Texas Rangers Had Good Reasons for Skipping on Rafael Soriano

Dan AllsupCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 19:  Rafael Sorianoof the New York Yankees shakes hands with manager Joe Girardi during his introduction press conference on January 19, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees signed Soriano to a three year contract.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Texas Rangers have no exact answer as to who will pitch the ninth inning on Opening Day vs. the Boston Red Sox.

That is, of course, if it's not the incumbent, Neftali Feliz, who every day seems more likely to pitch the first inning rather than the last inning.

Some fans, and even manager Ron Washington, seem pressed to fill this void.

Washington stated earlier this week that general manager Jon Daniels would "find him a closer." Oh, and Wash wants an experienced closer, too.

Maybe he wants Frankie Francisco back—you remember, he did so well as an "experienced" closer going into 2010 that he had to relinquish his role to an unrefined, inexperienced closer.

That closer was Neftali Feliz, and it worked out all right, as I recall.

Closers are well known to be the most volatile position on the roster. The ERA and WHIP of closers fluctuate so quickly that few pitchers are closers for their entire career. There is always a pitcher "re-inventing" himself as a closer or vice versa.

Closers are also always overpaid in the open market of free agency, as if the inconsistency wasn't enough for teams to not invest heavily in veteran closers.

For example, here are a few closers at the top of the saves category for 2010: Francisco Cordero, Jose Valverde and Francisco Rodriguez, who are in the middle of their free-agent contracts. 

In 2010, they combined to make $30.5 million and rack up 91 saves for their clubs.

In complete contrast, here are a few closers who have yet to make it to free agency: Joakim Soria, Carlos Marmol and Neftali Feliz, who made a combined $5.5 million last season all while closing 121 games for their respective teams.

That equates to free agent closers costing you about $300,000 per save; closers who weren't signed as a free agent cost you around $40,000 per save.

Huge difference—nearly eight times.

Now to Rafael Soriano: He was a free-agent closer this winter and is one who would cost about eight times as much as Alexi Ogando would to save games in 2011.

So, financially, it wouldn't make sense for anyone to sign a free-agent closer. The smart teams groom closers, then let them go to their weaker-minded rivals to sign to overloaded contracts.

Okay, so you say, "We should've just signed Soriano over Adrian Beltre, then."

Wrong move.

Jon Daniels is playing chess while you and other GMs are playing checkers. Please tell me who would be the Rangers' Opening Day third baseman if they had not signed Adrian Beltre?

Michael Young? No, he got a one-year audition and now he's a utility player.

Chris Davis can play third. No, he can't for the Rangers because it's imperative not to strike out every other AB.

So, then, tell me who—the Rangers are very thin in the minor leagues as far as third base goes. There's no one coming soon, at least.

Having the best defensive third baseman is going to pay dividends for the Rangers. It was the right move, for Soriano would have been wrong on many levels. 

Wash wants a veteran closer, but that's one of the many reasons he's not the GM. Feliz making the rotation doesn't catch Daniels by surprise, because he had options in Ogando, Mark Lowe and Tanner Scheppers.   

Signing Soriano may seem like a brilliant move today, but not tomorrow. Thankfully, Daniels is already two moves ahead and skipped on Soriano.