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I've been watching the Bears shut out the Jets and away from my computer, so I just now learned of the Cubs' signing of Alfonso Soriano to an estimated 8-year, $136 million contract, which would by far be the richest contract in club history.

As I said in the title of this post: Well.

Well, well, well. For all of you who constantly complained that the Cubs never signed a top-tier, big-name free agent, now they have done so.

Is he the RIGHT guy for the slot that needs to be filled? Clearly, he has been signed to lead off and play center field, a position he has never before played. It will be a learning curve for him, but there's spring training to work on that -- and you can bet that at that sort of money, he won't be refusing to play a position, as he did briefly last year with the Nationals.

Soriano has been known as a free swinger throughout his career, though he significantly increased his walk rate in 2006. If he were coming here under Mr. Hackamatic, Dusty Baker, I'd worry about him breaking Adam Dunn's season K record.

But the Cubs have a new batting coach, Gerald Perry, who helps preach patience at the plate, and I don't see any reason why Soriano couldn't continue to do what he did last year. His 2006 splits show that he hit for a better average outside of Washington, and had almost equal power (.561 SLG at home, .558 on the road).

Yes, by year 6 or 7 or 8 of this deal, it'll look like an albatross. But if the Cubs really can shore up the starting pitching, suddenly they have three major power threats (Lee, Ramirez, Soriano) and one minor one (Barrett, if he's not dealt). The lineup's far better than it was a year ago.

Congratulations, Jim Hendry. I think. If nothing else, he just created a big-name buzz for the 2007 Cubs.

UPDATE [2006-11-19 15:29:14 by Al]: Please! I know you're excited. There's a diary started before I got a chance to post, and this main-page post, on Soriano. Let's keep the Soriano talk to those two threads, please, at least for today. Thanks.