"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: Jorge Posada
           Newer posts

Observations From Cooperstown: The Old Guard, Chavez, and Stone Gloves

So just how long should the Yankees wait before making some kind of move with Derek Jeter and/or Jorge Posada? While it’s become fashionable to proclaim both players as fully cooked and ready to begin their five-year waits for Hall of Fame consideration, those calls convey ignorance and a lack of knowledge about the Yankee organization. First off, it’s foolish to make full judgments based on the first month of the season. The same people that always cry out “sample size” conveniently forget about the principle when it involves players they don’t like. Jeter has been so reviled by some in the Sabermetric community that they’re ready to drop the guillotine at a moment’s notice.

His critics will quickly add that Jeter’s poor performance is a continuation of his 2010 finish, but his overall 2010 numbers were hardly as bad as what he’s done early in 2011. On the whole, Jeter was a passable player in 2010. So let’s give it more than a month before we proclaim a death knell. I would suggest the Yankees give Jeter at least until the end of May, if not until the middle of June, before they drop him to a lower spot in the batting order. And if his lack of hitting continues beyond that, let’s say into July, then it would certainly be fair for the Yankees to consider removing him entirely from the starting lineup.

There is another reason to have patience. Who exactly is ready to step in to become the starting shortstop? Bucky Dent and Tony Kubek are not available. Eduardo Nunez’ throwing problems make it clear that he’s not ready NOW; he might be later this season, he might be in 2012, but he’s clearly not ready at the present time. Ramiro Pena, starting at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, is an excellent defensive shortstop but isn’t likely to represent any improvement over Jeter’s current hitting. Are Yankee fans really ready to wade through a bottom-third of the lineup that has both Pena and Brett Gardner? I know I’m not.

Then there’s the case of Posada, who’s coming off a respectable season in 2010. Would it be smart to give up on Posada so quickly, especially when he’s at least shown significant power over the first 30 games? I don’t think so. I would suggest a similar timetable with Posada. If he’s still struggling badly at the end of May, it would be fair to consider a platoon with another player, perhaps Andruw Jones. And if Posada is still struggling into July, and the Yankees are in danger of falling out of contention, then yes, it might be the right time for a total replacement.

In the case of Posada, the Yankees DO have tangible replacement options. Jones is one; the other is super prospect Jesus Montero, who is close to being ready to hit in the major leagues, if not handle regular catching duties. (Montero is finally drawing a few walks and has his batting average up to .372.) Montero could be just what an aging offense needs, particularly if Jeter’s punchless hitting continues. The problem with demoting Posada is what to do with him? Teams do not need backup DH’s who cannot play the field and cannot run the bases. Unless the Yankees change their mind about using Posada as a backup catcher, he could become a roster albatross by the middle of the summer.

It’s certainly possible that Posada and Jeter, who’s been nicknamed “Captain Groundout” by Rob Neyer, might be done as useful players. It’s just too early in a long season to draw that conclusion once and for all. So let’s give it a little more time before we make them walk the plank…



Over at The Yankee Analysts, EJ Fagan thinks it is time for Jesus Montero to replace Jorge Posada as the Yankees’ regular DH.

[Picture by François-Marie Banier]


Sure, it was only the third game of the season and there was no lack of excitement–plenty of home runs, some nice fielding–but it was also a tedious affair, and for long stretches, boring. Phil Hughes struggled and threw 60 pitches before recording the seventh out of the game; Miguel Cabrera hit two long home runs against him. Max Scherzer wasn’t much better though a couple of the dingers he allowed were aided and abetted by the wind and a short right field porch.

Jorge Posada hit two home runs against Scherzer. Here’s the second…

Bartolo Colon ate innings and gave up runs. The Yanks kept scoring too, Russell Martin, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira (who hit another home run), all had good days at the plate. But they couldn’t manage more than a touchdown and came up empty in the 8th and 9th. Yup, there was plenty of bang at the Stadium on Sunday afternoon but the game itself was soporific.

Final score: Tigers 10, Yanks 7.

Billy Crystal stopped by the YES booth for half-an-inning and after the third out, just before they cut to commercial, he said to Kay, “You still married?”

“Seven weeks and one day,” said Kay. Ken Singleton laughed.

