Friday, January 14, 2011

Do the Yankees finally have a plan for life after Mo?

With the signing of Rafael Soriano, it looks like the New York Yankees finally have a plan for life after Mariano Rivera. But is it a solid plan?

Soriano’s talent, age and closing experience make him a natural choice to succeed Mo when the legendary closer finally decides to call it quits, perhaps when his new deal ends in two years (although I hope he keeps pitching for as long as he can). Soriano saved 45 games in 2010, helping the Tampa Bay Rays capture the American League East division title from the Yankees. Now he will come to New York and be the set-up guy, an apprentice to Mo rather than his immediate replacement, which alleviates the pressure.

Signing Soriano is a wise move on the part of Brian Cashman and the Yankees. It doesn’t directly address their most glaring need for another solid, reliable starting pitcher to share the load with CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes, but it improves their chances of winning if they can shorten games. It also salvages what has been to this point a rather disappointing offseason and helps the Yankees put a plan in motion for the day when they no longer are able to hand the ball to Mo and quickly put games into the victory column.

There is one major flaw in the plan. Soriano’s deal allows him to opt out of his contract after the first or second season. With agent Scott Boras, that’s a distinct possibility, especially if Boras thinks he can get Soriano more money later on. The fact that Soriano was even willing to come to the Bronx to set up for Mo could be a sign of good character, a willingness to wait his turn and a knowledge that he is not giving up his chance at another World Series run by leaving the Rays for the Yankees. But the cynic in me wonders whether he just came to New York to get the most money.

Overall, I think it’s a smart move by the Yankees. We’ll just have to see if Soriano can stick with the program.

Thanks to texas_mustang and UCinternational via Wikipedia for the photo.

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