Foolish to Blame Soriano’s Performance on His Contract

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).

If Rafael Soriano felt unwanted at his introductory press conference, just imagine the thoughts going through his head as he walked off the mound to a chorus of 40,000 boos during yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the White Sox.

Things haven’t been looking up for Soriano in his first month as a Yankee (Photo: Getty Images).

Amid all of the dissent, no one ever disputed Soriano’s ability to pitch because it would have been a foolish argument. Not only was the right hander coming off a season in which he led the league in saves, but his entire career record pointed toward a dominant pitcher when healthy. Even Brian Cashman, who disavowed the signing for many of the reasons cited above, conceded that Soriano’s addition to the bullpen made the Yankees better.

Unfortunately, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan, regardless of whose plan it really was. In only 10 1/3 innings, Soriano has already allowed nine earned runs, which is only three fewer then he surrendered all last year. He has also had two very high profile meltdowns as well as one run-in (or run out) with the media. In other words, it hasn’t exactly been a smooth transition to the Bronx.

Unflattering Comparison, Soriano’s 2011 vs. 2010

2010 64 3 2 62.1 12 14 1.73 228 0.802
2011 11 1 1 10.1 9 8 7.84 54 1.935


Predictably, each Soriano failure has brought forth a growing number of people eager to say “I told you so”. And, for all we know, behind closed doors, Cashman may be among them. However, that sentiment is flat out wrong. After all, if Rafael Soriano had been willing to sign a one-year contract worth $6 million, every general manager would have jumped at the chance.  In other words, a bad contract doesn’t mean a bad pitcher.

As mentioned, there were numerous legitimate complaints about the Soriano contract, but no one ever suggested he wouldn’t do a good job. The fact that he has now failed on numerous occasions doesn’t change the equation. Soriano’s early struggles are not the result of his contract, so trying to link the two now is disingenuous at best.

The Yankees didn’t lose last night’s game because Randy Levine meddled in baseball affairs or because Hal Steinbrenner was preoccupied with making a free agent splash. They lost because a very good relief pitcher was very bad. If that continues, Joe Girardi may need to readjust his “formula”, but in the meantime, the right hander deserves the benefit of the doubt. If his track record holds, Soriano could be the one who ends up saying “I told you so”.

3 thoughts on “Foolish to Blame Soriano’s Performance on His Contract

  1. Four words: There’s no place like dome.

    Last season, opposing batters hit him nearly 20 points higher away from the Trop, and slugged nearly 70 points higher. However, as he’s said all along — and his numbers do bear him out — he gets better as the season goes on, and so I’m not overly concerned about So.

    I’m frankly much more concerned about Joe G calling on Mo in the 8th. That strategy always comes back to bite us, either in the 9th that game or the next game when he’s either unavailable or ineffective. That should never ever be an option.

    I don’t care if every arm on the staff is used up and we have to call on Swish to come in for another mopup job. Protecting Mo and protecting a late lead are one and the same things, both now and for the next two season. At this stage of his career, if he can’t be brought in with an optimum chance to succeed he shouldn’t be in there — period.

    • So we baby the best closer ever? If we need to win, we have the lead, and it’s threatened you bring in Mo. He shouldn’t be regularly notching 6 out saves but a 4 out save every once and a while I have no problem with.

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