Well it’s official, the Alfonso Soriano era in Chicago is now over, and that comes with mixed feelings among Cubs fans. Soriano carried the Cubs in 2007 and 2008, the first two seasons with the club as the Cubs made the playoffs both years only to fizzle out. During these seasons Soriano was beloved, chants of Sor-i-ano could be heard all over the Country as Cubs fans flocked to opposing teams ballparks during the stretch run. I was one of those fans, I still remember going to Cincinnati in September of 2007 to watch Soriano blast home run after home run as the Cubs closed in on a division title. Post 2008 was a different story, the Cubs are 335-418 since winning the division with a 97-64 record in 2008. This is where most of the mixed feelings come from, Soriano was signed to an eight year contract worth $136 million by then general manager Jim Hendry. There was no way that Soriano could live up to that contract, especially given the fact that his legs basically gave out in 2009 which resulted in a .241 average and only twenty home runs. Soriano had somewhat of a resurgence the last two years which won some fans back, but the majority of the fans that will miss him will miss him for his leadership.
As Dale Sveum said yesterday, Soriano is one of the top five professional players that he has been around in this game. His work ethic, his leadership, his ability to play in a big market and never get too high or low based on his performance are things that will be missed. But today is a big day for the Cubs, they have finally moved out of the Jim Hendry era and seem to be pointed in the right direction. The only player remaining from the 2008 team is Jeff Samardzija, the longest tenured position player is now Starlin Castro, think about that, and I think that’s a good thing. Today, MLB approved a deal that is sending Soriano back to the Yankees and Corey Black will be coming over to the Cubs. Black is a twenty one year-old right handed pitcher with a big arm. Black has routinely hit 100 mph, and sits consistently at 95 mph, that’s an arm that works in the bullpen at the major league level. As you can imagine, a guy with that arm has a lot of walks, a lot of strikeouts, and doesn’t get hit too often. In 131 innings as a pro Black has given up three home runs, three. So best of luck to Soriano in New York, can’t say that I’m sad to see him leave, but I do appreciate how hard he worked on a bad team, bottom line is that he needed to go in order for the Cubs to completely move forward, and they are ready to do that.
What about the money?? Soriano has about $6.5 million remaining on this years $18 million salary, and is owed $18 million again next year. The Yankees will pay $6.8 million of the remaining balance, $1.8 M in 2013 and $5 M in 2014. So the Cubs are still going to eat the majority of the money.