Tag:Rafael Soriano
Posted on: February 21, 2012 9:11 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:43 am
 

Spring primer: New York Yankees



By C. Trent Rosecrans

After a one-year stint as an underdog, the Yankees are back to being the clear favorite in the American League East. New York fortified its rotation with Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, upgrading what appeared to be its one weak link.

Yankees spring training
Major additions: RHP Michael Pineda, RHP Hiroki Kuroda, DH Raul Ibanez
Major departures: RHP A.J. Burnett, DH Jesus Montero, RHP Bartolo Colon, DH Jorge Posada

Probable lineup:
1. Derek Jeter SS
2. Curtis Granderson CF
3. Robinson Cano 2B
4. Alex Rodriguez 3B
5. Mark Teixeira 1B
6. Nick Swisher RF
7. Russell Martin C
8. Raul Ibanez DH
9. Brett Gardner LF

Probable rotation:
1. CC Sabathia
2. Hiroki Kuroda
3. Michael Pineda
4. Ivan Nova
5. Phil Hughes

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Mariano Rivera
Set-up: RHP David Robertson, RHP Rafael Soriano

Important bench players
C Francisco Cervelli, IF Eduardo Nunez, OF Andruw Jones, IF Eric Chavez

Prospect to watch: With the additions of Kuroda and Pineda, there's not quite the pressure on left-hander Manny Banuelos that there was last spring. Banuelos doesn't turn 21 until March 13, so he can develop without the pressure of being the savior of the Yankees. His results last season at Double-A and Triple-A didn't live up to the hype, but he's still a quality young pitcher than can contribute to the rotation in the future.

Fantasy breakout: Michael Pineda

"With a year of experience, he'll be better equipped to handle a full workload, which could lead to 15-plus victories with the Yankees' stellar lineup backing him. And most likely, any rise in ERA will be in relation to the early 2.58 mark, not the final 3.74 mark." - Scott White

Fantasy sleeper: Phil Hughes

"With an improved workout program this offseason, he should be able to pick up where he left off late last year, when he was throwing in the low-to-mid 90s. True, Hughes wasn't exactly an ace then, but just by holding a regular rotation spot for the high-scoring Yankees, he's a sleeper in Fantasy. And if he can recapture the form he showed in the first half of 2010, when he was an All-Star, he's a late-round steal." - Scott White

Optimistic outlook: Pineda lives up to expectations, Kuroda is solid, Nova takes a step forward, Hughes makes 30 starts and Sabathia wins the Cy Young. That pitching, with a healthy A-Rod, Granderson repeating his 2011 output and Teixeira lives up to his contract and the Yankees win the AL East easily and go on to win the World Series.

Pessimistic outlook: Anything less than a World Series title is the end of the world in New York, so it doesn't have to be too bad for Yankees fans to overreact. But the worst-case scenario is the team's older stars continue to age, with injuries taking away A-Rod, Jeter, Teixeira and Martin for long periods of times. Pineda struggles in New York and his lack of a third pitch comes back to bite him, Kuroda is mediocre and Nova takes a step back. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays take a step forward and New York finishes behind Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto.

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 1:11 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 1:12 pm
 

Angels GM says team 'unlikely' to sign Madson

Ryan Madson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Where will Ryan Madson end up? Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto says it's probably not going to be Anaheim.

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Dipoto, the first-year Angels GM told the Los Angeles Times that it's "very, very unlikely" the Angels would add Madson or any closer.

"What I'll say with some degree of certainty is that our most dignificant acquisitions have already been made," Dipoto said.

"We're trying to add depth, and in a perfect world, we'd like to find another guy to join Jordan Walden, Scott Downs and LaTroy Hawkins to help with those last nine outs. But closer has never been a real priority."

Of course, this could also be posturing by Dipoto.  

Walden, 24, recorded 32 saves with a 2.98 ERA as a rookie in 2012. Walden made the All-Star team after starting the season with 20 saves and a 2.84 ERA in the first half. In the second half of the season, he had 12 saves and a 3.22 ERA. Walden struck out 10 batters per nine innings and 3.9 walks per nine. It had been rumored the team wanted to upgrade at the back of the bullpen.

