The Yankees missed Jorge Posada last year. It was mostly for his bat — most catchers are there for defensive purposes, so it’s a huge plus when a team has a catcher who can hit. Jorge has been one of the top offensive catchers for years, and losing his bat, especially considering the drop-off to backup Jose Molina, was devastating. However, that’s not all the Yankees missed from their backstop.
Jorge has always been described as a strong clubhouse personality, someone who will get in your face if he thinks you’re doing something wrong. I know we can’t quantify what kind of effect that has on players, but it certainly means something. It might rub some players the wrong way, thus creating a negative effect, but it can also motivate players. That seems to be the case with Joba Chamberlain.
After Joba’s putrid start against Team Canada, Jorge approached the ace-in-training and let him know what time it is:
“I caught him in the bullpen after that and I told him what I saw was embarrassing,” Posada said Thursday before a spring training game against the Tigers. “I told him to throw the fastball and stop waiting for things to happen. I told him he has to pitch like he can every time no matter what. Whether it’s as a starter, reliever or even in the bullpen, people are watching.”
Would Joba have pitched the same game had Jorge not gotten in his face? Perhaps. We really can’t know. That’s why there’s always a debate over the value of intangibles. You can see something in someone — Jeter’s cool, calm demeanor, or Jorge’s firecracker personality — and say it’s good for the team. But how good is it really? And is it good at all? We can only know these things anecdotally, and no matter how strongly we feel we have no idea of how it actually affects other players.
That said, I’m glad Jorge got on Joba’s case. Young players often need reminders from vets of what the game’s all about. Jorge seems to understand that, and he’s not afraid to do something about it. I’m glad to have him back on the field and in the clubhouse.