Baseball Insider: Honoring Joyce, Galarraga
People of the year
It's time for our annual Baseball Person of the Year Award. The honor here is not given to someone who necessarily accomplished great things, but rather the person who reminds us how much room for improvement we have as a species.
You remember: On June 2 of this past season, at Detroit's Comerica Park, Galarraga retired the first 26 Indians batters. Then he got Cleveland's Jason Donald to hit an easy grounder to the right side. Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera ranged to his right, fielded the ball and relayed it to Galarraga, who stepped on first before Donald got there.
And Joyce ruled Donald safe, ending the perfect game - an abominable call, once you saw it on instant replay.
It could've been ugly all around. Instead, 1) Joyce took full accountability for blowing the call, and 2) Galarraga immediately forgave him.
So these two men turned a potential public-relations bloodbath into a humanity lesson. A reminder that no one is perfect, but that we respect those who stand up and take the hit when duty demands it.
Yes, we need expanded replay. It's coming. More important, we need more people like Galarraga and Joyce.
The pitcher and umpire follow in the footsteps of Barry Bonds' former trainer, Greg Anderson (2006), Jackie Robinson's widow, Rachel Robinson (2007), Roger Clemens (2008) and Alex Rodriguez (2009) as recipients of this award.
The Soriano story
Rafael Soriano put up a fabulous 2010 season for the Rays, recording 45 saves in 48 chances. In most other years, he'd be a highly sought free agent.
This, however, marks an odd winter for closers. Once the Yankees re-signed Mariano Rivera and Boston tendered a contract to Jonathan Papelbon, it grew clear that there were no obvious landing spots for Soriano no matter how well he performed.
Therefore, it's not inconceivable that Soriano could wind up as the most expensive setup man in baseball history, if he finds a team willing to make such an investment.
The Yankees should consider it. If Andy Pettitte retires, they'll have big money to spend, and they'll be looking at a roster that will need an ultra-deep bullpen to support a thin rotation. With Soriano setting up Rivera, the Yankees could try to duplicate the 1996 season, when Rivera set up John Wetteland.
At the moment, the Yankees don't see themselves signing Soriano. Things can change, however.
You know whom the Rays would like to see sign Soriano? One of these teams: Colorado, St. Louis, San Diego, Texas, Cincinnati, Atlanta, San Francisco, Minnesota or Philadelphia. None plays in the American League East, and none has its first-round draft pick protected (as is the case for teams finishing in the bottom 15). So these clubs would give their first-round pick to Tampa Bay as compensation for losing Type A free agent Soriano.
The Diamondbacks and Giants were virtually set to open the 2011 season in Taiwan, but the Giants pulled out after their championship season lasted until Nov. 1. As a makeup for that, Major League Baseball will have an "All-Star tour" of Taiwan after the '11 campaign.