Rafael Soriano: Super Setup Man
Some say that the Yankees overpaid for former Rays closer Rafael Soriano when they signed him to a 3 year/$35 million contract. To that, I say, "No they didn't! The Red Sox have a higher payroll, and the Yankees need to do whatever it takes to get back on top!"
Well, I don't think they overpaid, but that's not why. To me, Soriano is more than just a setup man. And for that, he is worth every penny.
Rafael Soriano makes the entire Yankees pitching staff better. He has a defined role: he is the setup man, and that's final. The 8th inning belongs to him. And of course, the 9th is Mo's. Remember what seems like a long time ago when the Yankees signed Pedro Feliciano? He's a lefty specialist, which means Boone Logan, who served as the lone lefty reliever for most of the 2010 season, might be able to pitch full innings, since the Yankees will still have another lefty reliever.
If the Yankees can utilize Logan/Soriano/Rivera with a little Feliciano sprinkled in, the games become much shorter for this shaky starting rotation. So if the bullpen will perform the way I think it will, I can live with an Opening Day starting rotation of Sabathia/Burnett/Hughes/Nova/Mitre. But with Pettitte probably gone, I do believe the Yankees will add someone.
Another benefit the Yankees now have since signing Rafael Soriano, is that he may present the Great Mariano Rivera with more save opportunities. Currently, Rivera is second all-time in saves with 559 to Trevor Hoffman and his impressive total of 601. Hoffman recently announced his retirement, and Rivera will play for at least two more seasons.
Obviously, with his 1.73 ERA and 45 saves last season, Soriano is an improvement over almost any relief pitcher in the game. If he can throw shut-down 8th innings (as opposed to the messes Joba Chamberlain created), Mariano Rivera can potentially have more saves, and become the All-Time Saves King.
One question the acquisition of Rafael Soriano raises, is where does Joba Chamberlain fit in?
I've heard a lot, but the idea I like best is that the Yankees may listen to trade offers involving Chamberlain for a viable starter. Since Chamberlain's trade value has dropped drastically since 2008, the Yankees most likely will not get anyone too great for him. But all they need is a solid 4th or 5th starter anyway, so I am perfectly fine with having Joba traded. I feel that the Joba Chamberlain of 2007 will never return, and there is no sense in keeping him around when the Yankees have other voids to fill.
If the Yankees can acquire a starting pitcher in a trade with Joba Chamberlain that can help to further solidify their starting rotation, the Rafael Soriano signing is that much better. Potentially, the addition of Soriano can dramatically improve the bullpen, shorten games, and improve the starting rotation.
Maybe this deal was a bargain...
by Virginia Califano