Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Soriano Was, Is, and Forever Will Be, a Bad Signing

I want to be clear that this is not reactionary from last nights outing. From the moment they rid themselves of their first round draft pick to overpay for an 8th inning releiver, I've been opposed to this deal. But last night revealed the flaw in this signing. You pay a guy $35 million to pitch one inning for you, and the truth of the matter is he isn't always going to get the job done. The idea that having Soriano shortens games only works if he pitches well, and even if he pitches well he can't pitch every game. Frankly, having Soriano pitch the 8th after pitching Monday night was a poor decision by Girardi. Its still early in the season, and unless you're in a save situation there's really no need to do that. But the fact of the matter is, you signed a player to shut down the 8th, signed him to a ton of money, and he didn't get the job done. Then he left the clubhouse before talking to the media leaving his teammates to answer questions. As Martin commented:

"I think he was there mentally," said Russell Martin, among those answering questions in Soriano's absence. "He was throwing the ball with conviction, I think." (Source) "I think." That's the best Martin can say about his pitcher because ultimately he doesn't know. But have no doubt about it, his teammates are already questioning his dedication, and this is the guy you paid $35 million to pitch one inning.

When Girardi was asked if perhaps closers just don't have the same intensity in non-save situations he answered: “It’s too early to judge that. That’s something we’ll have to evaluate as we go on.” (Source). Really? Because it seems every team he's ever pitched for would be able to tell you that he absolutely lacks intensity when asked to pitch in situations he feels are below him. Including the Rays who in their division series elimination game asked Soriano to pitch only to see him throw a fit for being asked to pitch in a non-save situation, and then watched him allow the Rangers to blow the game open.

Soriano is going to hold a lot of games for Mariano, I don't doubt that. But even then, this signing was, is, and forever will be one of the dumbest signings I'll ever get to witness. Even worse than Carl Pavano, because at least Pavano made for funnier punchlines.


Rich Mahogany said...

The Soriano contract would have been bad even if we needed a closer. Multi-year, big money contracts and relievers usually don't mix. The Yankees have been getting burned on big relief pitcher contracts since Steve Karsay but gave Soriano $35 million and 3 years anyway. I will never understand it.

I'm going to give Soriano the benefit of the doubt regarding his personality, even though what you wrote is fairly troubling. Every reliever has the occasional bad outing, and if Soriano can pitch scoreless innings, I don't care if he flips off the press. And if Swisher hadn't misplayed Young's bloop single into a double, maybe we would have won the game anyway. I'll save the second guessing for Girardi:

-Why use Soriano in the first place, when he had pitched the previous day and we have another six games ahead of us (including a series against the Red Sox) before an off day?

-With the bases loaded, two outs and the go-ahead run at the plate, why not bring in Rivera?

Neither of these are big second-guess issues. I just don't like it when Girardi reduces his bullpen strategy to "I use X pitcher in the Y inning."

Roberto E. Alejandro said...

I agree. That's so stupid. I'm fine with bullpen roles, but if he pitched the day before (having thrown 19 pitches in that game, on a cold day early in the season), then the arbitrary inning relief role doesn't make any sense. Robertson should've been in. No question.

Uncle Mike said...

Sabathia was pitching fine, he should have continued into the 8th.

And the only reason to pitch David Robertson is if there's been some sort of disaster and he's literally the last surviving Yankee reliever. Get him outta there!

Roberto E. Alejandro said...

I think that's unfair to Robertson. While he's often struggled early in the season, he's been decent for us. He certainly had better stuff than Soriano last night. The hit he gave up to Young was a bloop.

I like Sherman's take on the eighth inning issue:

"But surprisingly, manager Joe Girardi turned to Soriano, who had thrown 19 pitches the previous night. Girardi declared it is "because he's our eighth-inning guy." But what does that mean? If it is 5-0 in the eighth, does Soriano pitch? 6-0? 10-0?"

Fernando Alejandro said...

What's interesting about our signing of big money set up guys to longterm contracts is that not only have we not learned our lesson since the days of Steve Karsay, but the contracts have only gotten bigger, and included more years. That's whats so ridiculous about it. Farnsworth - Marte - Soriano all got 3 year deals for $17, $14, and $35 million dollars. I mean really?

Roberto E. Alejandro said...

I wonder if it's unfair to say that we haven't learned our lesson. Cashman was burned by Farnsy and Marte, and didn't want to sign Soriano. He seems to have exactly learned that lesson. It was ownership that imposed this trade on the Yanks, so we may have to specify which branch of the front office hasn't learned this lesson. This is why you have a GM, to make baseball decisions. Ownership didn't let that happen and we may end up paying big for it.

Tigs said...

Bring back Steve Howe!!

Tigs said...

Actually, apparently he's dead...

But really. His last year was absolutely painful, and they just kept bringing him in again and again.

I really didn't know that when I posted this, but I guess my point was and still is: it could be worse, and I'm interested to see what happens with Soriano.

Rich Mahogany said...

And what about Feliciano? We give him 2 years/$8 million, he gets hurt, and Cashman accuses the Mets of have abused him. While I think the Mets abuse their fans more than any of their players, it's odd that the Yankees made two FA relief acquisitions and Cashman openly bashed both of them.

It's not just the Yankees who lose out when they spend a lot of money on relievers. This sort of thing seemingly happens whenever any team gives a reliever two or three years, unless that reliever is Rivera or one of a handful of other truly elite guys like Soria.