If there is ever a lynch pin to the success of the Yankees since 1996, it has been the dazzling career of Mariano Rivera.
There are some people who think Rivera is overrated and there are some people who poo poo the importance of relievers. “They throw less than 100 innings a year. How much value do they have?”
People who say that about Mariano Rivera are idiots. That’s not my opinion. I can PROVE they are idiots in a court of law.
Yes, many relievers are overrated. I have argued that Trevor Hoffman, while a terrific pitcher who has had a nice career, is overrated. He has compiled a lot of saves but also has come up short in an alarming number of big games.
The fact that there could be a statistical system that would put Armando Benitez in any form of elite reliever category is almost as mind boggling as that piece of crap Crash winning the Oscar for Best Picture.
But Rivera is different. Year in and year out he is automatic. Year in and year out he snuffs out rallies. Year in and year out he shortens close games to 8 innings.
AND he gives the Yankee line up the confidence knowing that if they just beat up the other team’s middle relief and hand the lead to Rivera, they’ll have a win.
Plus the starting pitchers know that they don’t have to go 9, and their win loss record will look good by the end of the year.
And in the unrelenting pressure cooker that is New York, Yankee fans haven’t REALLY had to worry about the 9th inning for nearly 15 years.
Put the stats away for a second (even though Rivera’s 2010 numbers are, as usual, awesome.)
Who puts the opposition on their heels more? Who makes the other team think “If we don’t at least tie the game in the 8th, we’re DEAD” more than Rivera?
And let’s get down to brass tacks here. Which Yankee star will be the hardest to replace?
You can find another solid shortstop. You can find another slugger… you can find another starting pitcher.
But where else is there an immovable object on the mound for the ninth? Who is going to fill in for him?
Whoever it is, he won’t be as good as Rivera. And when he proves he isn’t as good as Rivera, EVERYONE in New York will remind him.
Think New York doesn’t eat young players up alive? Talk to Joba Chamberlain. He was supposed to be Joba’s heir apparent in 2007. Now it is 2010 and he’s already a mess and Rivera is still at the top of his game.
And the Yankees want to play hard ball?
I say let them. But why can’t other teams make a run at him?
Seriously, why should other teams play some B.S. honor code about not bidding on Yankee superstars? It’s not like the Yankees ever say “Hey, we can’t bid on that player! He would never be identified as a Yankee. Let’s not even call his agent.”
NO! They try to gobble up the big players… as is their right. But guess what? OTHER teams can make a bid on Rivera.
If the Yankees are only offering him a 1 year contract, another team should offer him 2.
And I think the Red Sox should offer him 3 years.
First of all it will give the Red Sox a bullpen going into 2011 of Bard, Papelbon and Rivera.
Are you kidding me? Games would be over in the 6th!
Secondly it will give the Red Sox some flexibility when Papelbon’s free agency comes about after the 2011 season.
And yeah, I think in three years Rivera will still be an elite reliever. Has he shown ANY signs of slowing down?
But most importantly not only will it improve the Red Sox, but it will put the Yankees in unfamiliar territory.
Can you imagine the Yankees moving ahead with a shaky closer? Or even a pretty good closer?
Yankee fans haven’t experienced having a subpar closer since before the 1994 strike… you know the era when they couldn’t make the post season.
Giardi already has suspect bullpen handling skills… let’s see how he does without the no brainer in the ninth!
Decimating the Yankees bullpen while the Rays are dismantling their division winner could make the Red Sox the favorite in the A.L. East.
It’s a great chance to give the Red Sox an all time bullpen to go with a rotation headed by Lester and Buchholz and give the Yankees an gut punch?
Isn’t it worth making the call? Make the offer.
There’s no way it will happen if they DON’T make the offer.
And maybe it will bring other teams into the bidding. Seeing Rivera on another team can only help the Red Sox win the East.
Will it happen?
Probably not… but remember, when the Yankees played hardball with Andy Pettitte after the 2003 World Series, the Red Sox actually made the highest bid before he signed with Houston.
And 2004 ended up to be a good year for the Sox.
Rivera wants to be loyal to the Yankees? Have him prove it.