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Mad about Manny (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday November 29, 2006 11:50AM; Updated: Thursday November 30, 2006 1:28PM
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Alderson: Sori deal a sorry deal

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The Cubs are winning some friends (for instance, agents, players, North Siders starving for a winner) but their blank-check negotiating style isn't impressing everyone in baseball. As a high-ranking Major League Baseball executive five winters ago, Sandy Alderson decried some monster contracts and appears prescient now to have predicted that the teams who signed off on them would come to regret them, or at least come to realize they overpaid (Mike Hampton comes to mind). And Alderson, now president of the Padres, sees the same thing happening now as in the spend-happy winter of 2000-01.

"There are a couple contracts out there that would suggest history is repeating,'' Alderson told SI.com. "It's hard for me to understand how you can justify $136 million for a player of Soriano's caliber. I don't know what justifies that contract, other than a lousy won-loss record over the last several years.''

The $136 million is about $50 million over what was predicted for Soriano, and almost that much above what the Angels, one of the finalists, were aiming to pay.

Some have suggested a possible sale of the Cubs by the Tribune Company could have something to do with that sky-high price. But Alderson said, "Even the sale wouldn't justify it. If anyone's interested in the Cubs, they are buying a brand. They aren't buying the composition of specific players on the field. The Cubs are a brand, like the Red Sox or Yankees.

Alderson said his Padres came into the market with significant money to spend and that they were targeting outfielders and a third baseman, but that "in some of these cases, we couldn't even get agents to call us back.''

If they had, they weren't going to hear eight-figure contract offers, anyway. Now Alderson and his baseball people are taking time to reevaluate things. "We still have a mandate to improve the team. It does no good to grouse about the circumstances,'' Alderson said. "We still have to figure a way to improve the team within the marketplace that exists. In some cases it might be the best course of action to see what shakes out over the next week or ten days.''


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