And then there's Madson, who had 32 saves and a 2.37 ERA in his first season as the Phillies closer. Early in the offseason there was a report Madson had agreed to a deal with Philadelphia for four years and $44 million, but then the team signed Jonathan Papelbon instead.

There are few teams still looking for a closer, with the Reds being the team with the most glaring need. However, the Reds don't have the type of money to sign Madson to a huge deal. Cincinnati is currently in talks with incumbent reliever Francisco Cordero to bring him back on a one-year deal.

Madson could try to find a deal like the Yankees gave Rafael Soriano a year ago to be a high-priced set-up man -- even though that didn't exactly work out for the Yankees. Madson and Soriano are both represented by Scott Boras.

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Posted on: November 28, 2011 11:54 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 4:43 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Seattle Mariners



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

The Seattle Mariners have finished last place in the AL West six of the past eight seasons. Would things have been different if management had done a better job of keeping the right organizational pieces? In a word: Yes. Check this out ...

Lineup

1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Adam Jones, CF
6. Shin-Soo Choo, LF
7. Dustin Ackley, 2B
8. Raul Ibanez, 1B
9. Jason Varitek, C

Starting Rotation

1. Felix Hernandez
2. Michael Pineda
3. Doug Fister
4. Brandon Morrow
5. Joel Pineiro

Bullpen

Closer - J.J. Putz
Set up - Rafael Soriano, Matt Thornton, Eric O'Flaherty, Brian Fuentes, Damaso Marte, George Sherrill
Long - Derek Lowe

Notable Bench Players

Adam Moore, Greg Dobbs, Bryan LaHair, Luis Valbuena, Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Willie Bloomquist, Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero

What's Good?

Almost everything. The lineup is solid, the starting rotation is very good, the bullpen is great and there is some bench depth. There are superstars like King Felix and A-Rod with up-and-comers like Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Pineda. And 2011 first-rounder Danny Hultzen (starting pitcher) will soon be added to the mix.

What's Not?

Age in some areas. A-Rod, Ortiz, Ichiro and Ibanez are all in different levels of decline, but there's no doubt they're all certainly in decline. Catcher is also a problem, as we're left deciding between a has-been (Varitek) and a possible never-will-be (Moore). Pick your poison there.

As for the lineup, I tried to figure out how to best work it. Maybe swap Jones and A-Rod spots? I'd be OK with that, considering the seasons those two had in 2011. Also, Ichiro's OBP was terrible for a leadoff man last season (.310), but wouldn't it make the back-end of the lineup too punchless if you batted Ackley leadoff? With the way I left it, the leadoff spot is weak.

Comparison to real 2011

The 2011 Mariners lost 95 games and this team above would have a shot at winning 95. You can take away from the older stars all you want, but with that pitching staff, the offense doesn't have to be great. It only has to be good, and it's easily good enough to get plenty of wins when only needing to put three or four runs on the board. Plus, as those older guys continue to decline, the likes of Jones, Ackley and Cabrera just get better. In Sunday's Homegrown Team, I said to expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom of the rankings (when we do them). This entry is the complete opposite. Expect to see the Mariners toward the top of the rankings. This is a great team. For now.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 6:57 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 6:59 pm
 

Soriano won't opt out of contract with Yankees

Soriano

By Evan Brunell


In what had to be one of the most obvious calls in a long time, reliever Rafael Soriano will not opt out of his contract with the Yankees.

"He adjusted to the [seventh- eighth-inning] role, liked being there with Mariano [Rivera] and he adjusted to New York City," agent Scott Boras told the New York Post of Soriano, who tried to pretend this movie was about liking his situation and not about money. "The player is happy there."

Soriano signed a three-year, $35 million deal with New York prior to last season after not finding a market for his closing services. Soriano and agent Scott Boras settled for closer's money, but a setup role under Mariano Rivera. As part of the deal, the righty received the right to opt out of the deal after each of the 2011 or 2012 seasons. Soriano earned $10 million in 2011, an $11 million salary due in 2012 and then a bump to $14 million in 2013, which is not that surprising given that incumbent closer Mariano Rivera's deal runs through 2012, which could leave Soriano as closer in 2013. If Soriano opted out, he would have received a $1.5 million buyout.

