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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


The timing of transition

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 05, 2011 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

For Jorge Posada, the transition away from catcher has always been a matter of time. Even during his remarkable decade-plus stretch of durability, it was clear that at some point — either because of age, production or health — the Yankees were going to have to make a change behind the plate.

That time has come. It’s been three years since Posada started more than 88 games at catcher, and last season he was so banged up that Joe Girardi was understandably hesitant to start him behind the plate more than two days in a row. Posada was an everyday catcher in name only.

In the big picture, the timing of this transition is perfect. Posada got here gradually, and the Yankees have young players ready to take over. Short-term, though, it’s hard to look at the free agent market and not wonder if the Yankees might have been tempted to press their luck one more year.

You could look at the timing Posada’s transition based on two positions: Catcher and designated hitter. Catcher is the long-term positive. DH is the short-term regret.

Passing the torch
The Yankees minor league system is ready to takeover behind the plate. At the very least, it’s ready to give the Yankees options and reason for optimism. Jesus Montero’s second half of 2010 suggested a player growing into his enormous talent, and even if doesn’t prove Major League ready behind the plate, Austin Romine is coming quickly behind him. The Yankees have both talent and depth, and they have each of those things on the cusp of the big leagues.

Two years ago there was unproven talent. One year ago, that talent had shown some results, but it still wasn’t ready for the show. Today, there are catchers on the verge. The past two years, Posada gave the Yankees enough behind the plate that they didn’t feel compelled to rush their young players or aggressively sign a replacement. Posada bridged his own gap, with some space-fillers helping along the way.

As an added bonus, this happened to be the winter Russell Martin became a free agent. Because of their catching depth, and because Posada can still catch occasionally, the Yankees could afford to take a shot on Martin rediscovering his old self. If it works, great. If not, it only gives the young guys a little more development time. In theory, this is what a catcher transition should look like: The old guard is still around and the new talent is eased in.

Filling the hole
With one more year on his contract, Posada isn’t finished just yet. He’s not longer an everyday catcher, but he can be a productive hitter. Even in a down year, when he clearly played hurt a lot of the time, Posada still hit for power and gave the Yankees production. He’s only one year removed from a vintage Posada slash line.

To keep Posada’s bat in the lineup, while keeping his body healthy, the Yankees will make their former catcher a more-or-less full-time designated hitter. It’s a natural fit, and the spot was wide open. No more Hideki Matsui. No more Jason Giambi. No more Nick Johnson.

Then again, if ever there was an offseason to go DH hunting, it was this one. The free agent market is always full of potential designated hitters — quite literally, any available hitter could theoretically fill the spot — but this winter’s crop is loaded with players who can still hit but are best kept away from any sort of glove.

Matsui and Adam Dunn have already signed, but the free agent market still has Giambi, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. A second tier offers Marcus Thames, Russell Branyan, Jose Guillen and maybe Jermaine Dye. The price for each of them must be dropping by the day, and it’s hard to imagine any of them getting more than a one year deal. Those are bats that could help the Yankees, if only there were a place for them.

Associated Press photo of Posada, headshots of Martin and Thome

 
 

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53 Responses to “The timing of transition”

  1. Chip January 5th, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Chip January 5th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
    On the Hall of Famer we can all agree on:

    Robbie Alomar should be inducted into the Hall as a _________ (fill in the blank)

    Blue Jay
    Oriole
    Indian

    anyone who says Met, Padre, Diamondback or White Sox is excommunicated.

  2. Chip January 5th, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    On Chad’s post…

    With the money the Yankees are saving by not signing Lee, Crawford, etc…they could always release Jorge, eat the last year on his contract and sign a Jim Thome – someone they know would succeed as a DH.

    Not going to happen of course – but just saying, it’s an option.

  3. The Mets are Pond Scum January 5th, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Outside of playing for so many mediocre teams, part of the negative perception about Blyleven is that he was never truly a power pitcher.

    Historically, power pitchers have been given great deference in HOF voting in comparison to hurlers who rely more exclusively upon trickery or breaking balls. Phil Niekro is an extreme example there are less blatant ones as well.

    The dominance of power pitchers has a tendency to be more memorable in the mind’s eye.

  4. Chip January 5th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    The Mets are Pond Scum January 5th, 2011 at 4:20 pm
    Outside of playing for so many mediocre teams, part of the negative perception about Blyleven is that he was never truly a power pitcher.

