Posada’s shot at Cooperstown hurt by the pinstripes?

Being overshadowed is the story of Jorge Posada's career. Credit: REUTERS/Pool-David J. Phillip

Jorge Posada’s Hall of Fame candidacy is already being debated and will continue to be debated for years.  His candidacy will likely be debated long after he either gets in or he doesn’t.  While I am a believer in his credentials, I wonder if his chances would be greater had he had an identical career in a different city, for a different team.

It sounds weird to suggest as many people believe in an East Coast Bias or Yankee Bias that brings more attention to players like Posada which should help his candidacy.  Also, had he not played for the Yankees, he clearly wouldn’t have as many rings as he does.  Despite all of that, I think Posada’s chances would be better had he spent his whole career in Atlanta, Chicago, Anaheim or another team that has had success over his 16 (and counting) year career.  Without getting too deep into his candidacy (here are cases for and against), Posada is one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time.  Whether you think he belongs or not, this really can’t be argued.  My argument is that playing for the Yankees has been detrimental to his candidacy.

Posada has never been the best player on the Yankees (his best season, 2007 happened to be the year Alex Rodriguez unanimously* won the MVP with a season for the ages) and has been far from the most recognizable.  If you were to start a list of the biggest names of the Yankees from 1995-2010, where would he fall?  Well, he’s the 4th biggest name of the “Core Four” for starters.  Then there’s A-Rod. Maybe Bernie Williams. And maybe he falls behind Brian Cashman, Joe Torre and George Steinbrenner when it comes to divvying out the credit of who helped the Yankees to 5 titles.  Is there another team in baseball where Posada could have played his career and been so far down on this list?

*Well, it would have been if two voters from Detroit didn’t vote for their own guy.

If Posada had played in Atlanta his whole career he would be right there with Chipper Jones when it comes to getting credit for position players.  While the Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz triumvirate are well remembered, Glavine hasn’t played a full season for the Braves since 2002, Maddux since 2003 and Smoltz since 2007.  While he would have long been in their shadows, he also would have had plenty of time on his own being the 2nd best, most well known player on the team.  He has not been afforded that luxury in New York where Jeter and Rivera have been bigger than him since Day 1 and continue to be, and Pettitte has been there for all but 3 years of his career.  Also, let’s assume that Posada wins a ring with Atlanta (very possible) and doesn’t have the stain of not winning a ring on his resume.  Wouldn’t Posada the Atlanta Brave be a bigger deal than Posada the New York Yankee?

What if Posada had spent his entire career in Anaheim?  Ignore for a moment that Mike Scoscia would have just benched him for being a catcher with a great bat, again, wouldn’t Posada’s career be more appreciated out of the shadows of New York (and his teammates)?  Who is the face of the Angels for the last 15 years?  Scoscia? Vladimir Guerrero?  Who else?  Guerrero spent 6 years in Anaheim, you could easily argue had Posada been an Angel, he would be the most recognizable Angel of the past 15 years.  Right or wrong, this would bolster his Hall of Fame candidacy.  Being the face of a franchise can only help when the members of the BBWAA cast their ballots.

You can run through these scenarios a million different ways, but for almost every other team during Posada’s career, he would be higher up on the pecking order of fame than he is with the Yankees.  For many baseball teams he would have been the face of the franchise for a 15 year period.  Personally I think this would outweigh the fact that he has played in New York his whole career.  Whatever benefit he has gained from playing for the Yankees, I think he has lost more by being viewed as a complimentary piece instead of the great player that he has been.  In fact, playing in New York probably has even led to more of the criticism he has come under, especially during the past few years.  The Posada Hall of Fame candidacy will be a fascinating one for the next 5, 10, maybe even 15 years.  If he can put up another solid season or two after this year maybe he jumps up to the “almost definite” category.  If he struggles (or retires) the case will be made for or against based on what he has done so far.  Either way, I think Posada’s case has been hindered by being the (relatively) small fish in a big pond.  If he were the proverbial big fish in a small pond, I think his candidacy would already be viewed in a better light.

