Some random bits gleaned from the comments

posada250_012209.jpgJlevy1112 asks: What about the Yankees two highly rated catching prospects in the Minor Leagues, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine? If Posada can’t make his full complement of starts, could one of these two be called up to join the team? I seem to remember they both have nice offensive numbers in the minors. If the Yankees traded for a Saltalamacchia, Teagarden, or Miguel Montero where would that put the aforementioned catching prospects?

Both Montero and Romine are both very far away. As you probably know, Montero may never arrive as a catcher, as he’s a hulking giant of a kid who doesn’t fit very well behind the plate. He has sufficient talent as a hitter that he should be able to make the transfer to first base — I keep thinking of Carlos Delgado, who actually made it to the majors as a catcher before everyone said, “Whoa, that’s not going to work,” and he went over to first base (after a brief stop in left field) and proceeded to hit (to date) 469 home runs. I’m not saying that Montero is going to be a borderline Hall of Famer — that would be premature — but that his career so far has echoes of the Delgado story.

In contrast to Montero, Romine seems to have the defensive tools to remain behind the dish, and he had a terrific finish to his season, punching out eight of his 10 home runs in the final two months of the season. Now, both of these guys are very young. Neither can legally buy a beer, with Montero having turned 19 around Thanksgiving and Romine reaching 20 less than a week earlier. Both finished the year at Low-A Charleston, which means they’re a big three levels from the majors, including the hard jump to Double-A, which many catchers do not survive.

If the Yankees traded for one of the players you mentioned, it wouldn’t harm these players at all given that they seem to be at least two years away, more likely three. As the younger players started to become expensive, the Yankees would have the option of moving them out and starting over. And, of course, Montero might not be a catcher anyway. We’ll soon see what the presence of Mark Teixeira means for his future.

Now, a lot of writers would ignore or ban the following crank, but you know, I find guys like this “42Yankee” kind of amusing.

THIS PORKY SO CALLED SPORTS WRITER NEEDS TO RETIRE AND GO AWAY, FAR,FAR AWAY. THE YANKS SHOULD HAVE NEVER GIVEN POSADA THE BIG CONTRACT, AS ALL HE HAD WAS A LUCKY YEAR AT BAT IN 2007. HE COULDN’T THROW OUT ANYBODY. AS FAR AS MOLINA IS CONCERNED, TELL US US CHUBBO GOLDMAN:::: HOW MANY GAMES DID MOLINA WIN BY THROWING OUT BASE RUNNERS? MORE THAN A MORON LIKE YOU CAN COUNT!!!!! NOW PLEASE RETIRE AND GO AWAY, FAR, FAR AWAY. MAYBE THEN THE YANKEES WILL FIND A REAL SPORTS REPORTER, OR BETTER YET GO JOIN THE REDUX WRITERS TEAM, AS YOU WOULD FIT RIGHT IN AT FENWAY!!!!!

1. “Retire?” Dude, I’m 38 years old. I have a mortgage to pay, two kids to put through college, and most importantly, I’m having way too much fun.

2. “Porky.” Well, that’s not a charitable description, but it’s not unfair. I’ve been working on it, including hiring a personal trainer to develop a workout program for me. Weight has been a thing I’ve fought my whole life. I can show you pictures where I’m kind of svelte and then others that are like, well, now. There are exculpatory medical factors, but they don’t really change the big picture, pun intentional. Anyway, it’s something that bothers me, but unlike “42Yankee” I’m not seven years old. Taunting my physical appearance as a way of attacking my ideas doesn’t really register as anything more than a pathetic, helpless gesture, an Internet wuss’s version of emotional terrorism. Nice try.

Back about my sophomore year of high school I guess I was having one of my heavier seasons. At this time, some friends and I were in the habit of scraping together teams of for pick-up softball or baseball games. We were in a fairly large school, so it wasn’t too difficult to come up with 18 or 20 kids who could show up at the park on a Saturday or Sunday morning and play six innings or so (the scores were usually too lopsided to go nine). One of my best friends threw very hard for a 15-year-old, and he and I made up the battery.

One day after school, he and I went out to a neighborhood park to practice. I was squatting down, catching his fastball. Parenthetically, I never was very good at catching his offspeed stuff, and one day a year or two later he crossed me up and unexpectedly threw something that broke sharply downward, ticking off my mitt and hitting me on the foot, mildly fracturing it. One of our class idiots wandered by — I would like to call him the class idiot, but as I said it was a large class and we had several — and came over to see what we were doing. After a few minutes of watching, for no particular reason he started aiming a series of very weak fat jokes at me, lines that even a third grader, or “42Yankee” here, might find too childish to use.

This was more irritating than effective. The guy had taken up a position a few yards behind me and was endlessly chattering as I caught the ball and flipped it back to my pal, the pitcher. I wasn’t bothered, but my friend was deeply offended on my behalf.  He warned Class Idiot, but the babble continued. I remember what happened next vividly. My pal wound up and fired with something extra on the ball. “Sssss” went the ball as it went over my head. Behind me, the Idiot said something like, “Hey, are you an elephant or — aaagh!” I turned around. There was another “Sssss” sound going past me. I ducked, but not before seeing a fastball come within a hair of hitting the idiot in the head.

I’ve rarely been more moved in my life. Here was my friend about to turn this guy into Ray Chapman because he had attacked me. Simultaneously, I also knew that if I cared at all about my friend, that I couldn’t really just watch it happen, because friends don’t let friends go to jail for murder. I shouted that it wasn’t worth it, that the Idiot should be allowed to live, but before the message could sink in, one more fastball lazered just past the bridge of Idiot’s nose, at which point he fled, threatening to tell his mom.  How can I be bothered by weight jokes when I have friends like that?

3.
“42Yankee” is correct that in an ideal world the Yankees should not have given Posada a four-year deal after 2007, because his age and position made him even riskier than would be typical when you’re booking a player for seasons 36 through 39. That’s the only argument against it, however, and if the deal had been for only two years there wouldn’t be any grounds for criticism at all. However, even the four-year deal has to be excused because Posada had all the leverage in the situation. The Yankees weren’t about to get Joe Mauer away from the Twins, so if they didn’t want to take a big, giant hit at catcher, they had to cater to Posada’s demands. I wrote at the time that they were paying for four years to get two good ones, and perhaps that will still be the case.

4.
“42Yankee” is, however, spectacularly wrong when he implies that the Yankees were solely overreacting to Posada’s 2007 season. Yes, he had an unusually belated peak and an uncharacteristically high batting average that season, but he was also a player who had had three other seasons with an OBP above .400, was a five-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner as the best hitter at his position. Among catchers with 5000 or more career plate appearances, Posada ranks fifth in OPS, trailing only Mike Piazza, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, and Gabby Hartnett; fifth in on-base percentage (Cochrane, Wally Schang, Dickey, and Piazza are ahead of him); f
ourth in isolated power (behind Piazza, Johnny Bench, Javy Lopez). He even ranks 17th in batting average. If he can hit at all this year, he’ll break into the top 10 in home runs by a catcher, and if he plays something like two more full seasons he’s going to have drawn more walks than any catcher to play the game. Posada may or may not be a Hall of Famer, but as a hitter his peers are all guys with plaques.

I think the most amazing thing about “42Yankee” having written that the Yankees should not have re-signed Posada is that he did so despite having the evidence of what a Posada-less Yankees team looks like. We call it the 2008 Yankees, and they don’t make the playoffs. There you go, “42” — thanks to Posada’s shoulder, they did it your way. Look how it wound up. Congratulations.

5.
How many games did Molina win by throwing out baserunners? The easy answer is, not as many as he lost by making outs. First, The Yankees went 43-38 in Molina’s starts, which is a .531 percentage. They were actually a game better with other catchers in the lineup, which says something given how miserable some of the other guys were. Now, I see that one of our correspondents ran through some very simple math for you in the comments, but let me try taking it from a different angle. Last year, Molina caught 44 percent of attempting basestealers, or 33 in 42 attempts. The average stolen base success rate was 27 percent, so in a similar number of attempts, we should have expected the average catcher to catch 20 or 21 baserunners. Right away we have a problem with your valuation of Molina, because his real defensive worth becomes 13 dead baserunners. On average, four or five of those would have scored. That’s what you’re touting here, a defensive benefit of five runs. Given that a generous estimate of his offense would have him worth something like 20 runs less than the average player and 15 runs less than the average catcher, Molina is still deep in the hole. The Yankees didn’t get back to even on those ex-baserunners. Surely, “42,” you can recognize that games won and lost are a matter of those scored and allowed, and that had the Yankees scored 20 more runs in Molina’s plate appearances, but allowed five more, they still would have been close to two wins better off?