    Historically, power pitchers have been given great deference in HOF voting in comparison to hurlers who rely more exclusively upon trickery or breaking balls. Phil Niekro is an extreme example there are less blatant ones as well.

    The dominance of power pitchers has a tendency to be more memorable in the mind’s eye.

    —————————-

    This is how I judge – and I’m not asking anyone to agree with it:

    You say the player’s name – if you immediately think “Yup, Hall of Famer” then he gets my vote. If I have to say “hmmmm…let me look at the stats” then no.

  5. LGY January 5th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Thome doesn’t hit LHP well enough to make it worth releasing Posada for him.

    Just sign Thome and keep Posada.

  6. Chip January 5th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    LGY January 5th, 2011 at 4:22 pm
    Thome doesn’t hit LHP well enough to make it worth releasing Posada for him.

    Just sign Thome and keep Posada
    ——————

    And do what with them? Platoon Jorge?

    Please don’t say “let Posada catch” because that’s almost as logical as saying “Give Thome a couple of games at 3b”

  7. The Mets are Pond Scum January 5th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Chip,

    Our eyes can deceive us….even our mind’s eye.

  8. Peter R January 5th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    REPOST:
    Peter R January 5th, 2011 at 4:30 pm
    Peter R January 5th, 2011 at 4:26 pm
    Chip January 5th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
    On the Hall of Famer we can all agree on:

    Robbie Alomar should be inducted into the Hall as a _________ (fill in the blank)

    Blue Jay
    Oriole
    Indian

    anyone who says Met, Padre, Diamondback or White Sox is excommunicated.

    ————————————-

    I say Blue Jays but only because I lived in Toronto at the time he played there so I have a little soft spot for the Jays lol.

    ———————–
    The WS help too….

  9. The Mets are Pond Scum January 5th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    This is not original idea on my part but I tend to agree with this assessment of the HOF.

    The HOF is not about the really great players (like Cobb, Ruth, Mays, Johnson, etc.). The HOF is about the players who fall into the gray area of greatness, almost as a means to validate the success and greatness of their careers.

    For example, a Bert Blyleven had a HOF career, an apparent notch above Tommy John who has yet to be elected (although I think he probably should be).

    Jim Rice’s election validated his position of greatness as opposed to very goodness (his election I oppose).

    For guys like Schmidt, Maddux, Mantle, Gehrig, we don’t need a HOF to tell us how good they were, the point is obvious. For others in the gray zone, election to the HOF provides a Good Housekeeping stamp of approval on one’s career.

  10. Warning Track Power January 5th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Sorry Chad, but I much prefer Jorge’s bat in the DH spot over all of the remaining free agents you mentioned above.
    None of them are superior to Posada. None of those names blow me away or more imporantly, none of those names would make an extraordinary addition to the Yankees in 2011.
    Thanks, but no thanks

  11. ac1 January 5th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    The only big name that would look great in the DH is Manny. Having a middle of the lineup of Tex, ARod, Cano and Manny in some order would be ridiculous, especially ARod and Manny back to back. But on the other side, you never know what Manny you get.

    While i believe that Manny would fit in and i feel like he and Alex may be buddies (?), i dont know that it would be worth the gamble that he may wake up one day and not care.

  12. BoJo January 5th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Chip January 5th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    This is how I judge – and I’m not asking anyone to agree with it:

    You say the player’s name – if you immediately think “Yup, Hall of Famer” then he gets my vote. If I have to say “hmmmm…let me look at the stats” then no.
    +++++++++
    Not to slam you, but unfortunately I think too many writers vote the same way, and it is a lazy approach. When a little work could have uncovered the worth of a Blyleven or Tommy John (59 WAR for 43rd all-time), but they fail to do so, they are doing a disservice to the Hall.

  13. LGY January 5th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    And do what with them? Platoon Jorge?

    *****

    Not strictly at first at least. But I wouldn’t play Posada everyday and I don’t think even as a DH he stays injury free.

    I think you can get Thome in the lineup 2 to 3 times a week and get him at bats as a pinch hitter.

  14. Giuseppe Franco January 5th, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Alomar won 2 rings in Toronto so that’s probably going to be the cap he’ll wear.

  15. LGY January 5th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I think the Yankees will regret it if they have no legit DH insurance or if they still see Jorge as an everyday injury free player even as a DH.

    DHing Alex more is not the solution unless they have a real backup at third.

  16. BoJo January 5th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I am not so worried about Jorge clogging the DH spot…in fact, I am glad he has it.

