Much depends on Posada

Wang selected as one of Taiwan's Most Outstanding Young Men
Should the Yankees target Juan Rivera?

Once upon a time, in another blog, when Mark Feinsand was the beat writer, I would frequently answer his mailbag questions. I’ve let that practice slack because I find the questions sent to Bryan Hoch at to be rather underwhelming these days. But now and then, a Hoch answer provides some insight into the Yankees.

In Monday’s mailbag, Hoch has some Jorge Posada-related news to disseminate:

I know Jorge Posada says he is healthy, but is there any chance of bringing Pudge Rodriguez back as insurance in case he is not ready to catch? And if bringing Pudge back is out of the question, who will be splitting time with Posada?
— Corey E., Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

For the moment, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he is keeping his fingers crossed that Posada will make good on his promise to be wearing a chest protector behind the plate on Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium. Certainly, that would be the organization’s preference, but though Posada can speak as optimistically as he likes, the Yankees won’t really know how to proceed until Posada’s throwing program begins on Dec. 1.

Cashman said that it is not on his agenda to pursue any free-agent catcher right now, which seems to seal Rodriguez’s time in New York as a two-month rental. That could change quickly if Posada experiences something of a setback from the arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder, but during the club’s last road trip of the regular season, Cashman pulled Posada aside and asked how realistic catching 120 games in 2009 can really be. “He looked me in the eye and he swears that he’s going to be back, as good as ever,” Cashman said earlier this month. “It’s up to us to buy into that or not.”

Now, bringing back Pudge, who hit a Melky-like .219/.257/.323 on the Yanks and didn’t handle the pitchers particularly well, isn’t really an option. But it’s hard to overemphasize how badly the Yankees need a healthy Jorge Posada behind the plate next year. If they don’t, they’re going to start the season at a huge disadvantage, and seeing Dionner Navarro on the AL East Champion Rays will hurt even more.

Of course, if Jorge’s shoulder is half healthy, he could play first, but the Yanks would then be left with a huge hole behind the plate. It will be much easier for them to fill the first base hole — Mark Teixeira, anyone? — than it will for them to find a catcher. When the top two free agent catchers are Jason Varitek and Ivan Rodriguez, things do not look good for backstops.

I have my fingers crossed for Posada. More than just about any other off-season move, getting Posada back behind the dish will have a huge impact in 2009. Now, we just have to hope that the shoulder holds up.

Wang selected as one of Taiwan's Most Outstanding Young Men
Should the Yankees target Juan Rivera?
  • Chris

    Posada played the entire 2008 season (what he actually played) while injured. His 775 OPS this year would put him in the top third of catchers in baseball. I think it’s reasonable to ask whether he will be back to his pre-surgery production, but I can’t imagine him being any worse after surgery than he was before, and before surgery he was better than Pudge.

  • radnom

    I think he’ll be fine.

    And knowing Boras, December 1st is plenty of time to find out for sure. After that point they can decide how hard they want to pursue Tex, or if they need to pencil in Posada at either 1st or DH and try to trade for a catcher and/or trade Matsui.

  • jessica(Let’s Go Yankees!!)

    Get Mo, Posada and Wang back healthy for 2009 is the key for us.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

      Man, Taiwan’s all up in this joint today!

  • pat

    I think po will be alright. He finally got that shoulder right and basically had the whole season off to rest his legs. I think posada is one of the few players left in mlb who plays for pride and has the desire to win rather than to just collect paychecks. He gonna be looking to justify that big contract extension.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Most people have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Jorge Posada has 72… And they all play for pride.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

        Jorge Posada once challenged Lance Armstrong to a “Who has more testicles?” contest. Jorge won by 5.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Jorge Posada understands the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

          • tim randle

            When Jorge talks, Chuck listens…

            • Mike A.

              Jorge represents Scott Boras.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          OK that last one was a little off, I just get a kick out of that one. How about this:

          Jorge Posada knows everything there is to know – Except for the definition of mercy.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

            Jorge pisses excellence… onto his hands.

            • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Jorge Posada uses red hot lavapiss to moisturizetoughen his skin.

  • Adam

    sample size!

    pudge was terrible in his time with the yankees last year, but in such a limited sample. i think it is obvious that, despite pudge’s struggles, he represents a clear upgrade over molina next year. no, i am not suggesting that we offer pudge $10 million to be a backup, however they should definitely offer him arbitration (he projects as a Type A), and if he accepts, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

    • aaron empty

      yeah i tend to agree. offer him arb. if he accepts we have either two good options for a backup if jorge is healthy, if not we have a halfway decent tandom (pudge jose) to play in his stead, and if he is healthy, pudge would make great trade bait to a backstop limited club.