Maybe if the flamethrower had a season reminiscent of his 2010, when he was a dominating closer for the Rays, he would have opted out. Except that Soriano had an injury-plagued year and pitched just 39 2/3 innings, coughing up a 4.12 ERA. He wasn't the same person when he was on the mound, struggling with command which may dissipate now that he has time to heal from his injuries, but either way, he wasn't going to sniff anywhere near two years and $25 million on the open market, so he is making the obvious decision to stay in New York.

This move is about money, period. If Soriano was truly interested in remaining as a setup man, these options wouldn't have been built in, and he wouldn't have taken so long to sign with a team. But that's OK -- nothing wrong with a pitcher trying to score what will be the biggest payday of his career. And the Yankees do have some optimism moving forward for Soriano to reclaim his dominance and give the club a devastating one-two punch in 2012. Once Soriano returned on July 30 from right-shoulder inflammation, he threw 24 1/3 innings, posting a 3.33 ERA and with control numbers reflecting his previous effectiveness. Between Soriano and fellow setup man David Robertson -- who emerged following Soriano's injury -- the Yankees are in great shape. And Boras credits them with starting what might be an emerging trend, utilizing two closers in the game and noting how Milwaukee followed in a similar path by acquiring Francisco Rodriguez to supplement John Axford.

"I give the Yankees a lot of credit, they used the platform well," Boras said. "At first [clubs] will say we are overpaying. Then it's oh my [gosh], we are winning a lot of games."

Except this is more of a gambit by an agent to get setup men more money than it is teams utilizing two closers. Boras is doing his job and one could argue that setup men are even more valuable than closers. I'm one of those in that camp, as setup men can be used in high-pressure situations in virtually any inning and most setup men are allowed to pitch more than one inning more often than a closer. There is a reason ex-Red Sox manager Terry Francona always called Boston setup man Daniel Bard his most valuable relief pitcher for years. But setup roles are exactly how Soriano and Rodriguez were utilized. Soriano received just two saves for the Yankees. One came on April 20 in a 6-2 Yankees win after Lance Pendleton failed at mopping up the game by allowing two batters. Rivera had pitched the day before, and three of the previous four games. The next save by Soriano came in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 21, when New York's playoff chances were secure and Rivera closed the first game out.

Rodriguez didn't even get one save as a Brewer. These guys may have been closers, but they served in the very specific role of a setup man. These teams did not utilize two closers; two people splitting saves. It's the same arrangement that has worked so well in Boston, and Bard has never closed. He's been a setup man. That's the very reason why Soriano is returning to New York -- if he was valued as a quality closer, he would be a free agent.

For all free agency moves, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:15 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:59 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 New York Yankees

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: New York Yankees
Record: 97-65, 1st place in AL East. Lost ALDS 3-2 to Detroit.
Manager: Joe Girardi
Best hitter: Curtis Granderson -- .262/.364/.552, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 136 R, 10 3B, 25 SB
Best pitcher: CC Sabathia -- 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 230 K in 237 1/3 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

It was a pretty normal regular season for the Yankees, as they brought home their 12th AL East title in the past 16 seasons, but it wasn't drawn up the same way as other successful seasons. The pitching rotation from Day 1 was patchwork. Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and a host of others -- such as Mark Prior -- were brought in during spring training to see if any would stick and it worked out to varying degrees with Garcia, Colon and rookie Ivan Nova. The offense was once-again mighty, as Curtis Granderson emerged as an MVP candidate to pick up the slack for the injured and struggling Alex Rodriguez. Still, in the end, this season will be viewed as a failure since the Yankees didn't win the World Series. If they don't win the World Series, they fell short of expectations. More than 20 other teams would have been ultimately satisfied by this campaign, but not the Yankees. Losing in the ALDS is a failure. Period.

2012 AUDIT

The Yankees are in a familiar spot. They're set up to contend for a World Series title again in 2012, but they are going to have to fill some holes -- namely that they need another reliable starting pitcher. Eyes can look forward and see they need to get younger pretty soon, but with several contracts locked in, the Yankees don't have much choice for 2012. And there is no reason to expect the Yankees to be anywhere but right in the playoff mix come September of 2012. It would be foolish to think otherwise.

