Jan
14

Olney: Soriano deal was ownership-driven

By

Via Buster Olney, there was a difference of opinion among the Yankees decision makers regarding Rafael Soriano, and the decision to sign him was one driven by ownership. Bob Klapisch backed up Olney’s report, and Peter Gammons specifically mentions team president Randy Levine as the culprit.

This is generally bad news, because you want the baseball people making the baseball decisions while ownership worries about making money and doing whatever else baseball team owners do. Brian Cashman was given autonomy after the 2005 season, but since then the higher-ups have gone over his head for Alex Rodriguez‘s latest contract and now Soriano. This is not a good trend, and if it continues to happen the Yankees will be right back where they were in the mid-aughts.

Categories : Asides
  • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

    Randy Levine, why do you haunt meeeeeee

    This guy just seems like a meddling disaster, a lawyer and union buster who wiggled his way into the Yankee hierarchy. Now making baseball decisions despite having zero experience or expertise in baseball-related matters.

    Fire Randy Levine!

    • JFH

      wiggled his way in, leached onto George, undermined Torre and will now start to undermine Cashman.

      • nathan

        If he did undermine Torre.. tht is one good thing

        • JFH

          that is not the point. organizations become dysfunctional when the Levines of the world operate that way.

          • Ted Nelson

            I’ll take a dysfunctional organization that wins 95 games a year any day of the week… Calling the Yankees dysfunctional is pure speculation, and speculating that they’re dysfunctional is pointless until they stop winning games.

        • http://www.twitter.com/cephster Ross In Jersey

          It may have been Torre’s time to leave but why should a guy who shouldn’t have input on baseball operations like Randy Levine be involved in undermining him?

      • Evan3457

        Was hired to try and grease the skids with city government for the construction of Xanadu, uh, the New Yankee Stadium.

        He was “successful” in this, so George gave him a big title as a reward, and he’s been there, ever since, burrowing his way deeper and deeper into the roots of power.

        What’s really frightening is that when Hank and Hal lose interest and sell out, Levine may be left as the “caretaker”, and wind up in charge, as O’Malley was the one left standing when MacPhail and then Rickey were shoved aside.

        Yeah, I know the analogy sucks, but Levine strikes me as the type of political worm who always comes up smelling like a rose no matter what sewer he falls into.

    • OldYanksFan

      Is it possible Levine got involved because he feared ticket sales would suffer if the Yankees didn’t do something splashy this winter? Mind you, I’m not supporting Levine, and I hate when Cashman is undercut. But Levine is the money man. I’m just wondering if this was a financial decision, NOT a baseball decision.

  • billbybob

    I wish we could take the fan confidence poll right now. This signing knocked me down a peg. Excessive and wasteful are the two adjectives that come to mind.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Good pitching is never excessive or wasteful. We could afford to fix the “what if Mo gets injured at age 41/42 scenario” and “what if we can take the pressure off our starters other than CC to go further than 6 innings” issues.

      • Poopy Pants

        The team would still have the same # of relievers though, right? Would the Yankees magically be allowed to have one more roster spot by signing Soriano? If so, that’s AMAZING.

      • Jd

        Why cant folks understand this simple logic. Mo is old. Insurance policy

    • Mike M

      So you felt better about the team before we had a setup man?

      • steve (different one)

        I feel better about the 2011 team but much worse about the decision making process going forward. Randy levine? Seriously?

        • Mike HC

          I actually feel better about the decision making process. As written below, it shows the Yanks continued willingness to overspend and take on risk to win. Two, I believe that one man should not get full autonomy to make every personnel decision. I like that there is some dissent and differing opinions that taken into account. Just my take on it.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

            A “continued willingness to overspend” should not make you feel better about anything.

            • Mike HC

              I get your point, but it does make me feel better. I acknowledge that the Yanks will have to overspend to continue to guarantee (as much as possible) the level of success we have become accustomed to. If they start to operate like every other team, well, then our results will start to look like every other team. That might be ok with some, but I enjoy being King of the Hill, looking down on the rest of the league. Even in the mid 2000′s we still went to the playoffs every year but one, and had the ability to load up for 2009 and win the title.

              • whozat

                Problem is that your line of thinking leaves you with the budget of the king and the success of an also-ran.

                The Yanks DID operate as you suggest, damning the torpedos and spending more years and dollars than was advisable on the biggest names…it was called the 80s, and then it was called the 2000′s. It was only after they STOPPED doing that that they managed to win again.