      • EKH

        Cashman has hinted that players who accept arbitration can be kicked to the curb in spring training for a 45/60 day salary. It makes me think that he offers to Pudge, hoping he accepts, and then lets him go if Posada can handle the role (as I doubt there would be a trade market).

        • aaron empty

          well there might be a market, if we ate some of the salary, tigers got farnsy, we could get a b-level prospect or two

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

          Agree with both of you, but there’s like a 98% chance that Pudge just declines arbitration, hits the market and signs a deal elsewhere.

        • radnom

          Which wouldn’t be a horrible thing considering the uncertainty with Posada.
          However, this is the exact reason why Pudge won’t accept arbitration.

          • EKH

            And if he doesn’t accept we get a 1A or a 1A&2 pick (depending on the A/B status…I have to think no team is giving up a 16-30 pick for him). This trade looks really good to me in hindsight. Too bad he showed up in NY with a flaccid bat.

  • dan

    I know he probably won’t hit, but Piliterre could fill in.

  • Michael

    If Posada isnt ready to catch at the start of the season, have him DH. It will hurt Matsui’s AB’s but his knee might not be 100% either.

    Even if we sign Tex, we can have Posada’s bat in the lineup which was the biggest problem with having Molina play full time…He caught games well enough but there was too much of an offensive drop off with Posada out and too much of a pitching drop off with Wang out and Ponson/Rasner in.

    If we have to start the season Damon, Jeter, Tex, Arod, Posada, Nady, Cano, Molina, Gardiner with a decent pitching staff it should be good enough to get by until Posada can get behind the plate and Matsui and slot into the DH role.

  • Shamus

    A lot of people say that the 2009 season depends on pitching upgrades.

    Or upgrades at first base or in the outfield.

    Or for Robinson Cano to pull his head out of his ass and play like he wants to be there.

    IMO, the 2009 season hinges on exactly what value and production the Yankees get from Jorge Posada as a catcher.

    If Posada can return to 2007 form with the bat and play adequate C, then it buys the Yankees FO another year or two to figure out the future of the organization’s catcher situation. It also helps bolster the bottom of the lineup offensively.

    I’m sure they pray every night for Jesus (Montero) to come up through the system by 2010, allowing them to move Posada to DH for the final 2 years (10,11) of his expiring contract. Once Matsui and Damon are free agents this time next year, that will all but free up the DH spot for Jorge to use.

    Thankfully, they have Jose Molina for backup this year, so if Posada can’t field his position, they have an alternative, albeit not a great one.

    But what alternatives are out on the trade market? You gonna send Hughes for Saltalamacchia? Or Laird? Or Cano and Hughes for Russell Martin?

    Of course not.

    Here’s to Jorge having a bouceback year in 2009!

    • Shamus

      The one thing I forgot:

      IMO, Posada should NOT be moved to 1B. He has indicated he doesn’t want to go there, and I’m tired of seeing Cashman dump players at 1B b/c they can no longer field their position (Sheffield comes to mind, but I guess that was more a Torre move).

      Giambi, though, hasn’t been able to play 1B for six years….


      • Shamus

        Two Words:

        Mark Teixeira!

        Two More:

        Carsten Charles!

        Final Two:

        World Champs!

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

          Shamus, I agree with everything in all three of these comments, except for “and I’m tired of seeing Cashman dump players at 1B b/c they can no longer field their position”.

          That’s what every team does. Sure, none of us like seeing Giambi flub grounders left and right, but 1B (and DH) are two great spots to put sluggers who can’t field, because their defensive shortcomings don’t really hurt you all that much. If Posada can’t catch (and we don’t get Texy), moving Posada to first would be far from the worst thing in the world. Nearly every 1B in the majors, including the top five in 2008 OPS (Pujols, Berkman, Texy, Youkilis, Miguel Cabrera) started elsewhere on the diamond and have become average-to-great defensive 1B’s.

