Friday, January 14, 2011

Hot Stove Rehash: Soriano to the Yanks

The offseason is flying by. Pitchers and catchers are a month away from reporting. So let's get started with some of the Hottest Stove action of the new year.

Rafael Soriano: Hot off the presses, Soriano signed a $35 million, 3-year deal with the Yankees to set up Mariano Rivera. Pretty sweet gig. Deal includes player options after 2011 and 2012. Yanks wanted Soriano to feel comfortable signing, so they gave him two outs. And 35 million reasons to be satisfied as a setup guy. Of course, he inherits the Yankees closer gig in 2013 if all runs smooth. Spin: Soriano has career 2.73 ERA and 1.00 WHIP numbers and over a K an inning, including a sick 1.73/0.80 line last year with the Rays. He'll be one of the few useful setup guys and Rivera isn't getting any younger...

Adrian Beltre: In an odd move, the Rangers, fresh off a runner-up Cliff Lee shopping spree, doled out $80 M over 5 years for the third-base whiz, although it remains to be seen what happens to Michael Young. First thought was, he'll tackle Texas' DH spot. But now, Nolan and Co. are talking to Jim Thome, meaning Young would split DH at-bats and become a utility IF. Spin: What? Sure Young's not buying green bananas, but he's only 35 and coming off a 21-HR, 91-RBI, 99-run, .284 campaign. Oh, and he's owed $16 M per. Beltre has been one of the most inconsistent hitters and while he's likely to repeat his Boston numbers in the hot Arlington summers, and that will be a stacked lineup, but Young is one of the top 10 pure hitters in the game and is still a must-star in all formats.

Trevor Hoffman: The right-hander change-up magician retires with 601 saves. First-ballot HOF. Great first name.

Kyle Farnsworth: From one of the most deceptive throwers to one of the least, The Farns somehow signed a 3.25 M deal with the Rays. Spin: For a guy who has switched teams 11 times in the past 7 years and a career 4.39 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, all I have to say is how to I sign with his agent? To get this contract on a team that's pinching pennies is almost as impressive as Farnsworth pitching a 1-2-3 inning. He's always been able to throw through a brick wall, the question is, which building? Don't look for him to close.

Fred Lewis: A one-year deal with Cincinnati for $900K barely gets a brief, but despite a crowded OF in Cincy, don't sleep on Lewis and his career .348 OBP. Plus, he's the only lefty bat in that OF besides Jay Bruce. But the right injury or two and he's hitting ahead of Votto and Phillips. Spin: Thin deep, deep sleeper.

Matt Garza: Yes, it's a bit old but how can we not wax over one of the biggest off-season deals. In the same day, two different analysts on XM's MLB channel both absolutely ripped Tampa Bay and later the Cubs for the deal. Never have I heard of such a mixed reaction. Here's what I know. Garza is close to a K/inning guy who had a sub-ERA in the AL East this past year. He's very reasonable, under team control for the next three years (owed in the$6 million range) and he could slip to a below-3.50 ERA guy in the strikeout-happy NL Central.

Now to the prospects: Chris Archer is definitely the gem of the bunch coming off a great year, but his control is an issue. Sam Fuld may forever be a fourth OF. Brandon Guyer is another sell-high guy coming off a phenomenal AA season (.344/.398/.588) and swiped 30 bases but the Cubs like Brett Jackson better and were able to keep him and 3B prospect Josh Vitters. Robinson Chirinos was reportedly key to the deal and is phenomenal handling pitchers, but is 27 already. Hak-Ju Lee is said to have a top-notch glove and arm at SS, but what do you do with Sterlin Castro? Lee was at least two, maybe three years away. The Cubs gave up 4 of their top 12 prospects. A lot? Sure, but Garza's ceiling, cost and World Series experience make the gamble worth it. Yes, I said World Series.

Here's the final out of Garza's no-hitter.