In new book, Posada opens up about bitterness towards Yankees at end of career

(Posada)
Count ’em. (Posada)

Like many all-time greats before and after him, the end of Jorge Posada‘s playing career was not pretty. Posada hit .235/.315/.398 (92 wRC+) in 387 plate appearances as a 39-year-old in 2011, down from the .248/.357/.454 (119 wRC+) batting line he put up in 2011. By catcher standards, Jorge remained remarkably productive in his mid-to-late-30s. That’s why he’s a borderline Hall of Famer.

Posada’s time as a full-time catcher started to come to an end back in 2008. He caught only 30 games that year due to shoulder surgery, caught 100 games in 2009, then only 83 games in 2010. The Yankees signed Russell Martin and moved Posada to DH full-time for the 2011 season. Jorge once said he thought the team’s decision to move him from second base to catcher in the minors was the “worst decision ever,” and now two decades later he was being moved out from behind the plate.

In his upcoming book “The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes,” Posada opens up about just how bitter he was following the club’s decision to move him to DH, and about the way the end of his career played out in general. Sherryl Connelly has some snippets.

“I’ll put this as plainly as a I can,” writes the man who caught 1,574 games for the Bronx Bombers, “When you take me out from behind the plate, you’re taking away my heart and my passion.”

“I knew that my role with the club was changing, but I don’t think that anyone making those decisions knew how much the things being done hurt me,” he confesses.

“To have even that taken away from me without adequate explanation, hurt me and confused me,” he writes.

From the sound of it, the Yankees simply decided to move Posada out from behind the plate without consulting him. That seems a little harsh even though we all know Jorge would have fought the move. The only way the Yankees were going to get him to stop catching was by taking the equipment away from him.

It’s important to remember the Yankees didn’t just move Posada to DH for the hell of it. Yes, his defense was terrible, but they were also looking out for his health. Posada had concussion issues later in his career, including one in September 2010 that Jorge himself said was “scary, I have to admit.” He described the test results as “not good.”

Still, Posada was hurt by the decision to move him off catcher, and once his offensive production became untenable in 2011, he was upset about being moved down in the lineup. Joe Girardi penciled Posada into the ninth spot in the lineup for a nationally televised game against the Red Sox in August, which upset Jorge, who refused to play.

“I felt like I wasn’t being treated right, that people weren’t always being as straightforward with me as I wanted them to be or treating me as I deserved to be treated, and I exploded.

“I’d just put up with enough.”

Posada claims he was truly regretful and expressed that to management but “those sentiments were never returned.”

I think Girardi’s a really good manager, but I also think he handled that situation poorly. It’s easy to understand why Posada was upset when he found out he would bat ninth for the first time in years on a nationally televised game against the Red Sox. I don’t think Girardi did it to intentionally embarrass Posada, but it was still a bad move. Does that mean refusing to play was the right move? No. Neither side handled it well.

Posada also discusses his relationship with Girardi in the book and how Girardi was different than Joe Torre, who Jorge considered his “father on the field.” Apparently a turning point was Girardi’s decision to communicate daily lineup decisions via text — he’d simply text “catcher” or “DH” to let Posada know where he was playing on a given day. Girardi still does that to this day because, well, it’s 2015 and people communicate via text. Still, Posada felt it hurt their relationship.

While Jorge was upset with the way the end of his career played out, it hasn’t fractured any sort of relationship with the organization. Posada has yet to appear at an Old Timers’ Day but has been back at Yankee Stadium several times in recent years, most notably throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the 2012 home opener and being on hand for farewell ceremonies for Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. Heck, he was in the YES booth this past weekend. He’s also been to Spring Training as a guest instructor.

The Yankees will retire No. 20 in Posada’s honor later this year and I think it is absolutely, 100% deserved. He’s one of the best players in franchise history and was a linchpin during the club’s four most recent World Series titles. I’m disappointed to hear Posada was so upset with the Yankees towards the end of his career — the Yankees brought some of that on themselves, for sure — but I’m happy this is all in the past and two sides have what appears to be a good relationship these days.

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Sunday Links: Captain’s Camp, Baker, Burton, Posada, NYCFC

The Captain's Campers. (Tyler Wade on Twitter)
The Captain’s Campers. (Tyler Wade on Twitter)

The Yankees are playing the Phillies this afternoon but there is no video broadcast of the game. Hard to believe not being able to watch a Spring Training game is the exception these days, not the rule. It wasn’t all that long ago when watching a spring game was a pipe dream. Anyway, I have some miscellaneous links and notes to pass along.

Denbo Creates “Captain’s Camp” For Top Prospects

Here’s a great story from Brendan Kuty. New player development head Gary Denbo created a six-week program this offseason called Captain’s Camp, which is designed to promote “quality character, accountability and respect for the game” in the team’s top prospects. The Yankees invited 15 of their top prospects to the first annual Captain’s Camp in Tampa back in January, and they took part in all sorts of team-building exercises, including visiting a children’s hospital.

“It kind of gave me an idea of what they want. How I should eat in the off-season to get ready for a long season. We got to talk to some big league guys who have done it before. They told us their personal experiences with it. You try to take a little bit from each person,” said Jacob Lindgren. Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, and Scott Rolen were among those who voluntarily came to the camp to meet and speak with the prospects. (Rolen and Denbo know each other from their time with the Blue Jays.) This is really great. Between this and some coaching/development personnel moves, Denbo’s done nice work since replacing Mark Newman in October.

Based on the photo and the article, the 15 prospects include Lindgren, Jake Cave, Ian Clarkin, Greg Bird, Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge, Gosuke Katoh, Leonardo Molina, Alex Palma, Nick Rumbelow, Luis Torrens, Matt Tracy, and Tyler Wade. So two are still unknown. The other two are Luis Severino and Jorge Mateo.

Baker, Burton Among Article XX(B) Free Agents

According to MLBTR, righties Scott Baker and Jared Burton are among this year’s Article XX(B) free agents as players signed to minor league contracts despite having more than six years of service time. The Yankees must pay Baker and Burton a $100,000 bonus at the end of Spring Training if they aren’t added to the 25-man active roster (or MLB disabled list). This isn’t a surprise, the Yankees knew both players would be Article XX(B) free agents when they signed them.

Burton’s minor league contract includes four opt-out dates throughout the season, which indicates the Yankees are prepared to pay him the $100,000 to send him to the minors. Chris Capuano‘s injury means Baker just might make the Opening Day roster as the long man and seventh reliever. The guy the Yankees can send out there and run into the ground for as many innings as necessary to spare the rest of the bullpen, then designate for assignment when Capuano is healthy a few weeks into the season. We’ll see how that last bullpen spot shakes out as the spring progresses.

Posada Memoir Coming In May

Jorge Posada has a memoir coming out! Keith Kelly says the memoir, which is titled “The Journey Home,” will hit bookstores on May 12. There will be both an English and Spanish version. It is described as a “father-son book” based Posada’s relationship with his father, Jorge Sr., and Joe Torre, who he “always regarded as a second father,” as well as his two children, Jorge and Paulina. It doesn’t sound like this will be sort of juicy behind-the-scenes tell-all story, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth reading.

The Yankees Stadium field earlier this week. (NY Daily News)
The Yankees Stadium field earlier this week. (NY Daily News)

Teixeira, Others Not Happy With Soccer Games At Yankee Stadium

As you know, the Yankees will share Yankee Stadium with the expansion New York City Football Club of Major League Soccer this summer. In fact, NYCFC is playing their first game at Yankee Stadium this afternoon. The MLS season runs through October and NYCFC will play a total of 17 games in the Bronx. More than one Yankees player is less than thrilled about the wear and tear on the field.

“It’ll definitely cause an issue, but it’s nothing that we can control, so we can’t worry about it … It’s terrible for a field. Grass, dirt, everything gets messed up,” said Mark Teixeira to Dan Barbarisi. Brendan Ryan told Barbarisi he’s going to change the way he approaches ground balls because of potential bad soccer-related hops. “I’m going to be selling out to go get that ball (and limit the bounces), and I’m going to err on that side much more.”

The Yankees have insisted they have a world class grounds crew and therefore have no concern about the condition of the field since it was first announced NYCFC would call Yankee Stadium home. Team president Randy Levine doubled down after Teixeira’s comments, telling Ken Davidoff the team is “very confident that both playing surfaces, through all of our planning, will be perfectly playable throughout the year.” Well, we’re going to find out one way or the other very soon.

