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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Montero’

Hal and Hank Steinbrenner (Hal is on the left)

The Daily News reported this morning that the Steinbrenner family may have the Yankees up for sale.

“Rumors are flying in Major League Baseball and New York banking circles that the family that has owned Major League Baseball’s premiere franchise since Cleveland shipbuilder George Steinbrenner purchased the club for $8.8 million in 1973 is exploring the possibility of selling the Yankees.”

Later this morning, the Yanks issued a flat denial. Via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:

“‘I just learned of the Daily News story. It is pure fiction,’ (Hal) Steinbrenner said in a statement. ‘The Yankees are not for sale. I expect that the Yankees will be in my family for many years to come.'”

Is this a case of the Daily News, forever locked in a back-page battle with the New York Post, creating a story to spur readership? Or are the Yankees actually on the block? If this were any other tabloid, my gut would be to dismiss the story outright. But this one has Bill Madden in the byline, and over the years I’ve come to respect Mr. Madden’s ability to unearth behind-the-scenes information. So…

The answer may not lie in the perceived value of the Yankees franchise, currently reported to be around $3 billion. Instead, it might be better to examine the current ownership group for any signs they may want out of the baseball business. The two principles, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, are near polar opposites in terms of their personalities. Hank is much more the fan and fiery competitor. Like George, he also has something of a mercurial temperament – this is the son who lambasted the NL for not having the DH, called out Derek Jeter for building a mansion in Tampa, and stoked the Yankee – Red Sox rivalry by memorably deriding “Red Sox Nation.” Hank even looks more like his father than his brother. Hal, on the other hand, is far more concerned with the bottom line. Hal once referred to himself as a “finance geek.” While it should be obvious to anyone that while he may have been one, I can’t ever picture the bombastic George referring to himself that way.

There is also the fact that Hal is beginning to realize that while Hank was probably overzealous in giving Alex Rodriguez a ten year, $260 million extension going into his age 33 season, his preferred method of building from within isn’t exactly as easy as Gene Michael made it look in the 1990’s. None of the top prospects he anticipated being part of the team’s core by now – Phil Hughes, Jesus Montero, Eduardo Nunez, Dellin Betances, Austin Romine, Ian Kennedy and Manny Banuelos – has been able to establish themselves as major leaguers. Of that list, only Hughes is a regular contributor; Montero and Kennedy are now elsewhere, Nunez is back in the minors and Betances, Romine and Banuelos have been plagued by inconsistency and injury while in the high minors. He understands that the Yankee fan base won’t stand for losing. In order to keep the seats filled at Yankee Stadium (and ad revenue on the YES Network peaking), he needs a winning product on the field. At the same time, Hal has made it a goal to have payroll below the anticipated $189 million luxury-tax threshold by the 2014 season – a season in which the Yankees already have $75 million in salary committed to four players and will likely be well over $100 million if they decide to resign any combination of Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Ivan Nova, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin.

While I find it hard to believe that Hank would be willing to part ways with the Yankees, it isn’t hard to see Hal wanting to leave the circus and go home to heading Steinbrenner Properties. If this season’s on-the-field troubles continue, I suspect Hal may begin earnestly looking for a way out. He’ll be pressured to do something that really doesn’t work well in the New York market: find inexpensive talent to replace popular (and productive) players jettisoned for contract reasons. He got to preview the way a frugal owner gets treated in the situation when negotiating Derek Jeter’s contract last year. Imagine him playing hardball over money with Cano and Granderson, two popular players entering their prime and the resulting back page fallout from that.

The big question is whether the rest of the family trusts Hank to run the financial side of the team and keep his temper in check. Those of us old enough to remember George Steinbrenner from the 1980’s shudder a bit at the thought of Hank reprising that role. Still, if Hal actually does want out (that $3 billion price tag is awfully enticing to a “numbers guy”), I can see the family giving Hank first shot at forming a new ownership group. It would certainly be interesting, in an All My Children kind of way.

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The long-awaited September call-up of top Yankees hitting prospect, Jesus Montero has finally come. Joe Girardi has slotted him in the lineup tonight against Boston Red Sox as the designated hitter. It’s will be interesting to see Jorge Posada’s reaction to being pulled off the playoff roster if Montero puts on a clinic this September.