6. “Chubbo,” “Moron.” I don’t mind debating with third-graders, Hall of Fame voters, and members of Congress.

7.
Here’s that “retire” stuff again. You know, my boss at YES told me that the current caricature on the site made me look too old. Now I believe him. Fortunately, the great Rich Faber will soon be supplying us with some new art. By the way, I’ve never claimed to be a “sports reporter.” Nowadays people tend to call me a blogger, but having opened the Pinstriped Bible in the days before blogs, I’ve always thought of myself as a columnist, although the content here has always been blog-like. My BP colleague likes to use the term “analyst,” and maybe that works too, but in the final analysis I’m just proud to be a writer and happy that I get to engage the public on a regular basis. For now, Chubbo the Columnist is going to retire to the kitchen for some pasta and then do some sit-ups. Thanks for writing, “42.” I look forward to your next note on how Melky Cabrera is more valuable than Mickey Mantle, or perhaps something on how much the team misses Tony Womack’s baserunning capabilities.

17 Comments

As a rule, I don’t read anything on a sports site that is written in all-caps that’s longer than say the word, “AROD!” But, anyway, Steven, you have my continued thanks for your interesting and insightful look at our favorite team. Rock on, good sir.

Okay – not only did 42Yankee insult you but he insulted my Red Sox! I think, perhaps, you need to ask him a question – is 42 his IQ or the size of his fat head? I might not always agree with you – but I do appreciate the time and effort you put into your blog.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

I can tell 42Yankee go to you… he made you mention Tony Womack. I think its interesting that decent catchers are so hard to find right now. I heard Posada, in an interview when asked why there is such shortage of catchers in the major leagues, say “because its hard, and people don’t like things that are hard.” Strength in position seems to be very cyclical. We might have seen the greatest strength at SS in the late 90s with Tejada, Nomar, Jeter, etc… Any thoughts on when the peak with catchers happened? Were there other great catchers playing when Yogi was in his prime? Would it be the Fisk/Carter era? Bench peaked a little earlier than that… Was there ever a time when there was a depth of great catchers playing in the majors at the same time?

Steven, long time reader and big fan of your spin on the Yanks. I especially like how you breach subjects that many fans don’t want to admit to, such as the declining production of many of our pinstriped idols.

But please don’t indulge ridiculous readers like “42” with 1,500 words. Your tone of being above the insults is contradicted by your time spent defending your position.

There’s a reason tv cameras don’t give air time to jerks that run on the field during games, ya know?

sorry “broach”

Steve,

I don’t care about your weight as I have similar issues. But you make two logical fallacies about Molina who would be fine as a full-time catcher with the Yankees, given their other hitting.

You say he saved 5 runs based on throwing out 13 or so baserunners. But he didn’t play a full season so you should project that out further.

Second, what about the baserunners on first that didn’t try to steal since they knew he has a good arm? Isn’t there a deterrence effect?

Rather than Molina, look at Arod’s failures. He excels in hitting mediocre pitching and padding his stats but chokes against good (nevermind great) pitching. He’s another Winfield. The Yankees will never win in the playoffs with Arod anchoring the team.

I really do hope that Posada can make a full comeback, but as you’ve been saying Steve they need a contingency plan in the event that he cant throw or his recovery takes longer than expected.
I forget who said it on the Hot Stove show but its kind of ironic both the Yankees and Red Sox are in the same catching predicament. It seems like this could be a potential race to see who can trade for a catcher first. It will be interesting to see Montero and Romine in spring training with the Yankees if they play in any of the games on YES.
It makes you wonder if Brian Cashman could go back in time and restructure the Randy Johnson trade, keeping Dioner Navarro and giving up someone else would he? If the Yankees had kept him they might have had a serviceable catcher by now. And given that he wound up on the Rays and turned into a decent catcher, that trade came back to bite the Yankees in the rear. Fortunately there’s no way he can maintain the .295 AVG he had last year, he should regress and hit somewhere in the .260s.
I just found an interesting article about the AL East’s catching situation on Fangraphs http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/index.php/the-american-league-east-is-catching-on