                You get to be king of the hill by having the resources of the king and using them wisely, not by spending money because you have it.

                • Ted Nelson

                  They did win in the 2000s. They averaged like 95 wins per season, made the playoff 9 of 10 years, won 2 World Series, made it to another 2… There is a huge difference between the 80s and 00s. If the only way you’re happy is winning the world series every single season you are not much of a fan.

                  This is one deal. Lee to 7 years was also more money and years than advisable, but most people here were probably on board. And 3 years is not 7 years. Crawford’s deal was excessive, but Sox fans probably aren’t whining about it non-stop. The Yankees won 95 games last season and made the ALCS. They’re bringing back the same team. They have a strong farm system. Their payroll is currently significantly under last season’s.

                  • randy

                    i agree.

            • Ted Nelson

              It’s a 3 year deal maximum. This is not going to haunt them forever even in a worst case scenario. And if the money people signed off on it, that probably means they will sign off on upping the budget should a real huge option become available.

              If they made Cashman trade prospects he wanted to keep in what he felt was a lopsided deal… I’d be pissed. They made a decision to spend more money than Cashman was willing to spend and give up a #31 pick.

  • JFH

    I cannot stand Randy Levine. Never liked the guy. Reminds me of Iago, only without an intellect. Rude, crass, machievellian jerk.

  • JFH

    meant machiavellian.

  • Beamish

    The two worst contracts on the Yankees were “business” decisions and not “baseball” decisions yet they are terrible decisions for the bottom line of business: making money.

    On the other hand they both ALSO have Scott Boras in common. I am convinced he has naked photos of certain Yankee Executives and is not afraid to use them.

    • Scout

      Nope, sorry, but Randy Levine has looked at naked pictures of himself and come away impressed.

    • MikeD

      Of course, we shouldn’t lose track of the fact that one of those “worst contracts” was critical in bringing the Yankees a World Championship. Kind of similar to the Red Sox trying to unload Manny because they viewed it as their worst contract, only to go see Manny be a key driver in two World Championships.

    • OldYanksFan

      Are the sheep naked too?

  • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

    I don’t think we’ll ever get the true story. Ownership driven could mean a ton of things. It could mean that Cashman was against it for a long time and was convinced it was the right move after he couldn’t work out a sign and trade for Balfour. Maybe he just became further concerned with Mo’s age and didn’t like how the dominoes would fall if Mo were to go down. It may have been 100% amicable in the end, but we don’t know. I do know that amicable doesn’t sell papers or get hits on the internet, so if all is well in Yankee-land, don’t expect to hear about it.

    At least it doesn’t sound like Cashman was forced to do it. Pressured or convinced maybe, but did he still have final say? Even Klapisch, who has the most details, said he agreed to it, albeit against his wishes.

    • Mike HC

      The only thing I believe is that the media and fans only hear maybe part of the story, if that. We don’t know shit about what actually happened and never will. Like I said in an earlier thread, maybe the Yanks were playing good cop, bad cop and messing with Boras. I guess that is not likely, but who knows?

  • Scout

    The only thing worse than having a team run by someone who knows nothing about baseball is having one run by an arrogant, self-important a**hole who knows nothing about baseball but is sure that he is an expert.

    • kenthadley

      DOLAN

      • Mike R.

        Charles Wang.

      • Josh S.

        Dolan probably knows more about baseball than basketball.

  • PaulF

    At least it means that ownership would still rather overspend to improve the team than cut payroll and pocket the money.

    • Mike HC

      That is a major takeaway I get from this. Sure it is an overpay, but I love that the Yanks are still willing to take on more risk than other teams would be willing to take on.

  • icebird753

    Uh, guys, he probably knows a lot more baseball than any of us do. Wait to see the results from next season, and then bash them if everything goes wrong. Now’s not the time. I know prospects are all fun to write about and gloat over, but sheesh, most of them turn into busts anyway.

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      Most FA relievers are busts too. So give me a guy with upside over an injury prone 30+ reliever

      • radnom

        There is less than 15% chance (being extremely generous) that whoever is drafted in that location will match the value Soriano provides next year in his entire career.

        I’m not making any statement on whether the signing was good or bad but don’t say you would take the pick over Soriano, that is just ridiculous.

    • Scout

      And none of us is running the Yankees, and for good reason. I for one don’t pretend to have the expertise.

      In the words of the great film icon and philosopher Clint Eastwood, “A good man knows his limitations.”

