Results tagged ‘ Rafael Soriano ’
Rob Carr / AP
I know for myself personally, the action of trying to convince and construct a viable financial way for me to mortgage my vested future for use today would retroactively reduce my chances of enjoying my retirement or grant me some forms of comfort in my so-called “Golden Years”. So it is a bit strange to me that the Tampa Bay Rays keep taking bucket loads of money from their financial future reserves and plopping it into their wallets for use now for the upgrades for their 2010 payroll.
Could the Rays prospects of increasing their 2010 payroll to its breaking point really be justified in their minds that it increases the teams playoff chances in 2010? And even if this team is headed by a pretty savvy and financially rich money Mensa, in an unstable investment market is it really wise to hedge your fiscal future for your present wants and desires? You have to honestly think that the Rays are hedging some of their monetary hopes on the possibility that the Chicago Cubs will eventually cave in and send to them a nice full money bag of about $ 10 million to close out their trade end of the revolving Burrell/Bradley circus.
Might the ending of the Burrell/Bradley sweepstakes be the anticipated fiscal prize the team needs to add a level of firm stability to the Rays 2010 payroll and also safeguard their future payrolls. Or maybe the Rays front office could further amuse and confuse their fan base by continuing to open their pocketbook and signing another reliever or player so far out of their financial means that Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg will be seen modeling a nice wrap-around jacket that buckles in the back, and surrounded by a few new friends dressed in white coats.
I already think the Rays have gone above and beyond their projected 2010 allowance given to them by Sternberg, and now are scrambling for a every single dollar to find a few needed pieces in the bargain basement for their Bullpen. And their financial situation was not made an easier when the Rays traded for closer Rafael Soriano and then gave him around 7.25 million reasons to play for the Rays in 2010. I am worried that the Rays have might gambled heavily on their present roster concerns with a blind eye to their future Rays plans for the high risk chance to hopefully again hoist a piece of metal high into the air.
And to make the Rays sweat even more, their top two rivals, the Red Sox and Yankees have not only opened their own bank accounts,but have quickly added some additional pieces to their teams. They have visually thrust their checkbooks into the Rays face to illustrate to the small market team that they will always be just meager spenders in this division. The Rays suspected payroll of around $ 71.1 million might not even put so much as a small dent into the 2010 plans of their two American League East rivals, and that fact should scare the Rays. The Rays will have to firmly adjust their future budget restrictions with their home grown talent hopefully closing the gap between the teams.
On this side of the financial equation, we can see the Rays financial noose starting to grip tightly around their necks with no clear answer to ease their fiscal pressure. And I know that in this fragile financial climate, that even a slight decrease, or even a free fall in attendance and revenues could cripple the team in 2011 and might send us back into the pre-2007 spending levels for players and talent for quite awhile.
If I went to a financial planner for advice, he would probably tell me that budgeting and allocating a certain amount to unforeseen problems is prudent and financially-wise for me. But he would also guard me against the dangers of trying to live too far above my own personal means, or obtaining revolving credit woes that would hasten financial ruin to become swift and unmerciful. He would then remind me that the mantra of “ living for today” might be a nice song to sing to the heavens, but in reality it doesn’t pay the bills.
And I know the Rays have a calculated and well formulated plan to borrow from the team’s future revenues and still have an adequate windfall for 2011 budget concerns. But I have seen this team come from some pretty low depths to find early bouts of success. I guess I am just worried that even as I see my own fortunes rise and fall like the tides that the Rays are also feeling this same concern.
And it would be a pity to one day wake up and see the Rays again struggling and trying to find ways to support the team when they had the money hidden away for a rainy day, and a big financial storm was brewing for them with massive concerns. I have a bad habit of forgetting that baseball is a business first and see it as just another single entity struggling in this financial climate. And for the Rays, their “Golden Years” are also ahead of them, and may, just maybe I want them to still be here when I am old and gray for can be the menacing old guy who tells tall tales of the “Good Ol’ Days”.
The more I read about this guy, the more I am liking the Rays possibilities in 2010. But the reality is now set in stone that the Tampa Bay Rays have traded for Rafael Soriano to man the back of the Rays Bullpen for 2010. And what a beautiful birthday present (Dec 19th) this turned out to be for Soriano that he got a bundle of money ($ 7.25 million dollars) and a chance to play in 74 degree weather for 81 games a year in Florida.
I mean the minute I heard the deal was about to be completed, I started to do some research on the guy and found some thing I automatically loved and caused concern about the Rays new closer. But the true fact that he is not Troy Percival is the first good news I have heard in the last two seasons for the Rays Bullpen. Soriano is from the Dominican Republic, and as most players from that region, did not start out as a pitching prospect. He was originally signed as an outfielder before being converted to a pitcher.
In 1999, Soriano was finally began his conversion into a pitcher while with the Everett and the move was considered an instant success as he finished his first season as a pitcher second in ERA and strikeouts, but also third in walks. Control would come with time as the young pitcher began to tweak his finger grips and learn the art of pitching.