Hi Steven. I’m a big fan of the Pin Striped Bible. I stop by as frequently as I can for the goods. I’m hopeful Posada has two good years left in him behind the plate with all the new pitching and young pitchers coming up. As well, if in 2 years he starts to break down and has to DH more, maybe he can mentor one of the kids coming up. He is, I think, one of the best lead by example guys in the game and he’s a great Yankee. If he starts to wear as the season progresses, DH him more. Monitor him close. Make sure he sits in blowouts, etc. PS This “42” guy probably watches a lot of figure skating and reads romance novels while holding tight to a Cabbage Patch Kid or something. I’m glad you ripped him up some. He’s that guy that runs across the field naked or whatever – sometimes that guy needs to be told in a public forum what an idiot he is. And sometimes you just got to get it out man! I’m gonna go get some pasta now… but I’m skipping the sit-ups. Kudos to you Steven!

Molina brings a lot more to the defensive table than an improved caught stealing rate.

I believe the comparison should be staff ERA and average runs scored by the Yanks when Molina was catching versus Posada. I recognize that both Posada’s offense and defense were hurt by his shoulder injury, but, at his age, and following major shoulder surgery, there is no guarantee he will either hit to his career average or be able to catch effectively in 2009

Steve,
I enjoy your writing as an analyst, blogger, sports writer whatever they want to call you. I’m glad you posted this about some immature idiot who has nothing better to do than come on here and leave ignorant comments. Its like when you read the comments page on other articles and people are fighting back and forth over this team, that team and so on. How much toughness is honestly shown through typing how “tough” you are etc. Anyway, great points, I am a Molina fan (not my favorite) but I do like him as a backup. But you are completely right as far as Posada. I really enjoy your insight in articles in this awful time of no Yankee baseball. Great writing keep it up. Thanks

42Yankee just was not worth your effort; the true Yankee fans who read your column (blog) respect your opinion and the right to have a debate. Just ignore the idiots…if they think you are going to respond you will have more coming out of the work work

Keep up the fine work!

oops! I meant “wood work”

NO more Jose Molina.

Steve- let me say that 42Yankee is a complete a**hole who ISN’T FIT TO CLEAN YOUR TOILET. Good job standing up for yourself and let me tell you that you really owned him. Keep in mind that 99% of the people who read this blog enjoy it and like your writting. The occasional 1% who don’t like it wind up making themselves look like fools.

As for the catching situation, I think splitting Molina and Posada’s playing time equally won’t hurt the team. Posada is a good hitter, and Molina is a superior defensive cathcer, so it should balence itself out.

Keep up the good work, and remember, HE ISN’T FIT TO CLEAN YOUR TOILET! -bakekrukow

Steven there will alwys be folks seeking to make themselves look better by making others look worse. Most of the comments I read are from real nice fans expressing their opinions laced with insightful analysis. Maybe correct maybe wishful but meaning no harm. This blog is a great idea. You write well and your research looks solid. I enjoy reading what you write. Keep going and don’t let a few misguided folks get you down.

I can’t believe you took the time to answer 42Yankee (Why 42? Jackie Robinson? Mariano Rivera? … that moron shouldn’t use that login out of respect for either gentleman).
And you left out (on the current post, buy you have mentioned it before) what a lot of uninformed people post in this and other blogs on other subjects … go back in time, forget all the new information you now know and think if there was better option? The answer is without a doubt NO.
42Yankee must be from the “Joe Morgan, new stats are bad for baseball” preschool (obviously it couldn’t be a school or it could, for the mentally retarded).
BUT after Joe Girardi left after the 1999 I do remember all the hitless wonders from Alberto Castillo, John Flaherty and some other nightmares that thankfully I can’t recall, that Jose Molina comes like a Josh Gibson compared to them. I remember being very upset that the Yankees didn’t pursue Toby Hall (Toby Hall for heaven sakes!) after the 2006 season.

No matter what 42 says, he would give anything to trade places with you.

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