Brian Cashman, December 8, 2010
And some days, he isn't even that. Cashman felt the price was too high for free agent reliever Rafael Soriano, but he was overruled and the Yankees signed the 31-year-old right-hander Soriano to a plump 3/35 deal.
At Soriano's press conference, Cashman spoke his mind, saying he "didn't recommend" signing Soriano, adding that it "compromises payroll, flexibility and [the] efficient use of our resources". He understands that New York is a better team with Soriano on the roster, but "allocating closer-type money to an eighth-inning guy" and losing the 31st pick in the June draft wasn't part of his plan. (Check out Lookout Landing for an amusing comic.)
Team president Randy Levine spoke about the front office's "sacred obligation" (cue eye-rolling) to its fans. Business Insider reports that a seven-man bullpen of Rivera, Soriano, Marte, Robertson, Chamberlain, Feliciano, Logan -- will be paid more ($38.5 million) than the entire 2011 Tampa Bay Rays roster ($35.4).
Soriano missed most of 2005 after having Tommy John surgery and has spent time of the disabled list in 2006 and 2008 (twice, missing roughly half the season). Soriano can opt out of the contract at the end of either the first or second season. "One of the greatest things about this contract is if at any given time I don't feel comfortable I can always get out of the contract."
Bill Madden of the Daily News notes that Soriano's "makeup" should be of "great concern" to the Yankees.
Despite his league-leading 45 saves and 1.73 ERA, Soriano was hated by almost everyone in Tampa Bay last year. His periodic hissy-fits over being brought into games in non-save situations, or being asked to pitch more than one inning wore thin on Rays manager Joe Maddon. ... After throwing a tantrum in the bullpen in front of all his fellow relievers [when asked to pitch in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the ALDS trailing by two runs], Soriano trudged into the game and promptly gave up a single to Nelson Cruz and a game-breaking homer to Ian Kinsler.Bob Klapisch writes that the Yankees' "counterpunch" was a break in the team's "bizarre passivity" this winter, but noted that Boston remains the league's "deepest, most balanced team; they project to a 100-plus-win season[s]". But the Soriano-Fruitbat late-inning combo "might narrow the talent gap between the two rivals". (Of course, there is still the question of how New York will fix the back 2/5 of its rotation.)
Wallace Matthews looooooves the Soriano signing. He proclaims that "no team addressed a key weakness as effectively as the Yankees did with the signing of Soriano ... Just like that, the Yankees go from a wild-card team at best to favorites to win their division."
Of course, this is the Wallace Matthews who devoted an entire column to vehemently complaining about how slow Tim Wakefield works on the mound. ... You might also remember the time Matthews castigated Nolan Ryan for being a soft-tossing junkballer or when he faulted Babe Ruth for his membership in the Temperance and Celibacy Association. This summer, Matthews is expected to continue his campaign against ESPN and Fox, urging them to cease their petty refusals to show Derek Jeter at any times other than during his at-bats or when he is trying to field a batted ball.