"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


Some thoughts on the Rafael Soriano signing…

Steve Goldman at the Pinstriped Bible writes:

Soriano has a checkered injury history, and there is a better-than-average chance that somewhere in the course of his deal the Yankees will pay him to soak up the post-surgical sun. Despite this, the worst-case scenario is that they have a very qualified eighth-inning pitcher who can close on the off chance that Mariano Rivera needs to rest/is injured/suddenly pitches his age. Still, the Yankees had good bullpen resources and a lot of additional options for the pen in whichever of their 900 starting prospects they choose to demote from the rotation and groom for middle relief. Further, as good as Soriano is, he’s only going to give you somewhere between 60 and 75 innings, and as bad as some of the relievers looked in the 2010 postseason, those innings aren’t going to be so much better than what the holdovers would have delivered that the extra outs really justify the move. There has to be another shoe yet to drop for this move to make sense.

Joe P at River Ave:

In terms of the 2011 team, there are no complaints. The Yankees had plenty of money to spend, and they certainly upgraded the back end of the bullpen. This will lead to a greater enjoyment of the 2011 season. The Yanks might win a few games that they otherwise would have lost, and we will all be a little less irritable the next mornings. That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is what this means for the 2012 and 2013 teams.

…In Soriano the Yankees get an excellent reliever who can help lockdown the endgame. It cost them a lot of money relative to his potential contribution, and it cost them the chance to draft a young player. If he stays healthy and locks down the eighth inning before sliding into the closer’s role for the final year of the deal, it might end up working out. But knowing what we know now, about relievers in general and Soriano specifically, I’m not too excited over this deal. Though I realize I’ll sleep that much easier during the 2011 season.

Ovet at It’s About the Money, Stupid, Jason likes Soriano but isn’t wild about losing a draft pick to the Rays.

Larry Koestler adds:

Soriano has been one of the 15 best relievers in the game during the last three seasons, so this isn’t exactly Kyle Farnsworth redux (although it is eerily similar to Steve Karsay, another injury-prone pitcher who happened to be the fifth-best reliever in baseball by fWAR over the three seasons preceding his signing with the Yankees in 2002), but it’s still a pretty ugly deal. To focus on the positives for a moment, the Yankees’ 8th-9th inning endgame should be quite treacherous for opponents to deal with, although that’s also assuming they’re able to deliver Soriano and Mariano Rivera a lead — no sure thing with the uncertainty in the rotation.

And that’s probably the aspect of this deal that I find most critical. The money’s bad, but the greater problem is that Brian Cashman still hasn’t done anything about the gaping hole also known as the Yankees’ fourth and fifth starters. As literally every single person on my Twitter feed has noted, the silver lining to this move could (and should) be the rightful move of Joba Chamberlain back to the rotation. There is literally no reason to keep him in the ‘pen now. Unfortunately Chad Jennings already spoke to someone with the Yankees, and apparently there have still been no internal discussions about moving Joba back to the rotation. Here’s holding out hope that perhaps that’s just another “we won’t surrender a draft pick for a relief pitcher” red herring, but if they were planning on converting Joba back to a starter I’m not sure why they’d be playing it this close to the vest.

The crew at NoMaas do not like the deal and I don’t think Steve Lombardi is too impressed either.

MLB Trade Rumors has more.

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Hot Stove  Trade Rumors  Yankees

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1 monkeypants   ~  Jan 14, 2011 9:36 am

Few things will be sweeter than watching Joba, Soriano and Mo close out all those victories for Sergio Mitre.

2 Professor Longnose   ~  Jan 14, 2011 9:40 am

With luck, "Joba is a reliever now" will mean as much as "We won't surrender a draft pick for Soriano."

3 ms october   ~  Jan 14, 2011 9:52 am

[1] his luck is on the uptick!!

[2] i guess "we won't surrender a draft pick for soriano" replaces "bubba crosby is our cf" in cashman speak lore.

4 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 14, 2011 9:57 am

Anyone who ever believes what comes out of a general manager's mouth, or an agent's mouth, or an athlete's mouth, needs to check themselves.

5 bp1   ~  Jan 14, 2011 10:01 am

I think Goldman is in the right track with "another shoe to drop". I just can't believe they will leave Joba dangling in some unspecified middle relief role. The dude still hit 98 on the gun last year. My guess is he gets packaged in a deal before or during Spring Training for something useful. He's still young, still hits 98, and he *did* pitch some excellent games as a starter. There is value there. With him heading to arbitration, I gotta believe there's a deal being made behind double closed doors.

Oh - and the real news would be if Steve Lombardi WAS impressed by anything the Yankees did. Dude is a negative nellie (as my Mom would say). I normally wouldn't say anything, but the article was linked and we're ok to comment. I stopped following his blog. Always complaining about something. Sorta sucked the fun out of it for me. Different strokes and all that.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 14, 2011 10:10 am

5) I know Steve is not a fan of Cashmans, that's for sure.

7 rbj   ~  Jan 14, 2011 10:11 am

[4] Yup. Cashman plays his cards very close to his vest. Which I am fine with. I don't consider it a bad deal -- this is Cliff Lee money that's being spent, at a greatly reduced rate. Plus it further weakens (along with Crawford) a divisional rival (who has Farthsworth!)