      • christopher

        good point – i am tired of people acting as though defense doesnt matter. if you though giambi was a statute what would puting a catcher of 10 years wera and tear look like out there. havent we learned after having donnie and tino at first followed by giambi that range at 1B saves a lot of runs.

        also have to bring up a stupid blog by heyman (i think it was him) that said that they wont pursue Tex because they want to hold that position for jeter in 2010 – isnt it a major assumption that jeter will play 1st. As much of a team guy as he is, i see a little selfishness in him (which in a way is justified) about remaining at SS and going down as the best SS in Yankee history. If he does by some miracle decide to move, i think he would be better suited for the outfield as he seems to have a knack for reading fly balls off the bat and has the speed and arm to play LF or CF.

        The yanks need a healthy posada, mo, and wang as previously mentioned, an A pitcher (Sabathia) and A hitter (Tex?) an A-/B Pitcher and i would love a young outfielder to be brought in — Baldelli

        • Patrick T

          Its irrelevant. Jeter doesn’t have the bat to carry 1B anymore.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

            Nor is he remotely bad enough defensively to warrant moving him to 1B. That’s a position of last resort. You don’t leap all the way from one end of the spectrum to the other without first trying an intervening point.

            You don’t move mediocre middle infielders to first. You just don’t. You move them to the outfield.

        • radnom

          If and when Jeter makes a move, it is likely to the out to LF. I could definitely see that happening at some point.

  • Jacob

    If Posada can’t go, or gets hurt during the year and Pudge is gone, who backs up Molina?

    • Old Ranger

      Two Words…Francisco Cervelli!
      I know some will come back with all sorts of reasons why he is not the guy, a lot already have. The thing is; he is on the 40 man, great defence, calls good games, can hit much better then Molina (although hasn’t shown it lately). One must remember, he was great last year and ST…until injured. He the best catcher we have in the system (right now), we have two/three better ones (hopefully) coming along but, they won’t be ready for a couple years.
      Cervelli will be 23 (I think) in 2009, which is very young but, as we have learned over the years, he can fill-in for 50 to 70 games in the show without hurting the team…anymore then Molina, and probably better hitting. He hasn’t played above AA (because of injury), so I am going by what I saw of him last (and this) year, also the job he did in ST. Remember some of his hitting stats were based on him as a switch hitter, so now he is a right hand-er at the dish. I have great faith in him, I think the Yanks do too. Now, the question is; do I get riped for this one? Just joking, go for it. 27/09.

      • aaron empty

        i wouldnt count on him without more seasoning, but hes worth a shot…thats what spring training is for, and if he performs well in st, ans jorge goes down he deserves a shot at least

      • EKH

        Cervelli has good plate discipline and solid defense, but he has no power. He makes 2008 Brett Gardner look like Wonder Woman. I think the organization sees him as good depth and a potential future backup. If someone in ML is willing pay the Yankees as though he’s a future starter, I’d think they would jump on that.

  • AndrewYF

    Regarding Ivan Rodriguez, Ben, when is the usual time teams start offering arbitration? Is it right after the WS ends, or is it usually a arbitration-deadline type of deal?

    • radnom

      There is a deadline but I don’t know when it is. There is another deadline for accepting as well.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

        16th Day After World Series – First day Major League free agents may negotiate and sign with a Club other than their former Club.
        Nov. 20 – Day to file reserve lists for all Major and Minor League levels.
        Dec. 1 – Last date for former Club to offer salary arbitration to ranked XX(B) free agents in order to be eligible for compensation – midnight tonight.
        Dec. 4 – Last day to request outright waivers to assign player prior to Rule 5 Draft.
        Dec. 7 – Last date for player who declared free agency under Art. XX (B) to accept an arbitration offer from former club – midnight tonight.
        Dec. 8 – 5:00 p.m. ET today is last time to outright a player prior to the Rule 5 Draft.
        Dec. 8-11 – Baseball Winter Meetings, Las Vegas
        Dec. 11 – Major League Rule 5 Draft
        Dec. 12 – Last date to tender contracts – midnight tonight.

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona

          You forgot one.

          Dec. 28 – Melvin Croussett’s birthday. That day forward known as Melmas.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

            That’s right before the Feats of Strength but after the Airing of the Grievances, right?

            • Andy In Sunny Daytona

              Don’t forget the metal pole.

              • Andy In Sunny Daytona

                “Melmas – For the lefty in us”

                “Melmas – Jesus was a lefty too.”

  • E-ROC

    I understand that Pudge didn’t the pitchers well when the Yanks traded for him. However, I think catching an entirely new staff mid-season is tough for anyone. His hitting was terrible but in a small sample size.