      • Evan3457

        .A man’s got to know his limitations.

        Harry Callahan, Magnum Force

        Well, he also says earlier to Briggs, “ A good man always knows his limitations.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Nope. I’m confident most of the regulars here know more about baseball than Randy Levine. He’s nothing but a money man who occasionally feels the need to meddle in baseball decisions, which he isn’t qualified to do.

  • ultimate913

    Why not let a GM do his job? The higher ups screwed us over with the A-Rod contract and now this. They have got to stop meddling around with the baseball decisions.

    On a somewhat related note, what if Soriano opts out and the Yankees offer arb? Yes, I understand they get 2 picks, but he already got 10 million in 2011. What if he accepted and the Yankees are stuck with him for 12+ million(or whatever the amount he’d get in arb)? About how much would he get in arbitration?

  • Marcus

    Gammons throwing Levine in there may be another example of this:

    http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2007/0.....g-revenge/

    My guess is that the situation is not as simple as Levine saying “Sorry, little buddy, but you’re signing Soriano whether you like it or not.”

    • Evan3457

      More like Levine whispering in Hank’s ear, and Hank throwing his 50% around. Not much better, really.

  • Esteban

    The mid aughts (’03-’07 right?) included a WS appearance, a game 7 of the ALCS and three other playoff appearances.
    Stop making it seem the yankees were the Pirates.
    That said, I don’t think this is great news.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cecala Joseph Cecala

    Makes sense, this signing is almost as bad as his haircut.

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_fKAE.....Levine.jpg

    • Mike HC

      I didn’t realize we had Will Ferrell from Elf running shit. This might completely change my feelings on the signings, ha.

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    The real question is “Why is Randy Levine still employed by the Yankees?”

    He was brought on board to navigate the intricacies of shepherding YS3 through the political process. Well, that’s now complete. What is his function now? He has a political background, not a baseball background, and accordingly, should not be involved in baseball decisions.

    This is ultimately on Hal, for allowing it to happen.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I thought Lonn Trost was the stadium guy? I could be easily be wrong, I know it was one of those two.

      • http://www.twitter.com/cephster Ross In Jersey

        As stated above, Levine was mostly responsible for the sweet deal he got for the New Yankee Stadium, at the expense of the New York taxpayer. That, and the other political “ins” you need to get a project as big as a 1.2 billion dollar ballpark pushed through the legislature.

        Trost seems like the public relations side of it, making sure everything within the stadium is running smoothly, analyzing ticket trends and setting prices, stuff like that. I don’t think he had much of anything to do with the political side of it.

      • MikeD

        I think they were both involved in different ways, but I always had Randy Levine as the main guy.

        Here’s a NYT article on him from a couple years back that might worth a quick review since Levine’s name seems to be popping up more and more.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03.....evine.html

    • MikeD

      Agreed. I don’t assume Levine was the driving force just because rumors are being reported. Means nothing.

      As for the hate toward Levine, I think people should keep in mind what you noted. He was brought in specfically related to YSIII, and his expertise and the deal negotiated with the city was worth tens of millions to the Yankees. People like that don’t get fired.

      • http://www.twitter.com/cephster Ross In Jersey

        1) I hope you realize that taxpayers like you and I are the ones footing the bill for the tens of millions that Levine saved the Yankees.

        2) No matter what role he had in the building of Yankee Stadium and the political process involved in it, he is in no way qualified to be making baseball decisions for the Yankees, which is why I don’t like him at all and why this news is especially disturbing. Do you want a team of A-rod contracts?

        • MikeD

          You’re making assumptions. We don’t know anything about Levine’s roll here as it comes to this deal. Just rumors. Also, he can offer his opinion, but he is still not the guy making the final decision. If Levine pushed hard for the signing of Soriano (which, I might add, oddly might have been financially driven as opposed to baseball driven), it was still Hal Steinbrenner who bought off on it, and I really don’t think Hal is a dumb man.

          As for your first point, yes, I do realize that the taxpayers end up paying for these things, which has nothing to do with Levine doing his job well.

          • Mike HC

            There could be a lot going on here that we don’t know about. A three year deal where the player can opt out after each year? Rare. Maybe a little shady, I don’t know. I can’t even begin to imagine all the motives here, but you may be right that there is more to this deal than meets the eye. Maybe, just bullshitting obviously with no basis to, ha.

