Free agent outfielder Alfonso Soriano has agreed to an 8-year contract worth $136 million, according to a report by the Associated Press. Soriano was believed to be the Phillies primary target.
Getting caught up on the latest news, those 175-plus comments in the previous thread weren’t all about Adam Eaton, as Soriano becomes the latest bat to drop off the board.
The mood here at Beerleaguer has been fairly mild, as innocuous as the hit that ended Donovan McNabb’s season yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field. I suspect there will be some outcry – somewhere far away where fans want the Phillies to open their wallet just to show they can. That hasn’t been the case here. Readers have been generally reluctant. If the Cubs want to turn their franchise into the Soriano show for the next eight seasons, that’s their business. Lots of luck riding the wave with Carlos Zambrano, Rich Hill, Wade Miller and the 60-day disabled-list duo.
As I wrote last night, the Phillies can't ignore the real issue anymore; they can only improve pitching now that Soriano is off the table. This happened much earlier than expected. I guess $136 million will do that.
I suspect all the teams that missed out on the Soriano sweepstakes will try to make trades. Moises Alou was more attractive than Carlos Lee in many ways. He's reportedly going to the Mets. The Astros, for example, can't go into next season without improving their offense. I see Lee as a fit there. In addition, San Fran needs bats. LAA is a bat or two away from winning that division. San Diego needs bats. The Phillies return next season with the top run-scoring offense in the National League, plus the addition of Wes Helms. They’re going to be okay.
A couple of changes occurred yesterday. Besides Soriano’s reported agreement, Pat Burrell’s two-year, $27-million contract status went from poor to reasonable because of the sizemic shift in the market. Gillick can't wait to unload Burrell. Well, Mr. Gillick, the Cubs have forced you to readjust your thinking, even if his lasting image of Burrell is taking a called third. Burrell has either become more valuable in a trade, or more valuable as a Phillie - and I'm fairly certain I'd take Burrell over Lee and whatever he's about to command.
Looking at the roster, the Phils lack a setup man and have concerns at closer, so a deal for free agent closer Joe Borowski or right-hander David Weathers must get done.
Besides that, what can they do? The best starters don't want to come here. The rest - like Eaton, Randy Wolf - might get you there, but who knows? Run a good spring training, get your team ready, and hope you don't start 10-14 for a third-consecutive season.
Despite the setback, the Phillies are sitting on many positives, including Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, all cheap for many years. Without a doubt, that situation is the best thing going in Philadelphia sports.