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Dec 272010

In his column yesterday, Ken Davidoff gave his Baseball Person of the Year Award to Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce. That’s not what I disagree with. Despite a monumental mistake made by the latter, both of them showed a great deal of class and dignity moving forward. What I disagree with is what Davidoff suggests later:

Therefore, it’s not inconceivable that Soriano could wind up as the most expensive setup man in baseball history, if he finds a team willing to make such an investment.

The Yankees should consider it. If Andy Pettitte retires, they’ll have big money to spend, and they’ll be looking at a roster that will need an ultra-deep bullpen to support a thin rotation. With Soriano setting up Rivera, the Yankees could try to duplicate the 1996 season, when Rivera set up John Wetteland.

Now, to be fair, he does include a caveat: “At the moment, the Yankees don’t see themselves signing Soriano. Things can change, however.”

I’m hoping that things don’t change. I understand Davidoff’s argument that a deep bullpen can offset a mediocre rotation, but I don’t agree with or believe in it. The worse a rotation is, the less the bullpen matters. Just take the 2008 Yankees as an example of this. The bullpen was (somehow) very effective. But then let’s look at the rotation: Chien Ming Wang was injured from June on. Joba Chamberlain started the year in the bullpen (MISTAKE!) then also got hurt. Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson made 30 combined starts. Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes laid eggs the sizes of their prospect status (BIG) early on in the season.

The bullpen was most definitely solid, but with a floundering rotation and a “down” year from the offense (6th in OPS), that bullpen didn’t matter much. Soriano may be a good reliever with a solid track record, but he’ll most likely be quite expensive. He’ll also require a multi-year deal and the surrender of a first round draft pick.

Unless Soriano has a change of heart and decides that he only wants a one-year contract, the Yankees should continue to avoid him and save their money. That money could be better used to help land a starting pitcher in a trade during the season. Doing so would help the starting rotation much more than signing any reliever would.

3 Responses to “Disagreeing with Davidoff”

  1. I also disagree. Especially with the sentiment that just because they’ll have money to spend they should spend it. I understand investing into the on-field product, but spending money on an unwise investment is inadvisable.

    Rafael Soriano undoubtedly improves the bullpen, but a good bullpen won’t make a short rotation any better. Additionally, Soriano would cost a draft pick in what I’ve heard is a deep and talented draft.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. I have to disagree to disagree, Matt. Soriano makes sense on several fronts. Best case scenario, he acts as a lights out 8th inning guy for the next two years, before taking over the 9th. Worst case scenario (like, Mo’s body realizing it’s on the far side of 40) you have a closer ready to go instead of scrambling to find one. It also counters the BoSox signing Jenks, which gives them three guys who can close.

    Say Soriano costs 5 yrs, $60 mil (not insane in this market). Out of the budget that was projected for 2011, that leaves $25M per season over the next 6 to find another starter. If Andy does come back, then you can still sign Soriano and Pettitte, and have $83M over the next 5 to find a starter. Not that any of that caliber are available right now, but signing Soriano – even if Pettitte comes back – doesn’t blow up the budget.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  3. “I understand Davidoff’s argument that a deep bullpen can offset a mediocre rotation, but I don’t agree with or believe in it.”

    I agree with you, Matt. So can a deep rotation offset a mediocre bullpen? I think so.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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