First let me be clear in stating my opinion that Rivera is the greatest closer ever to play the game.
There is no other like Mo, and there never will be but this is not about his HOF (Hall-of-Fame) career.
What made things worse was GM Brian Cashman publicly stated via ESPN New York that he did not agree with signing the ex-Rays closer to a 3-year, $35 million deal but that Hal Steinbrenner and team President Randy Levine went over his head.
Now, fast-forward to today and try to imagine where the Yankees would be sans Soriano?
I can promise you it would be ugly; and I can pretty much guarantee you that the Yankees would not have the best record in MLB (55-34).
Without the dominant arm of Soriano in the ninth inning, the Bombers would probably be hanging somewhere around middle to bottom in the AL East standings.
And by no means am I saying that if Mo never got hurt the Yankees wouldn’t be having such a successful season. But Mo did get hurt, and the fate of the season almost went with him and should have but Soriano stepped up BIG time.
Trying to fill the beloved Rivera’s shoes is not what Soriano is trying to do as he has done it his way, which is aloof and un-tucked but the results are the same.
Soriano is absolutely dominating opposing batters, and winning games for the Yankees. He has yet to give up a homer this season, which is a miracle considering the bandbox he calls home. Here are Soriano’s stats thus far:
W L ERA G SV SVO IP H R ER HR BB SO BAA WHIP
2 0 1.49 39 23 24 36.1 32 6 6 0 15 38 .232 1.29
stats courtesy of MLB.com.
Reality is Rivera just turned 42-years old so justifiably his velocity has dropped. Inherently the decline in speed has made his cutter hittable, which means Mo has to locate the pitch perfectly as there is little room for error.
The even bigger problem about this situation is eliminating ‘the who’ when the player’s name is Mariano Rivera.
Look, I love Mo just like everyone else, but the goal is to win; and truth is Rafael Soriano is doing an unbelievable job and a better one for now.
I would like to see him in the 9th inning for the rest of 2012. And please know it breaks my heart to admit that truth, but by NO means am I saying I do not want Mo back because that could not be further from the truth.
Bottom-line is that if Rivera returns in 2012 it could put the Yankees brass, GM and manager between a rock and a hard place, as why would you break something that is already working/winning?
PLEASE NOTE this article is about the 2012 season only, not 2013 as that is yet TBD.