Yankees' Antidote For Cliff Lee: Make The Games Shorter With Rafael Soriano

James Stewart-Meudt@@JSMeudtCorrespondent IIDecember 15, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 10:  Pitcher Rafael Soriano #29 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws against the Texas Rangers during game 4 of the ALDS at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 10, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ken Rosenthal has recently suggested that the New York Yankees take a run at free agent reliever Rafael Soriano.

After losing out on Cliff Lee, the Yankees have a lot of unused money laying around, and adding Soriano, along with Mariano Rivera would give them the best eighth-ninth inning punch.

What this essentially does for the Yankees is make the games shorter.

If they Yankees take a lead into the eighth inning, it basically turns a nine inning feast into a seven-inning snack.

Soriano led all of baseball with 45 saves last season. He posted a 1.73 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 62.1 IP last season for the Tampa Bay Rays.

After Joaquin Benoit signed a three-year, $16.5 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, the price for relief pitching this offseason went through the roof, so the price tag for Soriano could be pretty steep.

However, with the improvement of the Boston Red Sox and the failure to sign Lee, the Yankees need to improve in other ways.

While they have questions surrounding their starting rotation, mainly what they can expect from A.J. Burnett next season, the Yankees can also improve their ability to lock down wins in the late innings by adding an arm like Soriano.

Of course, Soriano would have to accept an eighth-inning role with the Yankees after being a closer last season, but if a deal could be made, the Yankees will have found a way to counter the Phillies' starting rotation should they meet in the postseason and a way to ensure any lead they bring into the late innings against the Red Sox stands up.

The Yankees have, of course, been named among the teams interested in trading for Kansas City Royals' ace Zack Greinke, but they may not have the prospects Kansas City wants, namely middle-infield prospects and there are questions about Greinke's mental health pitching in New York.

So if they can't trade for Greinke, and with the free agent pitching market being as weak as it is, the Yankees should look towards the end of the game instead of the start.

Mariano Rivera is already the greatest closer of all time, and pairing him with a lock-down reliever like Soriano would be the best counter-move to losing out on Cliff Lee.

On top of all that, should Rivera retire at the end of his new two-year contract, and the Yankees lock-up Soriano for three or four years, they would also have the heir apparent ready to go.

That's a little bit more far-fetched, but it has to be said.