Thursday, August 18, 2011

Too quick to judge Rafael Soriano?

Rafael Soriano's brilliance of late has made me wonder: were we too quick to judge him earlier this year?

Soriano got off to a terrible start in 2011 and still has the 4.03 ERA to prove it. But he has been mostly terrific since his return from the disabled list, giving up only one run and two hits in eight appearances and helping the Yankees stay in and win several of those games. The great Mariano Rivera has had a much tougher time in big games recently than the much-maligned Soriano.

So now I wonder if we were being too harsh on Soriano. Perhaps Soriano really did need an adjustment period after leaving the relative quiet and much less pressurized environment in Tampa Bay for the chaos and demands of the Bronx. Perhaps he was hurt that whole time and didn’t say anything in an attempt to justify his large contract and/or prove he belongs in New York. Or maybe he really did just need time to adjust to leaving his job as one of baseball's top closers for the Tampa Bay Rays to become Rivera’s set-up man (a job he has since lost to David Robertson).

Part of the animosity Soriano felt from fans and the media related to portrayals of his time in Tampa Bay, where he supposedly dictated to his manager how he would be used in games rather than the other way around. Perhaps that was unfair as we really don’t know what happened during Soriano’s time in Tampa Bay. But he didn't exactly help himself either when he took a shot at the Yankees offense, which was struggling earlier this year, but is running on all cylinders now.

Do we all Soriano an apology for jumping the gun? If he keeps pitching the way he has, I would answer that with a firm yes.

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