Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hendry Gets the Job Done

Just before midnight last night, Jim Hendry signed Aramis Ramirez to a five year contract worth in excess of $70 million. There is also a mutual option for 2012. The signing came just before ARam could have started negotiating with other teams.

A lot of Cubs fans through Cubs blogdom were convinced that not signing ARam would have meant the Cubs would have had no chance of competing in 2007. I didn't agree with that sentiment, but I did feel the Cubs would be a better team with ARam than without him, no matter who they would have replaced him with.

So congratulations, Jim. You got the job done (even though you did wait until the very last minute to get it done). Now it's time to start attracting some other free agents and start working on some trades. Signing ARam was the easy part. Now your job really gets interesting.

BTW, Big Jim also signed Kerry Wood to a one year, $1.75 million contract that includes lots of incentives. Wood will likely be part of the bullpen since his elbow problems don't allow him to throw enough pitches to be a starter. I'm okay with Wood returning to the Cubs. The poor guy has been an injury fest over the past few years, but I've never gotten the idea that he was just being lazy. He's a competitor and if he can stay healthy, his addition should improve the bullpen.

Finally, I wish someone could explain to me the posting process for Matsuzaka. Actually, I understand the process. What I don't understand is why a team would hesitate to bid on him. From all accounts, Matsuzaka is a top of the rotation pitcher that will improve any team he joins. Whoever wins the right to sign him will also be immediately increasing their presence in Japan, a country that loves American baseball and spends lots of money on merchandise.

The posting fee (no matter how large) is not a huge risk because the team that wins the bid gets their money back if they are unable to sign Matsuzaka to a contract. And since Matsuzaka is not interested in returning to Japan next year (as reports have indicated), he would likely accept a reasonable offer.

Signing Matsuzaka would also immediately give the team that signs him a huge trading chip if they decide they are interested in other players. For instance, if the Cubs win the bidding, sign Matsuzaka, and then decide it is in their best interest to trade him, The Yankees would probably be willing to give up a ton, including ARod and perhaps Robinson Cano.

Different reports have indicated that the Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees were the top bidders. Obviously, not all of these reports can be correct. The winning bidder will be announced by Tuesday, November 14, assuming the Seibu Lions accept the bid. The winning team will have 30 days to negotiate a contract. If a contract can not be agreed upon, the team will get back their entire bid and Matsuzaka will return to play in Japan in 2007.


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