Rafael Soriano Gives The Yankees A Great Bullpen

The Yankees made their first “big splash” in the free agent market yesterday, signing former Rays’ closer Rafael Soriano to a three year deal worth $35 million, which does include an opt out clause after each of the first two seasons.

Now obviously, Soriano will not be the closer for the Yankees this year or in 2012. I think Mariano Rivera will probably get the job done, just a hunch though. So that means the Yanks are paying a lot of money and giving up a first round draft pick for a setup man, but I still think it is a good move.

The Yankees for years have searched for a consistent bridge to Mariano in the ninth inning, and they have finally found their man with Soriano, who had an outstanding year in 2010.

Not only did he lead the league in saves, but he had a very impressive 1.73 ERA and a 0.802 WHIP over 62 innings pitched. He also had 57 strikeouts compared to his 14 walks.

The only question I have is will he lose any psychological edge by moving from the closer to the setup man role. We have seen time and time again that when closers are brought in during non-save situations, they tend to get hit around a little more. We will see how that works out.

But if Soriano remains true to form, then the Yankees have made a great signing, because this move takes some of the pressure off of their weaker starting rotation by shortening games. Joe Girardi is going to have no problem pulling A.J. Burnett or anyone else in the sixth inning and handing the ball to his suddenly strong bullpen.

Now that Soriano is in the mix, the Yankees may have the best bullpen in all of baseball. They added Pedro Feliciano earlier this offseason, teaming him up with Boone Logan to give them two solid left handers in the ‘pen. Plus, they still have Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson, oh, and Mariano Rivera too.

Overall, a great signing in my opinion, and the Yankees still have about $20 million left in their so called “budget” to sign an extra outfielder and likely a cheap, low-risk, high-reward starting pitcher.

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15 Responses to Rafael Soriano Gives The Yankees A Great Bullpen

  1. Mike S. says:

    …and if Mark Prior can somehow comeback to be a mop/up man, middle reliever that can give one to two innings… or re-sign Aceves for that kind of role …

  2. Lucas Weick says:

    I wouldn't get my hopes up for Prior, but I agree, Aceves (if healthy) would be a good addition to the bullpen as well.

  3. Mindkind says:

    I don't expect much from Prior because of his injury history. Now Aceves I don't understand why the Yankees haven't sign him. I know he is injured but when healthy he provided a lot of effective outings. Sign Aceves before some team gets him. For me he's the Mendoza of this era.

  4. Lucas Weick says:

    Aceves can definitely be a good pitcher when he is healthy, but I'm not entirely certain that he is right now and I don't think the Yankees are either. I haven't heard an update anywhere about him for quite a while now, but if he hasn't signed with a team yet, then there is obviously still a lot of doubt about his health. But if he's healthy, then the Yankees should look into him, at least invite him to Spring Training.

  5. Franco Kotos says:

    Prior, a hope and a prayer. Aceves, forget it. Wood is signed. Joba could turn it around but Robertson needs some more love.

    • Lucas Weick says:

      I wouldn't give up on Aceves. Once again, his health is a big question mark, but shouldn't the Yankees at least take a fliar on him and invite him to spring training?

      I agree with you about Robertson, he is a good relief pitcher, but he can be a little sporadic at times. And Joba, I believe he will have a better year since the pressure is not on him to fill Mo's shoes when he retires anymore. I think both Robertson and Joba are going to have good seasons in 2011.

  6. pete says:

    Best bullpen in baseball? Rivera and Soriano are the only great guys in the pen. None of the others are anything special.

    • Lucas Weick says:

      Chamberlain, Feliciano, Robertson, and Logan are all serviceable relief pitchers. But no other team in baseball has a combination like Rivera and Soriano. And that puts the Yankees bullpen over the top.

      I would be interested to hear which teams you think have a better bullpen than the Yankees have right now.

    • Mike S. says:

      Over the past five years, Feliciano has averaged 82 appearances a season, leading the NL in each of the past three years. His ERA over that span is 3.09. Maybe not "special," but very fine nonetheless. Robertson's 3.60 over the last two years isn't bad.

  7. Brandon Burkhart says:

    Yeah, the Yankees probably have the best bullpen in baseball now but the bullpen wasn't a team weakness before the signing. This is an absurd contract for a set up man that seems like a panic signing. The Yankees are going to have 25 million dedicated to the 8th and 9th innings with one, maybe two reliable starters. I know there was some disconnect between the ownership and Cashman but this is just one of the dumbest Yankee signings in recent memory.

    Also, what's Joba Chamberlain's role on this team now? I guess it's always good to give up on a 25 year old who's been already been a successful starter and reliever.

    • Mike S. says:

      Apparently everyone but Soriano and Mo move up to the 6th and 7th then, and the Yankees won't have "25 million dedicated to the 8th and 9th." The games get shortened, especially if you have starters who may only give 5, 5 1/3, 5 2/3 etc., and rarely 6. A page from 1996.

      BTW, in 1996 four starters started 100 of the 162 games. Cone had the aneurysm and missed 2/3 of the season. He was 7-2, 2.88. Pettitte won 21 and had a 3.87 ERA. But the other four starters of those 100 games combined for 39-31, 4.97. None of the four won more than 12 games. None had an ERA less than 4.68.

      Key 12-11, 4.68

      Rogers 12-8, 4.68

      Gooden 11-7, 5.01

      Mendoza 4-5, 6.79

      I guess the Yanks figure that if their rotation may look like 1996, it is best that their bullpen do the same.

      • Lucas Weick says:

        Joba Chamberlain didn't have any great measure as success as a starting pitcher. He might have pitched a good game once and a while, but they were few and far between. And last year he obviously couldn't handle the setup role, that's why the Yankees went out and got Kerry Wood.

        Joba's career is far from over and he still has plenty of time to turn it around, but the Yankees can ill-afford to sit around and wait for him to do so.

        The Soriano signing is far from absurd, and as Mike mentioned, the team needs to have a good bullpen in order to supplement for a poor rotation. And who knows, maybe Soriano turns out to be Rivera's replacement in three years, so "life after Mariano" wouldn't be as big of a concern as people fear.