“Seven weeks and one day,” Crystal repeated, imitating Phil Rizzuto. “Holy cow…I’m on the Bridge.”

The Catch

Photo from The Star-Ledger

After all the playing time he got this spring, I figured Jesus Montero was likely to start the season with the Yankees while Francisco Cervelli (you remember him) was on the DL. But the Daily News talked to Brian Cashman and, well, it doesn’t sound like that’s the case:

“He hasn’t played well recently,” Cashman said after watching Montero catch in Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Orioles. “He’s better than what he’s shown recently, catching-wise.

“He’s been struggling with the bat, and I don’t know if it’s cause-and-effect. I just know that last year he didn’t start catching well (in Triple-A) until he started hitting. And from June on, both went through the roof.”

I’d say this continues Cashman’s offseason pattern of being just a liiiiiittle bit too honest with the media; but if the Yankees were planning on having Montero start with the major league team, this wouldn’t seem to be a particularly helpful thing to say. Austin Romine may be better defensively but he has even less experience than Montero, and Gustavo Molina was an afterthought to even Cervelli, so to me this says that Montero must REALLY not be able to catch, at least not yet. Which is what most non-Yankee scouts and prospect experts have been saying all along, after all.

The team now has a few more eggs in the Russell Martin basket than I would personally be comfortable with. And while I have to assume they have reasons for not having Posada catch even a single game this spring, I don’t feel like I really know what those reasons are. Not that Jorge is any defensive whiz himself, of course, but after all he was their catcher as recently as October. (Concussion concerns would be an absolutely valid justification, but the Yankees haven’t confirmed that as their reasoning).

No easy answers here, apparently. What would you do? What Would Jesus (Montero) Do?

Observations From Cooperstown: Posada, Fish, and Rojas

The Yankees made a bit of news on Thursday when they played Jorge Posada in the field for the first time this spring. It wasn’t at catcher, but at first base, where Posada actually looked good in catching a line drive and starting a double play.

I’m glad to see the Yankees use Posada at first base, giving them another option on days when Mark Teixeira needs a rest. (Ugh, there’s that word again.) But they have yet to use Posada as a catcher this Grapefruit League season, and have indicated they have no intention of doing so. I think that’s a mistake. By giving Posada just a few reps behind the plate, they could ensure his availability as a third-string, emergency catcher during the regular season. If Russell Martin were to miss a few games on a day-to-day basis, the Yankees would then have Posada available to back up Jesus Montero (or whoever the No. 2 catcher is). This would give the Yankees more flexibility, prevent an unnecessary call-up of someone like Austin Romine, and give the proud Posada the satisfaction of knowing that he might still do some catching in 2011.

The Yankees seem to think that Posada could get hurt if he catches at all this spring. That’s always a possibility, but it seems like an awfully negative way of thinking by which to operate a team. Imagining worst case scenarios at every turn can lead to some strange managerial decision-making. It’s also an odd way of thinking for a team that was willing to put Posada behind the plate in critical postseason games just five months ago…


Head Games

Over at PB, Jay Jaffe takes a look at concussions in sports, specifically in baseball. The piece picks up on a column that Bob Klapisch wrote last week on Jorge Posada. Sobering material, indeed.

[Photo Credit: PS70]

Where's The Party At?

Russell Martin, who may be doing quite a bit of catching for the Yanks this year, is skirting the subject, in fairly vague terms, of his disappointing last few seasons. From Canada’s National Post:

Russell Martin says he knows why he has skidded from stardom to mediocrity in the prime of his career.

But beyond vague allusions to “frustrations” and “distractions,” he politely declines to explain.

“There’s some things that you keep for yourself,” Martin said. “Those distractions, they’re personal — personal issues in my life that not everybody needs to know about.” …

…His performance faded during the past two seasons. By his standards, he says, he got lazy.

“I had some distractions that maybe led me not to have that same drive that I’ve had in the past,” he said. “Really, that’s all it is, honestly. I didn’t train quite as–I trained hard, but before, nobody trained as hard as I did.”

