Thursday, January 20, 2011

What the media is missing in the Rafael Soriano story

Squawker Jon told me this morning that he can't ever remember the GM of the Yankees -- or for that matter, any other team -- introducing a new acquisition by talking about how he "didn't recommend the deal" and didn't want the player on the team. But that's pretty much what happened at yesterday's introductory press conference for Rafael Soriano. Way to roll out the welcome mat, Bri!

And while the media is giving Cashman credit for sticking to his guns, I don't think there was anything the least bit admirable in what he did. In fact, most organizations would call his public comments about how he didn't think Soriano was worth the money insubordination.

Sure, the Yanks are overpaying for Soriano, but given their current bullpen options, they really had no choice. (Although commenter at the Yankeeist site notes that Cash could have picked up the $10 million option on the Kerry Wood deal instead, back in November.)  But Cashman insisted that he was correct yesterday, saying that the contract was too much money for a closer, and that the team had enough current options in the bullpen. Please.

Remember, folks, he was willing to give up $10 million -- and a first-round draft pick -- for a one-year deal with Carl Pavano, the worst free-agent signing in franchise history. And he balks at the cost of Soriano? C'mon now.

And I'm not buying all the recent spin that Soriano is a bad person. There were a lot of positive stories last season about how manager Joe Maddon would pour Soriano, a fellow wine buff, a glass of wine after the game to honor each save. But after Bill Madden wrote this week how that the two didn't get along, suddenly Soriano is being portrayed as a chronic miscreant. Besides, Cashman was willing to bring back Pavano, who was universally despised, into the clubhouse. But Soriano is too much?

Anyhow, there's been a lot of speculation about what this all means for Cashman's contract status. Frankly, I'm glad that the organization has finally appeared to have had enough of the way their GM sleepwalked through the offseason. As my Twitter friend -- and bigtime author -- Jerome Preisler put it in a recent column:
In early December, Cashman rappelled down the 22-floor Landmark Building in Stamford, Connecticut as “celebrity guest elf”, accompanying a costumed Santa Claus for the city’s holiday season Heights and Lights event. At the time, neither Derek Jeter nor Mariano Rivera had been re-signed as Yankees, Cliff Lee was off somewhere in his protracted deliberations, and Yankees fans were locked in a state of angst about all of the above. Although Cashman’s extracurricular stunt most likely wasn’t a distraction from the business of putting together a team, it was hardly a sensitive acknowledgement of the Yankee fan base’s profound unease. In the political realm, nobody likes seeing their elected official vacationing in Hawaii or Martha’s Vineyard during times of national crisis. In Yankeeland, it’s probably less than advisable to engage in a precarious lark wearing a green-and-red elf suit when your paying customers are looking at Sergio Mitre as their team’s fourth or fifth starter.

And friend Sully of Sully Baseball is a Red Sox fan, but he makes some very fair points about the situation (he also gave me a shoutout in this blog entry. Thanks!):

Imagine me saying this to a Yankee fan right after their team lost the 2010 ALCS:

You aren't going to get Cliff Lee...
nor Carl Crawford...
nor Zack Grienke...
you will bring back Derek Jeter but he will feel alienated...
you will bring back Mariano Rivera but only after HE called the Red Sox...
Andy Pettitte isn't signed...
the one big pick up is Rafael Soriano who has had 2 elbow surgeries in the last 5 seasons and is a fly ball pitcher in a home run park...
BUT the good news is they might bring back Carl Pavano.

You might start making a noose.
I wouldn't go as far as the noose analogy, but I do think it's time to take away the keys from Cashman. One other point -- not only did all this happen, but it happened at the very same time the Red Sox were reloading their team with Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and a better bullpen. What a nightmare!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

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