Yankees to retire Nos. 20, 46, 51 this season, honor Willie Randolph with plaque in Monument Park

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Gosh. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

After about 24 hours of rumors, the Yankees have made it official this afternoon. Nos. 20, 46, and 51 will be retired this season in honor of Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Bernie Williams, the team announced. Willie Randolph will also be honored with a plaque in Monument Park. The Yankees didn’t say anything about Derek Jeter in the press release. His day is probably coming in 2016.

Here are the dates for the individual ceremonies this summer:

  • Williams: Sunday, May 24th
  • Randolph: Saturday, June 20th (Old Timers’ Day)
  • Posada: Saturday, August 22nd
  • Pettitte: Sunday, August 23rd

We heard Pettitte’s number was being retired yesterday, when his son Josh spilled the beans. Earlier today we heard Posada and Williams were “likely” to have their numbers retired as well. The Yankees retired Joe Torre’s No. 6 last year, and when they made the official announcement, they said Bernie would be honored in some way this season. Now we know the details.

It goes without saying Posada, Bernie, and Pettitte are all deserving of having their numbers retired. All three are borderline Hall of Famers — Williams has already fallen off the ballot, however, and I think Posada has a better chance of getting in than Pettitte, personally — and were linchpins during the most recent Yankees dynasty. They’re all homegrown, they were all star-caliber performers … what’s not to love about that?

(Getty)
(Getty)

As for Randolph, it’s about damn time he is being honored. He was a catalyst atop New York’s lineup from 1976-88 and is the franchise’s all-time leader in games (1,694) and WAR (53.6) by a second baseman. As I wrote during Retro Week two weeks ago, Randolph’s path to greatness was unique for his era — he was an on-base guy and a defense-first player — but he was he was great nonetheless. The team isn’t retiring his old No. 30 but a plaque is a fine honor.

Once Jeter’s No. 2 is inevitably retired in a year or two, the Yankees will have officially closed the book on the most recent dynasty and honored all the deserving members in some way. Mariano Rivera and Torre had their numbers retired the last two years and both Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill received plaques in Monument Park last year. Once No. 2 is taken out of circulation, it figures to be a while until another number is retired or another plaque is added to Monument Park.

Nos. 51, 20, and 46 will be the 18th, 19th, and 20th retired numbers in team history, respectively. Nos. 1 (Billy Martin), 3 (Babe Ruth), 4 (Lou Gehrig), 5 (Joe DiMaggio), 6 (Torre), 7 (Mickey Mantle), 8 (Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey), 9 (Roger Maris), 10 (Phil Rizzuto), 15 (Thurman Munson), 16 (Whitey Ford), 23 (Don Mattingly), 32 (Elston Howard), 37 (Casey Stengel), 42 (Rivera and Jackie Robinson), 44 (Reggie Jackson), 49 (Ron Guidry) are all retired.

Reports: Yankees “likely” to retire Nos. 51 and 20 soon

(Primera Hora)
(Primera Hora)

Over the weekend, word got out the Yankees are planning to retire No. 46 and honor Andy Pettitte with a plaque in Monument Park this August. According to both Mark Feinsand and Andrew Marchand, the team is also planning to honor Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada at some point and are “likely” to retire Nos. 51 and 20.

The Yankees retired Joe Torre’s No. 6 last year and also dedicated monuments to Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, and Goose Gossage. When they made those official announcements, the team said the “ceremonies are part of a recognition series that will include Bernie Williams in 2015,” so the Bernie news isn’t surprising. It’s unclear when Posada will be honored. Perhaps that won’t be until 2016.

Needless to say, both Williams and Posada are very deserving of having their numbers retired as homegrown star players, with Posada being a borderline Hall of Famer. (I’m not sure he’ll get in, but he has a case.) Both were key pieces of the most recent Yankees dynasty and all-around awesome players who helped create a generation of success for the franchise.

At some point soon the Yankees will retire No. 2 in honor of Derek Jeter. With Nos. 6 and 42 recently retired, Jeter, Pettitte, Bernie, and Posada are the team’s only obvious remaining candidates to have their numbers retired. (There’s zero chance No. 13 will be retired.) So while there are will be several ceremonies bunched together in the span of two or three years, they figure to be the last number retirement ceremonies for a while.