        • mike c

          do we want a team of a-rod contracts? does that mean we would have a team of a-rod level players? who gives a crap about contracts… it’s not your job to manage the yankee payroll, and when’s the last time they weren’t able to afford a player they really wanted to sign?

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

            The middle of last month.

            • Mike HC

              Yea, why couldn’t Randy Levine step in on that one and up the per year $ amount. I like the Soriano signing, but not as much as I would have liked the Lee signing.

            • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

              Actually, they were clearly able to afford Cliff Lee. He decided to take less money. That wasn’t a money deal.

          • http://www.twitter.com/cephster Ross In Jersey

            who gives a crap about contracts… it’s not your job to manage the yankee payroll

            Say this again in 2016 or 2017 and see if you don’t sound batshit insane.

            • MikeD

              BTW Was Levine responsible for A-Rod’s contract? I’m not saying he wasn’t. I just always thought it was a crazy Hank move, which ultimately led to Hank being replaced by Hal!

              • http://www.twitter.com/cephster Ross In Jersey

                Levine was the contact on the Yankees that helped to get Hank talking with A-rod directly, so at the very least he is partly responsible.

  • pat

    Here’s to Soriano having a good year, opting out, and signing a 4 year deal with the Sox when they nontender Papelbon after 2011. Then we can eat their first rounder for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      Would they really do that, though? If Bard has another good year, they may as well just use him.

  • bobmac

    Levine is a weasel.He brought Goldman Sachs into YES and he has been manuevering ever since.Bad guy.

  • Joe D.

    Cash should print out the overwhelmingly negative reactions to this asinine contract (there are an awful lot) and leave them in a pile on Randy’s desk.

    With a sticky note on top that says “I told you so.”

    • radnom

      Since when are fan reactions a reasonable measure of how good a signing was?

      Oh, right…when you disagree with them.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        I don’t like this signing at all, but THIS. Hell, Cashman’s said “if you listen to the fans, you’ll be sitting with them soon” or something like that.

        It doesn’t go both ways.

      • Joe D.

        Who said I was referring solely to fan reactions?

        • Ted Nelson

          You are referring to immediate reactions before the guy has thrown a pitch. In 1-3 years one of them can leave the other a sticky note saying “I told you so.” The immediate reaction is pretty irrelevant. The actual results and performance matter.

      • Poopy Pants

        But they still overpaid for no-leverage Jeter to allegedly avoid bad PR (the fans).

  • Youve been Randy’d

    First off, Buster Olney and Espn are desperate with Jon Heyman and SI.com taking over majority of MLB newsbreaks as of late.

    I don’t believe Randy Levine would have authority over Cashman or Steinbrenner and be able to force anything. Maybe Hal was pushed by him but in the end I think Hal and Cash would talk it over separately before making a final decision.

    This news that “Randy Levine is responsible for the Soriano deal happening” is complete propaganda, some one trying to cause trouble and create a story for the NY media.

    • Mike HC

      Or, it could be leaked by the Yanks. Making them seem more unpredictable than they really are. When agents come to the Yanks, or Yanks go to agents, and the agent says we like the Yanks, but we are also looking at other teams, the Yanks can say, some of us like your players, but others are more skeptical, so we are not going to give in to your every demand.

  • The Real JobaWockeeZ

    Sorry Cash for making me doubt you. Fuck you Levine.

  • theyankeewarrior

    When Mike Francesca calls a baseball executive inept, you know he must really be an idiot.

    That being said, at least Alex Rodriguez and Soriano are good-to-great players. Guys like Wright, Brown, etc. were just average guys who commanded big money.

    The over-spending is the key. $35M seems insane when there were basically no known teams interested in this guy. I hope the media had nothing to do with that. If Boras is using Heyman, someone should call them out.

    • Mike HC

      Somebody did call them out and Heyman went apeshit insane twitter style.

    • MikeD

      Did Francesca call Levin that? If that’s the case, I’ll probably add that as check point in favor of Levine, not against.

      If you read the NYT article on Levine I included above, and you’ve worked in and around business and politics, you’ll recognize who he is, and you never want to be sitting between him and his goal. They are not nice people in a business sense, although that has little to do with how they are outside of work. That said, you do want people like him on your side, not against you.

      It’s pretty easy to see that Levine would have zero use for Francesca and basically would rip him to shreads. Francesca and his ego would not handle that too well.

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      Yes…because Francesa is never wrong. Nor is he a sanctimonious idiot himself.