Yanks drop opener to Sox, 6-3

For the fifth time in seven games, and for the fourth straight game, the Yankees took a lead with a two-run homer in the first. For the fourth of those five, the Yankees lost the lead and eventually lost the game. It seems backward. With two runs in the first it feels like the Yanks should score more later on. But in those five games they’ve scored just seven runs after the first-inning homer.

Biggest Hit: Kalish extends the lead

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

While some ridiculous antics in the second inning provided the emotional low point of the evening, it was Ryan Kalish’s home run four innings later that really put away the Yankees. It started when Vazquez threw Mike Lowell an 0-1 slider that hung, allowing Lowell to pull it into left for a one-out base hit. That brought up Ryan Kalish, a 22-year-old rookie outfielder from Red Bank, NJ.

Vazquez had struck out Kalish twice to that point, both on three pitches. The first time he set him up with two high, mediocre at best breaking pitches before finishing him with a letters-high fastball. Then in the third he dropped a curveball over the plate for a called strike and then went with two changeups, the second low and out of the zone, inducing yet another swing and miss. To open the third at-bat Vazquez again went to the changeup, and while this was low it was still in the zone. Kalish hit it on a line and it carried all the way to the Yankees’ bullpen, his first big league homer, giving the Sox a 6-3 lead.

The Yankees had just closed the gap the previous inning, and a 4-3 game seemed manageable at the time. But with one swing of the bat the Red Sox created a much tougher comeback situation.

Communication breakdown

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Despite a David Ortiz solo home run in the first, it looked like Javy was pitching reasonably well. He did allow a leadoff double to open the second, but he quickly got two pop ups — only Francisco Cervelli dropped the second one. That turned a runner on second, two outs situation into a runners on the corners, one out one. Vazquez then recorded his first strikeout of Kalish, though again the pitches didn’t look sharp. A walk to the No. 9 hitter loaded the bases, and another walk tied the game. Marco Scutaro’s double put the Sox ahead for good.

On the pop-up, it was absolutely Cervelli’s ball. Infielders are taught that the pitcher never comes off the mound to field a pop up. Why pitchers don’t abide, I guess, is purely instinctual, but they nevertheless sometimes get in the way. It was clear — made transparent by their grimaces seen on YES-Mo — that neither was comfortable as the ball fell towards the infield. Vazquez has to get out of the way there, just like Cervelli still has to catch it. It wouldn’t have been the easiest catch, as the spin of a pop-up makes it more difficult to catch when facing the outfield. (I once got a baseball in the mouth trying to do this, though in my defense it wasn’t a high pop up and I had to bound out of my squat to get under it.)

Please, pitchers: if there’s a pop-up in the infield and another fielder can get the ball (and this is almost always the case), let him.

Granderson brings the heartache

The Red Sox had the lead, but the Yankees had time. In the fourth it looked like they might strike. Robinson Cano started the inning with a shot through the hole and into right field for a base hit. Lance Berkman then sent one towards the middle, and while Scutaro fielded it he couldn’t make the flip to Jed Lowrie, allowing both runners to reach safely with none out. But time was running out, as Curtis Granderson was followed by Francisco Cervelli.

Granderson, of course, produced the worst possible outcome, a grounder to first that resulted in a 3-5 non-force double play. It was the worst because 1) Granderson’s speed makes a triple play awfully difficult, and 2) his speed also makes a double-force play a bit tougher. Hitting it right to Lowell, who was standing near the bag, allowed for the quickest way of retiring two on one play. It let Cano move to third, but with Cervelli coming up that didn’t matter much. His strikeout was tragically predictable.

