If anyone on the planet is really, truly, passionately praying for the world to end soon, it's Jim Hendry. After all, he's the guy that is writing checks to Alfonso Soriano that total $18M for... wait for it... three more years after 2011 ends.
The rapture might be the best hope for the Cubs to dump Soriano's salary on someone.
But there might be a way the Cubs continue hanging a Soriano jersey in the locker room, but dump a headache.
Soriano has an on-base percentage under .300, and is the only person who could, somehow, not catch the plague. Indeed, the way he plays left field, I often expect to see him seated on a folding chair, depositing quarters and waiting for the sliding door to rise; he likes to watch.
And he's making $18,000,000.
Let's put that number into context. The Tampa Bay Rays are in first place - ahead of the Yankees and Red Sox - and their total team payroll is under $42M this year. Meanwhile, the defense we watch from Soriano makes me want to ask for a courtesy flush.
But there's a chance the Cubs could dump Soriano... for... Soriano?
One of the biggest disappointments in baseball this year has been the New York Yankees. The offseason was a circus for the pinstripes; Derek Jeter felt disrespected by negotitions being made public, and the owners went behind the general manager's back to sign a player the team really didn't need. Now that the season has started, Jorge Posada has benched himself and Jeter has required a conference call after supporting his teammate blasting the manager.
One of the perceived cancers on the roster has been the player the Steinbrenners wanted more than Brian Cashman. Rafael Soriano, who was an electric closer in Atlanta last year, signed a three-year, $35M contract... to be a set-up man for God's gift to the ninth inning, Mariano Rivera.
Since then, Soriano has become the butt of jokes and target of hatred in the Bronx. He has a 5.40 ERA, 1.733 WHIP and his strikeout-to-walk ratio has plummetted from 4.07 last year to 0.91 this year. He was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to May 14 with elbow inflamation, but if anything's bloated around this Soriano, it's his salary.
Meanwhile, the Yankees still have a problem with Posada. He's supposed to be their designated hitter, but he done more whining than running this season. As bad as Chicago's Soriano has been, Posada has only six home runs and 16 runs batted in to go with a .197 batting average.
The only thing Posada's been producing is soundbites.
Alfonso Soriano came up as a Yankee, and would be (as hard as this is to admit with a straight face) an upgrade at DH for New York. Rafael Soriano has been nothing but a headache, but the issues the Cubs have had with their starting pitching, having another experienced arm in the bullpen wouldn't be an awful idea.
The Cubs would have to eat money if this deal hit the table. Factoring a full salary for 2011, Alfonso has $72M left on his contract, which is more than twice what the Yankees have signed up to pay Rafael.
Tom Ricketts has already written a check to make Carlos Silva disappear this year, which indicates that he (shockingly) might actually have the best interests of his team in mind. Would he be willing to pay $37M over four years to make Alfonso Soriano disappear? Does he have a better option?