  • Ted Nelson

    “if it continues to happen the Yankees will be right back where they were in the mid-aughts.”

    So they will win 95+ games per season and be serious contenders year in and year out? Awesome!!!

    Seriously, though, get off it. If the financial people OKed the money the only downside is a stinking #31 pick.

    And trend???? Two signings a few years apart does not make a trend. These deals cost the Yankees nothing but money and a stinking #31 pick… That’s the ownership’s money, so they can spend it how they please. If they want to overpay A-Rod for no rational reason, so be it. If they want to pay a premium to a relief pitcher, so be it.

    Can we stop whining about this and just get over it? Can we admit that a strong bullpen does take some pressure off a weak rotation even if it does not fix the problem? Can we admit that a #31 pick has limited worth? Can we admit that $35 mill for 200+ innings is not that crazy if it comes at a sub 3.00 ERA or even a sub 2.50 ERA? Can we acknowledge that he might bolt after one season or two seasons, allowing the Yankees to double their limited worth draft picks and effectively making it the 1 or 2 year deal you are clamoring for?

    Newsflash: the sky is not falling. The Yankees did win 95 games last season. They did take the ALCS to 6 games. They are returning virtually the same team. They can add a starting pitcher between now and the trade deadline. Take a deep breath, everything will be ok.

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      You saved me a lot of time typing this myself. Thank you.

    • David

      Great post. Exactly right. Win in 2009. Go 6 in ALCS after winning 95 in 2010. Should be at least as good in 2011, plus now with top farm system. Are we supposed to win 125 games every year and sweep the playoffs, otherwise Cash is an idiot?

    • http://www.twitter.com/cephster Ross In Jersey

      Your missing Mike’s point and the point of people who are frustrated that, if the rumors are true, this was a decision by ownership and not the GM. If they’re not going to trust Cashman’s judgement then why is he here? Yes, the Yankees right now are a better team, but if they keep making bad contracts like Soriano and A-rod they’re going to suffer eventually. When A-rod makes 20 million dollars in 2017 as a 42 year old will you still say it’s ok to spend money how they please?

      And by the way, Greg Maddux was a 31st pick in the draft. Yes, not every pick will turn into him, but you can’t just ignore it and say “whatever it’s just a stinking pick” either.

      • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

        See my post, two posts down for a list of all the borderline “successful” picks in the 31st round. One HOFer from 1965-2010 and a handful of players most fans will likely forget five years from now. With that ratio of success at low end picks like #31, I’d agree that it’s just a “stinking pick.” In fact, it’s borderline second round quality anyway…a round which has also produced Hall of Famers, as have much later rounds.

        Random list:
        Rich Gossage – 9th round
        Bert Blyleven – 3rd round
        Wade Boggs – 7th Round
        Eddie Murray – 3rd Round
        Ozzie Smith – 4th Round
        Nolan Ryan – 12th Round

      • Ted Nelson

        Mike has been pissed about this deal since way before it came out this was a ownership decision. He’s taking every excuse to bash it and did so all day yesterday.

        The ownership, you know, owns the team. This is a private enterprise, a monopoly really. They absolutely can spend their money however they please. I think you could easily make an argument that professional sports franchises should be community owned since the community generally has a strong stake in them, but… not the way it is.

        They did not tell Cashman to trade a bunch of prospects for Soria, for example. If they did that, I’d be pissed. They decided to spend more money than Cashman thought the guy was worth. Budget decisions are ultimately out of Cashman’s hands, so as long as this does not prevent them from making moves in the future and they don’t tighten the pruse strings when someone good is available… who cares?

        You get a major league contributor about 15-20% of the time. Your chances of getting a Greg Maddux are very low. A couple of years ago the Yankees actually took a potential Greg Maddux around that point in Gerrit Cole… and he didn’t sign. I made several posts yesterday detailing the historical results at the #31 pick, which is why I said “a stinking pick.” 80+% of #31 picks are going to make zero MLB impact ever. The Yankees can easily make up for that pick by going above slot at a later pick or signing an IFA. AND when Soriano’s going to leave, the Yankees are pretty likely to get one or two picks in return… So… it’s a stinking pick.

        I’m not on board with the A-Rod extension, but the Yankees have hardly ever really let their budget get in the way of improving their team. So I’m not really worried that if a Felix Hernandez or Albert Pujols or Hanley Ramirez becomes available the Yankees are going to suddenly get cheap.

