Tag:Jorge Posada
Posted on: January 23, 2012 12:22 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 12:30 pm
 

Posada's Yankee career defined by wins and rings

The Yankees sent out a whole bunch of lists and numbers Monday, ahead of Tuesday's Jorge Posada retirement press conference.

The numbers are impressive (more doubles than Mickey Mantle, more home runs than Don Mattingly), and I'm sure we'll spend more time dissecting them in five years, when Posada shows up on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.

I'm more impressed by the wins and the rings.

I'm more impressed that through the better part of 17 years, Posada was catching regularly for a team that won championships. The Yankees won four World Series with him behind the plate, and they went 65-41 in postseason games that he started (a .613 winning percentage that would translate to 99 wins over 162 games).

Posada was rarely if ever considered the best catcher in the game. He started just two All-Star Games. Scouts (and some pitchers, writers and club executives) complained regularly about his defense, especially in his later years.

But somehow, the Yankees kept deciding he was their best option. Somehow, with Posada behind the plate, they kept winning.

His final season was a strange one, with the Yankees' never-fully-explained insistence that he could not catch under any circumstances, to the odd night when he removed himself from the lineup before a game against the Red Sox.

Then there was this winter, when the Yankees let him know they had no room for him, and Posada briefly entertained the idea of trying to play for another team.

And now he'll make his retirement official, at age 40, leaving the Yankees without ever playing for anyone else.

Fans complain often that players move around too much in modern baseball, that "you'll never see" stars staying with the same team for an entire career. But the fact is that you do see it, and the fact is that many players do end up feeling a sense of loyalty that makes it tough to ever leave the one organization they've known.

I remember Alan Trammell wrestling with it in his final years with the Tigers, and finally deciding that he couldn't see himself playing elsewhere.

Now we have Posada, who is sure to be joined by Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera as lifetime Yankees who never wore another uniform.

Posada will be defined by that, by his part in one of the best eras in the history of baseball's most successful franchise. He'll be defined by his part in it, by the championships he helped win.

I'm not ready to decide yet whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. I am ready to say that he leaves with a distinguished place in Yankee history.




Category: MLB
Posted on: September 21, 2011 11:31 pm
 

For the Yankees, one more great moment

Everywhere else, it seems, there are nervous moments.

For the Yankees, there are only great moments.

Maybe it won't be that way next month. Maybe the Yankee faults will show up, the rotation will be as fragile as it looks, and there will be disappointment in the Bronx.

For now, there are only nights like Wednesday.

Storybook nights.

The Yankees turned a foregone conclusion into something dramatic, but in the best possible way. They took a simple division-clinching game with a week to go in the season and turned it into theater.

And they found a way to give Jorge Posada his moment.

Incredible.

Posada has been the discarded Yankee all year, the disrespected Yankee. First they wouldn't let him catch, then they wouldn't even let him hit.

His biggest role was to celebrate with his friends, first for Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit and then for Mariano Rivera's 600th and record-setting 602nd save.

Then, suddenly and stunningly, the Yankees let Posada send them into the playoffs.

They sent him to the plate as a pinch hitter, with the bases loaded and the score tied in the eighth inning Wednesday night, and they watched him deliver the tie-breaking hit, sending them to a division-clinching 4-2 win over the Rays.

Of course.

Why not?

While the Red Sox struggle to hold off the Rays and now the Angels for the American League wild card, the Yankees have already won their 17th American League East title. For Posada, it's his 12th AL East crown he has been a part of, even if he has only been a small part of this one.

He was their starting catcher in the playoffs last year, but they told him in spring training that they didn't even want him to touch the equipment. He actually played second base this year before he caught.

He had the ugly night against the Red Sox, when he asked out of the lineup after manager Joe Girardi decided to bat him ninth. He had another tough night against the Red Sox, when Girardi let him know that he wasn't going to play much.

In 21 games this month, since rookie Jesus Montero was promoted to the big leagues, Posada has started just three of the 21 games the Yankees played. And yet, in the eighth inning Wednesday, Girardi chose Posada to pinch hit for Montero.

As CC Sabathia said Wednesday night on the YES network, plenty of people (and yes, I was one of them) said the Yankees wouldn't win the division because their rotation wasn't good enough.

So far, because of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon and rookie Ivan Nova, it has been.

Will it be good enough next month?

Plenty of people will say it won't be. Maybe this time, plenty of people will be right.

But in this year where the Yankees have been able to summon great moments seemingly at will, maybe there will be more.

Posted on: May 15, 2011 9:53 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 11:17 pm
 

A day later, Posada and the Yankees get it right

NEW YORK -- Apologizing was right, but it was also easy.

Accepting the apology was right, but easy.

Jorge Posada and the Yankees did their best Sunday to defuse a crisis that never should have been, and it's hard to argue with either side's second-day reaction.

Posada admitted he was wrong to ask out of the lineup because he was upset about batting ninth (even though he still hasn't admitted that's why he was upset). He apologized to his manager and his general manager, and he addressed the issue with emotion but with absolutely no venom.

"It's not about Jorge Posada," he said. "It's not about Joe Girardi. It's about the Yankees. I let some people down."

Obviously, it would have been better if Posada had said all that Saturday night. Obviously, it would have been better than that if he hadn't pulled himself from the game in the first place.

And obviously, it would have been better if Girardi and Brian Cashman hadn't messed with Posada by first insisting that he never, ever could catch, then by slapping him in the face by batting him ninth in a nationally televised game against the Red Sox, and finally by suggesting through "sources" that they would fine him or even try to void his contract.

There was none of that Sunday.

"Today's a new day," Cashman said. "We'd like to get the page turned."

At this point, it's reasonable to expect that Posada (who didn't start Sunday against left-hander Jon Lester, but received a huge ovation when he pinch hit in the eighth inning) will return to the lineup as soon as Tuesday night, when the Yankees face Rays right-hander James Shields (and maybe even Monday against lefty David Price). At this point, you'd have to think Posada will accept batting ninth, publicly and privately, if that's what Girardi asks him to do."

Consider this page turned.

And the question on the next page: Was a lesson learned?

Posada isn't the Yankees' only fading star. Even if there are no more Posada issues (and there will be, if he doesn't significantly improve his .165 average), the Yankees will face similar questions as they deal with the declines of Derek Jeter, and eventually Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and perhaps even Mariano Rivera.

Girardi addressed this Sunday, saying, "I'm managing some Yankees that have had great careers and are aging in front of us. And there's no manual on that."

He's right. There's no manual.

But if there was, it sure wouldn't tell you to handle it the way the Yankees handled Posada.

It might, however, tell you to do exactly as Posada and the Yankees did Sunday.

That was easy.




Category: MLB
Posted on: May 15, 2011 6:12 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 11:19 pm
 

Posada apologizes, and Yankees accept it

NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada apologized to Yankees manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman on Sunday, putting an end to the latest crisis in the Bronx.

For now, anyway.

The Yankees announced early in Sunday's game against the Red Sox that Posada won't be disciplined for pulling himself out of the lineup Saturday, apparently in response to Girardi's decision to bat him ninth. They said they now consider the matter closed.

Posada, Girardi and Cashman were all conciliatory in their comments Sunday, and Girardi suggested that Posada will be back in the lineup soon. Posada did not start Sunday night against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, but Girardi indicated that was because of Posada's awful numbers against lefties (0-for-24 this year), rather than because of Saturday's incident.

Posada pinch hit in the eighth inning, drawing a walk against Daniel Bard after receiving a huge ovation from the Yankee Stadium fans.

Posada took full blame for what happened Saturday, when he went to Girardi about an hour before gametime and said that he couldn't play. Girardi had posted a lineup with Posada batting ninth, the first time he would have hit in that spot in 12 years.

"Everybody has a bad day," Posada said. "I just had one [Saturday]. It's just one of those days you hope you can take back."

Posada's wife went on Twitter during Saturday's game and blamed back stiffness for Posada's absence from the lineup, but Posada admitted Sunday that while he did "tweak" his back before the game, it was simply an "excuse" for pulling himself out of the lineup.

And while Posada refused to say he took the action simply because he was batting ninth, he never gave any other reason for doing it.

"Sometimes, frustration just comes out," he said.

Girardi insisted that he didn't bat Posada ninth to embarrass him, and he refused to address where Posada will hit the next time he plays. He also wouldn't address the question of how long the Yankees can stay with Posada, waiting for him to start hitting.

"I believe he's going to turn it around," Girardi said.

He hasn't yet. Posada entered play Sunday batting just .165 in 32 games.

Posada went into Girardi's office to meet with him Sunday afternoon, then later met with Cashman after batting practice. Cashman relayed through a team spokesman that he had then briefed Yankee ownership.

"We'd like to get the page turned," Cashman said, even before meeting with Posada.

Meanwhile, the Yankee Stadium bleacher creatures saluted Posada during the first inning Sunday, calling out "Jorge! Jorge!" after their traditional roll call.

Posted on: May 15, 2011 12:05 am
 

Yanks have mishandled Posada, in every way

You don't embarrass your stars, even when they're fading.

You don't slap your stars in the face, even when they're wrong.

Jorge Posada was wrong to ask out of the lineup, from everything we can tell from Saturday's madness at Yankee Stadium. But the Yankees have been wrong on Posada all year.

They've mishandled this in almost every way possible, and it makes you wonder even more how the next 2 1/2 years will go with Derek Jeter.

And don't think Jeter hasn't noticed what the Yankees have done to his friend.

What exactly did they do?

First, they told him he would never, under any circumstances, catch so much as an inning -- or even a bullpen session. They had Gustavo Molina (.228 career batting average) catch three games, just so they could avoid putting Posada behind the plate. On opening day, manager Joe Girardi said that Posada would "probably" be his emergency catcher, ahead of utility infielder Eduardo Nunez.

Then, on Saturday, Girardi put the struggling Posada in the ninth spot in the batting order, for the first time in 12 years. Even with Posada's .165 average this year, it was such a drastic move that the only reason to do it would be to embarrass him.

Benching him would have been a better option. Tell everyone -- and tell him -- that you think he needs a few days away.

Don't drop him to ninth, on national television, with the Red Sox in town. Not unless your goal is to embarrass him.

I checked with a few people in baseball Saturday night, asking for their thoughts. And their thoughts were the same as my thoughts.

"To Posada, who has had a great career, it's a personal slap in the face to hit ninth," said one former big-league manager. "Hit [Brett] Gardner ninth. Girardi has to understand that Posada's got more friends on that team than [Girardi] does."

Yes, I know, Posada said publicly -- before and after the game -- that hitting ninth wasn't an issue, and that it wasn't why he asked out of the lineup.

I remember another proud player saying that being dropped in the batting order didn't bother him, then going up to the plate and telling everyone he would take three straight strikes (which he did).

My guess is that tempers will cool down and that Girardi and Posada will come to some sort of understanding, and that if Posada starts hitting he'll keep playing.

Girardi seemed to be heading in that direction after the game (a 6-0 loss to the Red Sox that dropped the Yankees out of a playoff position), to the point of saying that Posada told him in their brief pregame meeting that he just "needed a day."

"Sometimes we need a day to clear our head, and take a deep breath," Girardi said.

Posada also seemed to be heading towards mending fences. He also used the line about "needing time," although he inexplicably brought up the idea that his back was stiff.

But he also said, "I still want to be here. I love playing, and I love playing for this organization."

Posada saved his venom for general manager Brian Cashman, complaining that Cashman would choose to go on television to discuss the situation during the game.

"That's the way he works right now," Posada said.

Fortunately, a player-GM relationship isn't crucial, as the Rangers will tell you. Has it hurt them one bit that Michael Young doesn’t like Jon Daniels?

Yes, Young is hitting .351, not .165. But it's also true that Rangers manager Ron Washington has already had Young start 13 games in the field.

How a manager handles his stars, fading or otherwise, is absolutely crucial, because every other player in the clubhouse is watching. It's why Red Sox manager Terry Francona consistently stood behind David Ortiz during Ortiz's horrid starts the last two years.

Francona did drop Ortiz as far as seventh in the order, but he made sure Ortiz knew he was appreciated.

It's no surprise that it was Ortiz who said Saturday of the Yankees and Posada (according to the Boston Herald): "They're doing that guy wrong."

Ortiz is right, even if in this instance, Posada was wrong.

The Yankees have been doing that guy wrong.

He may be a fading star, but he's still a star.

And you don't embarrass your stars, even when they're fading.


Category: MLB
Posted on: May 13, 2011 11:26 pm
 

Nearly 40 games in, Yanks and Sox remain a puzzle

NEW YORK -- It's a little disconcerting to hear the manager of the Yankees openly hoping that a series with the Red Sox would "bring out the best" in his team.

And almost as disconcerting to hear the manager of the Red Sox admit that the Sox are "still taking one step forward and one step back."

But that's where we are in the American League East, perilously close to the 40-game mark that is supposed to define teams, but without much definition at all about the sport's two superpowers.

We're at a point where one rival scout could walk away from Friday's 5-4 Boston win and declare, "The Yankees are in trouble," but also at a point where that sounds needlessly harsh.

What seems more reasonable is to say that these are two very talented teams with very big issues -- but not necessarily season-killing issues.

The issues have allowed the Rays to sneak into first place, which just adds to the questions about both the Yankees and the Red Sox.

On one side:

-- It really does feel like the Red Sox follow every step forward with a step back. But maybe it feels more like that because even though the Red Sox have followed their 2-10 start by going 16-10 since (basically a 100-win pace over a full season), their overall record is still disappointing.

-- John Lackey's problems are a real issue. It's obvious he's distracted, and easy to believe that a family medical issue is the reason. The Red Sox understandably want to be compassionate, and Lackey apparently wants to pitch through the trouble, but the time may be coming when the team tells him that it's best not to.

-- The Sox have consistently stood behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and even on Friday general manager Theo Epstein spoke of the improvement he sees. But the Sox are getting less offense from the catcher spot than any team but the Joe Mauer-less Twins, and rival scouts are suggesting that Saltalamacchia's game-calling skills are hurting the pitching staff (along with his inability to throw out runners trying to steal).

On the other side:

-- The Yankees haven't hit well this week, and every time they struggle at the plate, someone says they're too old. The daily Derek Jeter questions have slowed after he got a few hits, but now there are daily questions about Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. Are they old or simply slumping? By the end of the year, maybe we'll know.

-- The rotation has been somewhat better than advertised, despite the Phil Hughes saga. But even with another encouraging start from Bartolo Colon Friday, you wonder how long Colon and Freddy Garcia will hold up, and who will be next in line if they don't?

-- The answer to the rotation questions was supposed to be a shutdown bullpen, but the road to Mariano Rivera is still paved with questions. Rafael Soriano hasn't yet been worth the money, and Joba Chamberlain is at times brilliant ("Best I've ever seen him," one scout said Friday afternoon) and at other times his usual puzzle (three huge hits, including a Kevin Youkilis home run, in Friday's decisive seventh inning).

Put it all together, and you start to understand why neither of these teams is in first place, why Joe Girardi was hoping for a Red Sox-fueled revival this weekend, and why Terry Francona was admitting that his Sox team is "certainly not clicking on all cylinders."

Forty games won't be enough to get a true handle on either of these teams.

Check back after 80.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 7:16 pm
 

Despite .145 start, Dunn 'all-in' as Sox DH

NEW YORK -- In his first year as a full-time designated hitter, Adam Dunn is hitting .145. He has two hits, and 15 strikeouts, in his last 30 at-bats.

Maybe there's a connection there, especially for a guy who for a long time said he didn't want to be a DH.

Dunn doesn't accept that.

"It's a learning experience, but it's something I want to be good at," he said Monday. "It's a learning process, and I'm committed. I'm going to be good at it."

It may be that Dunn's slump is more related to the appendectomy that cost him seven days in early April than it is to his new role. In the four games he played before the appendectomy, Dunn was 4-for-14 with a home run and five RBI.

But Dunn admitted that the transition to DH isn't easy, and said he's still trying to develop a routine that works for him.

He's not alone. Dunn is one of four AL players adjusting to a DH role for a first time, and perhaps it's no coincidence that he and the Yankees' Jorge Posada (.153) entered play Monday with the fourth- and fifth-worst batting averages for players with 60 or more plate appearances.

Meanwhile, Victor Martinez was hitting .250 when he went on the disabled list with the Tigers, while Michael Young is off to a fast start (.356, 12 RBI) with the Rangers.

In any case, Dunn said, he has no regrets about signing as a DH.

"I'm committed," he said. "I'm all-in."


 
 
 
 
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