Rafael Soriano had another ugly outing last night, blowing an eighth-inning lead and taking a loss while allowing two runs against the White Sox.
He now has a 7.84 ERA on the season, allowing nine runs in 10.1 innings, and has already walked eight batters after issuing a grand total of just 14 free passes in 62.1 innings last year.
However, manager Joe Girardi said after the game that the Yankees will stick with Soriano as their eighth-inning setup man in front of closer Mariano Rivera:
You’ve got to fight your way out of it. You keep using the guys. You get them on track. I haven’t lost any confidence in Rafael Soriano. This is a very good pitcher that just happened to give up a two-run homer. It’s a different animal here. Some guys come in and the transition is easy. Other guys, it can be difficult. I haven’t found the transition to be really difficult for him, I just think at times he hasn’t thrown great this year. I haven’t seen anything to tell me he can’t handle it.
I tend to agree with Girardi. Soriano has been a mess so far, but ultimately having a terrible 10-inning stretch doesn’t doom him for the entire season and he’s been too good for too long to think things won’t eventually get on track as long as he’s not pitching through some kind of an injury (his velocity is down compared to 2010, but only slightly).
Not only did Soriano save 45 games with a 1.73 ERA and .163 opponents’ batting average last season for the Rays, he has a 2.86 ERA in 405 career innings. This isn’t some mediocre pitcher who got lucky in a flukishly great season and is now coming back to down to earth. He’s one of the best, most dominant relievers of the past decade and is simply having an awful first month in New York. Or so the Yankees hope, since they’ve invested $35 million over three years in Soriano.
Steve Berman of The Athletic — known to some as Bay Area Sports Guy – reported overnight that Major League Baseball is likely to hand down discipline to Giants CEO Larry Baer today. Possibly as early as this morning.
As you’ll recall, on March 1, Baer was caught on video having a loud, public argument with his wife during which he tried to rip a cell phone out of her hands, which caused her to tumble off of her chair and to the ground as she screamed “help me!” After a couple of false-start statements in which he seemed to dismiss and diminish the incident, Baer released a second solo statement, apologizing to his wife, children and the Giants organization and saying he would “do whatever it takes to make sure that I never behave in such an inappropriate manner again.”
On March 4, Baer stepped away from the Giants, taking “personal time” and relinquishing his CEO role, at least temporarily. Given Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, which does not require criminal charges to trigger discipline — and given how bad a look it would be for Major League Baseball not to take any action against Baer when it is certain that it would take action against a player in a similar scenario — it was only a matter of time before the league added to whatever discipline Baer and the Giants had decided to do on their own accord.
At the time of the incident I detailed Major League Baseball’s history of disciplining owners. As discussed in that post, it’s a tricky business, as owners don’t typically rely on salaries from their team and thus it’s hard to distinguish a suspension from a vacation. The examples cited there, however, at least begin to outline the tools at MLB’s disposal in taking action against Baer, and the league has no doubt been thinking about how to approach the matter for the past month.
We’ll see what they came up with some time today.