The Rafael Soriano Experiment Isn't Going Well

Soriano can't hold Ivan Nova's lead in eighth inning.

Who knew that Rafael Soriano had so much Randy Johnson in him?

You certainly wouldn't be able to tell that from outward appearances. Soriano is right-handed, he isn't obscenely tall, doesn't sport a mullet and doesn't start games yet he and Johnson seem to be cut from the same cloth.

It's the same cloth that also produced Javier Vazquez and comes with a label reading "Flammable when worn in the Bronx." Soriano entered Tuesday night's game with a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning, hit a batter and gave up a home run to Paul Konerko that handed the White Sox a 3-2 win.

The Yankees almost pulled it out, but a pair of terrific catches by neophyte outfielder Brent Lillibridge closed the door in the ninth inning. That left Soriano as the loser, something he handled with the lack of aplomb we've grown accustomed to in his brief Yankee career.

Soriano moaned after the game about a couple of calls from the home plate umpire and then went on to complain about how difficult it is to pitch in the eighth inning instead of the ninth inning.

While it is nice that he at least deigned to meet with reporters this time around, those explanations aren't going to win him any respect from a fan base that already thinks his name is pronounced with a booing sound.

The failure in the eighth was particularly painful on Tuesday as it came after a very strong start by Ivan Nova, who looms particularly large with the absence of Phil Hughes. Not getting a win doesn't negate the strength of the start, but you can't really afford to waste outings like that.

You'd think that the Yankees might want to move Soriano from such a high leverage role until they are sure he's mentally fit enough to handle the job responsibilities. Joe Girardi made it clear that's not happening and you can't really get too angry at him for being so rigid.

The Yankees are paying Soriano good money and they gave up a first round pick so that he could be their eighth inning guy. That's a silly concept, especially when Girardi treats it with the seriousness of the holy grail, but it makes it very hard for the Yankees to turn Soriano into a $35 million middle reliever while guys they already had on hand handle the heavy lifting.

You have to wonder how much the Yankee Torpedo of Truth Brian Cashman is enjoying all this. Sure, it makes his job difficult, but his job is already difficult and he looks smarter every time Soriano blows another lead.

The law of unintended consequences will get you every time.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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