn’t believe forfeiting a 2nd round pick is a big deal should glance at some of the names taken in that range in the 2010 draft…

                      Syndergaard
                      Ranaudo
                      Walker
                      Castellanos
                      Jackson
                      Olt
                      Solis
                      Workman
                      Gyorko
                      Smyly
                      Simmons
                      Buckel

                    • Kyle

                      “They had to be going “who the heck is this?””

                      I remember the MLB draft webcast team struggling to come up with any info on him.

                    • Edwin

                      Syndergaard was a supplimental pick. As was Ranaudo. And Walker. And Castellanos. And Olt. And Jackson.

                      There’s some nice names, and it’s not like a prospect taken in the 2nd round can’t go on to be great. But much more often than not, 2nd round picks fail. I mean, much more often than not, 1st round picks fail as well.

                      In the end, forfieting a 2nd round for a quality MLB player just isn’t that big a deal. More often than not, the 2nd round pick will never be a good MLB player.

                    • Isaac

                      “in that range in the 2010 draft”….

                      We will agree to disagree. While it is true that “More often than not, the 2nd round pick will never be a good MLB player”, it is also true that good teams absolutely have to get value in rounds beyond the first in the draft.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Also important to remember: even if that second round guy never becomes a big leaguer, he’s got value in the interim if he still looks like a good prospect for a few years.

                    • Isaac

                      Absolutely! As much as I dislike calling human beings “commodities”, that is essentially what a top draft pick amounts to in the early years after a draft; whether he makes The Show or not.

                    • Kyle

                      “Further, anyone who doesn’t believe forfeiting a 2nd round pick is a big deal should glance at some of the names taken in that range in the 2010 draft…”

                      Survivorship bias.

                    • Drew7

                      “Survivorship bias.”

                      At it’s finest.

                    • Bluz Cluz

                      Exactly kyle. If all those guys came from one draft, then he may be on to something. But that’s atleast 3 or 4 drafts worth of 2nd rounders. Where are the other 110 or so players. A pick is valuable, but for a proven MLBer, I’m willing to sacrifice one.

                    • Kyle

                      “Also important to remember: even if that second round guy never becomes a big leaguer, he’s got value in the interim if he still looks like a good prospect for a few years.”

                      If the market is efficient, then that shouldn’t change the value of the pick. The trade value should reflect the odds of him becoming useful at any given point.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Sure. But I meant only what I said.

                    • Edwin

                      Obviously a 2nd round pick has value, but that value is quite small compared to the MLB player being signed. In most cases, it’s hard to imagine a player good enough to get a QO not being worth more than a 2nd round pick.

            • Scotti

              “The 2010 rotation was limited because of a lack of resources. Zell had no control over the 2010 budget. Ricketts held the purse strings and began to take away financial flexibility.”

              Wrong. Again. Zell took away the financial flexibility when he “added a partner” instead of actually selling the team. That is technically what he (tried to do) in an attempt to save hundreds of millions of tax dollars. In mid 2013 the IRS told the Trib that they did not accept the partnership claim (i.e. Trib owes $200+ million to the IRS).

              Regardless, the structure of the non-sale sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family meant that the team could use the monies added to the partnership via the non-sale sale (what the Ricketts “paid” for the team) but not go into debt to fund the team (take in monies from outside the partnership even if monies from a “friend/family member). The partnership is obviously a sham–the Cubs have zero access to the monies the Ricketts brought “to the partnership”–so the Cubs are stuck running the business with operating income only.

              They are still, to this day, restricted, and bound, by the terms of the Zell agreement (non-sale sale) at least until the Trib has exhausted its appeals with the IRS. So, yeah, Zell affects the Cubs financial flexibility (even though he is no longer with the Trib).

