|The 102 win Phillies signed Papelbon.....
He did great too.....
They won 81 games.
I have a couple thoughts here, and on the whole I'll just start by saying it's a good move. Soriano is a much better closer than the seemingly mentally soft Storen, who may well be wrecked after his collapse in game five of the NLDS. Over the course of the season though, is this a big move? For one, Soriano, Tyler Clippard, and Drew Storen are all right-handed, and this team will badly miss the departed lefty, Sean Burnett. If Storen is kept, and doesn't take well to this, they could also be carrying around a malcontent reliever. At best, the Nationals now have three closers to pitch the last two innings, instead of two, and this was not a problem last year.
This is kind of the main point to me. It's one thing when you bring in a big-time player to replace a real weak spot on your team. If you're the 2007 Phillies, using Tom Gordon and Brett Myers to close games, bringing in Brad Lidge in his prime can be the difference that brings you the 2008 World Series (it was). Same thing with Keith Foulke and the 2004 Boston Red Sox. When a team replaces a strength with a little bit better player though, the small difference in production usually does not change the result though. Think about the Yankees trading Alphonso Soriano for Alex Rodriguez as the best example of this. Clippard and Storen combined to be one of the top closer/set-up combos out there last year, adding Soriano increases their odds of repeating that, but it doesn't fix any weaknesses.
|That move did pan out though.|
I'd still say this is not a bad move by Washington though, even if it's not the silver-bullet some make it seem. As I said, Soriano is better than the guys who were closing, so it's hard to argue with it on the field. Even before this move, many people would pick the Nationals to win the division, so this doesn't hurt. The one good thing they have set up is, they can trade a late-inning reliever in Storen or Clippard, and slugger Michael Morse, recoup some prospects, and keep their system deep.
Under 30 days until spring training. It'll be fun to watch if anyone in the division responds. I'd argue the Braves still have the best bullpen, easily, in the division. The Nationals should be solid, but so should the Phillies.