Friday, May 29, 2009

Is it time for Jorge Posada to take off his catcher's mask?

Jorge Posada will be 38 this summer. By the time Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench were 38, Yogi was in his last season, and Johnny Bench was retired. And Joe Girardi, Posada's predecessor, was off the Yankees for five years, and in his last season.

While Posada has been very outspoken about how he wants to be the Yankees No. 1 catcher, is it time for him to do more DHing and less catching? One New York sports columnist seems to think so.

New York Post columnist Joel Sherman suggested in a column earlier this week that "there is no coincidence that the best Yankee run of 2009 has come with others catching." He expanded on his column's thoughts in his blog yesterday, writing that he believes "the Yanks have to think seriously about making Posada more a full-time DH and having him catch less." Sherman also noted:

Pitchers do not generally enjoy pitching to him for a variety of reasons, including his inadequacy at framing pitches and his sketchy game calling.

In his column, Sherman explained why pitchers complained about Posada:

Now, I have long been a huge supporter of Posada the catcher, including defending him in his own clubhouse. Over the years, I have heard plenty of off-the-record snipes from pitchers who did not particularly like Posada's game-calling intellect or the lack of soft hands and finesse that enables a catcher to frame pitches well and steal strikes.

I would listen to the complaints and then offer one of the following responses: 1) You hate him all the way up to the three-run homer he hits to bail your sorry butt out. 2) Yeah, he's terrible. That dynasty must have been in spite of him.

Yes, I admit it, I like Posada for both his skill and his passion.

Hmm, whatever happened to that "no cheering in the pressbox" adage? Yes, I get that a columnist is different from a beat writer, but why the heck was Sherman getting into arguments with Yankee pitchers over the merits of Posada, and why is it only now that we're hearing about such arguments? Put down your Posada pom-poms, Joel!

Besides, Sherman's "count the rings" dynasty rejoinder is misleading, given that Joe Girardi was the No. 1 catcher in 1996, and caught 78 games in 1998, and 65 games in 1999.

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to seeing Jorge Posada's bat back in the lineup. Seeing him as catcher again? Not so much. I'm concerned he's going to get hurt again, and I also like seeing a Yankee team where the catcher can actually throw somebody out once in a while.

Francisco Cervelli has been terrific in Posada's place. The kid has been impressive behind the plate, making smart plays, calling good games, throwing baserunners out, and framing the ball well. And he's hitting well, too, getting 12 hits in 40 at bats. While I don't expect Cervelli to continue his hot hitting, his catching skills are something that should only get even better over time. I hope he gets to stay with the Yanks, even after Jose Molina's eventual return.

Kevin Cash hasn't been hitting well, but he's also been a decent backup catcher. Loved how he tried to settle down A.J. Burnett by going to the mound - and not saying anything!

Anyhow, it will be interesting to see if the Yankees starting pitching continues its good run under Posada. Let's hope it does.

What do you think about Jorge Posada? Leave us a comment.

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