Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 14, 2011
BASEBALL: Perfect Fit

Rafael Soriano to the Yankees is a perfect marriage of player and team. Let us count the ways.

1) The 31 year old Soriano's an outstanding pitcher, with a career ERA+ of 156 (165 in his years in the AL), and last year's 0.6 HR/9, 2.0 BB/9, 8.2 K/9 line, while a little off his career mark in the strikeout department, is more than adequate to sustain continued pitching at a high level. Granted, Soriano benefitted from a bizarrely low .199 BABIP, which is unsustainable, but his career mark of .243 across three organizations (2009's .281 was his only even semi-full season above .260) suggests some degree of ability to influence that line. (This is not unheard-of with short relievers; Mariano has a career BABIP of .263 and has only been over .300 once - 2007, when he posted an uncharacteristic 3.15 ERA - despite being a groundball pitcher working in front of frequently subpar defensive infields).

2) Signing Soriano takes him away from the Rays.

3) Both sides get Mariano Rivera insurance; the Yankees sign a potential successor closer, but Soriano gets options to bail out of the deal after the first year or two if Mo looks like he's going to go on like this forever.

4) The Yankees, with their vast budget, are uniquely situated to absorb the inherent injury risks carried by a guy with Soriano's checkered (to put it mildly) injury history (Soriano missed most of the 2004, 2005 and 2008 seasons).

5) By bringing in a guy who's capable of being a top-tier setup man and emergency closer, the Yankees take the heat off Joba (and to a lesser extent Hughes, although Hughes is now fairly well-entrenched in the rotation); the Yankees can focus more on dealing Joba or putting him where he will thrive best, rather than being driven by team needs.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:47 PM | Baseball 2011 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Love the acquisition. I think it means Pettite is not coming back. Unless Posada has a really good year-this is probably it for him also.

Posted by: dch at January 14, 2011 5:01 PM

Good post. I like this trade as well. Not sure what effect it has on Pettitte. One commentator mentioned that trade sets the Yanks up well pitching-wise vis-a-vis the Red Sox, and therefore shows Pettitte that he has a chance to win again with the Yanks next year.

Posted by: MVH at January 14, 2011 5:16 PM

It would seem this (along with the other moves by TB) would take them out of the arms race of the AL East this year which is not a bad thing from either a Sox or Yankee perspective. The Yankees are always to be feared but I look at their line-up and I see old catcher, old shortstop, getting old thirdbase man and old closer (okay, in robot years he's still young I guess). Providing the Mariners don't fork over King Felix on a gold plated platter the rotation is CC and 4 other guys. Still a dangerous team, especially in the regular season, but not quite the juggernaut line-up of the past.

Posted by: jim at January 14, 2011 5:49 PM

I think this is a panic move by the Yankees. They are paying Soriano $12 million a year to be a middle reliever? He has a long history of injury (he's never had three straight healthy seasons), so if he gets hurt in year one, the Yankees are stuck with him for the length of the contract. Even if he is healthy and effective, that is still a ridiculous amount of money for a middle reliever. It makes the contract the Red Sox signed Jenks to seem quite reasonable in comparison.

Posted by: Paul H. at January 15, 2011 9:31 AM

basically the Yanks now have 2 of the top 5 relievers in MLB now on the same team. Rivera, GOAT, is 40 and can get hurt or decline at anytime, probably wont, hope he doesn't, but its a possibility. If he sees a better market opportunity he can leave and we are off the hook, if he stays, he is slated to be Mariano's successor

Posted by: dch at January 15, 2011 4:38 PM
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