I'm more meh on it than anything else, but that's because the rotation looks like C.C. and, um, er, ah, Hughes, and um, er, ah, rain? Plus I expect Toronto to be better and even Baltimore to be competitive, rather than lying down. It doesn't address the main issue, but that can't be fixed anymore (Bonderman being the good option is not a good place to be.)

Come back, Andy! We need you.

8 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 14, 2011 10:12 am

Gammons tweeted that Randy Levine was the guy who went for this deal.

9 ms october   ~  Jan 14, 2011 10:23 am

[4] no doubt. i just find some of his lines hilarious.

[8] that's interesting. if i remember correctly gammons was who reported on the role of levine with the whole torre stuff.
i don't really trust gammons' information, but with that said, if randy levine is in fact making "baseball" decisions, which i think he is, i find that disturbing (even more disturbing than his mere presence).

10 Just Fair   ~  Jan 14, 2011 10:41 am

I am in the "team's better than yesterday" camp. And when the hell did draft picks become so freakin' important? It just reminds me of seeing people frantically working on their scratch off tickets.

11 Professor Longnose   ~  Jan 14, 2011 10:43 am

[4} Agreed. In Chamberlain's case, the Yankees have been putting into practice these particular words on Chamberlain for a while now, so I give it some weight, enough so that until I see something different happen I won't expect him in the rotation. I'll hope for it, though.

12 Raf   ~  Jan 14, 2011 11:11 am

[10] Draft picks lead to prospects that can be promoted or used as trade bait. The Rays have a bunch of first round picks in what may be one of the better drafts in years.

13 monkeypants   ~  Jan 14, 2011 11:31 am

[12] But one could argue that the Yankees have effectively traded a (future) prospect (i.e., the draft prick) + cash for Soriano. In that view, there is little difference between "losing" the draft pick to sign a free agent and trading a prospect for a veteran player.

14 OldYanksFan   ~  Jan 14, 2011 11:33 am

h/t RAB poster:
Via Bob Klapisch:

“He had no interest in paying Soriano $15 million a year, not when it was going to cost the Yankees a prospect in June’s draft. But Cashman was feeling pressure from ownership to make a move; he agreed to take on Soriano against his wishes. This was one of the few times since 2006, when George Steinbrenner withdrew from the day-to-day operations, that Cashman had been overruled.”

15 Raf   ~  Jan 14, 2011 12:33 pm

[14] If that's the case, why not sign Soriano to a "reasonable" contract? The Angels or other teams may have been in on Soriano, but I don't think any were in to the point where it would be for 3 years with opt out clauses added.

16 bags   ~  Jan 14, 2011 12:35 pm

Hold it. Steve Lombardi disagrees with something Cashman did or didn't do? I'm shocked. Shocked.

17 Greg G   ~  Jan 14, 2011 2:51 pm

If this turns out to be a situation where he is tutored by Mo and steps in as the new closer post-mo, I think it was a good deal.

It is curious that the Yanks went so high with the dollars as it appeared no other suitors were in that vicinity?

It seems to me that you would rather wor in Joba as a starter again then to trade him while his stock is relatively low. Honestly, how much worse could Joba be that Mitre?

Chamberlain was jerked around so much and everyone knows the Yanks have no patience to try out young pitchers. If going in to Spring Training they let Joba know he is the 4th or 5th starter, it might be the confidence boost he needs.

When he came on the scene Joba was all about energy and confidence. His mound antics are over the top at the end of innings, but it is obvious he feeds on the adrenaline (And a lot of pizzas).

I think that adrenaline and energy was what was missing most from what I saw of his limited time in starting.

Roger Clemens was very effective in career of keeping the fire going throughout the whole game, but that may or may not have been the effect of steroids?

I hope Joba gets another shot at starting. He had 4 pitches and that is two more than he is able to use as a setup man.

Joba looked like the heir apparent to Mo, and this (Signing of Soriano) is likely another blow to his confidence.

It will be interesting to see how and if he bounces back from this as a Yankee or as trade bait?

18 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 14, 2011 3:12 pm

[12] One thing to consider is whether the Rays can afford to sign all of those picks, many of whom will expect over slot money. The Rays may be in a position of having to draft lesser players in order to afford all of them, or draft a bunch of overslot guys with the ope that a few will sign.

19 Raf   ~  Jan 14, 2011 4:41 pm

[18] If the Rays don't sign them, they still get compensation picks in 2012.

20 MDF   ~  Jan 15, 2011 12:34 am

I see nothing wrong with this deal.

The bullpen gets stronger. Mo might get a few times off during the season in circumstances where he would have been used, potentially prolonging his career and, perhaps more significantly, prolonging his effectiveness this coming season and next.

Of course, signing an ace reliever doesn't give the team the starter that it needs.

But it also does nothing to prevent signing a starter.

I see too much Goldmanism creeping into The Banter, especially in the comments.

For me, that's the bigger problem.

21 Boatzilla   ~  Jan 15, 2011 4:07 am

The deal is Sweet. Period. The Yanks lost nothing and gained something. The money will always be there and draft picks are like fairy dust. The only difference between a draft pick and a lottery ticket is that with a draft pick even on the rare occasion you win, you still have a big chance to lose. Sign a great young athlete and he flames out in A ball. It's happened so many times it's almost predictable. Exhibit A: Brien Taylor. Cashman has made the team better and more competitive. It's that simple. They now have a better bullpen than any other team by far.

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