Martin made similar comments in the beginning of the 2009 season – though that’s not quite what he told the LA Times last month; it’s more or less common knowledge that Martin liked the LA nightlife quite a bit, possibly to the detriment of his on-field performance. On the one hand, it’s refreshing to see him (sort of) acknowledge it, and if Martin has actually figured out how to focus now, than that’s encouraging – better to think he has some issues he may be able to correct than that he’s simply not a very good ballplayer anymore. On the other hand, he said similar things in 2009 and doesn’t seem to have made much progress since then — and New York is not known for its lack of distractions. Like many of you I hesitate to evaluate a player based on things like this that can’t really be measured, but the Yankees would’ve been naive not to at least take this into consideration. Presumably they’re not too concerned.

Martin’s had an interesting life, or at least an unusual one by baseball player standards; he grew up in Quebec, where his mother was an actress and singer, and his father played the saxophone in subway stations to earn money for Martin’s baseball gear and training. He was poised for superstardom when he first came up, which is why so many more people have heard of him than his stat line would suggest, and few people in that time span have disappointed Dodgers fans more.

New York has a long tradition of great players who can stay out boozing and courting all night and still kick ass the next day – Babe Ruth, of course; Mickey Mantle, for many years; most recently, David Wells threw a perfect game while still tipsy from the previous evening. I love players like that, who do everything wrong and then perform anyway. But of course that kind of thing will catch up with most people sooner or later — and apparently caught up with Martin on the “sooner” side.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez certainly seem like they’ve enjoyed the entertainment options New York offers, so to speak, but I’ve never gotten the sense that either of them is a big drinker and certainly they both take care of themselves and come ready to play. Martin will be surrounded by stars and veterans in the New York clubhouse and perhaps a few of them can take him under their wing; I imagine that at the very least, if  Jorge Posada feels Martin is not playing his best, he will club him unconscious with his own bat.

Knock, Knock, Knockin'…


Over at River Ave Blues, our pal Joe Pawlikowski takes a look at Jorge Posada’s career.

Is Posada a Hall of Famer? Like Bernie Williams and Andy Pettitte, he’s close, that’s for sure.

[Photo Credit: SI.com]

Batter Up

Boss man Brian Cashman gets right to the point…

According to George King and Joel Sherman in the Post:

Cashman met with Posada in Manhattan this week to tell the veteran to, as usual, prepare to catch, but the team’s first option is to have youngsters Jesus Montero, Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine compete in spring training for the two primary jobs.

It is quite a risk to team an expensive, mostly veteran staff with such inexperienced catchers. But it is indicative of how much the Yankees believe Posada’s defensive game has slipped in all areas.

We Know Drama (and Twitter)

So much happened in the 25-minute span from 10:30 p.m. ET to 10:55 p.m. ET, in Tuesday night’s Yankees-Rays game. Five plays, specifically, spread over seven outs. All with the specter of a fifth straight Yankees loss and 1 1/2-game deficit in the American League East. Thanks to Curtis Granderson, Jorge Posada, Carl Crawford and Greg Golson, the Yankees earned a split in the first two games of this three-game set in St. Petersburg and vaulted back into first place.

First, Granderson’s incredible diving catch robbed Ben Zobrist of an extra-base hit — possibly a three-bagger or even an inside-the-park homer — to end the ninth inning, bail out David Robertson and send the game into extras. Three pitches later, Jorge Posada repositioned a Dan Wheeler fastball into the restaurant above center field to give the Yankees the 8-7 lead. Posada’s bomb sent the Yankees’ Twitter universe into upheaval as beat writers, columnists and bloggers — myself included — attempted to describe the sudden turn of events in 146 characters.

Mark Feinsand of the Daily News called the shot “ridiculous.” Our friends at RiverAveBlues guessed that Posada’s blast “probably would have hit the restaurant glass in the Bronx.” I wonder if it would have been out at Yankee Stadium I?

Bottom 10, enter Mo to close it against Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce. Crawford reaches on a single. Longoria also unloads to center. “Holy cow, that looked gone. Instead, Granderson catches Longoria’s drive at the track in dead center,” read the tweet from the Ledger’s Marc Carig. Crawford, however, made the first of his two base running gaffes here. Instead of tagging and ending up on second base, Crawford went too far, and was forced to retreat to first. He proceeded to steal second. This set up the second Crawford gaffe: Joyce hit a high fly ball to shallow right field, and if you watched closely, you could see the play developing as Golson sped to circle the ball in order to catch it in optimal position for the throw to third base. Crawford sped toward third and Golson fired what Michael Kay called a “laser” to third. Alex Rodriguez picked the throw on a short hop and tagged Crawford on the shin.