    Hopefully, Posada is healthy to start at catcher. The Yankees need him to be healthy; if not, there could be a negative domino effect on the ball club.

  • Count Zero

    Offering arb to Pudge is a no-brainer. He will never accept. He and Varitek are the only FA possibilities on the market and Pudge is far superior so he is sure to land at least a two-year deal. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get three.

    Re Po — I hope you guys have a good line to whoever you’re praying to because I am not so optimistic on him being behind the dish 120 times. I said it then and I still stand by it — that four year contract was the biggest mistake the Yankees made last winter. I know he was the only viable option for 2008, but look how that worked out.

    It was a bad long-term move because you don’t want your DH for three years down the road signed — especially at that pay level. If Po can’t catch effectively we are headed into 2009 with two everyday DHs making >$10MM each. Neither of them would be trade-able without eating a lot of salary. And frankly, unless Po pulls off another 2007 with the bat (unlikely), he is an average DH.

    • Ben K.

      This is revisionist history at its finest. Sure, you can very easily make the case that Posada’s contract was a bad one, but it wasn’t bad because of some fluke throwing injury he sustained during the first week of the season. You can’t say “look how that worked out” over the shoulder injury when no one foresaw that. If, on the other hand, he regressed due to age or his knee gave out, you’d have a much stronger case.

      • Count Zero

        Except I thought it was a bad contract long-term before the injury. All I’m saying is that the injury made it bad even short term.

        Bottom line: even prior to the injury last season, I predicted no way is Posada a viable MLB catcher in 2010 and 2011. (Which is why I say they locked in an average DH for three years down the road at a ridiculous salary.) The fact that it turned out he wasn’t even a viable MLB catcher in 2008, and may not be one in 2009 makes the deal even worse, but it’s not the reason it was a bad deal.

        I stand by the fact that it was a bad signing even if he had played to career averages in 2008 and 2009. The last two years of the deal were almost certainly going to be bad ones. You show me a DH making that kind of money and posting a 120 (or so) OPS+ and I’ll admit I was wrong in my evaluation of the deal when it was signed. :-P

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

      “If Po can’t catch effectively we are headed into 2009 with two everyday DHs making >$10MM”, only one of whom is signed beyond this year.

      I love how people keep ignoring the fact that Giambi’s contract expires after 2008 and Matsui and Damon’s contracts expire after 2009, as if it wasn’t a factor in determining the acceptable amount of risk to take on in the Posada negotiations.

      I guarantee you that Brian Cashman knew that he’d have a natural opening at DH at the end of Posada’s contract when he agreed to it.

      • Count Zero

        Don’t dispute the DH opening — but see my point to Ben. Is Posada the DH worth $14MM a year? Really? I would argue that he is definitely not.

        So really, you were paying him about $17MM for the two years he was going to catch and about $11MM for the two years he was going to DH, maybe be an occasional backup.

        And IMO, he’s not an $11MM DH even if he plays 140+ and suffers no decline in offensive production. At that salary, a DH needs to put up significantly better power numbers than Jorge ever has, or hit like he did in 2007 again — unlikely.

        The problem is that, much like DJ, rose colored glasses are the order of the day when it comes to Posada. He is definitely one of the two best offensive C in the AL — but he is below average behind the plate, doesn’t handle pitchers well, and is at an age where it’s all downhill from here. Thus, I stand by my original statement — that was a poor long-term deal, done out of desperation and fear of what would happen in 2008 without him. And in retrospect, 2008 happened without him anyway.

    • AndrewYF

      But Posada is the only viable option for 2009 too.

      And having Posada for even a smidgen of the time in 2008 was a hell of a lot better than just going with Jose Molina every day.

      And whatever Posada gives in 2009 is still much more likely to be better than what Varitek or Pudge would give.

      • Count Zero

        And whatever Posada gives in 2009 is still much more likely to be better than what Varitek or Pudge would give.

        Agreed. The dearth of viable catchers is the core of the problem and what drove the deal in the first place. He had us over a barrel and he knew it. But I still would have rejected it because of the fourth year.

        The real culprit here was the idiocy involved in trading Navarro when there were no other viable catching prospects far enough along in the system.

  • s

    what if a team signs pudge and they have a protected pick do the yankees just get a sandwich pick

    • EKH

      I think they also get the other teams 2nd rounder. Only picks 1 – 15 are protected.