UPDATE: Not so fast on the Soriano stuff. Mark Feinsand just spoke to a Yankees official and he downplayed the idea, saying “the price is going to be too high.” And it will be too high, objectively speaking, for a setup man. But it’s not like the Yankees (a) couldn’t use the help in the pen; and (b) could’t afford it. And as some of you mentioned in the comments section, filling out the pen could help shake Joba Chamberlain free for a trade. I mean, sure, the Yankees don’t see him as a starter anymore, but someone might, and he could form the basis of a package that could get a useful starting pitcher in return.
3:59 PM: The arms race is getting out of control. The Red Sox get Jenks? Fine. The Yankees want Rafael Soriano. Mark Feinsand of the Daily News:
According to a source with knowledge of the Yankees’ thinking, the Bombers are “exploring” the option of signing Soriano, the All-Star closer who pitched last year for the Rays. With plenty of money to spare in the wake of Cliff Lee’s return to Philadelphia, the Yankees have held preliminary discussions with Scott Boras about Soriano, the source said.
Soriano used to be the best setup guy in baseball. In New York he’d have that role again. And, if it was a three-year deal, he could be Mariano Rivera’s heir.
In other news, if the Yankees did get Soriano — and if the Red Sox don’t find a sucker to take Papelbon — they and the Sox would have four of the top eight closers — at least in terms of saves — from the 2010 season on their rosters. Which is cool with me because (a) who cares about saves; and (b) both the Jenks and Soriano signings would address legitimate needs for each team, but you figure a lot of people will freak out about this.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.