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Old Bones

While Bernie Williams will have to scrap to keep his lifetime average over .300, Jorge Posada must contend with the growing perception that he is on the decline. Posada obviously prefers to look at his 2005 season simply as an off-year, but at 34, it is not unreasonable to be concerned. Anthony McCarron reports:

Two major-league scouts who have watched Posada regularly both say his bat speed seems to have dipped. “He used to be able to turn on anybody’s fastball, but he has to cheat sometimes now,” says one.

“I think he’s somewhat diminished skill-wise, which is natural, because he’s been catching so long,” the scout adds. “He’s still a good clutch performer. He was an elite guy for a long time. He’s no longer elite, but he’s above average. You could ask the 30 clubs in baseball and most would rather have Posada than the guy they do have. But it’s no longer all of them.

That sounds about right. Though Posada, a converted infielder, got a late start as a catcher, all these years playing in October would seem to even things out. Not only that:

[Yankee manager, Joe] Torre and [Fox anaylst, Tim] McCarver both note that Posada has much more to deal with when it comes to handling a pitching staff. The Yankees have cranked through starting pitchers with incredible frequency over Posada’s tenure – they have used 14 different starters this year alone – and he is charged with learning them all.

“It’s doubled his workload, at least,” McCarver says. “He’s trying to get to know these guys quickly. That didn’t happen 30 years ago. The decade that Jorge has had with the Yankees has been much harder, from a mental standpoint, than Bench with the Reds or (Carlton) Fisk with the Red Sox or White Sox.”

You never know when a player will start to fall off, or if their decline will be sudden or a long, slow fade to black. Hopefully for the Yankees, Posada still has some gas left in the tank.

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1 Alvaro Espinoza   ~  Aug 25, 2005 6:01 am

1.  Announcement: today is a CLASSIC hooky day. If you're at work, leave! If you're not in yet, don't go. Call some buddies, get on the train and bask in the late Summer sun for what will hopefully be a series clinching victory.

2 Alvaro Espinoza   ~  Aug 25, 2005 6:01 am

2.  What are you still doing here!?!?


3 Shaun P   ~  Aug 25, 2005 6:36 am

3.  Alvaro, I love your suggestion - if only I worked in NYC, not Boston!

Should be another banner day for comments around here, with the afternoon game.

4 Dan M   ~  Aug 25, 2005 6:42 am

4.  Well done, Alvaro. Plus, who could pass up the Chacin-Chacon pairing? (Although the Butthead in me loves tomorrow's Wood vs. Johnson matchup. You said wood...You said johnson.)

5 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 25, 2005 6:52 am

5.  Also the remaining upper deck and bleacher seats are $5 today. And I'm a 50 min subway ride from the Stadium. Sigh. Can't do it today.

6 dtrain   ~  Aug 25, 2005 6:55 am

6.  I'm actually going to the game with the rest of my department at work. Summer staff outing!

7 jedi   ~  Aug 25, 2005 7:00 am

7.  The Sesame Street battle of the vowels, Chacin vs Chacon, I vs O.

Wouldn't miss it! I'll be here to post rampant comments throughout the day. Should be fun!

8 Shaun P   ~  Aug 25, 2005 7:09 am

8.  Sigh, $5 bleacher seats, a perfect summer day, nothing at work that couldn't be put off a day . . . and I'm at least a 4 hour drive from the Stadium.

Cliff, in one of the posts during last night's ugly loss, you said:
"Tony, meanwhile, get's stapled to Kevin Brown and launched into the sun." I'd gladly contribute $$ to see that happen. Who's with me?

9 Knuckles   ~  Aug 25, 2005 7:41 am

9.  Pitching matchups are set up OK today in regards to the Yankees' competition:

Harden's start was bumped, and Zito moves up a day, facing Maroth. The A's have a sub-.700 OPS against Maroth in 88 at-bats (3 or 4 starts, I'm guessing). Zito has good career numbers against the Tiggers, but better him than Harden.

Kazmir and the D-Rays take on Cleveland. Looks like Kaz has faced them once, minimal damage done, with a .607 OPS and 5 Ks in 23 AB. Kazmir's post-break ERA is almost half what it was prior to the All Star game. Cliff Lee has pitched well against the Tampans, and well since the break. Here's hoping the Devil Rays can stay somewhat hot.

And in KC, Schilling picks a good team to return to the rotation against. Let's hope he tires quickly and the Royals can do a little damage while the Sox scramble to get their bullpen warmed up, because Jose Lima will probably get pounded.

Looking ahead...

Sox head home and Wakefield faces Detroit's Jason Johnson. Cleveland goes to Toronto and CC Sabathia matches up against a bum I never heard of. Harden bumped back to today, facing Bruce Chen in Baltimore, and Randy Johnson faces the Royals, hopefully with his mechanics tweaked for the better.

Can Jaret Wright keep it going enough to beat Run-Elvis? Millwood faces Downs- could be trouble for Toronto, unless Kevin decides to give up some more dingers. Hopefully the O's can jump on Blanton in the Camden bandbox. Arroyo faces Detroit's Douglass in Boston.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!
Westbrook vs Towers= push. Greinke vs Leiter could be a long afternoon. Doesn't it seem like Leiter always pitches Sundays? Seems like I come home from Mass and watch him walk people until dinnertime. Haren v Dubose in Balti, and Robertson faces Wells in Boston- this is a game the Tigers should take.

Bottom line- Yanks need to win their games and not count on anyone else helping them out much for a while.

10 Shaun P   ~  Aug 25, 2005 7:47 am

10.  Speaking of the Sox, this article points out some eerily close similarities between us and them:


Maybe we aren't in that bad shape after all.

11 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 25, 2005 8:05 am

11.  I can't ditch work either. I'm just 25 minutes away from the stadium. It's gorgeous outside.


12 Rich Lederer   ~  Aug 25, 2005 8:20 am

12.  "It's doubled his workload, at least," McCarver says. "He's trying to get to know these guys quickly. That didn't happen 30 years ago. The decade that Jorge has had with the Yankees has been much harder, from a mental standpoint, than Bench with the Reds or (Carlton) Fisk with the Red Sox or White Sox."

I don't know about that.

13 Dimelo   ~  Aug 25, 2005 8:59 am

13.  Posada's production has definitely slipped to Bernie'esque levels. Bernie and Posada remind me of Patrick Ewing, neither of the three had a natural progression (downward) in lack of production. They all just dropped off badly.

Can Womack catch and call a good game?

14 rbj   ~  Aug 25, 2005 9:40 am

14.  Dimelo,
Why don't we send Womack to Charleston to work on it. Even better, send him to Newark.
I think Posada could be ok, catching 3 days, then two days off -- with his future replacement working those day. Maybe a year or two with that schedule.
There is a prospect down in Columbus, right? Right?

15 randym77   ~  Aug 25, 2005 2:08 pm

15.  Catcher is a pretty grueling job, and Jorge's getting up there. Still, I'm not going to write him off yet. He's always been a really streaky player. Here's hoping he gets hot again when it counts.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver