Nationals Go Big In the Pen, Ink Former Yankee Rafael Soriano

Nationals Go Big In the Pen, Ink Former Yankee Rafael Soriano

The defending NL East Champion Washington Nationals made a big splash on Tuesday afternoon by reportedly adding former Yankees closer-fill-in Rafael Soriano to a 2-year deal worth approximately $28 million with some vesting options that could turn it into a 3-year pact.

CSN Washington's Mark Zuckerman takes a look at the stacked back of the bullpen the Nationals now have:

The surprise addition of Soriano (a Scott Boras client) gives the
Nationals yet another power right-hander at the back of their bullpen,
but raises immediate questions about how manager Davey Johnson plans to
divvy up roles.

Drew Storen was in line to retain his position as the Nationals'
closer after a strong finish to 2012 before his blown save in Game 5 of
the National League Division Series. Tyler Clippard, who led the club
with 33 saves last season, figured to retain his role as the top set-up
man.

With the Braves having the best 'pen in the NL East last season, the Nationals look to be competing for that claim in 2013. While the Phillies are banking on big things from Mike Adams and still-young Phillippe Aumont.

Does this deal, coupled with Soriano's previous, help justify Jonathan Papelbon's $50 million pact with the Phillies? Corey Seidman seems to think so.

Papelbon, who is a year younger, signed a four-year, $50 million pact
with the Phillies last fall. That came after seven seasons in Boston
where Papelbon pitched to a 2.33 ERA, had a 1.02 WHIP and struck out
10.7 batters per nine innings.

Soriano, 33, is coming off a
stellar 2012 in which he replaced Mariano Rivera by pitching to a 2.26
ERA and saving 42 games with the Yankees. It wasn’t the best year of
Soriano’s career ... that was 2010, when he had a 1.73 ERA and 45 saves
for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Others seem to think the Nationals got a Papelbon-quality pitcher on a shorter deal, thus making this a real solid move for the Nats. "But $14 mil a year is a lot!," you may grumble. True. But if you've got the money to spend...

And while we're on the discussion of comparing the Phillies to the Nationals, David Murphy went through both teams' lineups yesterday position by position, with a pretty clear advantage going to Washington. He also points out that if a lot of "IFs" go the Phillies way in 2013, they can compete for bragging rights once again.

But like with the Soriano move, it's clear the Nationals are not a Washington team we can scoff at any longer.

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Claude Giroux spent Friday signing virtual autographs as the cover athlete for Topps NHL Skate 2017, a new onilne digital trading card game. Remember when trading cards came in a bubble gum pack? 

After the event, Giroux sat down with CSN's Michael Barkann on Philly Sports Talk for a game of “Who Does It Better: Canada or the United States?”

The game started off with a few easy softball questions, with Giroux picking the NFL over the Candian Football League. Then it got a little tougher, as Giroux chose Canadian hockey over U.S. hockey.

Despite talents like Drake and Shania Twain, Giroux went with the U.S. over Canada in music, and also chose American bacon over Canadian bacon.

Eventually, Barkann asked Giroux which beer he preffered.

“I don’t drink beer," Giroux responded.

Really? What Canadian doesn't like beer?

As he started to get up out of his seat after the interview, Giroux showed his true colors. “I love beer. I love beer,” he said.

Check out the video above to see the full game. 

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the primary target of opponents over his Hall of Fame career, Wayne Gretzky can certainly empathize with the frustration of Oilers star Connor McDavid.

McDavid and Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning jostled all evening long in a 6-5 Edmonton loss. McDavid denounced the tactics of his opponent after the game, claiming Manning intentionally injured him last season; McDavid missed 37 games with a broken collarbone.

"I guess we can put the whole 'if he did it' thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that," said McDavid, who taunted Manning after scoring the second goal in the Oilers' loss.

"I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here, knows that I am not that kind of player," Manning said, according to a statement released by the Flyers. "I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I'm a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that."

Gretzky didn't mind seeing that fire in McDavid, saying competitiveness is part of what makes the great ones great. And he said the targeting comes with the territory of being a superstar. It was something he and Mario Lemieux dealt with, too.

"And Connor, he's going to get tested every night, but this is not new for him," Gretzky said Friday at the NHL board of governors meetings. "He's been tested since he was a kid and then playing junior hockey and now in the NHL and he's always responded and done his part."