Game over. Arms raised. Fist pumps abound.

Carig later reported via Twitter that Golson didn’t think Crawford was going. Granderson was yelling from center field to alert him. Watching the whole series of events, I can only think of my father’s assessment of Rickey Henderson, and how he used to scoff at broadcasters who lauded his base running skills. Dad was, and is, of the opinion that Rickey was a great hitter, great athlete, great base stealer, but a terrible base runner. He didn’t tag when he was supposed to, he didn’t run hard out of the batter’s box, etc. Crawford’s hiccups are more of the lack of instinct. The Yankees made Crawford pay for his hubris.

It was one of the wildest finishes to what may have been the best regular season game the Yankees played since A-Rod’s walk-off home run beat the Red Sox in 15 innings last year.

* * *

Lost amid the hubbub of the last two innings was how events progressed to that point. Storylines heading into the game were as follows: 1) Four straight losses, two of them coming in disappointing extra-inning fashion, to relinquish control of first place for the first time since August 3. 2) Bullpen question marks. The Meat Tray and Chad Gaudin prominently involved. (To this end, Michael Kay recited a quote during the My9 telecast from pitching coach Dave Eiland: “Sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the war,” a not-so-subtle metaphor for the Yankees’ long-term thinking and plans to get the main horses for the bullpen healthy in time for the playoffs. Those horses will likely not include the Meat Tray or Gaudin. Back to the recap.) 3) Swisher and Gardner out of the lineup. 4) Tex with a broken pinky toe on his right foot. 5) Perhaps most flagrant, manager Joe Girardi says he’s gunning for the division but acting like he’s gunning to open the playoffs in Minnesota to face Carl Pavano’s mustache.

To add even more reasons to drive fans into a questioning frenzy, Girardi trotted out a lineup that was essentially 5 1/2 deep to support Ivan Nova, who was opposing Matt Garza, ye of the no-hitter.

The way both offenses started the game, though, combining to strand seven runners in the first two innings (four in scoring position), it was only a matter of time before the dam broke and the numbers got crooked in a hurry.

For the Yankees, that time was the third inning, when they exploded for four runs, the rally capped by a frozen rope of a home run by Robinson Canóo. In the fifth, an A-Rod home run and another tack-on run had many Yankee fans feeling comfortable with a 6-0 lead.

That was, until Nova lost the strike zone and coughed up the lead in the fifth. Willy Aybar’s pinch-hit home run — off a good 1-2 pitch by Boone Logan that was just golfed into the seats — cemented the 7-run comeback. The Yankees got the tying run right away, and then both bullpens took over. Before the Posada home run, three Rays relievers combined to retire 11 consecutive Yankees.

The Yankees’ relief arms were equally good. Logan, to his credit, retired four in a row after the Aybar home run and Joba Chamberlain, Kerry Wood and Robertson combined to allow just one base runner. Until he arrived for the ninth, Robertson had warmed up on three separate occasions.

The Yankees needed this win badly. Any shot of confidence will help, the way they’ve literally limped through the last week and a half. And if these two teams meet in the ALCS, we can only hope, as Ian O’Connor tweeted, that it goes seven games and each one resembles the first two games of this series.

Easy Does It

Jay Jaffe has a good post on Jorge Posada and concussions over at PB:

Sadly, concussions have become a Very Big Deal in professional sports in recent years as their devastating and harrowing long-term effects have come to light. Among football players, they’ve been implicated in the onset of dementia. On the diamond, they’re thought to be the real cause of what’s previously been accepted as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a/k/a Lou Gehrig’s Disease, at least according to one recent scientific paper. Concussions have ended the careers of players such as Brewers’ third baseman Corey Koskie, who collided with a wall while attempting to catch a pop-up in 2006, and Giants’ catcher Mike Matheny, who was forced into retirement in early 2007 as a result of the cumulative effect of all the foul tips he took in the mask — a situation that rings a bell both literally and figuratively as far as Posada is concerned.