  • David

    It is a lot of baloney. Of course there was division before a final decision was reached. So what? the bottom line is that they have a better team with Soriano, they have lost a first round draft pick, but they have retained all of their top prospects. The reason that Olney can write this is because of what Cash said about not wanting to lose the pick, which in my mind was simply poker with Boras. More interesting is what else is planned, because they have lots of ammo in $$$ and excess prospects.

  • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

    To those griping about losing a #31 draft pick, why not look at the list of all-time picks at #31 overall?

    Granted, there is one sure-shot hall of famer in Greg Maddux in 1984. After that?

    A decent MLB starter in Jarrod Washburn.
    A serviceable MLB reliever in Aaron Heilman.
    A decent lefty specialist in J.P. Howell.
    A career (short one) #4 calibre starter in Mike Thurman.
    A light hitting catcher in Kirt Manwaring.

    That’s it for names anyone MIGHT remember from 1965-2010. Six players. I won’t lose sleep over losing the pick.

    • Ted Nelson

      Didn’t you get the memo? The sky is falling.

      I tried to use reason in a previous thread, but thinking doesn’t work for some people. People who have decided they don’t like the deal are going to great lengths to explain every possible downside and infect all of us with their opinions with 30 negative articles about it in one day. Barely any mention of the positives all day.

      • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

        Hilarious. I didn’t get that memo. I’ll mention a positive though to try and balance things out. 1978 and 1996. Two seasons the Yankees had two “closers” in their bullpen. Worked out pretty well those seasons. Also for the Reds in 1990 when they had three. Those are just a couple that come to mind immediately. Wait a minute…I just thought of one more…the 1988-1992 Blue Jays had Tom Henke and Duane Ward, three playoff appearances (without a Wild Card option) and a World Series championship.

        Yes people, it can be done and it can be done successfully. It’s a logical fallback option when there are no starters remaining, either via free agency or trade.

    • FIPster Doofus

      A list of all-time No. 31 picks proves nothing. It has no bearing on the present or future.

      • Angelo

        Pretty much this. The draft is considered to be stacked with talent this year. A 31st pick is worth a lot more than in other years because of this. So in other words the 31st pick in this year’s draft is more like the 20th pick or better, in other drafts.

        • Ted Nelson

          And no other draft in the last 45 years has been stacked with talent? This draft is so incredibly, phenomenally, ridiculously more talented than any other draft in the last 45 years that historical results can’t possibly reflect it? Pretty hard to believe.

          85% of picks 29-33 from 2000-2005 have made zero MLB impact to date.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

            How many multiyear contracts for relievers in that time frame worked out? I’m willing to bet the success rate is also around 15%.

            • Ted Nelson

              As someone who actually writes what is supposed to be rational commentary on the Yankees, I would expect you to look into and quantify these things before throwing them out there as indictments of the signing.

              I honestly have no idea. This is not a random draft position looked at months before the draft, though. You can’t just compare him to every other player at his position, regardless of performance. Most relief pitchers are not very good, which is why they aren’t starters. We know what Soriano will bring to the table as a MLB pitcher. We know he hasn’t been a model of health, but we also know that when he’s been healthy he’s been pretty dominant. Across 5 healthy seasons where he’s pitched at least 50 innings, Soriano has never had an ERA above 3.

              All you need the guy to do is drop to Type B status to recoup the pick, so that’s not much of a consideration. So, it comes down to money. Unless you think the Yankees will suddenly tighten the purse strings out of no where and this will prevent them from getting someone they want… it’s irrelevant.

              They had money to burn. They have few holes on their roster. Bench holes are not exactly expensive to fill. Rotation options are scarce right now. So, they went out and filled the hole left by Kerry Wood’s departure. The sky is not falling.

              And the RAB response has basically been… “The end of games don’t even matter anyway, it’s all about the start and the bullpen can’t possibly help make up for mediocre starting.” Of course, a team can come back to win a baseball game. The Yankees made a habit of it last season. This is why I am so perplexed by the mostly emotional response from what I value as a rational site. No attempt to quantify much of anything… just relievers stink and the Yankees organization is clearly dysfunctional, exhibiting a pattern of overspending on FAs every few years…

              • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                No one said the end of the game wasn’t important, but we obviously disagree that it was a problem that needed to be addressed in such a manner. They picked up Wood for peanuts last year, so it’s obviously not that tough to find an 8th inning guy. And heck, when they had Wood they were still a .500 team because the rotation sucked.

