Cubs Sign Soriano

ESPN is reporting the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a $136 million, 8 year deal with Alfonso Soriano. 

What does that mean for the Astros and the rest of the NL Central?  To me, it means the Astros are now under the gun to sign Carlos Lee to at least a 5 year deal.  I believe they can get away with paying him $13 million a year.  With the example the Cubs have set, Lee is going to want a long term deal, and 5 years is the minimum the Astros should offer.  I would feel safer with 6 though–no more than that.  $78-80 million for 6 years is not really that bad and I believe Lee will outproduce Soriano. 

Soriano strikes out at a rate of 1 of 4 plate appearances, Lee hardly ever strikes out.  I’ve always been of the opinion that the Astros don’t need a high-priced and more glitzy version of Preston Wilson.  I’m glad the Cubs signed him because as an Astros fan and a Chicago native, I’m going to enjoy watching all those K’s with runners in scoring position.

This signing is a good day for the Astros fans because it puts Tim Purpura on the hot seat and I expect an announcement of Carlos Lee’s signing in the next few days.  We may end up overpaying for Lee, but at least it won’t be as bad as the scalping the Cubs got.

That still leaves holes at starting pitching and the dilemma at 3rd.  I am of the opinion that the Astros should go ahead and pay Aubrey Huff the $7 million or so he’ll want and get a consistent, stable player who’s career average of .285 is nothing to sneeze at.

To get Clemens and Pettitte back, the Astros should go ahead and sign Houstonian Woody Williams quickly and then trade Lidge or Ensberg for Jake Westbrook or Jason Jennings.  Trading Hirsh or Buchholz for Johnny Estrada would also be a very smart move.

Trading Lidge does leave a small hole in the bullpen, but I believe Qualls, Wheeler and Nieve can step right in.  If the Astros can accomplish what I’ve laid out, it will not only have been a very productive off-season that will field a very good team on opening day 2007, but it will show all the fans who think extending Tim Purpura’s contract was a mistake, that Drayton McLane really does know what he’s doing and wants to put out a winning team on the field year in and year out.

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16 comments

  1. Thomas

    That signing is just freaking crazy… Good for the Cubs for handing out stupid money. This scares me though… 17 million for Soriano and Lee is about as good as him… Hope Lee doesn’t want stupid money as well. 5 years 13 million for Lee would make me happy.

    http://www.crawfishboxes.com

  2. Rita

    Hey, 6 years $13-14 million for Lee is fine by me. Lee will outproduce Soriano who is now not in a contract year and will be lazy in the outfield or second base, wherever they put him.

    He’s a more expensive Preston Wilson and I have a feeling that by 2008 All Star Break, the Cubs will be shopping him already.

  3. kayleexxx@aol.com

    I agree a 5 year 13 million deal for lee would make me happy..soriano is just going to a losing team when is the last time the cubs were in the postseason? He wanted out of Washington for that same reason didnt he? This deal makes no sense to me.

  4. kayleexxx@aol.com

    And the diamondbacks are shopping ESTRADA they have too many catchers……a year ago they were struggling top find one now they have too many hmmmmmmmm…..i agree sign huff.

  5. Rita

    Kaylee–Soriano was out for the money as soon as the word got out that he wanted a Beltran type deal. I knew at that point the Astros were out of the running.

    As for Estrada, I believe a package of Buchholz and Astacio or Hirsh will get the Astros their catcher for the future. I’ve been calling for that for a couple weeks now. I hope Tim P pulls the trigger for Estrada.

  6. kayleexxx@aol.com

    I wonder if Estrada will accept a backup role though he was not too happy with it last year here in Arizona of course he started complaining in September when they were playng Miguel Montero and Chris Snyder in front of him

  7. Kellia

    Actually, I am hoping Estrada will end up with the Giants. It looks like Mike Matheny won’t be back because of Post-Concussion syndrome. Kaylee is right, Estrada didn’t like ending up as the backup. He had a good batting average and was Mr. Clutch for the D’Backs much of the year. The question is his health. Was it only ulcers and does he have them under control.

    The D’backs do need pitching, so a Hirsh or Buchholts for Estrada deal would be possible.

    Kellia

    Life, Baseball & a guy I would like to see traded to the Giants.

    http://byrnesblog.mlblogs.com

  8. Thomas

    It would be cool to get Estrada, but I’m still pulling for the Astros to try and reel in Bengie Molina… He’s a free agent, so he won’t cost anything in trade. If the D-backs want Astacio, I’d give them Astacio and Wandy for free lunch next time in AZ.

    I’ll be mildly surprised if Ausmus gets 100 starts this year. If the Astros sign Molina/Estrada, I could easily see them both(Molina/Estrada and Ausmus) getting around 80 starts each.

  9. kayleexxx@aol.com

    Kellia I dont now that he wants to play with the giants.But i agree the diamondbacks are desperate for pitching right Now.

  10. Rita

    Thomas, the problem the Astros have is that they don’t have money left to get Molina at even $6 million because they’ll still be paying Ausmus $3.5 million. They also have a surplus of young starters and trading one of them (Hirsh or Buchholz) for Estrada makes much more sense for the future.

    Even with both Clemens and Pettitte back, I don’t see Ausmus behind the plate more than 2 times in 5 games. Whether the Astros go after Estrada (who has better numbers than Molina, BTW) or settle for Quintero/Gimenez, Ausmus won’t be catching 4 of 5 guys.

  11. Thomas

    If we can get Molina for 6, we can’t use the philosophy that just because we’re paying Aumus 3.5 mil to play cather that we can’t sign Molina. Signing Molina would be as much for the future of that position as it would be for next year. So we’re paying close to 10 mil for the catcher position over all this year.. next year we won’t be. I know Estrada has better numbers… but I don’t see the Diamondbacks letting him go cheaply just because they have a surplus.

    We might have a surplus of Young starters… but we don’t have a surplus of proven starters and there’s a chance that both Andy and Roger retire. Unless we’re going to get some help in FA or through trade, we’re going to need every starter we can get. We need starting pitching more than we need another catcher.

  12. Thomas

    Oh, and I totally agree that Ausmus should start 2 out of 5 games… but I’m not real sure the Astros will do that. Quintero impressed me this year with his arm and he’s doing pretty good in the Venezuelan league… if he can keep his bat up to be even a serviceable offensive player, I wouldn’t be totally upset with him and Aumus sharing duties this year. Quintero did really well in his limited playing time this year with the ‘Stros

  13. astrobrit@googlemail.com

    I totally disagree with Huff. The guy just couldn’t get the job done every time he stepped up to the plate. His numbers are awful with RISP.

    Signing Williams and trading for a pitcher is a good idea as long as Scott, Taveras and Burke are off limits in trades.

    Can we afford a catcher if we go after Lee, Clemens and Pettitte?

    http://astrobrit.tripod.com/baseball

  14. Rita

    I believe Huff’s consistency is more important in this particular case than his numbers with RISP because Ensberg’s RISP numbers aren’t that great either.

    I can see trading Taveras for a pitcher, but not Burke. There really is no one to take Biggio’s place at 2nd in 2008.

    Getting a catcher via free agency is too pricey for the Astros especially if they have to pay Lee $15 million a year, but, they can go after Estrada who should only make about $2-3 million for the next couple of years. The Diamondbacks want young pitching for him and the Astros can deal Buchholz and Astacio or Hirsh for Estrada.

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