Other players such as Jim Edmonds, Ryan Church, Justin Morneau and Jason Bay have been forced to the sidelines for extended and maddeningly indefinite periods of time due to concussions and their aftermath, the poorly understood post-concussion syndrome, which can include headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, loss of memory, insomnia… a potpourri of misery. Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa basically impugned Edmonds’ manhood while the latter recuperated, and Mets manager Jerry Manuel similarly made a hash of Church’s situation to the extent that his club came under well-deserved fire for their general handling of such cases.

Hot Dog

The Yanks were this close to being swept by Buck’s birds. Then Nick Swisher hit a game-ending, two-run home run to the opposite field to give the Yanks a 3-2 win. I missed the game on the count of, you know, I gotta job and all, but I was pleased to hear that Ivan Nova pitched well, and of course, I was pumped about how the game ended.

When Tino Martinez played for the Yankees, women loved him. Girls swooned for Jeter, women went for Tino. He was reliable, solid, plus he had a nice ass. Nowadays, a lot of women love Swisher. Not like they liked Tino, but they find Swisher’s goofy enthusiasm charming. Here’s a shot I took of him at Old Timer’s Day with some of the old Yankee wives:

You might think he’s cool or you might think he’s a clown. So long as he keeps hitting, I’ll take him.

On a more somber note, Brian Heyman reports:

The postgame talk had more to do with Jorge Posada’s concussion symptoms than Nick Swisher’s two-run walk-off homer, which came one year to the day of his last walk-off homer. Joe Girardi was asked about life potentially without Posada, and he didn’t like the thought.

“You’re talking about a guy that’s playoff-tested, World Series-tested, September-down-the-stretch-tested, a switch-hitter in the middle part of our lineup,” Girardi said. “It’s an impact.”

But everything turned out OK with the test results. Posada is day to day and cleared to play.

Forget about Posada not being in the lineup, here’s hoping the man is okay.
[Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP]

Chink in the Armor?

Wallace Mathews on Jorge Posada’s latest injury:

…Girardi dropped the bomb after the game.

“He told me the throw he made [Monday] irritated his shoulder a little bit,” the manager said. “I don’t think it’s anything serious, but I gotta be careful. When Jorgie tells you something’s irritated, it’s usually irritated.”

Jorgie told the media nothing, because he bolted for the first team bus out of Rangers Ballpark before any reporters got into the locker room.

So until about 4:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, we’ll have to make do with Girardi’s assessment of Posada’s fitness. “I could have used him in an emergency,” said Girardi, a description for which the eighth-inning situation presumably did not qualify.

But considering how injury-riddled Posada’s 2010 season has been so far, the real emergency may be going on in his shoulder. Already, he has spent time on the DL with a broken foot, had hamstring problems and missed several games with recurring soreness caused by a cyst behind his left knee.

Plus, he missed nearly the entire 2008 season after having surgery on the very same shoulder. So when Girardi says Posada’s shoulder is “a little cranky,” you naturally start to wonder exactly how cranky, and for how many games.

Will the Yankees hold it together? Can they stay healthy enough to defend their title come October?

A Tie We Can Agree On

With a debate raging over our reactions to yesterday’s draw with England, we went to bed a Banter divided. Tonight, because of a tie of a different sort, a tie for first place, we’re reunited in contentment, or as our esteemed founder would say, as a bunch of heppy kets.

The Yankees completed their sweep of the Astros 9 to 5 just before the Marlins won their series with the Rays, dead-heating the AL East rivals at 40 and 23. The Rays’ funk came after the Yankees’ rut, but they are remarkably similar. After a blistering 21-8 start, the Yankees lost one to the Red Sox and proceeded to gag 12 of 20. The Rays were a mind-boggling 30-11 before getting swept by the same Red Sox on their way to losing 11 of 19. At least the Yankees can point to some injuries – the Rays can only blame gravity. And the schedule plays a part in this too. The Rays benefitted from a soft start, the Yankees are currently enjoying the Snuggle Fabric Softener portion of their schedule en route to a fluffy-fresh bounce back – 11 wins over the last 14 games.

