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It's Official: The Market Is Insane

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My scotch-and-water falls to the floor, my jaw drops, I get a little catatonic for a moment or two.

Soriano gets 136 million dollars over 8 years.

My goodness.

It's not the 17 million per that amazes so much as the eight years. Ramirez had already signed for 15 million a year, and if anything, Soriano was felt to be valued slightly higher, whatever yours truly felt about his strikeout rate.

But eight years? Ay-yi-yi.

I'm not even sure what made the Cubs feel that Soriano will still be in baseball eight years from now. He turns 31 in January, which means that he will be nearly 39 when the contract runs out. And using the Similar Batters through Age 30 thang over at Baseball-Reference, you see that, excluding those not old enough yet, 7 of the 8 most similar batters to Soriano at age 30 were out of baseball by the time they were 39, in most cases well before.

Howard Johnson is rated as most similar of all, and the Cubs I'm sure are hoping that it ain't so, because after finishing fifth in the MVP race and being named an All-Star in the season around his 30th birthday, Howard Johnson was out of baseball by the time he was 35.

Now, I'm sure the Cubs aren't entirely on the hook, and that a couple of those years are gonna turn out to be club options, but still: if you're worth 17.5 million one year, you're probably not gonna be out of baseball the next.

Although I doubt it, you might be able to convince me that Soriano is going to be worth his contract in 2007 and 2008. Maybe, just maybe, he'll repeat the 8.6 WARP season he had with the Nationals in 2006 next year--and the year after that. At two million dollars a win, Soriano would thus be earning his keep.

But with his famously poor discipline, he's just as likely to revert to what he did in Texas: WARP scores in the 3-1/2 to four range.

None of this matters to us Houston Astro fans, of course. We're used to seeing the Cubs make questionable decisions. What matters, of course, is what the Soriano contract does to the rest of the market. Again, not so much in terms of the money, but in terms of the time.

With the Giants looking hard at many of the players we're interested in, you have to wonder if San Francisco might be willing to do something nonsensical, like offering an overweight Carlos Lee six years, or offering a currently no-better-than average Ted Lilly four years. Even if the Astros retain their sensibilities, it's no guarantee that their competitors will.

Which means that, even in a year where we finally have some money to play around with, we STILL may not be able to acquire a prime offensive free agent, simply because it makes no sense to pay the going rate.

I don't know. Maybe 29 GM's wake up tomorrow morning saying "I'm not letting that happen to me," but odds are, Carlos Lee is much less signable tonight.