It was recently reported that the best closer in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera, has told general manager Brian Cashman that he is not sure if he will play again or retire. I don’t want to see Rivera retire from the Yankees, but given his stature he should not pitch if he is not on top of his game.
On Tuesday, Cashman spoke to Rivera and according to Cashman (ESPNNEWYORK): “He wasn’t certain on what he is going to do.”
Rivera has serious ACL surgery as a result of fielding routine (for him) fly balls in the outfield during batting practice in Kansas City last May. ACL surgery is common among players but not many have been able to come back from it at Rivera’s age.
Given that after his injury in May he said that he would definitely be making a return in 2013, but Rivera is now saying the he is not sure, it probably means that he is not sure he will be able to be where he was in 2011.
Rivera, like another member of the Core Four, Derek Jeter, has always said that he did not want to continue playing if he was not at the best of his ability. He is 42, and will be turning 43 next month, and probably thinks that it will be tough to duplicate his stellar stats from 2011 after coming back from surgery, at his age.
In 2011, he had a 1.91 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 44 saves and only gave up three homers. The only negative stat from that season is that he had five blown saves. That number is exceeded only by the six he had in 2003.
Even though he was not able to retire with a championship he would be going out on top ability wise unlike other star players such as Michael Jordan, and in baseball, Trevor Hoffman and Frank Thomas.
The Yankees are also in cost cutting mode, wanting to get below $189 million for the 2014 season, so Rivera likely will not get the same $15 million that he received last season. If he does this he would be letting the Yankees use the money in other ways such as for starting pitching or in the outfield to replace Nick Swisher.
Rivera has always conducted himself with grace and dignity and I expect his retiring to be the same. Rivera was one of the most reliable and likable Yankees of the last generation, but, frankly, he is an unknown right now. The Yankees will be able to rely on Rafael Soriano closing games and David Robertson setting him up for the foreseeable future.
Soriano has a very respectable 2012 campaign. He had a 2.26 ERA, 42 saves and a 1.16 WHIP. That is not quite up to River’s standards, but Soriano can do better. In 2010, for the Rays, he had a 1.73 ERA, 45 saves and a 0.80 WHIP.
Mr. Untuck himself has said that he learned a lot from Rivera on pitching, as well as performing in the pressure induced environment of New York City, so hopefully they will continue to have that relationship. Rivera is the best mentor that Soriano could have. If Rivera could teach him his cutter then Soriano would improve even more.
Rivera would definitely make an effective pitching coach in the future. However, now could be the right time to be with his family and reflect on his outstanding career.