And his pitching progression showed in 2000 as he was boasted a 2.87 ERA and was considered the third best pitcher prospect in the Mariner’s organization in 2000. Soriano also surrendered only one Home Run in the 167 batters he faced that season. And during the 2000 offseason, he got his first taste of Winter Ball as he was selected to play for Escogido in the Dominican League.
And his impression during his escalation through the minors was not missed by the Seattle front office which selected him from the Double-A San Antonio on May 8,2002 and he made his Major League debut against the Boston Red Sox on May 10th and earned his first MLB save in a 7-2 Seattle win. During 2002, he ended up only appearing in 10 games for the Mariners, but started 6 games during his tour with the big club.
There is one thing that bothers me a bit about Soriano. Early on in his career he did show a pattern of getting injured when he first went down with a right shoulder injury while up with the Mariners on July 10,2002. and was put on the disabled list. Soriano suffered a strained oblique muscle in Spring Training 2004 and saw very limited action before the regular season.
He then suffered another injury in May 2004 when while he was up with the Mariners he developed a right elbow strain. He sat out until July and tried to pitch during a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma, but the pain came back in the elbow. Soriano was diagnosed with a ulnar collateral ligament tear in the elbow and Dr Lewis Yocum performed Tommy John’s surgery on the aliment on August 17, 2004.
Soriano spent the rest of the 2004 season rehabbing from the surgery and after multiple rehab assignment in the minor leagues, finally returned to the Major Leagues on September 10,2005 for the Mariners and stayed with the club the rest of the season appearing in seven games that season. Soriano ended his season right by not allowing a run in his last five games of the season.
During the 2006 season you might have remembered Soriano as the pitcher that got clocked in the right ear off a line drive from the bat of Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero during the eighth inning August 29th contest at Safeco Field between the Angels and Mariners. Mariners Team Medical Director Edward Khalfayan said that Soriano was hit right beyond the right ear region and he never lost consciousness before being transported to Harborview Medical Center for further testing.
Soriano spent the night at Harborview after suffering a concussion, but was finally released the following afternoon. But the Mariners took a cautionary route and Soriano did not pitch again in the 2006 season. Prior to the August 29th incident, Soriano spent time on the DL for right shoulder fatigue before being reinstated in early August. That would be his last appearance for the Seattle Mariners as he was traded to the Atlanta Braves on December 6,2006 for fellow reliever Horacio Ramirez.
Soriano has been known to throw the ball in triple digits before, but suffered in his first season with the Braves setting up Braves closer Bob Wickman. After seeing Soriano begin to emerge in the Bullpen and Wickman starting to show regression, the Braves made a move in August 2006 by designating Soriano into the closer’s roles and designating Wickman for assignment.
But the drama was not over for Soriano in 2006. In September during a game against division rivals, the Florida Marlins, Soriano drilled Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla with a pitch and drew a four game suspension from the National League front office. After appealing the sentence, it was reduced to two games, but Soriano ended his first Braves season with mixed reviews providing a 3-3 record and a 3.0 ERA for the season.
Soriano had stayed relatively injury free during his first two seasons with the Braves before finally feeling some right elbow pain, and went on his first stint on the DL with right elbow tendinitis during May. Soriano suffered another setback during the season and was activated from the DL on July 27th. Eventually, Soriano went back on the DL on August 3, and stayed there for the rest of the season. On August 28th, Dr James Andrews performed an ulnar nerve transposition surgery and removed some bone spurs from Soriano’s elbow.
The 2009 season was the first injury free season for Soriano in a long time. And his level of play did increase dramatically as he held righthanded batters to a .138 average during the season. He also converted 27 of 31 save opportunities while holding a 1-6 record on the season. But the season also saw new career highs in strikeouts (102) and innings pitched (75.2) to show that when healthy, Soriano is one of the rising closer stars in the Major Leagues.
During his three season with the Braves, Soriano might have only compiled a 4-10 record with 39 saves, but he gained valuable experience during the season gelling into the closer’s role for the Braves. And even if he only has three pitches in his arsenal, Soriano’s fastball maintains a consistent velocity in the upper 90′s, and has hit triple digits a few times last season. Combined with his hard-biting slider(81-84 mph) and a seldom used change-up(84-86) that he usually reserves for hard hitting left-handers.
But there is a level of concern that hits my brain about Soriano. There has not been a consistent level of health yet in his career for me to be jumping up and down yet about this trade. Sure I do not want a repeat of the last two seasons where you get ex
cited and looking forward to a closer taking it to the house for the Rays, then get saddened quickly by a sudden or hidden injury situation.