The Yanks did score in the fifth, but with runners on the corners and one out they could only manage one run, an RBI single for A-Rod. The Red Sox widened their lead a half-inning later, and the Yanks managed just two hits the rest of the way. Jeter did work a tenacious at-bat in the ninth, but with two outs it wasn’t quite enough to jolt the Yanks.


(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

This was the seventh game in which Vazquez has allowed multiple home runs. He has only seven homerless starts this season.

As Alex Speier of WEEI tweeted, “Clay Buchholz is the first pitcher this year to go more than 7 innings in fewer than 100 pitches this year against the Yankees.” Alex will be at tomorrow’s event, so we’ll temporarily forgive his affiliation.

With his 1 for 3 night, Jeter is now 25 for 75 since July 18, with a line of .333/.390/.440.

Since June 22 Gardner is hitting .208/.341/.305. He hasn’t drawn a walk in his last six games.

Box and graph

Sad, sad green line. Perk up tomorrow.

More at FanGraphs. You can read the traditional box, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It ain’t pretty.

Up Next

Up next: RAB/FanGraphs Live Discussion. But for the Yanks, they’ll meet the Red Sox again tomorrow at 4 on Fox (sigh). CC Sabathia tries to put the Yanks back in the win column. John Lackey gives it a try for the Sox.

Mesa keeps hitting, but Tampa falls to St. Lucie

Dellin Betances was named the 11th hottest prospect in the minors in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. Brandon Laird got some In The Team Photo. Also, make sure you check out Rebecca’s interview with 19-year-old righthander Jose Pena, a prospect playing for the Yanks in the Dominican Summer League. Great, great stuff.

Triple-A Scranton (7-3 win over Pawtucket)
Kevin Russo, 2B: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB – seven for his last 21 (.333)
Colin Curtis, RF: 3 for 6, 3 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K – believe it or not, those are only Curtis’ second & third homers of the season … the first was that one in the big leagues when he came in for Brett Gardner mid-at-bat
Brandon Laird, 1B: 0 for 3, 2 K
Jesus Montero, C: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 K – six for his last 18 (.333) with three doubles
Jorge Vazquez, DH: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Eduardo Nunez, 3B, Chad Huffman, LF, Eric Bruntlett, SS & Greg Golson, CF: all 1 for 4 – Nunez doubled & drove in two in his first game out of the three-hole in months … Huffman, doubled, walked, drove in a run & came around to a score … Bruntlett doubled, scored a run & K’ed … Golson drove in two, scored another, K’ed & threw two runners out at third
Zach McAllister: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 7-6 GB/FB – 63 of his 100 pitches were strikes … that’s ten straight starts allowing at least one homer
Royce Ring: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K – just five of his 14 pitches were strikes (35.7%) … allowed all three inherited runners to score
Eric Wordekemper: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2-0 GB/FB – 15 of 27 pitches were strikes (55.6%)
Zack Segovia:
Jon Albaladejo: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 2 K – seven of his nine pitches were strikes … that’s his 37th save of the season, one away from tying the league record

[Read more…]

Game 108: Hello, old friend

Who could forget? (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

It’s been what, two and a half months since the Yankees last played the Red Sox, and obviously a lot has changed since then. Javy Vazquez, tonight’s starter, has done a complete 180 and been the team’s best and most consistent starter since that series. The Yanks have added a few pieces, most notably Lance Berkman and Kerry Wood, and both Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson have returned from the disabled list. Mark Teixeira is back from the dead, ditto the bullpen.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, have lost Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Jason Varitek to injury. Jacoby Ellsbury is back though, same with Josh Beckett. Most importantly, the Yanks were three games back in the division at that time. Now they’re on top by half-a-game. A slim margin indeed, but I’ll take it. Boston, meanwhile, is six full games back in the division and in need of a huge surge this month if they want to make some noise in a playoff race.

On this very date last season, these same two teams kicked off a four game series in Bronx, and I’m sure you remember what happened. The Yanks won all four games, including that epic 15-inning scoreless game, effectively burying the Sox and claiming the top spot in the division for good. I’ll happily take a repeat of that, and that starts with a win tonight.