Jorge Posada, Jose Contreras sue financial managers after losing millions in alleged scam

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

According to Jorge Arangure, Jorge Posada and his wife Laura are suing Juan Carlos Collar and Anthony Fernandez of Quantum Ventures, LLC over “what they believe was a blatant and negligent mismanagement of funds.” The suit was recently filed in Miami. The Posadas were allegedly scammed out of approximately $11.2M. Ex-Yankee Jose Contreras is also suing Collar and Fernandez after losing more than $2M.

Posada entrusted his money to Collar and Fernandez way back in 1999, says Arangure. Collar and Fernandez “received all of the player’s mail, filed their tax returns, wrote checks for them, and were given the authority to make whatever investments they wanted” with Posada’s money. It wasn’t until Posada hired an independent investigator to audit his finances in 2010 that the wrongdoing was discovered. Here are the details of the scheme, from Arangure:

Shortly after founding Quantum in 2005, Collar and Fernandez formed a separate company to handle speculative real estate deals—Sunset Trails, LLC—into which they put $3 million of the Posadas’ money. But the $3 million didn’t ensure the Posadas any ownership of the properties Sunset Trails purchased. Instead, the money only entitled them to membership in the LLC. So the Posadas had no say in what happened with any purchase.

On July 28, 2005, Sunset Trails purchased a plot of land for $13.5 million for the purpose of “developing an elite equestrian-themed community for the wealthy,” according to Contreras’s complaint. Most peculiar was that Sunset Trails purchased the land from Southern Acres of Florida, LLC, who on that same day had purchased the land for $8,402,900. In less than a day, Southern Acres had made a $5,049,000 profit.

For example, both complaints outline that Quantum received a 1 percent management fee ($135,000) for Sunset Trails’ $13.5 million land purchase. Quantum also set up various conditions within the deal that gave them an even greater profit. For example, Quantum received the first 20 percent of all net profits. In total, Quantum was in a position to receive nearly 60 percent of all Sunset Trails earnings on the deal, a condition to which no independent company would have agreed upon. But Sunset Trails was not an independent company. Collar and Fernandez managed Sunset Trails.

Additionally, Fernandez served as the real estate agent on the deal, meaning he personally pocketed approximately $350,000 on the sale, according to Posada’s complaint.

“I’ve never heard of anything like that. It’s jaw dropping,” said Posada’s attorney to Arangure. “They would go to Jorge and they would have a stack of documents to sign, and they would just say ‘sign here,’ and Jorge would sign it. He completely trusted these guys with all of their finances. All of their money. Whatever the Posadas made, went directly into their accounts with these guys. That’s the kind of trust they had. The Posadas never in any way used other money managers, other investments. Everything was through these guys.”

The Sunset Trails land is currently being leased to a farmer and Posada’s money is still tied up in it. Collar and Fernandez will make nearly $750,000 in rent over the next five years. Because he was duped into being a member rather than an owner, Posada has no say in what happens to the property. Same with Contreras. Posada also invested over $8M into Quantum Hedge Fund, which invested in “risky, high leverage hedge funds.”

According to Baseball Reference, Posada banked more than $117M in player contracts during his time with the Yankees. That is before taxes and doesn’t include any endorsements or his MLBPA pension. Contreras made more than $67M during his time in MLB. Both lawsuits are set to go to trial next year.

The End of a Historic Era

(Maddie Meyer/Getty)
(Maddie Meyer/Getty)

I’ve never really been fond of the term “Core Four.” Not because it’s cheesy or because I hate pretty much everything, but because I feel it’s disrespectful to every other player who had a role in the dynasty years. I’m talking about guys like Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Paul O’Neill — the guys who were on the field celebrating Mariano Rivera‘s career yesterday. Even more recent players like Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano, and CC Sabathia deserve to be any kind of “core” talk.

The Core Four or whatever you want to call it is no more at this point. Jorge Posada retired two years ago and both Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte will play the final games of their careers within the next week. Derek Jeter is still hanging around and figures to return next year — I have a very, very, very hard time thinking he would go out with a disastrous 2013 being his final season — but otherwise all the on-field ties to the dynasty years are gone. Even if Jeter does return next season, it’s hard to think he’ll be the same player he was just last year, nevermind 1996-2001.