                An eighth inning guy does not make the rotation better, and thinking that making it easier to come from behind in the later innings is a tangible upgrade to the team is just delusion.

                Soriano is a fantastic pitcher and will undoubtedly make the Yankees better, but the contract is awful and the upgrade isn’t as big or as necessary as everyone thinks it is.

                • Ted Nelson

                  Wood caught lightning in a bottle… He had a mediocre 2009 and was having a mediocre 2010 when the Yankees got him. Maybe they saw something and fixed it, but the 2011 free agent market clearly did not feel it was a level of success he could come anywhere close to sustaining. There was no guarantee he was an 8th inning guy and not a 6th inning guy. Soriano has been consistently dominant throughout his career when he’s been healthy. There are only so many relievers you can say that about, and most of the vets are paid the same way Soriano is.

                  “thinking that making it easier to come from behind in the later innings is a tangible upgrade to the team is just delusion.”

                  It’s not just the 8th inning. How many come from behind wins did the Yankees get last season? I haven’t quantified it, but their identity was basically as a team that wore down the starter and scored runs when he was tired or the pen came in. If your pen is giving up runs that’s a lot harder to do. I never once said it improves the starting rotation. I said that it can make up for it. If your starter leaves after 5 innings–and I fully expect Nova, Mitre, and probably AJ to be leaving a lot after 5 if they’re starting–there can still be half the baseball game left in a home game. If you’re -4 in the first 4.5 innings and +4 in the last 4.5… you’re going to extra innings. Yes, that is tangible. It is real. I did not make it up. The runs scored in the 8th inning count for as many points as those in the 2nd.

                  “Soriano is a fantastic pitcher and will undoubtedly make the Yankees better, but the contract is awful and the upgrade isn’t as big or as necessary as everyone thinks it is.”

                  A well thought out article with some stats to back it up expressing these feelings would have been nicer than emotionally bashing every aspect of the deal and the Yankees organization. So terrible that they only win 95 games a year…

                  The contract is not awful if he performs, and especially if he opts out. It’s $11.7 mill per. For a top end closer. This is not a middle reliever, so I don’t see why people look at him as such. This is a dominant reliever with a track record of success. Who cares if he’s pitching in the 8th or 9th? If he gives you his 70 innings at a sub-3 ERA, you got your money’s worth.

                  At $200 mill the Yankees have a budget that’s twice most teams’, so why not have two dominant relievers instead of one? And the Yankees are in a position where the marginal value of a win can be higher than most teams, since it can lead to playoff revenue. I would also argue that the value of a reliever is higher in the playoffs than regular season, where he’s probably available for and used in a higher % of games in the playoffs. The Yankees are a perennial playoff team.

                  I’m not saying I am all for giving Soriano that much money. However, as a fan it happened and I had no control. There is a potential downside, but there is also a potential upside. You’ve been going on and on about the downside, to the point where reading this blog makes it seem like there is nothing but downside. No look at how he actually makes the team better. Just, oh we talked about him and he’s good. On and on and on about every possible negative. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next article is on how he might take the $35 mill and funnel it towards terrorist groups. I mean a trend in ownership overruling Cashman based on two incidents years apart about which you don’t even have any details??? Is that responsible journalism? Perhaps it’s BS and Cashman made the decision. Perhaps Cashman loves Soriano, but wanted to haggle more with Boras at which point the finance people just said screw it pay the man. If you’re going to say there is a trend and Levine is a “culprit” back it up with more than Peter Gammons say so. If you listen to everything Peter Gammons said you’d think Theo Epstein was Ms. Universe.

                  And acknowledge that the downside is just not that great. It’s 3 years at most, maybe only 1 or 2. It’s 5% of the annual budget over that time. He’s 31-33 over that time. The chances that Soriano stays healthy the whole time aren’t great, but neither are the chances that he’s hurt the whole time. And the chances are that when he is healthy he’ll dominate. A lot worse things could happen. They could have traded Montero, Banuelos, and more for Soria. They could have signed some 37 year old reliever to a 3 year deal. As much as I was all for the Cliff Lee deal, even that had a whole lot more downside. They could have signed Carl Crawford and then turned around and traded Gardner for Zambrano. Using some spare cash and a #31 pick on a dominant reliever who you might expect to miss a good part of 1 of the 3 years he’s signed for is just not the worst thing. He’s 33/34 after 3 years and if the Yankees don’t want to keep him the chances of him being a Type A or B FA if the current system is still in place are quite high.

                • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

                  “Obviously not that tough to find an 8th inning guy?”

                  Tell that to the Yankee teams after Nelson and Stanton left. It took almost another decade before they could find a reliable set-up man. You might argue Tom Gordon, who was terrific in the regular season, but he killed them in the 2004 postseason. Then you have Joba in 2007, but that looks to be a one-hit wonder.

                  Other than those, it’s a long list of failed options.

                  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                    Yeah, not having a setup man all those years really hurt them, winning 90+ games each year and all. The starting pitching did them in, 70 relief innings a year won’t kill them.

            • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

              I addressed this in a thread about a week ago…but I’ll do so again, briefly. A lot of failed reliever free agent signings fail because the teams signing them did not do their homework.

              Soriano is a rare exception where the team did not want to resign him strictly due to budgetary reasons. We know that for a fact.

              I’d be willing to bet that the list of failed reliever free agents would parallel the list of relievers that teams were glad to let go. Dave Righetti in 1990 comes to mind. Gene Michael thought he was done and let him leave, much to the fans dismay, along with many in the Yankee family. The Giants bit and Stick proved to be correct.

              More recently, Frankie Rodriguez. The Angels could easily afford him. They were tired of his temperment and his act had grown old. They also thought he was quickly losing something off his fastball. Also, they were tiring of his penchant for having to wiggle out of trouble he created. Looks like they were correct and got the Mets to bite.

              The Yankees have made mistakes too. Kyle Farnsworth. Come on. We all knew what he was about…well everyone except Brian Cashman apparently. No one was surprised when he blew up in New York. That wasn’t a case of a bad free agent reliever signing. It was a bad signing period.

              Those are just a handful and someone posted a longer list, most of which were signings that seemed like bad ideas from the start because they were relievers glad to be left available by their former teams because of declining talent or other personal reasons…not money.

      • Ted Nelson

        Yes, actually it does. In order to establish a value for the pick months before the draft the best thing to do is look at historical returns in that area of the draft.

        From 2000-2005 85% of picks #29-33 have yet to make any positive MLB impact. That does absolutely have a bearing on what you expect to get from the #31 pick.

      • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

        Um…sure it does. I don’t care how “stacked” the “experts” think the draft is. #31 is #31 and is pretty low…almost second round anyway. It can be interpreted many ways. One of which is that only 6 players picked at #31 have made any impact in MLB in draft history. that’s a low percentage of success.

        Another could be the argument, “Well, you could make the same list for plenty of spots in the draft.” The reply should be, “Exactly.” That’s the nature of the draft. I’ll take a known commodity over a question mark anytime.

        I’m not saying the draft is a complete waste of time, but when you look at the success of picks coming from all assorted rounds it proves that no one knows which of their 50 or so picks will turn out to be of value. Whining about losing a #1 pick (that’s almost a second rounder anyway) is ridiculous. They’ll have around 49 or so more picks and as history has shown, the best player of the lot could very well come in the 10th or 15th round anyway. I seriously can’t believe how up in arms people are getting about a draft pick which the Yankees rarely parlay into a big score.

  • Mike

    Would anyone be surprised if Cashman leaves at the end of this year (I believe his contract is up)? He could surely get a GM job somewhere else with full autonomy. I fear the replacement they would hire for him.

    • FIPster Doofus

      It’s a possibility if the higher-ups continue going over his head to make decisions. And I believe Cash’s replacement would be Damon Oppenheimer.

      • Youve been Randy’d

        or Billy Eppler…young/eager/his first GM job. Yankee management would be able to walk all over with him (that is of course if its true that Cashman’s decision making is being chopped off over his head and he is unhappy, for all we know this Randy Levine thing is ACTUALLY propaganda)

    • Mike

      I dunno, maybe Cashman is comfortable being the yes man/rubber stamp for the higher ups.

  • Mike

    I think anyone could’ve figured out this out that this signing was beyond Cashman. Looks like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • Dave

    Levine comes off like a slimy bastard. I’ve heard him speak several times. And whether you choose to believe the accounts of him in thr Torre book (which i do) is your prerogative. He was underhanded in his dealings withrespect to digging up the playgrounds to build Ys3, shady in his endeavor to hide $ from the city to seek add’l taxpayer contribution, & has no business whatsoever making any player personnel decisions.

    Any claim to the contrary is one borne of willful ignorance. Period.