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Monday, November 20, 2006

Alfonso Soriano signs with the Cubs

By David

Five time all star Alfonso Soriano is headed to the north side of Chicago to help out a Cub team that limped to a 66-96 record last year. This perennial slugger and one of the brightest stars in the game today will be added to a potent lineup that already includes all stars Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee. By going out and signing the biggest name on the market early in the off season the Cubs have disguinished themselves as a team to reckon with in the NL Central.

Going back to his days as a Yankee, the knock on Soriano has been his inability to blend in as a team player and his lack for following directions. He proved last season after voluntarily switching to left field that he has started to break out of his shell and is now more of a team oriented player. Soriano inked an 8 year deal worth $136 million and this is unprecedent for a player who was undrafted coming out of the Dominican Republic. His contract is the fifth largest in baseball history and the largest in team history.

From the signing of manager Lou Piniella, to the re-signing of Aramis Ramirez and now this recent deal general manager Jim Hendry has invested heavily in bringing a winning product to Cubs fans. Still, with so much young pitching, an ambiguous bullpen and only one viable starting pitcher in Carlos Zambrano it's tough to envision this team making the playoffs next season.

With all the positive news surrounding the acquisition of Soriano it was lost today that the Cubs lost center fielder Juan Pierre to the Dodgers. He was an intrical part of the Marlins winning the World Series in 2003 and is one of, if not the best base stealer in the game. He was the table setter for the Cubbies last year and his presence will be greatly missed.

When you look down their lineup 1-8, the Cubs present major offensive threats with outfielders Alfonso Soriano, Matt Murton and Jacque Jones as well as Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Alone, Soriano and Ramirez combined for 84 home runs, 214 runs batted in and 84 doubles. These two sluggers will be relied upon heavily after the front office invested $211 million in these men this off season. Soriano also set a major league record as the first player to have at least 40 homers, 40 doubles and 40 steals in a season. He will be batting lead off for Chicago and will be sure to bring a plethora of fire power to the top of the order.

I am intrigued by the vision veteran manager Lou Piniella has for his new team. He took over the worst team in the NL with the knowledge that management would spend the money needed to bring a winning team to the north side of Chicago. The Cubs by far have made the most moves of any team this winter as they've gone on a spending spree to attract the best players. As the Yankees have proven time and time again despite how much offense you have, if you want to win you need good pitching and I don't feel at the present time that the Chicago Cubs have the pitching to be major players in the National League.

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