Montero will be donning the No. 63 on his uniform.

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For the past 2 ½ seasons, we Yankee fans have been on the Jesus Montero hype train, with appetites whetted by amazing tales of baseballs launched into orbit by the 21 year old phenom’s bat. Last season, we were shocked when we learned that Montero was nearly sent to Seattle for Cliff Lee. I think the shock was even more palpable when we discovered the reason the deal fell through wasn’t Yankee reservations about dealing the stud prospect. It was Brian Cashman‘s reluctance to send along Eduardo Nunez.

Still, entering this past offseason, the general assumption was that Montero would be joining the Yanks for 2011, sharing catching duties with Jorge Posada and perhaps Francisco Cervelli. Instead, Cashman signed Russell Martin. Martin has been solid this season – especially defensively. And that’s where the story of Jesus Montero seems to constantly wind up – with his defense, or rather, lack of defense. We all watched Jesus demonstrate how not to play catcher during Spring Training and further solidify the case that Montero actually projects to more of a Victor Martinez type – good bat, but his best defensive position is the bench.

And if that’s the case, he becomes a luxury for most teams: in the NL, he has nowhere to play. In the AL, he locks up the DH spot.

To make matters worse, the occasional rumors about his mental make-up seem to be holding true. He was recently benched for “attitude problems.” He seems to be taking his defensive struggles and expectations into his at-bats. So far at AAA this year, he’s hitting .283 with only a .747 OPS – or around 125 points lower than last year. More worrisome, his strike out percentage is higher: 22% this year from 17.7% last season while his power numbers are way down. Last year, he homered once every 24 plate appearances. This year, it’s once every 44. It has to concern the Yankees that this supreme talent may not be able to get his head into the game.

We’re now a year later and already Montero’s name has come up in trade rumors. Once again, the Yankees seem more willing to deal him than other top-flight prospects – and he recently dropped out of the top five baseball prospects for the first time since 2009. The organization obviously has reservations about his ability at the big league level, otherwise we wouldn’t have Cervelli on the ML roster. (Or Martin, for that matter). If he survives the trade season still wearing Baby Pinstripes, he will need to perform over the second half of the season and then show something in September with the big club. If not, I suspect will be gone this offseason in some package or another. And we’ll remember Montero the way we remember other über prospects who were never able to realize their full potential, from Ken Phelps to Roberto Kelly.

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On his blog, Bryan Hoch reports that in the greatest upset since the St. Louis Browns 1944 World Series win, neither Jesus Montero nor Austin Romine will break camp with Yankees. Instead, the backup catcher (at least for now) is Gustavo Molina. In other news, the primary back-up infielder for the past two years, Ramiro Pena, is on his way to Scranton. His roster spot is taken by Eduardo Nunez.

You can read all the details here.

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As we head into the homestretch of Spring Training, many fans are wondering which of the Yankees highly touted prospects will make the team. My best guess is that only two will be on the Opening Day roster – and one won’t be the guy everyone seems to think. Here’s a quick run-down, beginning with pitchers and catchers.

Pitchers – Coming into camp, there were six youngsters on the radar. All have demonstrated that they’ll be in the majors someday and a few have shown glimpses of top of the rotation talent.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Lomoglio

Dellin Betances: Headed to AA Trenton. Although he impressed at times, those moments were mostly in the early spring. As the competition began to stiffen, his lack of command and inexperience began to show. Don’t worry, though. He has all the tools to be an ace one day. My best guess is he gets a cup of coffee in 2012 and is a full time Yankee in 2013.

Manny Banuelos: See above, although he’s shown more poise. He may actually fast track to the boogie down faster than Betances; he has better command of more pitches at this stage and he’s left-handed.

Andrew Brackman: Remember how Randy Johnson frustrated the Expos early in his career, as his 6’10” frame got completely out of kilter with men on base? Brackman is at that stage now. He throws hard and has a wicked breaking ball, but his mechanics need a lot of fine tuning. He’s headed for AA Scranton, but we may see him in pinstripes sooner than the other Killer B’s.

Ivan Nova: Yankee fans, meet your number 4 starter. It isn’t official yet, but he has proven himself capable this spring. He is combining a plus fastball with a “cut-slider” and improved change to make hitters look foolish at times.