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Robinson Cano, 2B (club option)
Eric Chavez, 3B
Nick Swisher, RF (club option)
Jorge Posada, DH
Bartolo Colon, SP
Freddy Garcia, SP
CC Sabathia, SP (can and probably will opt out)
Luis Ayala, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

They will most certainly bring back Sabathia and Cano. From there ...
  • The rotation will have Sabathia, Nova, Hughes and probably A.J. Burnett. He makes too much money to not plug in there. He has the ability to be a decent fifth starter. Still, that rotation appears pretty top-heavy for a team that expects to be the best in the majors. So they need a legitimate second starter behind Sabathia. And he's sitting right there, if interested. C.J. Wilson of the Rangers is left-handed, which fits well in Yankee Stadium, and is a free agent. With the Posada money coming off the books, in addition to the Colon/Garcia money, the Yankees can likely outbid anyone else for Wilson's services. They could even backload a deal if need be, because people like Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter have expiring contracts in the next several years.
  • As I alluded to above, it's time to part ways with Posada and let Jesus Montero take over as the full-time DH. The youngster showed he has the ability to become a serious threat in the lineup and the Yankees need to inject some youth into the aging lineup. 
  • Pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances don't appear to be ready yet, but they're close. They will be monitored pretty heavily heading into 2012 and if Hughes or Burnett aren't getting it done, it's possible there's a change made. Nova is proof the Yankees aren't afraid to throw someone in the fire.
  • Swisher's situation in right is interesting. Is he worth eight figures? Probably not, according to most teams. But the Yankees can afford that and there aren't many better options out there. What if the Twins don't come to terms on a contract extension with Michael Cuddyer, though? It wouldn't hurt for the Yankees to weigh their options, but the best guess is Swisher comes back. 
  • Really, there isn't that much more that needs to be done. Russell Martin, Mark Teixiera, Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson will again be everyday starters. The rotation has four men set and the back-end of the bullpen has a returning Joba Chamberlain along with Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. The biggest issue is getting one more starting pitcher and then filling the bench with also-rans like the Yankees did this year with Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez et al. Considering they were close, but not good enough, I fully expect the Yankees to throw the bank at Wilson and that will be the only significant offseason move concerning a player outside the organization. The only caveat to that is the Yankees will have to agree with Sabathia first -- and I do believe the Yankees will do whatever it takes to keep him -- which means they could miss out on Wilson in the meantime. If they do miss out, the leftovers aren't awesome. Edwin Jackson, Erik Bedard and Joel Pineiro look like the best bets. If they wanted to trade, they're probably looking at the likes of Wandy Rodriguez or Jeff Niemann (I don't think the Rays would part with James Shields cheaply), so expect the Yankees to be very agressive with both Sabathia and then Wilson.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 3:59 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Rivera ties Hoffman for most career saves

Mariano Rivera

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Trevor Hoffman has company.

Mariano Rivera recorded his 601st career save in the Yankees' 7-6 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday, tying him for the carer saves mark. Rivera also has 42 postseason saves, that are not included in his career total.

Hoffman retired last season after 18 seasons in the big leagues, recording 601 saves for three teams, the Marlins, Padres and Brewers, although 552 of his saves came with the Padres.

Rivera, 41, has recorded all 601 of his saves in a Yankee uniform, his first in 1996 and since then he's recorded at least 30 saves in all but one season since.

One of the all-time great Yankees, Rivera began his career as a starter with the Yankees in 1995, but was a setup man to John Wetteland in 1996 before taking over as the closer in 1997, when he recorded 43 saves. 

Rivera's save on Saturday was his 42nd of the season, matching his uniform number. The Yankees took the lead in the seventh inning on Curtis Granderson's 40th homer of the season before Hector Noesi and Rafael Soriano pitched two scoreless innings to set up Rivera in the ninth inning.

Rivera struck out Colby Rasmus looking, got Brett Lawrie to ground out to first and Eric Thames to fly out to center to end the game and tie Hoffman.

Rivera and Hoffman are both well ahead of Lee Smith, who is third on the all-time list with 478 saves. John Franco is fourth with 424 and Billy Wagner, who like Hoffman retired after last season, is fifth with 422. After Rivera, the active pitcher with the most saves is Reds closer Francisco Cordero, who has 323 saves, good for 13th on the all-time list. The stat was not officially kept until 1969.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:46 pm
 

Yankees narrowing gap against Red Sox

Colon

By Evan Brunell

The Red Sox and Yankees met up Friday for the first time in two months with first place on the line. The last time the two teams met on June 9, Dustin Pedroia's name was distant from the AL MVP discussion, Carl Crawford was a bust, five Yankees looked like complete zeroes with the bat and Rafael Soriano had already fallen out of favor in the Bronx.