    I would expect that Montero would be ready for the show by June at the latest. If his bat really is that great, the Yankees can play him at DH when not catching, and have Jorge serve as back-up.

    If Montero really takes off, and Romine is also doing well, they can move Montero to DH full time and bring up Romine to back up Martin (assuming Martin does well).

    Having Posada as the DH with the option of using him as back up catcher really gives the team incredible flexibility in how they bring up their young cathcers…something that clogging the DH spot with another player would not provide.

  17. Chad Jennings January 5th, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Warning track power-

    It’s not a matter of preferring one of those ahead of Posada, it’s about wondering if the Yankees could have held off one year before making the transition at catcher. Would the Yankees be better off with Posada trying to be a regular catcher one more year while one of the remaining free agents steps in as their everyday designated hitter? I don’t know the answer, but I know there are a lot of viable DH candidates out there, and the Yankees don’t have a spot for one of them.

  18. Cashman needs to go January 5th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    LGY January 5th, 2011 at 4:44 pm
    I think the Yankees will regret it if they have no legit DH insurance or if they still see Jorge as an everyday injury free player even as a DH.

    DHing Alex more is not the solution unless they have a real backup at third.

    **************************

    No one will ever accuse Cashman of having excellent foresight. Once Posada goes on the DL you’ll have the likes of Cervelli, Golson, Nunez and /or Pena seeing MAJOR playing time – and then the whole train will start derailing from there. A simple move of signing a Thome, Guerrero, Manny or even Damon will help immensely in DH insurance but as we all know Cashman doesn’t ever really have a Plan B, C or D…he lives and dies with his Plan A.

  19. heyman_sux January 5th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Not to slam you, but unfortunately I think too many writers vote the same way, and it is a lazy approach. When a little work could have uncovered the worth of a Blyleven or Tommy John (59 WAR for 43rd all-time), but they fail to do so, they are doing a disservice to the Hall.
    ______

    I’d agree if it was the “Hall of Practically-Famous”

    But it’s the Hall of Fame and truly should only admit those players who left a significant mark on the game and are easily remembered/identifiable by future generations. I don’t think this changes the fact that years from now, people aren’t going to remember Bert Blyliven like they remember Sandy Koufax

  20. BoJo January 5th, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Did you actually watch Posada catch late last year?

    I think his defense has fallen below the point where it is acceptable. There is no doubt he needed to be replaced, especially with baserunning once again taking a more valuable role in the post steroid era.

  21. GreenBeret7 January 5th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    If Montero starts in Scranton, Romine won’t be there. He’ll start in Trenton. They’ve worked hard to split them up so they could get more experience behind the plate. They’ve split duties in Charleston and Tampa and it probably slowed that progress.

  22. Jerkface January 5th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I don’t think Posada’s defense has fallen below any kind of acceptability point.

  23. BoJo January 5th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    heyman_sux January 5th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Just because a player played on second rate teams most of their careers does not mean they were not HOFers. Their W/L stats and the attention they did or did not get were more a function of luck than skill.

  24. LGY January 5th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Chip,

    Actually, ya know what I don’t agree with moving Posada completely off catcher. What the Yankees should be doing is limiting Cervelli’s time at catcher, not Jorge’s. I would make Jorge the backup catcher and sign Thome, Vlad, or Manny.

    There are about 6 games in a week. This is what I would do with Posada.

    Catcher-day off-DH-C-day off-DH

  25. joeman January 5th, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    9/27/1996 – Alomar spits at Hirschbeck……..I would have voted no….

  26. BoJo January 5th, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Jerkface–

    I do…He kept letting pitches get past him, couldn’t block the throws in the dirt, showed questionable judgment on double steals. was worse than normal blocking the plate on plays at home…etc.

    In the old steroid era, it might have been okay, but now Rays, Rangers, Red Sox and others are using the running game to take over games, and Posada just doesn’t cut it.

    I also suspect that the years of head concussions is starting to take effect…he really made some bonehead plays last year.

  27. LGY January 5th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Posada would catch twice a week, DH twice a week, and the newly signed DH would DH 4 times a week.

  28. blake January 5th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I would support signing Vlad. He can still hit….especially if he played on a team that could give him more days off to keep him rested. That bat is still a weapon.