Here’s the lineup…

Jete, SS
Swish, RF
Tex, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Robbie, 2B
Berk, DH
Grandy, CF
Cerv, C
Gardy, CF

And on the bump, it’s Javy Vazquez.

First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET, and you can watch on either My9 locally of MLB Network national. Enjoy the game folks.

Report: Yankees will keep an eye on Guillen

From the please be a cruel joke department, the Yankees will reportedly keep an eye on the recently designated for assignment Jose Guillen. I have absolutely no idea where Guillen would fit in with both Marcus Thames and Austin Kearns already on the roster. He doesn’t get on base (.308 OBP over the last three years), hits for nothing more than decent power (.164), doesn’t have any defensive value (-21.6 three-year UZR), and by all accounts is a bit of a jerk. Am I missing something here? There’s no reason for the Yanks to be interested in him, pass.

Aceves, Pettitte inch closer to returning

At long last, it sounds like two key members of the pitching staff are close to returning. Al Aceves, out since May with a lingering back issue, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow, and if that goes well he will make his first rehab appearance on Tuesday. It’ll be his first game action since hitting the disabled list. I suspect the Yanks will be extra careful given the nature of Aceves’ injury, so he could still be two full weeks away from returning. Either way, that’s the best news we’ve gotten on his condition in weeks.

Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte went ahead and did the bullpen thing today. The braintrust will sit down tomorrow and determine the next step. The initial diagnosis called for four or five weeks on the shelf, and right now he’s on track to return just shy of that if he makes two rehab starts. Good news all around, can’t wait to have them both back.

Details for the RAB/FanGraphs Live Discussion

Tomorrow’s the big day, the first ever FanGraphs and River Ave. Blues Live Discussion in New York City. It will be held at the Florence Gould Hall, which is at 55 E 59th Street (between Park and Madison). The event starts at 9 a.m., and you’ll want to get there early. Ben, Mike, and I (and a few others) are the opening act.

Here’s one last reminder of the details…

NY Baseball (9:00am – 9:40am)

Joe Pawlikowski, Mike Axisa, Benjamin Kabak (All RiverAveBlues.com), Matthew Cerrone (MetsBlog.com), and Mark Simon (ESPN) will be discussing all things baseball in NY. Moderated by Carson Cistulli.

Baseball Media (9:45am – 10:30am)

Jonah Keri (Bloomberg Sports) will host a panel comprised of Will Leitch (Deadspin, New York Magazine), Michael Silverman (Boston Herald), Matthew Cerrone(MetsBlog.com), Alex Speier (WEEI.com), and David Biderman (WSJ) to discuss how baseball media coverage has changed in recent years and will continue to evolve.

Baseball Stats (10:40am – 11:15am)

Jon Sciambi (ESPN), Mitchel Lichtman, Sky Kalkman (Beyond the Boxscore), Dave Cameron, and David Appelman will discuss where advanced baseball stats are right now and where they’ll be headed. Moderated by Carson Cistulli.

Bloomberg Sports Presentation (11:20 – 11:35)

Bloomberg Sports will make a presentation of a brand new product.

FanGraphs Q&A (11:40 – End)

Dave Cameron, Carson Cistulli, Bryan Smith, Joe Pawlikowski, Mike Axisa, and David Appelman will take questions until we’re officially kicked out (a little after 12:00).

Afterparty (3:30pm – Game Over)

Additionally, we’re going to host a game-watching party for attendees to gather at a local watering hole and view that afternoon’s Boston-New York match-up together. Those who make it to the event will be invited to join us for several more hours of fun later in the afternoon. Details and directions will be given at the event.

You can get your tickets for $15 plus $1.36 surcharge in advance, or risk a sellout and pay $20, cash only, at the door.

We hope to see plenty of RABbers there.