Adam Warren, David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell: All three are proving that they may be serviceable as middle of the rotation or relief type pitchers. A lot of teams would drool at this trio, but with the Yankees, they’re merely trade pieces.

Catchers – Most teams have trouble finding one young catcher. The Yankees have 3 kids who are pushing for a MLB spot. The back-up spot on the Yankee roster will be open until early May with Francisco Cervelli’s injury. Which one goes north?

Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero: The kid can hit, but his defense…well, no one is going to confuse him with Thurman Munson just yet. I really hope the Yanks send him back to AAA to start the year – to allow him to play every day and work on it. Catcher is still a defense-first position and having an all-offense catcher isn’t a luxury the team can afford. I suspect that the manager understands that, having been a catcher during his MLB career.

Austin Romine: The most polished defensively of the trio, his odds of being the heir to Jorge Posada are pretty low. By bringing him north and letting him play 2-3 times a week, he can show off those skills and hopefully hit well enough that the Yanks can set him up as a big-time trade piece – or that he plays so well that Cervelli winds up on the trading block. He is good enough to start for about 20 teams right now, including a few with hopes of contending.

Gary Sanchez: With only 47 pro games under his belt, the 18 year old is near the top of Baseball America‘s Top 100 prospect list. He is still at least two, and more likely four, years away from being ready for the majors. But if the scouts are right, this kid is the next coming of Johnny Bench.

Coming tomorrow, I’ll look at the minor league infielders and outfielders trying to make the Opening day roster.

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 Jesus Montero #83 Of The New York Yankees Works

Francisco Cervelli fractured a bone in his foot and will be out for at least four weeks, leaving the backup catching position wide open for Jesus Montero. Yankees fans have anticipated his arrival at the major league level for a while now, but he won’t be handed the job. He’ll have to battle it out with Austin Romine during spring training, but he’ll definitely be the favorite to take the job. According to Bryan Hoch, there is no plans for Jorge Posada to strap on the gear and will remain the team’s designated hitter.

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Andy speaks to reporters / Courtesy NY Times

For some reason, a large number of Yankee fans were surprised by the news that Andy Pettitte decided to call it a career. Mr. Mailbag’s inbox is overflowing with questions; I figured this is as good a time to answer them as any.

Dr. Mr. Mailbag,

Since Andy isn’t returning this year, does this mean the Yankees season is doomed?

Sincerely, Afraid

Well, afraid…in a word, no. Even if everything stands pat, the current rotation isn’t as bad as everyone seems to think. The line-up should be actually be better than last year’s. Boston did improve their team, but Tampa Bay is much worse. And if we’ve learned one thing about the Yankees in the Steinbrenner era, the Yankees won’t stand pat if the team needs something come mid-season. Barring a sudden surge by a surprise team, the Yankees should wind up in the playoffs in 2011.

Mr. Mailbag:

How can I live without Andy? The Yankees just won’t be the same without him!

-Crying in my pillow

Well, Crying, you’re not alone. I’ve seen a lot of these in the last 24 hours. I understand that to a certain generation of Yankees fans – pretty much those under the age of 30 – Andy is the starting pitcher of record. But you should understand that what makes the Yankees the most successful franchise in sports history is the way this team replaces great players with other great players. If you’re of the current generation, you probably find it hard to understand how fans of my generation can hold such high regard for Thurman Munson or Chris Chambliss. (To me, Chambliss’ homer in the ’76 ALCS is still the most thrilling Pinstripe moment I’ve ever witnessed). For fans of my father’s generation, it was Mickey Mantle. And on through time it goes, back for 90 years, to the time of the Babe and Lou. There’s a crop of talented players making their way up from the minors now; guys named Betances, Banuelos, Brackman, Montero, and a whole bunch more. Andy Pettitte can’t necessarily be replaced anymore than Munson could. But other great players will come along who will carve out their own dynasties. It’s the Yankee way.

Dear Mr. Mailbag,

How many ballots will it take for Andy Pettitte to get into the Hall of Fame? If it takes more than one, It’s a damn shame!

-A Yankee in Texas

Well, Texas… I hate to break it to you, but Andy probably isn’t getting into the Hall of Fame. He has a borderline case: in his favor, he did finish his career 102 games over .500; right now, only one other pitcher with a similar number isn’t enshrined (oddly, former teammate Mike Mussina). But when compared to the other pitchers of his era; well, his numbers don’t particularly stack up well. His career ERA is higher than that of non-HOF candidates like Kevin Brown, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Al Leiter. If anything, Andy should root really, really hard for Mike Mussina to get a HOF nod – because their final career numbers are eerily similar. In fact, Mussina’s are better than Pettitte’s (higer ERA+, more strikeouts, wins, complete games, higher winning percentage and lower OPS allowed), so you can bet if Mussina doesn’t get in, Pettitte won’t. Plus, Pettitte has the whole PED’s issue hanging over his career. I don’t think in the grand scheme of things it will make a huge difference, but if he’s close and that negatively influences a couple of voters…well, you get the idea.

Dear Mr. Mailbag,

When are the Yankees going to retire #46?

-A Huge Andy Fan

Um, Probably never. Was Andy an important cog in the past 5 championships? Yes. Does that mean he’ll get his number retired? No. Consider how many players from the 90’s dynasty have their numbers hanging on the outfield wall. Bernie Williams? Tino Martinez? David Cone? Paul O’Neill? Each was as integral to those championships as Pettitte; each as beloved in the Bronx as Andy – and none has their number retired. I strongly suspect that unless a player winds up in the Hall of Fame, their number will remain in circulation.

Mr. Mailbag,

Why did Andy Pettitte retire? The Yankees need him!

-Alarmed in the Bronx

Well, alarmed, as Andy said this morning, his heart just isn’t in it anymore. If you’ve watched Andy pitch over the past 5 years, then you know he’s gotten by mostly on heart. His once overpowering cut fastball doesn’t have the life it once did and neither do his secondary pitches. Perhaps more importantly for an athlete his age, he doesn’t have the drive to overcome injury – and a 38 year old pitcher is likely to step out on the mound with a nagging injury as not. Given his current state of mind, he’s making the right decision. Based on physical ability, he’s probably still better than Sergio Mitre. But without that competitive fire, Andy Pettitte would finish his career reminding Yankee fans why we hated Kevin Brown.

That’s it for now. These are representative of the most common questions I’ve seen. Somehow, I’m sure there will be more over the weekend, so stay tuned! Oh, and if you have one, feel free to shoot it out to me at Twitter or Facebook!


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The Yankees have been busy since Cliff Lee stunned the baseball world and retreated to the quiet confines of Citizen’s Bank Park, home of those welcoming Philadelphia types. (Unless you happen to be Santa Clause, that is). After devoting the entire offseason plan to signing Lee, you couldn’t really blame Brian Cashman and company if they didn’t have a plan B. But, much to my amazement and joy, they did! And they didn’t waste any time whatsoever in implementing it!

It seems plan B consists of signing every retread and injury-prone player still available. First, they landed their big-name pitcher in Mark Prior. Who cares if Prior hasn’t thrown a ML pitch in 4 years and has a history of shoulder ailments dating back 7 seasons? He was once one of the best right-handed starters in the majors. Then, virtually in tandem with signing Prior, the Yankees swooped in and grabbed C Russell Martin. Who cares if Jesus Montero is waiting in the wings to prove why he’s one of the 5 best prospects in MLB? The Yankees just signed a catcher who lost 1/2 of 2010 to hip surgery; a guy who once was an All-Star for the Dodgers but had played so well over the past three seasons that they flat out released him. To address a leaky bullpen, today the Yanks signed Pedro Feliciano, formerly of the Mets. Ok, so, he’s thrown in a ML leading 408 games over the past 5 years, but he’s only 34. Oh…right.

In defense of the signings, each does bring something positive – Martin does have a history of throwing out runners (2nd best percentage in baseball since he broke in). Prior is one of those low-risk, high-reward types; if he can throw effectively and recapture some of his early magic, he beats anything the Yankees currently have lined up for the end of the rotation. And Feliciano is a lefty-specialist who was put into bad situations over the past two years by Jerry Manuel. Nobody has been better at keeping LH hitters off base over the past three seasons.