Since then, Pedroia has heated up along with the Yankee bats, led by Nick Swisher. Phil Hughes, who was on the disabled list, has returned to the rotation while the Red Sox have battled injuries and attrition in their own rotation, acquiring Erik Bedard with minutes to spare before the trade deadline in an attempt to shore up the staff. While both these teams have undergone changes in the month since, one thing remains the same as it was July 9: the Red Sox is the team to beat in the American League. But the Yankees have improved since June 9 and have narrowed the gap.

On Friday, the Red Sox jumped out to a 2-0 start thanks to a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI double in the third, followed by a towering David Ortiz bomb in the fourth. The Red Sox couldn't push another run across in the fifth when Adrian Gonzalez struck out with the bases loaded. Still, Boston was in control behind the arm of Jon Lester, until the sixth inning when all hell broke loose. Granderson delivered an RBI single, then Lester loaded the bases by walking Mark Teixeira. A crucial double play put two outs on the board, albeit with the tying run scoring. Just as it looked like Boston could get out of the inning with a tie game, Nick Swisher doubled Granderson in to provide the final run of the game, leading to a 3-2 victory for the Yankees and just their second victory against Boston this season, against eight losses to the BoSox.

The bullpen won the game for the Yanks, as Boone Logan would go on to contribute a full inning of relief after whiffing Gonzalez for the final out of the fifth. Cody Wade netted one more out, then Rafael Soriano entered the game for the third time since coming off the disabled list. Signed to an exorbitant contract to set up Mariano Rivera that was orchestrated by the ownership and not GM Brian Cashman, Soriano has been a total zero the entire season. But he delivered his third scoreless appearance post-DL, adding a strikeout for extra measure. David Robinson continued his emergence as a potential Rivera replacement with a 1-2-3 eighth, and Rivera, of course, set down Boston in the ninth.

Now the Yankees are in first place, while Boston falls to second for the first time since July 6. Order has been restored to New York's psyche. And yet, the Yankees shouldn't feel at all comfortable about its standing. For one, the Yankees continue to get surprising production out of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, the former of whom only lasted 4 2/3 innings Friday night, giving up seven baserunners and two runs. Phil Hughes seems a mystery wrapped in a riddle, while A.J. Burnett does what he can to make Yankees fans pine for John Lackey. Derek Jeter can't be counted on anymore and the days of a .300 batting average from Mark Teixeira is long past. Boston has its own host of problems, but still has far less risk than New York moving forward with a stronger club, at least on paper.

Of course, two months from now, things may have changed again. All that matters is who the stronger team is in October.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 2, 2011 6:39 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2011 6:39 pm
 

Report: Yankees place Posada, others on waivers

Jorge PosadaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Throughout the next month, you'll hear every once in a while about players that have been placed on waivers. That doesn't mean your favorite team is going to release a star player, it's just that they're keeping their options open.

With that in mind comes this report from the New York Post that the Yankees have placed A.J. Burnett, Rafael Soriano and Jorge Posada on waivers.

All three are priced high enough that it's unlikely they'll be claimed. None of the three seem to be that appealing in a trade for another team, either.

Burnett is the team's No. 2 starter -- by payroll, if not performance. He has a record of 8-9 with a  4.23 ERA, but makes $16.5 million through 2013. He does have a limited no-trade clause, allowing him to block trades to 10 clubs.

Soriano signed a three-year, $35 million contract before the season to serve as Mariano Rivera's setup man. He's appeared in just 17 games this season and has allowed nine earned runs in 16 innings, while striking out 12 and walking 11. It's unlikely anyone will want to take on his contract, despite his 45 saves last season for the Rays.

Then there's Posada -- who has famously played for nobody but the Yankees in his 17 seasons. Posada is a free agent after the season, but appears headed for retirement. He's hitting just .236/.318/.382, starting 66 games at designated hitter and eight games at first base, all for $13.1 million.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com