The homegrown core of those dynasty years is not something we’re ever going to see again. Not in our lifetimes. The collection of players who came up through the farm system in the 1990s was historic, more than once in a generation stuff. Just think about it this way: if you were building a team today, from scratch, what types of the players you would target to build around? In no particular order, they’d be:

  • A switch-hitter center fielder who hit for average, power, and got on base.
  • A switch-hitting catcher with power and patience.
  • An elite offensive shortstop who had all the intangibles associated with being a franchise cornerstone.
  • A workhorse left-handed starter.
  • A durable reliever who was unfazed in the biggest moments.

Those are the five guys you’d want to build your team around, right? Strength up the middle and strength on the mound. Now imagine not only drafting/signing and developing those five guys all at once, but imagine all of them having careers long enough that they turned into this:

  • A borderline Hall of Fame center fielder.
  • A borderline Hall of Fame catcher.
  • A first ballot Hall of Fame shortstop.
  • A borderline Hall of Fame left-hander.
  • A first ballot Hall of Fame closer and the greatest reliever in baseball history.

That’s the core that came up through the Yankees’ farm system all at once in the 1990s. It’s a historically great crop of players that you’d be thrilled to develop over the span of 25 years, nevermind in just five or six years. In recent memory, I think only the Phillies — Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels — come even remotely close to developing such a high-end core in the same period of time.

The development of that five-player core is not something the Yankees or anyone can repeat. You can’t fire that idiot Brian Cashman and replace him with that genius Gene Michael, wait five years, then have another core with those caliber of players. It doesn’t work like that. The Williams/Posada/Jeter/Pettitte/Rivera core is a combination of both great scouting and historic luck. I’ve been using the word historic a lot because that’s what this is. There’s no other way to describe these guys individually or as a five-player unit.

As amazing as that development was, you know what I find just as fascinating? With the exception of Jeter, all of those guys were dangerously close to being traded at one time or another. Bernie was rumored to be involved in separate deals for Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Jeff Blauser, among others. The Yankees originally wanted to include Posada in the Tino Martinez trade with the Mariners before relenting and giving up Russ Davis. Mariano was almost dealt for Randy Johnson, Felix Fermin, and David Wells at different times. Pettitte was on the trade block all throughout his first tenure in pinstripes it seemed, and the most notable rumor involved the Phillies and Adam Eaton. All it would have taken was one “yes” to dismantle the core of a dynasty.

Rivera and Pettitte saying goodbye to the Yankee Stadium crowd yesterday was about more than just saying goodbye to the fans. It was saying goodbye to one of the greatest runs in franchise history, a historic era that featuring five World Series titles and seven pennants in a 14-year span. We watched Jeter reach 3,000 career hits, Pettitte claim the team’s all-time strikeout crown, Bernie become the all-time leader in postseason RBI, Posada play in more playoff games than any other catcher in history, and Rivera save more games than anyone else in baseball history. It has been a privilege and an honor to watch all five of these guys — as well as anyone else who helped out during the dynasty years — but like everything else at one time or another, this great era of Yankees baseball has reached its end.

Posada to serve as Spring Training instructor; no plans for comeback

According to the AP, Jorge Posada is expected to be with the Yankees in Spring Training as a guest instructor. “They haven’t asked me yet, but they said they are going to,” said Posada while also acknowledging he doesn’t have any plans to get into coaching full-time. “Not right now … Maybe later. I like coaching, I like helping out, but I don’t see myself doing it right now.”

Posada, 41, retired last offseason and said he won’t be attempting a comeback a la Andy Pettitte. “No comeback for me,” he said. “I’m good with what I’m doing and I was happy with the decision I made last year around this time. I’m enjoying the family … I miss certain things about the game. You’re always going to miss certain things. I, obviously, miss my teammates the most.” The Yankees lack a DH at the moment but I take Jorge at his word and don’t expect him to return as a player. He was always a no-nonsense guy. Besides, Pettitte retired when it was obvious he had gas left in the tank. Posada looked done in 2011. Either way, I look forward to seeing him in camp this year.