Do you remember when Joba Chamberlain was Mariano Rivera’s heir apparent? It’s been nearly four years and a swarm of midges since that sort of talk, so if you can’t – don’t waste your time trying. The real successor (or so they say) just arrived — all 3 years, $35 million of him.
I got queasy when I heard the New York Yankees planned to sign Tampa Bay closer Rafael Soriano for $35M over three years and a first round pick that Cashman swore we’d never give up. All of that for a setup man? Wasn’t this supposed to be the new sensible shoes Yankees – the ones who build their farm system and attempt self-control on the free agency market? I suppose it depends on whether you’re a glass half full type or not.
Rafael Soriano is tested and proven in the AL East, he’s a Rivera injury away from being one hell of a bargain, and with him, our bullpen should be one of the best in the league (Joe Girardi’s mismanagement notwithstanding). Last season, he had 45 saves with a sterling 1.78 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. Nice, right? Check out his combined line with Mo:
122.1 IP, 78-86 saves-opportunities, 75 hits, 24 ER, 25 BB, 102 K, 0.82 WHIP, 1.77 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 5.52 H/9, 1.84 BB/9, 7.50 K/9, 4.08 K:BB, and an opponents BA around .170.
Soriano is a good reliever, but he’s not Mo reincarnated/$11.M+ per/first round pick good. And at 31 years old, he never will be.
1. Soriano had major elbow surgeries in 2004 and 2008 (Tommy John and ulnar nerve), which makes him a rickety insurance policy who will only deteriorate with age
2. He’s doing what David Robertson and Pedro Feliciano can do nearly as well at an obscene markup for one, maybe two, innings of work
3. Flyball rate: 50%. Groundball: 31%. xFIP vs lefties: 4.42 (career: 4.13). How’s that sounding for Yankee Stadium? Fear not – I just cringed so you don’t have to.
The glass half empty stuff and the cost notwithstanding, I like this. Any time the Yankees enter the 8th inning with a lead, I will fully expect the other team to surrender immediately, pack up their bags, and get back on the bus. When they don’t, I’ll be offended that they have the audacity to think they can compete.
But what about those days when C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes aren’t pitching? Two games a week (or three if Bad A.J. is on the mound), we may see Soriano trotting out in the 7th or 8th to protect a 6-3 Yankee deficit. Potentially being the best bridge to the closer since Mariano had the role in 1996 won’t count for much then.
And that, boys and girls, is where Andy Pettitte comes in! Can I get a huzzah?
We’re supposed to believe that Andy Pettitte is in month three of his annual Brett Favre routine. The notion offends me. The only thing he’s doing is waiting to see if the Yankees are committed to beating the Boston Red Sox’s soul-crushing lineup and contending for a title. If he isn’t, why hasn’t he called it a day?
Andy’s a bulldog who can still compete at an elite level, but he won’t give up time with his family to endure a season of futility. By signing Soriano, Pedro Feliciano, and David Robertson, and leaving plenty of cash to spare for other acquisitions (please, not Andruw Jones), Brian Cashman proved that though he’s still not above signing players for way too much money, New York is ready to put up a title fight.
Any time now, Mr. Pettitte. Any time. Please? For a half season? Christ. I’m so delusional.