  29. joeman January 5th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Bert Blyleven

    287-250 I would have voted no

  30. Warning Track Power January 5th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Chad Jennings January 5th, 2011 at 4:51 pm
    Warning track power-

    It’s not a matter of preferring one of those ahead of Posada, it’s about wondering if the Yankees could have held off one year before making the transition at catcher. Would the Yankees be better off with Posada trying to be a regular catcher one more year while one of the remaining free agents steps in as their everyday designated hitter? I don’t know the answer, but I know there are a lot of viable DH candidates out there, and the Yankees don’t have a spot for one of them.
    *******************************************************************
    I understand where you’re coming from.
    At this point in his career, I can not imagine that Jorge’s defense behind the plate will improve.
    If he is our everyday catcher to begin 2011, I can see many baserunners stealing bases inning after innings against Jorge.
    The time has come for him to step aside as the everyday catcher and assume the DH role.
    When Girardi writes down Jorge at the C spot from time to time, I think the team can avoid risk. But not as an everyday catcher. I’m sorry. I think we have better “defensive” catchers on the roster that are superior to Jorge.

  31. LGY January 5th, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Posada, Martin, Vlad/Thome/Manny would all play 4 times a week.

    There are I believe about 27 weeks in the season so that would come out to 108 games per player.

    108 games. That is a good number to me for those 3 players.

  32. Giuseppe Franco January 5th, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    So we’re still going to crucify Alomar for the spitting incident?

    Good grief. He was a no doubt first ballot Hall of Famer but didn’t get in last season for whatever reason.

    He was the Ozzie Smith of second basemen and his offensive game was right up there with Morgan and Sandberg.

    I vote joeman doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about.

  33. heyman_sux January 5th, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Just because a player played on second rate teams most of their careers does not mean they were not HOFers. Their W/L stats and the attention they did or did not get were more a function of luck than skill.
    ______

    I respectfully disagree. (Not with the notion that a player should not be penalized for playing on below-average teams).

    Was he a good/great pitcher? Sure. But even his election doesn’t change the fact that it took him years to get in. Will his admission remove the idea that he is a “borderline” Hall of Famer? I mean, IMO there is no such thing as a borderline HOF. If you’re borderline, you’re probably forgettable.

    Maybe I’m wrong, idk I’m not a voter. But I also take issue with the idea that a players HOF candidacy can somehow “grow” on the voters. How does a player who isn’t voted in within the first few years of eligibility eventually gain admission? It’s not like his stats change….

  34. blake January 5th, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    LGY,

    Only problem with that is it leaves no real spot for Montero in 2011 unless somebody gets hurt (which is possible)

  35. joeman January 5th, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    # Giuseppe Franco January 5th, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    So we’re still going to crucify Alomar for the spitting incident?

    Good grief. He was a no doubt first ballot Hall of Famer but didn’t get in last season for whatever reason.

    He was the Ozzie Smith of second basemen and his offensive game was right up there with Morgan and Sandberg.

    I vote joeman doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about.
    ———————————————————————

    lets get Pete into the HOF…

  36. joeman January 5th, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    joeman January 5th, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    # Giuseppe Franco January 5th, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    So we’re still going to crucify Alomar for the spitting incident?

    Good grief. He was a no doubt first ballot Hall of Famer but didn’t get in last season for whatever reason.

    He was the Ozzie Smith of second basemen and his offensive game was right up there with Morgan and Sandberg.

    I vote joeman doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about.
    ————————————————————————————————————
    here we go again…my opinion only which you have yours

  37. YankFanCA January 5th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    The catching position isn’t going to make or break the Yankees this season. We need pitching, pitching and more pitching. Otherwise, Posada’s swansong will occur during a non-playoff year.

  38. jacksquat January 5th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Jerkface January 5th, 2011 at 4:57 pm
    I don’t think Posada’s defense has fallen below any kind of acceptability point.

    Posada’s defense was pretty much at the bottom of the league last year, and so was Cervelli.

    But if Andy came back, I would have Jorge catch Andy (to keep him familiar with the position, and Pettite keeps the running game to a minimum), have Martin catch two starters, and Montero catch two starters. Yes, I think Montero should be on the major league team unless he shows in spring training that his defense is bad (less than poor; poor you can live with).

  39. BoJo January 5th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Heymansux–I suggust you read the prior thread discussion…where your points were covered

  40. JT January 5th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Would you rather have 500 AB at DH from Jorge Posada or Jim Thome?

  41. YankFanCA January 5th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Not a bad thought, jacksquat. But getting Pettitte back is the key to your plan and may be key to the Yankees’ 2011 chances. They need him terribly.

  42. BoJo January 5th, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I think the entire goal regarding DH this year should be about using the positino to transition the young catching talent into the majors…Let Montero and Posada both DH, while seeing what we really have with Martin.