Maybe that is what is wrong to me about this trade. I like the pitching statistics of Soriano a lot, and really want him to be effective and healthy in 2010 for the Rays. But I was also excited to see what hard throwing reliever Jesse Chavez could do for this squad in 2010. It is an upgrade in instant talent, but for some odd reason, Chavez to me felt like a better long term addition.
But with the horrors of the ”Percy” era still fresh in my mind, along with the wasted millions of dollars spent on him sitting in California on his duff while this team struggled without a bona fide closer. I am a bit more cautious to throw out the arms and welcome a closer now. Especially one who has only had one legitimate healthy season after several trips to the diasabled list in the past.
I truly hope that Soriano proves me wrong within the first few weeks of 2010. I want to again believe that we have a viable closing option on the Rays and that the “closer-by-committee” concept is thrown in the trash can and burned forever. But it is still funny to me the recent quote from Rays team owner Stuart Sternberg that this team payroll would not allow for a $ 7 million dollar closer. And he was right. But as is always the way with the Rays, irony had the last laugh as now we have a new $ 7.25 million dollar closer to put out hopes and playoff dreams upon in 2010.
The more and more I heard that the Tampa Bay Rays were seeking a possible closer candidate for the 2010 season, the more the name of former Rays closer,and free agent Danys Baez pops into my mind as an option. Before the recent two-day whirlwind that landed the Rays former Braves reliever Rafael Soriano, I thought that Baez might be the Rays best option based on the high ceilings to salaries wanted by free agent and reliever out in the market place this winter.
Baez was seeking a roster spot with a team on the Atlantic coast to be closer to his family, who reside in Miami, Florida. And that fact totally played in the Rays court if the team tried to negotiate a contract. But the two sides never met and the phone lines remained silent between them. The kicker is that I know first hand that Baez would love to return to the Rays because of the direct the team is headed in the next few years. He saw the mass improvement and was excited to possibly be a part of the resurgence of the Rays.
Even though it has been a few years since he was last with the Rays (2004-2005) the team has now formed a firm foundation and have established themselves in the American League East division. And with Baez’s being a part of that first thrust towards respectability, he also holds a positive historic mark on the Rays past. A reunion of the two seems more and more possible before todays news.
Baez held the second spot on the Rays All Time Saves leader board with 71 career saves. And during his first season(2004) with the Rays, he became only the second Rays reliever ever to post at least 30 saves in a regular season for the team. During his second season, he became only the second Rays pitcher to post 40 saves in a season. With this, you start to see his level of constant rising to the moment by the Rays former closer.
I could see Baez maybe signing with the team for about $5 million plus incentives, but still be under that “$7 million mark” that Rays team owner Stuart Sternberg is warning will not be in the Rays picture this season. But there are plenty of other reasons why the Rays could have considered Baez before bringing in,or trading around for another arm this off season. All the Rays front office really had to do was open their individual minds and the Rays record books to see the value of including Baez on this team.
During 2004, Baez’s 30 saves ranked sixth best in the AL, and he had a save opportunity in 43 percent of the Rays 70 wins that season. Baez might have only been 30-33 in total save opportunities, but in a wild twist, he ended up as the games winning pitcher during all three blown saves. Baez also converted 18 straight saves from June 16th, to September 24th, to provide a positive benchmark towards the type of consistency that Baez could of produced for the Rays in 2010.
Another interesting sidebar about Baez was he converted 12 out of 12 saves opportunities away from Tropicana Field and he saved 25 out of 26 opportunities against American League foes during the 2004 season. Opponents batted for a .191 average against him with men on base, and a lowly .091 batting average when the bases were loaded in 2004. Baez did the job of closing down the opposition during his first season with the Rays.
And that high level of consistency kept going in 2005 when he improved his save total for the third time in his professional career. Baez saved a career high 41 saves during 2005, and was rewarded during the season as a Rays representative at the 2005 All Star game. Baez also became the first Major League Baseball pitcher to save over 40 games on a sub .500 team in MLB history. Baez ended up saving 62.1 percent of the total Rays wins (67) for the season. And Baez went an impressive 7 for 7 against the New York Yankees in save opportunities, tying the Yankees team record of save against them in one season set by former White Sox Bobby Thigpen in 1990.
And one of the reason I really felt like he could be the possible answer for the Rays was most of his career has been set in the American League, and he has been a closer in the competitive A L East and knows the stress and pressures of the division. But all of this logic and statistics might be thrown away now with the addition of Soriano top the Rays staff. The Rays have made their decision on their possible 2010 closer and the Baez idea will be again thrown on the back burner.
I am a bit upset that the team would not even consider Baez, but maybe they are seeking another direction of not including any of the past, and thrusting towards the future. I guess I will just have to catch Baez sometime during 2010 somewhere along the sidelines during Batting Practice and just personally let him know he was the guy I wanted to see close in 2010. I will keep an open mind with Soriano and hope that he can be that guy at the back end of the game to provide some stability and some exciting Rays moments for 2010.
As I always say, I guess we shall see………….