If Phil Hughes falls short of any statistical milestones this season, I think he’ll look back on the rain-soaked battle with Tony Manzella in the sixth inning today and the ensuing four runs will stick between his teeth like broken pieces of sweet summer corn. Six innings, five hits, one inconsequential run and six strikeouts would have been another fine plank in his pleasantly plausible Cy Young platform. As the box score reads, he got bombed by the weak-hitting Astros. I was miffed about Jeter’s inability to get to Manzella’s topper, and before I could finish the grouse, Cash had homered.


Posada’s Wounded Knee

Over at Baseball Prospectus, Will Carroll offers up an opinion on Jorge Posada’s injury, and how it may be treated going forward:

Ben Wolf . . . points out something about Posada getting hit by a pitch Wednesday that hadn’t occurred to me: “Was reading your latest column and saw that Posada was hit in the fibular head (I had just read knee in the general news).  Even if there isn’t a fracture, there’s a risk of the injury being more of a long-term problem if he ends up with any restriction in the superior tibiofibular joint, especially considering the demands of a catcher squatting on the knee (including that joint specifically I think), not to mention any mechanistic problems he could have running.  I suppose we will see.” . . . .  Posada says he could catch if it was an emergency, but it’s clear that it’s the squatting that’s the problem. We’ll see how the Yankees deal with this over the weekend, but expect Posada to miss time. At best, he could DH, but I think they’ll hold on to the retro DL move until they’re more sure.

Yankee Panky: Catch-34


From Daily News beat writer Mark Feinsand:

Could Joe Girardi’s desire to get the backup catcher some at-bats be a sign that he has bigger things in store for Molina in the playoffs?

Molina, who went 1-for-4, has caught six of A.J. Burnett’s last seven starts, helping the righthander get back on track with three solid outings in a row following a rocky month. Burnett makes his final start of the regular season tomorrow, and Girardi said Molina would be behind the plate, further fueling speculation that Molina and not Jorge Posada will catch Burnett in the postseason.

This was a frequent topic of discussion between Michael Kay and David Cone during Friday night’s YES telecast.

The refrain went something like this:

“Why would you take the bat of either Jorge Posada or Hideki Matsui out of the lineup? … Joe Girardi doesn’t believe in personal catchers…”

The argument reminded me of 2005, when a similar debate regarding who would catch Randy Johnson took place. Joe Torre, then the manager — who also said he didn’t believe in personal catchers — opted to have John Flaherty catch the Big Unit. Johnson failed miserably in his Game 3 start, allowing five earned runs in three innings of what would be an 11-7 loss. Flaherty was pinch-hit for in the bottom half of that third inning. Ultimately, since the Yankees’ offense got Johnson off the hook, Torre’s choice of who to list at the No. 2 position didn’t cost the Yankees the game.

This year’s predicament is different for a couple of reasons: 1) The feud between Burnett and Posada didn’t go public until mid-August. By that time in ’05, Flaherty had already been catching Johnson for two months. 2) Posada’s bout with Burnett isn’t nearly as nasty and didn’t cause ripples in the clubhouse like his ordeal with Johnson. It’s not like Burnett hasn’t pitched well with Posada as his battery mate, either. His start against the Red Sox and Josh Beckett on August 7 at the Stadium was arguably his best of the season.

However, Burnett’s stats since the August 22 debacle at Fenway don’t lie. Subtracting the September 1 start at Camden Yards — in which he gave up six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings with Posada behind the plate — Burnett has averaged 6 1/3 innings pitched, had four outings where he allowed two runs or fewer, and averaged 1.26 strikeouts per innings pitched.

Based on the recent success, Molina probably should catch Burnett. Who starts at DH — either Posada or Matsui — will likely be determined by the Yankees’ ALDS opponent. The Yankees could be looking at either Rick Porcello or Nate Robertson of Detroit, or Nick Blackburn or Carl Pavano of Minnesota, depending on whether Burnett pitches Game 2 or 3. The only scenario that might push Girardi to lean toward Posada at DH is if the left-handed Robertson opposes Burnett. This enables Girardi to take advantage of Posada’s right-handed bat. Doing so would leave some to wonder how Matsui and his .984 OPS against lefties this season could be benched. Isn’t this a good problem for Girardi to have? Why isn’t that being mentioned?

Cone’s take on the debate was that in the postseason, good pitching beats good hitting. First and foremost, a team has to feel comfortable with the starting pitcher. Further, that pitcher has to have confidence in his catcher. By that logic, Molina should catch Burnett next week, whenever his turn is.