    If Martin returns to his former production level, and Montero really has a super bat, he can become full time DH while allowing Posada to back up Martin…Then Romine can back up Martin in 2012…

    This approach allows the team to perhaps uncover an Ortiz-level DH, while filling the cathcing spot with above average defense and above average offense.

  43. heyman_sux January 5th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Heymansux?I suggust you read the prior thread discussion?where your points were covered
    ______

    No thanks, not rly worth it. I’m not some sort of hater – congrats to him, bc obviously my opinion doesn’t affect the voters. He’s in and good for him.

    That said, people only remember the real iconic players anyway. I don’t think people will be telling stories of BB’s greatness 30 years from now the way I plan on teaching my kids about Derek Jeter

  44. G. Love January 5th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I’d still sign Manny and let him and Jorge fight it out for DH at bats. If Manny turns out to be a force and is driven to show he’s not done, it would make the lineup lethal.

    Where is it written in stone that Jorge has to play everyday?

    Plus, if Andy comes back (although it’s doubtful at this point) you make Jorge Andy’s personal catcher since Andy’s move negates the running game. Then you have a lineup with Jorge and Manny in it.

    With the pitching staff in the condition it’s in right now, load up on offense. If people don’t work out, you make changes. The Yankees do it every year when an off season piece ends up not fitting.

    Manny isn’t going to get big money, but the Yankees could structure a deal heavy in incentives for him that will be a carrot dangling out in front of him all season long.

    I don’t hate Manny like some people do. I think a lot of the athletes are jerks. Some of the one’s you think are warm and cuddly might surprise you with how they act in real life. This isn’t a game for saints. It’s a game for guys who can play.

    I still think Manny can play. If he can’t, you cut him.

    Right now our OF is Gardner, Grandy, Swisher. Let Golson be the 4th OF with Manny as 5th emergency OF, but know Nunez can go out and play a corner in a pinch if needed.

    You don’t need 2 backup OF’ers. If someone gets hurt, you call up someone who can play.

    The team can afford to carry Manny or Thome and Jorge on the roster.

  45. joeman January 5th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    a 21 year old full time DH….don’t see many of them around

  46. blake January 5th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Bojo,

    I think that’s probably what the Yankees will do. Let Montero start at SWB while it’s cold and let him get going there, see what they have with Martin, and then call up Montero when the time is right.

  47. blake January 5th, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    G love,

    If going that route then Id prefer Vlad to Manny. I think he’s got more left in the tank and comes with much less nonsense.

  48. mick January 5th, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    New one====>>>>>>

    Cashman haters are gonna love this one.

  49. G. Love January 5th, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    C Martin, Montero
    1b Tex
    2b Cano
    SS Jeter
    3b Arod
    UTIF Nunez
    CF Grandy
    RF Swish
    LF Gardner
    UTOF Golson (or Colin Curtis)
    DH Jorge, Manny (or Thome)

    That leaves room for 12 pitchers. Go 11 pitchers and you can keep Pena as another backup IF.

    You can carry Jorge and another DH and have Montero on the team as well. Our bench plays so infrequently I’d rather have a potent veteran bat sitting on it like we used to have with Strawberry, Raines, Sierra, etc. Those guys didn’t always play a lot, but when they did they helped win games.

  50. BoJo January 5th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    joeman January 5th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    a 21 year old full time DH….don’t see many of them around
    +++++++++
    Look around more.

    Forgetting the age issue because not many 21 year olds are starting in majors…but chack at under 26….

    Adam Lind…Luke Scott a few years ago….Billy Butler a few years ago….it happens

  51. Warning Track Power January 5th, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Montero will have to earn his way up north in Spring Training. If he fails to hit/play D in March, then the team will leave him behind. Nothing wrong that that scenario.
    The perfect scenario would be Montero earns the catching job

  52. CCBiggs January 5th, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Two comments:

    First, he Yankees don’t have good catching depth. They have good catching PROSPECTS, but they won’t have depth unless/until those prospects prove to be major league players, which they haven’t done yet. Any team with real catching depth would not need to sign Russell Martin.

    Second, having Posada on the team in 2011 is a disaster. He’s clogging up the DH spot when there are MANY better options available on the free agent market (Vlad, Manny, Thome, to name a few). Even worse, the Yanks will be paying Posada much more than all of those guys. Awful.

  53. roselora February 1st, 2012 at 6:32 am

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