              • rdacpa

                The leveraged partnership that the Tribune Company and the Ricketts family entered into back on Oct. 27, 2009 actually required that the amount that the Tribune Company (in Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the time) received in cash was to come from debt that the new partnership incurred on its assets. According to Note 9 of Tribune Company’s 2012 financial statements, it received a $705 distribution from the partnership. Also, Tribune Company would have to solely secure this new debt in order to increase its basis in the partnership enough to not recognize this distribution as taxable. Any payment in principle on this debt would reduce the Tribune Company’s basis even further resulting in a taxable distribution. It would seem to reason that the partnership agreement would stipulate that this debt would need to remain intact to preserve the tax-avoiding nature of this arrangement. This partnership has to run seven years before the Cubs, and the debt incurred on the team’s assets, can be taken out of the leveraged partnership by the Ricketts family. If the assets are taken out prior to the seven year holding period, the Tribune Company would not meet the exception to the disguised sales rules and the tax liability on the gain would be recognized.

                The reason that the team’s payroll has seen a steady decline since the “sale” of the team occurred is because of the MLB CBA Debt Service Rule. Basically, a team can not carry debt in excess of 8 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation & amortization). Prior to this leveraged partnership the team most likely had little debt on its assets, thereby it did not need to operate at a significant profit to meet the guidelines of this Debt Service Rule. After this $700 million + debt was incurred, the team’s EBITDA would need to be in excess of $87.5 million in profit. Keep in mind, this profit is before interest is deducted so the large debt is not benefiting the Cubs in this computation. I have no idea what the team’s internal financials are, but operating at such a high profit would seem to prove problematic with high payrolls and revenue streams, which most would agree, need to be addressed.

                After the seven year period expires on Oct. 27, 2016, the Ricketts family could take all of the Cubs assets, along with the corresponding debt, out of the leveraged partnership and this distribution will not have a tax consequence on the Tribune Company. The fact that the Cubs and Newsday transactions done by the Tribune Company are being examined by the IRS will probably have little effect on the timeframe when the Ricketts family will have total control of the Cubs. The IRS indicates that it will conclude its examination on these Tribune Company transactions later this year, however I would assume that this issue will head to tax court and see an ultimate resolution significantly after Oct. 27, 2016. Once the Ricketts family owns the Cubs free and clear of the Tribune Company, the debt can be paid down and/or off thereby eliminating the need to operated at such robust profits. At that point, the Cubs will finally be free of the effects of Sam Zell’s less than two year ownership of the team.

  • Matt

    I think an easy way to judge the value of a long-term contract is over the totals — total dollars / total WAR. Soriano got $136M, right? Well, what was his total WAR over those 8 years? If it was >25, not a bad contract overall. If it was <25, it was ultimately overvalued.

    This obviously omits the year-to-year differences, but as Brett pointed out, the first couple years actually saw Soriano give well above value for his contract.

    • Noah

      The weird thing with Soriano was the year to year variations. He was great in year 1, very good in year 2, terrible in year 3, good in year 4, terrible in year 5, and good in years 6 and 7. It’s an… odd… aging curve.

      • Scotti

        Soriano was injured in year 3 and year 4. No aging there. Banging into a brink wall isn’t aging.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      About 18.9 fWAR. Cubs ultimately paid $129 million. So that’s about $6.8 million per win. That’s a little high, especially at the time. But… Arguably the Cubs got two playoffs and almost three out of it. Increased attendance through 4-5 years. They got their money in the end. Definitely no surplus value in the contract, but it wasn’t all that bad.

      • Edwin

        I think it’s fair to say that the Cubs did not get good value out of the Soriano contract, but at the same time acknowledge that the Soriano contract alone was not what prevented the Cubs from staying competative.

  • cavemencubbie

    Is there any such animal as a ‘young’ free agent? I don’t see many under 30 year old studs on the market.

    • ChicagoMike702

      Bryce Harper will reach free agency (unless he signs an extension of course) at age 26, I believe, and he made his MLB debut at age 20. Seeing you need 6 years of service-time, that’s about as young as you can get.

      Obviously, most guys debut later in life and often times don’t immediately stick to the big league roster.

  • http://vdcinc.biz 70’scub

    After the playoff series with Dodgers it was plane as day light! Soriano-Fukie could not hit top notch pitching as in Line 1-3 types. A bad contract on a bad team is why they got plenty of AB’s. At the same time the Cubs had two crappy corner outfielders tied to big dollars multi years deals downward trending Cubs.

    • Drew7

      Nothing is “pl[ain] as daylight” after 10 PA’s.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Again, the Cubs sent a 0.450 team to the 2008 playoffs; the Dodgers sent a 0.600 team to the same playoffs.

      It had nothing to do with individual players: the entire Cubs team was fried to a crisp by September, and like almost all teams that are awful in September yet still eke into post-season, they were promptly eliminated.

      • YourResidentJag

        Nope. Had nothing to do Manny Ramirez and his mysterious dropoff in 2009. Nope. Nothing.

      • hansman

        I wonder if they were fried to a crisp under the mid-day sun they played under so frequently…

  • dAn

    “For some of you, such a statement causes latent relief, as though a sickly elder finally moved on to a better place”

    LOL.

  • Aaron

    Fukudome was a relatively old “rookie” to Major League Baseball, he was labeled a near can’t-miss, with the defensive skills and speed of Ichiro Suzuki and the offensive prowess of Hideki Matsui. On December 11, 2007, Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry signed Fukudome to a four-year, $48 million contract.

    Unfortunately, Fukudome did not have the speed of Ichiro nor the offensive power of Matsui.

    • Jason P

      Fukudome was never as bad as people made him out to be. He was basically a rich man’s David Dejesus.

  • http://bleachernation grip

    … and, anyone seeing Fuki swing a bat wondered if he were a ballet or a baseball player.

    • Chicago4life

      He lived up to the hype…for 1 game.

  • Fastball

    I love Sori. His Fathead is proudly affixed to the Cubs Wall in my ManCave. He got paid and he played pretty good for the Cubs. If someone would have taught him how to play the outfield in his 1st year we would have realized a better return. But is that his fault? He is an athlete whose legs kept getting injured and he continued to play everyday. He tried to earn the money he was making. I will never blame him or think of him as a check collector. I still think it was stupid to trade him. His value was being with the Cubs as a leader and a role model. If there is going to be a Legend about Sori it should be he never saw a slider he didn’t like but couldn’t hit.

  • fromthemitten

    I’ll remember Soriano fondly. He was a talented player who unfortunately had what made him most valuable–speed–robbed because of leg injuries. He played hard, provided good leadership and was a great teammate which is a lot better than a lot of other recent free agent busts…

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    pretty sure mcdonough was the motivating factor in soriano signing

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    “Soriano’s is not a scary story to be told to future generations to justify clutching tightly to the pursestrings.”

    Well, then maybe you should go tell an Adam Sandler-like bedtime story that puts at ease Tom Ricketts. Since the purse strings are being clutched by him.

    Maybe too we can find a princely batter or pitcher, or two, that can woo the fairest maiden in the land, the World Series trophy, back to Chicago if we spin enough gold for the miserly King Ricketts to pursue said worthy swatter of balls or tosser of flame. Else, the woe-begotten front office may have to make a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to give up our top prospects for the glorious player(s) that can turn the Cubs from the piles of straw into a priceless product worthy to beheld. Or pray the children of the farm will grow into handsome princes; and not the wickedly bad stepbrothers of talent.

    My bets are that we: bemoan the past; hesitate in the now; and always, rosy up the future. That’s the Cubs traditional fairy tale.

    The End.

  • Die hard

    Would’ve paid twice that contract and kept him if he plays at level before signing him

    • Chris S

      Well no kidding?

      • Die hard

        So there is no room for crying or buyers remorse in baseball – Tom Hanks

  • Jared

    I absolutely LOVE the hamburger reference!!! There should be an award for the last few sentences of this article! That was epic!!!

  • cooter

    I sure did like watching soriano when he was hot though. Then surprisingly steeling a few basses in the end when nobody expected it.

  • jsorensen

    I loved his stolen basses!

  • jsorensen

    Nobody expects the stolen bass.

    • mjhurdle

      no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

  • Dick Gozinya

    Soriano Was Better for Those 3 Months after he returned to the Yankees than he ever played for the Cubs. I Started to like him at the end and Truly Think the best yr will be this yr. Because he’s playing for cash again. Yanks will compete this yr.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      What cash? Getting a 1yr. 8 mil deal instead of 7?

      • Dick Gozinya

        As in his contract is done after this season so he will be a free agent next yr if my memory is correct.

  • Roscoe Village Fan

    The current MEGA contracts have already eclipsed Soriano’s by a wide margin. Pujols has 9 more years…He’s gotta retire before he satisfies that contract, right? No way he plays that contract out. Thinking of Soriano, he has never lived up to his contract but he sure was good and although slow to do so, did adapt to his skill set. He was a pretty productive player. Sori was a productive player last year too, and even more so on the Yankees. not worth $18 MIL but not a total loss while he was on the Cubs. Guy is a professional even in the sense that he’s gonna get his stats when it’s low priority.
    I remember thinking the Yankees got a steal in that trade (dump). Still, can’t argue with the people that say he wasn’t clutch. Sori would carry us for weeks and then disappear in the playoffs like it was his job. Arrgghhh! I still acknowledge that those teams were severely flawed, including that longshot 2003 team, for which bartman or sori were not to blame.

  • praying the cubs get ready to win

    I really feel The Ricketts, the Front Office really are doing things right. There really was one thing The Ricketts and the FO didn’t know when they bought and came to the team and that was the City of Chicago is ridiculously difficult to work with and the City is slowing down the revenue the Ricketts and FO expected to work with.

    • 1060Ivy

      Yeah, there was no way of predicting that landmark status or an agreement with a dozen rooftop owners could posibly interfer with rebuilding Wrigley Field

      Or that increasing than decreasing payroll within a couple of seasons could affect win loss record of the MLB team

      Or that fielding a non-competitive MLB team could affect attendance or TV and radio ratings

      Yeah, how could Ricketts have predicted any of these events? It’s not like they have a staff or advisors who might have considered any of these outcomes

      • praying the cubs get ready to win

        Just a year or so longer because of that as the Cubs built the future foundation of the minors. Deals were in place for the ball park to be enhanced, then it derailed some, but it will be done and having more future payroll when our future players develop will prove to be the right formula, I think we are on the right course, it just really hurts right now while they had 2 awful years and maybe one more coming up.

  • Dustin S

    Soriano’s perception was made a bit worse than it was because he was so streaky. His overall stats for a season would be fine, but he would go stretches of a month where he would single-handedly carry the team with his bat, followed by a month of missing every low and away slider by 2 feet. The good stretches were quickly forgotten in bad seasons, and with not many other big dollar players left to point the finger at he became a lightning rod for criticism. I agree that when his trade happened and I took a step back, his performance wasn’t nearly as bad as his rep had become.

    • TOOT

      What the hell you sayin, exactly

    • TOOT

      .32 OBP is not good.

      • Scotti

        51st all-time HR (and counting) is good. Very, very good. Especially from a player who has never been linked in any way, shape or form to PEDs (there are probably a good 15 players on that list ahead of him who have been linked to roids).

        • TOOT

          I agree. But look at his “cluth” at bats, and thats where the problem lied with Alfonso.

          • Scotti

            As was demonstrated earlier in this thread, Soriano hit as great of a percentage (around 50%) of his HR, in tied or one run games, as other “clutch” players (including Pujols). The only things Soriano lacked a a Cub were health and a better team around him (well, better PR would have helped, too).

            • terencemann

              Yeah, I think if the Cubs had built a better team, his contract wouldn’t seem like a very big deal. As it stands, he was clearly supposed to be the star of the team but his numbers don’t really support that kind of status in most of his seasons with the Cubs.

              • ari gold

                The contract wasn’t too bad given his performance over the 6.5 years, at least relative to some of the other massive contracts. Too bad he suffered from leg issues almost right away, otherwise he might have outperformed, or performed relative to the contract. But that’s the risk you take when signing someone to an 8 year deal.

            • TOOT

              A majority was in “meaningless ” games though.

          • DocPeter Wimsey

            Like all players, Sori’s clutch numbers are just a random subsample of his overall numbers.

            • CubFan Paul

              Because there’s no such thing as clutch .

        • TOOT

          *clutch*

        • Bluz Cluz

          Since when has Soriano not been connected to steroids. The guys has been implicated several times. Now that he’s back with the tanks, watch him hit 200HR next year.

          • mjhurdle

            While i respect your right to have opinions about players, the way you sling the PED accusation around is borderline irresponsible.

            Even by your own intense research methods (step 1 – navigate to Google, step 2 – type Alfonso Soriano and Steroids) Soriano’s “connection” to PEDs is that he is regarded as the only member of the 40-40 club not linked to steroids.

            Im not telling you what to believe, but to constantly accuse people of cheating simply because they had great stats and played with or knew someone else that used PEDs is just infantile.

            And if you do have better knowledge of Soriano and PEDs, then share that instead of simply saying “the guys been implicated several times”. When making accusations as serious as this, the onus is on you to back up what you are saying. If you can’t be bothered to cite a few of the “several” implications, then why should we take you seriously?

            • AB

              Bluz Cruz opinion is worth 100X time more than anyone else since he played organized baseball, just ask him.

              Usually it’s better not to get into an argument with him and let him, and just let him live in his fantasy world.

              • Bluz Cluz

                Dude, let it go. Its not funny anymore. I love when guys are 12 months late to party with a joke that’s already been told a 1000 times before he arrived. Im going to obey the rules and not call you an idiot.

            • Bluz Cluz

              I didn’t say Soriano used. I just said he has been implicated. I’m a huge Soriano fan, and I don’t think he used. The joke about the 200 HR was more a shot at the Yankees, not Soriano.

            • Bluz Cluz

              Also, I think it’s irresponsible to allow cheaters to violate my right to a clean league. I was a huge Sosa fan. The moment he used a corked bat, steroids or not, he lost all my respect. Its not steroids, it’s cheaters. Sports competition means nothing in America anymore. The field, court, rink, etc. Is supposed to be a place to go, clear your head and compete against other “warriors” who have worked hard to be best they can at their sport. If you get beat, but you gave best, then you tip your cap to your opponents and go back and work harder. It like Derek Rose. I hate Derek and I think LeBron is the greatest, but I would much rather see Lebron lose to a healthy Chicago and DRoss, then see them beat the Bulls without him. Cheaters take away from that. As a football coach, i have seen other coaches basicly instruct their players to spear my players with their helmets. I never retaliate on field, i handle it appropriately. As a guy who was born playing sports, as a former coach and as a guy who now referees, the integrity of sports is the most important thing. It needs to be preserved.

              • bbmoney

                The right to a clean league was actually axed in the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. It was right in there between life and liberty, and Ben Franklin really wanted it kept in, but Jefferson decided it just wasn’t feasible since PED testing didn’t exist at the time.

              • gocatsgo2003

                “The field, court, rink, etc. Is supposed to be a place to go, clear your head and compete against other “warriors” who have worked hard to be best they can at their sport.”

                It is? Maybe it is/was for high school athletes, but it is an opportunity to earn millions upon millions of dollars for professional athletes.

    • TOOT

      Bringing up another point, Rizzo has about the same OBP as Soriano, not good.

      • DocPeter Wimsey

        Rizzo’s walk rate is much better than Sori’s. That combined with K rates (similar) and slugging rates (which probably will be similar) are what predict OBP in the long run.

    • TOOT

      And if took away walks to Rizzo, I’m afraid to say Soriano was BETTER. But given the contract to Rizzo, seems like a wash.

  • rich

    Yes you’re right Brett the Cubs got what they paid for a steroid user to cheat !

    • mjhurdle

      huh?

  • cubsin

    Brett, there isn’t any place to comment on your recent article about the 2013 season.

    • ari gold

      I think we might have to register now? Although I just registered and it still won’t let me comment.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Weird, and thanks. For some reason they were closed when the post published – I’ve fixed.

  • Scott

    At $18 million per year, was Soriano overpaid? Yes. Not that he wasn’t an $18 million guy in his 40-40 season (or you could argue that he might have been worth that money), but that year was a career year for him, and then he (shockingly!) returned to his .280/30/90 form the following year.

    It’s not like the guy didn’t produce and wasn’t a good guy in the clubhouse (from what I’ve read) so let’s stop acting like the Soriano deal was a major disaster. It just simply wasn’t a great deal. As pointed out in this article though, huge contracts never are. I’m going to wager that the Angels will fare worse with their Hamilton & Pujols contracts when all is said and done than the Cubs did with the Soriano deal.

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