As a fan — and let’s face it, we’re all fans here — as long as it’s been since the Yankees won a playoff series, do you care who catches or DHes as long as they win?

Neither do I.


2001 ToppsJorge Posada tweaked his already-tender right hamstring while sliding into second base in the sixth inning of last night’s game. He had an MRI this morning, which revealed a Grad 2 strain, and was placed on the 15-day disabled list soon after. He’s likely to miss a month if not more. The Yankees had hoped to get an offensive boost with Alex Rodriguez’s return from hip surgery, likely on Friday, but with Posada out, Rodriguez’s return will merely return the Yankees to the status quo, as Rodriguez will be hard pressed to out perform the .312/.402/.584 line Posada has put up thus far this season.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the status quo is pretty darn good. Entering tonight’s game, the Yankees are tied with the Texas Rangers for the second most runs scored per game in the American League behind the overachieving Blue Jays. The Yankees’ 5.84 R/G is nearly a run better than their mark from 2008 (4.87 R/G, seventh in the AL), and is evenly split between home (5.8 R/G) and the road (5.87 R/G). Also, Rodriguez is going to be in the lineup more often than Posada, who had been on pace for 115 games between catcher and DH.

It’s still bad news, but it’s not as devastating as Posada’s shoulder injury was last year because of the additions of Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher, and the rebounds of Robinson Cano, Hideki Matsui and, thus far, Melky Cabrera. It’s also good news that we’re talking about a fairly routine hamstring injury and not a recurrence of Posada’s shoulder woes.

Still, losing Posada for any length of time creates a hole in the lineup. Jose Molina’s .257/.333/.343 line looks robust next to his 2008 performance (.216/.263/.313), but it’s simply replacement level rather than well below and falls short of what the Yankees had been getting from Ramiro Peña (.313/.371/.344), though the bottom would surely to fall out on Peña were he to stay in the lineup much longer.

Francisco Cervelli has been called up from Double-A to take Molina’s spot on the bench. After losing most of last year to a broken arm, Cervelli now looks not unlike the catcher-version of Peña. He’s a strong defender, easily major league quality, with little to recommend him at the plate other than a good batting eye. Cervelli looked overmatched at the plate in his very brief September call-up last year, while playing for Italy in the WBC this March, and in spring training after Italy’s elimination from the tournament. The sample size is minuscule, of course, but the competition in each was something less than what he’s likely to see in the majors in May, and he went a combined 4-for-25 (.160) with just one extra base hit and, despite that good batting eye, just one walk across those three appearances. Thus far this year, he’s hitting just .190/.266/.310 for the Trenton Thunder.

Cervelli’s here because the top catcher at Triple-A Scranton, Chris Stewart, is hitting .178/.275/.200 and isn’t nearly as good behind the plate as Cervelli. Kevin Cash, who was supposed to be the third-string catcher, is on the DL with a shoulder injury of his own. I’m not particularly worried about the Yankees “rushing” the 23-year-old Cervelli because Jesus Montero is now just a level behind him at High-A Tampa and is crushing the ball. Montero’s defense is far from major-league-ready, if it ever well be, but he’s nipping at Cervelli’s heals. Peña has handled the jump to the majors wonderfully. Cervelli, who has a veteran disposition—despite his lack of production he was a clubhouse leader on Team Italy—seems as likely as anyone to do likewise.

One hidden aspect of Posada’s DL stay is that it will make the loss of Xavier Nady sting all the more. The Yankees haven’t suffered in right field since Nady’s injury because Nick Swisher has been on fire, hitting .300/.434/.688 on the season. Where the Yankees have missed Nady is in their limited pinch-hitting options late in close games. A three-man bench of Jose Molina, Angel Berroa, and Brett Gardner doesn’t offer Joe Girardi much in terms of late-game pop. That wouldn’t have mattered as much with both Rodriguez and Posada in the lineup, but with the hole at third moving to catcher, the Yankees will continue to long after a bench bat. All the more reason for them to use Rodriguez’s return as an excuse to designate Angel Berroa for assignment and purchase the contract of non-roster slugger Shelley Duncan, who is now hitting .347/.421/.716 with ten jacks for Scranton.


           Newer posts
feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver