Brian Cashman tried to bring back the original Carl Pavano for a 1-year encore to his hellish Yankees tenure from the years 2005-2008, the majority of which was spent on the disabled list (and the beach; and in car accidents; and in the gossip columns; and looking for new agents; and as the foundation for endless, hilarious ridicule).
Pavano declined the Yankees offer, choosing instead to return to the Twins.
It was better for both parties. A Pavano redux had very little chance of succeeding in any context.
But the Yankees, in a weird way, did bring Pavano back.
They brought him back as Rafael Soriano.
When he was signed, there was an open fissure between the Yankees top-tier hierarchy of Hank and Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine vs the baseball people led by GM Brian Cashman.
In retrospect, Cashman may not have been being honest as an end unto itself when he said at the Soriano introductory press conference that he was not on-board with the signing of the reliever. The obvious excuse was that Cashman didn’t want to spend the money nor surrender the draft picks to the division rival Rays, but now that Soriano has been an absolute and utter disaster in every possible permutation—both on and off the field—it might’ve been that Cashman knew something from the gossipy world of MLB executives and on-field personnel that made him say, “let me distance myself from this right from the get-go”.
Defending the Yankees, there was never an allegation of Pavano being a malingerer before he was signed; he’d pitched well and durably for the two immediate seasons prior to inking his 4-year, $39.95 million deal; had the Yankees not signed him for that money, the Red Sox, Mariners or Tigers would have.
The Yankees acquisition of Pavano can’t even be called a “mistake” in the classic, second-guessing baseball world sense; it didn’t work for a multitude of reasons.
That said, a reuniting of Pavano and the Yankees this season would’ve been a ghastly mistake…but not in comparison to the pitcher they did sign, Soriano.
Was there a demand for Soriano? Would any club have given him more than 1-year or approached that guaranteed cash?
Soriano has behaved abominably going back to last season with the Rays when his attitude and clear looking toward future riches influenced his relentless whining and atrocious body language whenever Rays manager Joe Maddon either asked him to pitch more than one inning or enter a game in a non-save situation.
He was the epitome of what the Yankees tried to avoid in building their dynasty of the 1990s—the selfish player who was more interested in his paycheck than team goals.
Nor did it help that, throughout his career, Soriano has had a penchant for allowing home runs at the most inopportune times.
But the Yankees upper management, spurned by Cliff Lee and concerned about the lack of action in a weak free agent class, chose to toss a portion of the money allocated for Lee at Soriano. The money isn’t as much of an issue as the public disagreement between ownership and the GM; that Cashman’s contract is up at the end of the year and he might have seen the Levine-executed public castration as the final boot out the door.
If Soriano pitched and pitched well, behaved like a “Yankee”, then all parties would’ve agreed to disagree and been happy that the signing worked.
But it hasn’t worked.
In fact, since he arrived, Soriano has exhibited diva-like behavior that would make Madonna blush.
He made his own schedule in spring training; had little to do with his new teammates and didn’t even put forth the effort to create clubhouse continuity; he avoided the media after a blown game; complained about not being accustomed to the set-up role (a role he held every year but the previous two and in 2009, he shared the closing job with Mike Gonzalez); he ripped the Yankees lineup and shunned any responsibility for himself and the job he’s supposed to be doing; now he’s hurt with elbow inflammation and out for at least 6-8 weeks—ESPN Story.
What makes matters worse is that I don’t get the impression from Soriano—given his behaviors present and past—that he’s all that bothered about being on the DL.
Whereas Pedro Feliciano is ready to do anything and everything to get back on the field, feels legitimately terrible about not living up to his contract and loves to pitch and compete, Soriano has his money and is on the disabled list.
His tone is one of satisfaction.
Will he work hard to get back?
Do his teammates even want him back?
In a weird way, this might be a blessing in disguise for the club and manager Joe Girardi; not only does Soriano taking up residence on the disabled list free the manager of having to use a struggling pitcher whose role was designated to be the “closer in the 8th inning”, but when and if Soriano gets back he won’t be automatically slotted into the 8th inning role (I would hope; this is Joe Girardi we’re talking about, so who knows?) simply because that was his “job”.
The signing has been a nightmare in every conceivable metric; now he’s out, probably won’t be around the team at all and won’t work all that hard to get back as quickly as possible.
In the short term, the disabled list’s gain may turn out to be the Yankees gain as well. How the usurping of Cashman’s authority, the money and the lost draft picks affect the Yankees future remains to be seen, but judging how it’s gone so far, the entire result is probably going to be terrible.
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