But each also brings questions, and not just about durability. Can Martin still move behind the plate to be an effective defensive catcher? And potentially relegating Montero to the bench certainly won’t endear him to many who bleed Pinstripes – after all, we’ve been salivating at the thought of watching him launch moonshots for 3 years now. Will Feliciano be nearly as effective in the AL East, particularly against the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Nick Markakis and Carl Crawford?

In the meantime, the biggest questions surrounding the 2011 Yankees have yet to be addressed: starting pitching, a quality set-up reliever, outfield and infield depth.

Plenty of rumours continue to swirl around the team, especially when it comes to starters. Zach GreinkeFausto CarmonaCarlos Zambrano and Felix Hernandez have all been mentioned as potential trade targets. Greinke and Carmona are probably far-fetched possibilities; both have team friendly contracts with teams that are looking to bring in an entire farm system in return. While Jack Zduriencek is known for trading, you can reasonably expect that he’ll want a kings ransom in return for King Felix (after all, he did just win a Cy Young for a last place team). Zambrano may be easier to get, but his temper amy be more destructive than his ability to win 20 games. And of course, we all wait on Andy Pettitte’s decision on whether or not to come back for a 17th season.

Infield rumors were centered on Bill Hall and Jeff Keppinger. There are reports that Hall just signed with Houston, which would seemingly make Keppinger an easier get. But really, is Keppinger that much of an upgrade over Ramiro Pena? Certainly not defensively – and his bat doesn’t make up the difference. As far as RH relievers and OF go, there hasn’t been any action to speak of. On the relief front, time is getting short. With Bobby Jenks, Matt  Guerrier, Jesse Crain, J.J. Putz, Matt Albers, Kerry Wood and Joaquin Benoit already signing elsewhere, there aren’t many proven relievers left on the market. Thus far, nobody has even whispered what the Yankees plan to give their OF some depth. MLBTR has a listing of the available free agents here: there are some intriguing names on the list (including old friends Eric Hinske, Austin Kearns and Johnny Damon).

It’s only December, so Cashman gets an incomplete on this years offseason. But March is coming quickly and the most glaring problems – the ones that sent the Yankees home to watch this year’s World Series – remain, while players who could fill those voids are signing elsewhere. Heck, it was even reported that the Yankees no longer have the game’s highest payroll, a testament not only to Boston’s spending but to Cashman’s not spending.

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Yesterday, the Yankees made their first move of the Hot Stove Season.

Was it signing Derek Jeter? No, although there are numerous reports today of them officially offering the Captain a 3 year, $45 million contract.

Was it signing Mariano Rivera or coaxing Andy Pettitte from the brink of retirement? No, again.

The Yankees traded Juan Miranda to Arizona for Scott Allen.

We’re all pretty familiar with Miranda at this point. A regular call-up over the past three seasons, the first baseman posted a .788 OPS over 94 plate appearances. A lefty swinger with some power (25.3 AB/HR) in the minors, Miranda was hopelessly blocked at the major league level by the logjam that is Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada and Jesus Montero. Because of his frequent trips on the SWB Shuttle, Miranda is out of options: come April 1, the Yankees were faced with two choices; either waive him or keep him on the 25 man roster. So, the Yankees needed to do something to get value in return – even if they were dealing from behind the 8 ball. Here’s hoping the 27 year old Miranda gets a chance to play regularly in Arizona.

In Allen, the Yanks get a 19 year-old left handed pitcher who hasn’t exactly wowed scouts at any level. An 11th  round pick in the 2009 draft, he’s posted a 1.3 WHIP and 8.9 k/9 in 95 minor league innings. Did I mention he’s left-handed? And only 19? So there is a chance for some upside with this trade.

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A bit late on this, but Baseball America has released the New York Yankees Top 10 Prospects for 2011. And here it is:

1. Jesus Montero
2. Gary Sanchez
3. Dellin Betances
4. Manny Banuelos
5. Andrew Brackman
6. Austin Romine
7. Hector Noesi
8. Eduardo Nunez
9. Slade Heathcott
10. Brandon Laird

No real surprises on the list. Montero ranking #1 makes sense, considering he could very well be holding the starting catcher position out of Spring Training at the start of next season. As you can tell by the list, some prospects have made considerable improvements. Sanchez (#7 in ’10) and Brackman (#10 in ’10) have moved up the ranks. The thing that has to catch your eye is Dellin Betances ranking #3 on this list. It just shows how good of a year he’s had, considering he was left off the top 10 list all together in 2010.

With Zach McAllister and Arodys Vizcaino leaving the team, it opened up some new spots for other propsects. New additions to this year’s list include: Noesi, Nunez and Laird.   (more…)

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Second in a series

Yesterday, I covered the current state of the Yankees front office and coaching staff. Today, let’s look at the players often referred to as the “Core Four”: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite and Jorge Posada. They’re called the Core Four for good reason. The Yankees have, over the past 15 years, won five World Series and seven AL pennants – and these players have been integral parts of all of them. Significant? Prior to the Core Four’s arrival in 1996 (Posada had a cup of coffee in ’96), the team hadn’t won anything since 1981. It’s likely that these players will go into Yankees lore alongside the great Yankee dynasties of the 20’s, 30’s 40’s and 50’s. All are aging now and three of them are free agents – but it’s almost impossible to imagine a Yankees team without them. That leaves the front office in a quandary: how to address the Core Four going forward.

Derek Jeter: The Captain is the face of the franchise. He holds the Yankee franchise record for career hits and 200 hit seasons and is on the cusp of doing something nobody has ever done in pinstripes: collect his 3,000th career hit. From the iconic dive into the stands aganst the Red Sox, to his backhanded flip to nail Jason Giambi in the 2001 Divisional Series to the improbable Jeffrey Maier home run, it seems Jeter has been a part of every Yankee memory since his arrival in 1996.

As hard as it is to fathom, Jeter is 36 and will be 37 in June. He enters free agency coming off what might be his worst all-around season in the big leagues, with career lows in batting average (.270), slugging (.370) and on-base percentage (.340). He also banged into 22 double-plays in 2010 and only stole 18 bases. In the field, Jeter logged his most innings at shortstop since 2007 – and the results weren’t pretty, with decreasing range as the months went along. While it is unfathomable that the Yankee brass would shove Jeter out the door, there are two very real issues with resigning him. The first is how much do you pay an 11 time all-star and future Hall of Famer, who has meant more to your team than any other player over the past twenty years – and how long do you pay him? Jeter is coming off a contract that paid him in excess of $120 million over the past 6 years; it seems likely he’ll see the same average annual salary, but my guess is it will only be for 3 years and with some of the money deferred. The other question is how the Yankees approach asking Jeter to give up his death grip on short – and where/when they move him. Left field seems out of the question, with Brett Gardner there now (and the very real possibility of Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth signing this offseason). Jeter has never wanted to move to second, and Robinson Cano is there, anyway. Third is manned by Alex Rodriguez. The most likely scenario has Jeter the regular shortstop through 2011 – let’s face it, there aren’t any real replacements in the system, anyway – and potentially moving to splitting time at short with a young SS and DH with Jesus Montero after that.

Mariano Rivera: Who is the greatest failed starting pitcher in major league history?

The longest tenured of the Core Four, most fans forget he came up in 1995 as a string bean skinny starting pitcher with a good fastball, but not much else. And he got hit hard, posting a 5.51 ERA that year. If for no other reason, Joe Torre
deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for moving him into the bullpen in 1996, as John Wetteland‘s set-up man. By ’97, Rivera was the closer – and the definition of the role changed forever after the move. Unlike Jeter or Posada, Mo shows few signs of slowing down or letting age affect him – other than the slightly more frequent muscle strains. He remains baseball’s ultimate weapon, since every team realizes if you let the Yankees get to the ninth with a lead, you’re done. The big questions with Rivera remain how long can he continue defy Father Time and how much longer will he want to? Rivera made $15 million last year. It seems unfathomable that any team would pay a 40 year old closer that kind of money in today’s market, but the Yankees very well might. And then cross their fingers that Mo has more Satchel Paige in him. In case you never heard of him, Paige is famous for the quote, “Never look back. They might be gaining on you” in reference to his longevity. (Although nobody knows for certain, it’s generally accepted that he pitched in the majors until he was 59).

Andy Pettite: Perhaps the greatest post-season pitcher in history, this is the one member of the Core Four with the most uncertainty about his status for 2011. Will he retire or will he come back for one more hurrah? Pettite is taking some time to mull over his decision and has often said that it ultimately rests on his family. Yankee fans everywhere are hoping his Yankee family can pull him back for one more season. How good has Pettite been? He is the all-time leader in post-season wins, starts, innings and has pitched some of the most memorable games in Yankee history, including the deciding games in all three series in 2009. He is a three-time all-star and borderline Hall of Fame candidate, with 240 career wins. More importantly for 2011, the Yankees need to know if Pettite is coming back before they can finalize next year’s starting rotation. There is some concern regarding his age and injuries, since he’s missed significant time each of the past three seasons with injuries. But there is little doubt that the Yankees would be a better team with him in 2011 than without.

Jorge Posada: At 39, Posada is the only member of the Core Four signed for next season. Another borderline Hall of Famer, Posada suffered through one of his worst seasons in 2010. He drove in only 57 runs in 2010, tying with 1999 for a career low when garnering at least 400 AB’s. His .248 average was 27 points below his career average. Age is a real concern with Posada, who plays a position known for taking a toll on players. Few catchers age gracefully, and when they decline, it tends to be a rapid descent. Defensively, Jorge was never known as a smooth fielder – but this past year was painful to watch, with Posada throwing out only 15% of attempted base stealers and charged with 8 passed balls. The injuries of the past few seasons have taken their toll, and Posada no longer moves with anything resembling grace behind the plate. So the question going forward is how to begin easing him out of the regular catcher role? The team tried to insert Francisco Cervelli into more starts this year, but all that did was prove that Cervelli is likely a career backup. 2011 promises the long-awaited arrival of Jesus Montero, but all of the reports regarding Montero’s defensive prowess hardly make him out to be the next Thurman Munson. Will Posada accept more DH time and less catching time for younger version of himself? Posada has long taken pride in his defensive game and is known for stubbornness. It’s served him well in the past – but the question is, how well it serve the Yankees going forward?

Yesterday: Front Office/Management

Tomorrow: Pitchers

Thursday: Fielders

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I thought about this for a long time, but Rebecca Glass’ blog post about Posada urged me to get this up:

When you think of all the Yankees great players from the 1995-2010, some of the names that come to mind are Derek Jeter, Mariano RiveraBernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, etc. One name missing from that list would probably be Jorge Posada. He’s always been overshadowed, with the constant sluggers coming and going in the Big Apple (Giambi, Sheffield, Abreu). When you look at a team filled with superstars, sometimes people get left out of certain discussions, and it’s about time Posada is given credit for all that he’s done.

Posada is a 5X All-Star, 5X Silver Slugger and a 4X World Series champion (5X if you count ’96..where he played only 8 games). I’m not going to analyze all of his numbers, and start comparing him to each and every player, because you already know that he’s one of the greatest offensive catchers of all-time.

When Posada took over the starting catcher’s role in 1997, the fans didn’t know what they really had. Over the next thirteen years, Jorge became an offensive force in the American League. You can tell me that he can’t run, he calls a bad game behind the dish and he doesn’t have a very good arm. It almost sickens me to hear all the complaining about him. How often do you get a catcher who can both hit for power and play great defense? Not very often. Posada has one of those qualities, and he’s good at what he does.

Finding a solid catcher in the major leagues isn’t a very easy thing to do. Georgie is a switch-hitting catcher with power, which is considered a rare commodity. Watching Molina, Cervelli and Moeller hit over the last few years has been painful. It gives you a greater appreciation for what Posada has done, and how long he has done it. I’m well aware that the Yankees have great catching depth in the minors, with Montero, Romine, Sanchez and Murphy coming up through the system, but prospects don’t always pan out.

With Posada’s career winding down, you really shouldn’t take him for granted. He ranks right up there with Elston Howard and Yogi Berra in the record books, and will go down as one of the greatest to wear the pinstripes. Hopefully, one day he’ll be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. When Posada hangs up his cleats, fans will look over his career and really start to appreciate all the things he’s accomplished in his career.

Jorge’s Career Statistics: .276AVG 259HR 1013RBI .378OBP .480SLG .858OPS (more…)

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