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.

Joel Embiid really looking forward to facing Nerlens Noel

Joel Embiid really looking forward to facing Nerlens Noel

In case you haven’t heard, the Sixers traded big man Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks before Thursday's deadline (see story).

While Noel's former teammates were saddened by the trade, including Joel Embiid, the rookie big man is already looking forward to squaring off against his friend.

The Sixers face Noel and the Mavericks on March 17 at the Wells Fargo Center. 

Drexel falls to James Madison in potential CAA Tournament preview

Drexel falls to James Madison in potential CAA Tournament preview

BOX SCORE

Jackson Kent and Tom Vodanovich combined to score 31 points and James Madison held off Drexel late to secure a 70-64 victory Thursday night.

The game could be a preview of a first-round match-up in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. With one game left in the regular season, James Madison (9-21, 7-10) is the No. 7 seed and Drexel (9-21, 3-14) has locked up the No. 10 seed. Those seeds meet in the first round, with the winner facing the No. 2 seed in the second round.

Sammy Mojica hit a 3-pointer with :32 left to get the Dragons within four, 66-62, but Shakir Brown and Joey McLean each hit a pair of free throws to seal the victory.

Kent hit 6 of 11 from the floor and tallied 16 points with eight rebounds to lead the Dukes. Vodanovich added 15 points.

Kurk Lee and Mojica both scored 18 points off the Dragons' bench.