… on his vocal cords. Third time with that joke is a charm, no? Anyway, Marc Carig spoke to the greatest reliever of all-time today, and Mariano Rivera said he expects to be ready for Spring Training when camp opens in about five weeks. Carig says Mo sounds like his normal self following surgery on vocal cords, but frankly I don’t think it was his voice that many of us were worried about. Glad everything’s okay.
Earlier today we learned that Jorge Posada will announce his retirement in the near future, a bittersweet moment for me. This wasn’t necessarily a surprise and I think we all knew his time had come, but it’s still sad anytime an all-time great calls it a career. Based on bWAR, Posada is the third greatest catcher in Yankees history behind only Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey. Thurman Munson is right behind him, but then it’s a huge gap between those four and everyone else.
I don’t necessarily agree with the list or the order, but the video above is a compilation of the nine greatest moments of Jorge Posada’s career. Game Three of the 2001 ALDS is known for Derek Jeter‘s flip play, but Posada accounted for the only run of the game with his solo homer while catching seven shutout innings from Mike Mussina and another two from Mariano Rivera. Of course I’m certain that “double” in Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS made me jump and shout more than any other Jorge hit. I’m happy Posada was able to leave the game on his own terms, because not many players get to do that. He will be missed.
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Here is your open thread for the day. I’m posting this earlier than usual because of the two NFL playoff games, the first of which starts at 4:30pm ET. That’s the Bengals at the Texans on NBC. The late game (8pm ET on NBC) is the Lions at the Saints, and I’m setting the over/under on points scored at 80.5. Other than foobaw, the Knicks, Nets, Islanders, and Devils are all playing. Don’t forget though, no MSG for you Time Warner folks! Anyway, talk about anything you like here. Go nuts.
It looks like Yankees fans won’t have to worry about seeing Jorge Posasda in a different uniform this season. WFAN’s Sweeny Murti reports that Jorge will announce his retirement within the next two weeks. We’ll surely have a riveting tribute to Jorge once he does make the announcement. For now we can reminisce about our favorite Jorge memories — I’m sure his double off Pedro Martinez ranks highest for many. We can also get a head start on making arguments for his Hall of Fame candidacy. Remember, he still has the highest WAR of any catcher since 2000.
Dylan asks: What happened to Pat Venditte? I know the Yanks didn’t protect him, so he could have been snatched up by some other team, but I never heard if that happened? Do the Yanks still have control over him, and where will he spend this season?
The Yankees didn’t lose any players in the Rule 5 Draft last month, so Venditte is still in the organization. He spent the last few months pitching in winter ball in Mexico, striking out 46 batters and walking just seven in 42.1 relief innings. He did give up six homers though (1.28 HR/9), which is very uncharacteristic for him (0.44 HR/9 in the minors). Overall, Venditte threw 132.1 IP in 2011.
Like big leaguers, minor league players need six full years of service time to become minor league free agents. The Yankees drafted Venditte in 2008, so they still control his rights through 2014. There’s a pretty good chance that he’ll be sent back to Double-A Trenton this year just because of the numbers crunch in the Triple-A Scranton bullpen, though he did perform fairly well there last season: 8.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 90 IP. Pretty good, but not nearly as good as what he did from 2008-2010: 11.2 K/9 and 1.9 K/9 in 174.2 IP.
We all know Venditte does the switch-pitcher thing, but it’s worth noting that he does have a pretty significant platoon split. He’s held left-handed batters to a .191/.238/.253 batting line with 33.4% strikeouts and 6.1% walks since 2009, but right-handers have gotten him for a .240/.286/.367 batting line with the same walk rate but just 22.6% strikeouts. Venditte’s stuff from the right side — low-90’s fastball with an over-the-top curveball — has always been considered better than his stuff from the left side — mid-80’s heat and a slider — but so far he’s gotten better results as a southpaw. It could just be a sample size issue; we’re only talking 400 or so plate appearances as a lefty and about 500 as a righty.
I figured that some team would pop Venditte in the Rule 5 Draft just to take a look at him in Spring Training, but ultimately no one decided he was worth the $50k draft price (only $25k if he ends up being returned). He’ll probably go back to Double-A to start the year before a midseason promotion comes into play, but as always, he remains a fringe prospect. The ambidextrous thing means more attention, but not more ability.
Bernie Williams headlines the pack of 13 newcomers on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, though the nerdsheet indicates that he’s unlikely to get inducted. Over at FanGraphs, Jeff Zimmerman looked at Bernie’s case for the Hall by factoring his postseason performance into his career fWAR. He had more than twice as many playoff plate appearances (545) as any other player, and amount that basically equals a full extra season. Ultimately, it’s still not enough for Bernie to be considered a Hall of Fame caliber player, but make no mistake, he was great. Just not great enough for long enough.
The 2012 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced on Monday.
Do you remember just how bad Angel Berroa was with the Yankees? They signed him on this date three years ago, sent him to Triple-A to start the season while Ramiro Pena got a chance to backup Cody Ransom at third, who was filling in for Alex Rodriguez while he got his hip repaired. Berroa was called up after Ransom blew out his quad, then reached base a whopping seven times in 31 plate appearances. Three singles, three walks, one double for a .174 OBP and a .164 ISO. That’s a -8 OPS+ and a -16 wRC+. Thankfully, he was jettisoned once Ransom got healthy in late-June.
I know most people think Berroa stole the 2003 Rookie of the Year Award from Hideki Matsui, but that’s not really the case. Godzilla hit .287/.353/.435 with 16 homers as an average (if not a touch below) fielding left fielder, but Berroa hit .287/.338/.451 with 17 homers as an average fielding shortstop. The second player is more valuable, and it’s not particularly close. Heck, you can make a case that Jody Gerut was a better RoY candidate than Matsui since he hit .279/.336/.494 with 22 homers and solid glovework in all three outfield spots.
That said, we know RoY awards do not guarantee future success, and the only player who got AL RoY votes that year and has gone on to have a better career than Matsui is Mark Teixeira. He hit .259/.331/.480 with 26 homers and finished fifth in the voting.
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Here’s your open thread for the night. All five hockey and basketball locals are in action, but Time Warner customers are still MSG-less because of the Dolans. I sure hope this gets resolved soon. Anyway, you folks know what to do, so go nuts.
Via Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Yankees did not check in on left-handed reliever Darren Oliver before he signed with the Blue Jays for one-year and $4M. Coincidentally, that’s how much the Yankees will pay Pedro Feliciano to rehab from shoulder surgery this year.
Oliver, 41, has enjoyed the four best seasons of his career — in terms of ERA and FIP — in the last four years. I don’t know how he did it, but the guy suddenly became a shutdown lefty reliever. He’s pitched to a 2.63 ERA and a 3.10 FIP in 253.2 IP during those four years, with solid overall strikeout (7.8 K/9 and 21.3 K%), walk (2.24 BB/9 and 6.1 BB%), and ground ball (44.6%) rates. Lefties have hit just .231/.270/.353 off him during that time. The Yankees brought in Hideki Okajima, Cesar Cabral, and Mike O’Connor on the cheap this winter an effort to maybe find a second lefty reliever to pair with Boone Logan.