Friday, November 12, 2010

Mariano Rivera flying under the radar

In the midst of all the speculation about Derek Jeter's next contract, it's easy to forget that Mariano Rivera, another iconic member of the New York Yankees, is also looking for a new deal.

It seems funny to me that the greatest closer in baseball history and a surefire Hall of Famer is flying under the radar, but that probably is a direct result of Mo's low-key, gentlemanly personality. He's not one to seek attention or participate in a war of words with anyone, particularly his employer. Rivera quietly and efficiently goes about his business during the season and then pretty much disappears for the winter, surfacing only for important charity events like former skipper Joe Torre’s annual Safe at Home Foundation dinner.

But we're starting to get some clues about what he's looking for. Initially it was thought that Mo would go year to year, much like Andy Pettitte is doing, because of the possibility of imminent retirement. But signs now point to Rivera wanting a two-year deal from the Yankees. I think that's completely reasonable.

Despite his rough September, Mo had another good year in 2010 and a great postseason. He would have to falter for a lengthy period of time before any of the young studs truly replace him as the guy you most want to hand the ball to with the game on the line.

Moreover, the Yankees have no one to replace him. Kerry Wood will likely seek a closer's gig somewhere else. Joba Chamberlain has not shown he can step up and be the 8th inning guy, let alone the man in the 9th inning. David Robertson has flashes of brilliance, but has been inconsistent in big spots.

For the Yankees, there is really little choice but to give Mo what he wants, which is pretty fair considering that there aren’t many questions about him aside from his age (granted that could be a big question but Mo has not shown any physical signs of slowing down). Since it seems like Mo is not quite ready for retirement, there should be nothing standing in the way of him returning to the Bronx to finish his career in pinstripes.

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