Security behind the plate

pudge250_021609.jpgSO, HOW WAS YOUR VALENTINE’S DAY?
My unscientific polling sample of local types was evenly split between couples who believe it’s a cynical holiday manufactured by the greeting-card companies and those who make something of it. I tend to fall into the latter camp, if only because I like an excuse to get my wife a present or two. I don’t buy greeting cards, though. Those are evil, with soul-crushingly banal inscriptions, like:

My Dearest Love
Let me tell you all the ways,
On this special day of days
How you fulfill me in every way
In spite of that disfiguring mark
In the middle of your forehead
That I so easily overlooked when you were 20
But can bug the heck out of me now that we’re older.
Why don’t you get that thing fixed, anyway?
We can finally afford it
Now that we’ve had that bequest from your uncle.
I never thought he would stop kicking
While we held him down
With the fluffy cat pillow
From Wal-Mart.
I guess that’s why I think I love you
Oh, cripes, not “I think,” I mean, “I do.”
Please don’t make a big thing of it.
I wish you wouldn’t cry like that.
You know how I feel better than I do.
You’re always telling me how much I–
Oh, forget it. I can’t talk to you right now.

On the rare occasions I’m forced to buy a card, I shoot for the blanks and fill in my own inscription. You really don’t want to be going for a lowest common denominator sentiments when expressing yourself to a loved one. That’s lazy, and perhaps, a bit dangerous. No doubt we’ll return to this topic on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I was going to crack that on the former the players swing pink bats and on the latter they just hit you with them, but that would make a wider generalization about fathers than would be fair, including to my own, including myself. It’s all comedy folks, it’s just comedy.

Remember the stuffed Kirby Puckett dolls the Twins used to sell? Think the Yankees might license something similar for CC Sabathia? I know if I were a kid, I wouldn’t be afraid of the dark if I had a stuffed CC in my room. Mr. Scratch comes out of the closet, CC will bean him with a 95-mph fastball. Take that, Ultimate Evil! This tot knows security! You could save thousands in fees to the child psychologist …

You’ve probably seen the latest from Ivan Rodriguez, who is still out there looking for a job. While I don’t believe Pudge has a lot left (PECOTA says .263/.301/.364), the Yankees would be very foolish not to give him another look. If you believe, as many have suggested, that Jorge Posada, even if ready to start the season, will probably sit for a quarter of the games, then you also have to be praying that the AL East race is not a close one. Simply put: if Jose Molina and Kevin Cash play 40 or more games and the race is at all close, the Yankees will lose it.

The more one considers this possibility, the more stunning it is that the Yankees went through the winter without trying to upgrade at the position — Cash doesn’t qualify; in 557 Major League plate appearances, he’s batted .184/.248/.285, a fair representation of his offensive abilities. I characterized it this way in my most recent chat when I was asked about the possibility of Rodriguez returning:

Eli (Brooklyn): Should the Yankees make a run at Pudge Rodriguez or did him running over Joe Girardi’s dog close that avenue?

Steven Goldman: One of the really disturbing things that Yankees fans will see coming out of Spring Training — well, let me correct that. There are two scenarios, both equally disturbing: (1) Posada is healthy enough to catch, but the Yankees feel nervous enough about this durability that they carry both Jose Molina AND Kevin Cash, or (2) Posada isn’t ready to start the season, so the Yankees start the season with Molina and Cash as their catchers. As such, YES! YES, THEY FREAKING SHOULD BRING IN ANYONE BREATHING! YES!

… I actually raised this point on last night’s Hot Stove show on YES, though somewhat inarticulately: Brian Cashman’s biggest gamble last season was not relying on young pitching, but in going to war with an old catcher and assuming his (to that point) incredible durability would carry them through another year. That he has decided to double up on that bet is really disturbing and will reflect very poorly on him should Posada not be ready to go.

I should have said that it will reflect very poorly on him “should Posada not be ready to go, or if he requires substantial rest to stay healthy — and the latter seems to be inevitable.”

?    A good article on the PECOTA prediction system, which I often site in these here pages and is the backbone of that book I spent the winter editing. How does Bill Pecota feel about inspiring PECOTA? “Hey, any pub is good pub at this point … I definitely didn’t do enough on the field to get people to notice me, so if they’re noticing me now, that’s awesome.” Thank you, Bill. Feel free to come by a book signing. We’ll spot you a copy.

?    Sorry for bringing up bad memories, by Joe Posnanski conducts a thoughtful “steroid symphony.”


  1. juliasrants

    Nice “card” – you could always get a job moonlighting for Hallmark! (kidding!) A question about Ivan Rodriuez – what do you think of his answer when asked if his name was on the list of 104 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003? He is reported to have answered – “Only God knows.” I don’t like to go around making judgments, but he didn’t sound very innocent.


  2. richinnj

    As desperately as the Yankees need a catcher, I don’t want Pudge because he is so terrible at calling a game behind the plate to the point where he kills the confidence of young pitchers.


    I’m wondering what happened to the whole Tom House story of a couple of years ago ( A quote from the article is “He said players talked about losing to opponents using more effective drugs.” Now considering this was right smack in the middle of Aaron’s home run race, why don’t we look at this era as possibly being tainted as well? I by no means think Aaron used anything, but I do find it interesting how this story came and went like it was nothing at all, but I personally would like to know more about that era as well to see whether this has been going on longer than anyone expected.
    I guess I liken it to Arod’s name being the only one of the 104 to come out. He cheated, yes, and deserves to be outed, but it is weird that he’s the only one. What if Jeter’s on the list? What if Manny’s on the list? What if Ortiz is on the list? Heck, what if skinny, little Pedro is on the list? I just find it hard to call Arod such a blatant cheater when I know there’s a whole bunch of other cheaters out there too. So why is this considered to be the only “Steroid Era?” Tom House said “6-7 pitchers per team” were doing it back in his day and again that was because the pitchers thought they needed to keep up with the juicing hitters. Why should 1990-2003 be considered the only “Steroid Era?”


    Hey Steven, I certainly share your concern for the lack of catching depth, but I have to quibble with your assessment of its affect on the division race. Varitek and Navarro aren’t exactly expected to light the scoreboard up. I’m not happy with Molina/Cash, but I’m not sure that they really lose much to the Red Sox or Rays, divisionally speaking, with only 40-ish games of those two – assuming Posada is even a pale comparison to his former self.

  5. richinnj

    2008 OPS+ / age during 2009

    Navarro 98 / 25
    Varitek 73 / 37
    Molina 51 / 34
    Cash 67 / 31

    Navarro is several orders of magnitude better than the other catchers at this point, and will likely only get better. The Yankees (really Randy Levine) were stupid to trade him.


    The Yankees can not punt with the catcher position because of centerfield. If they fill the void in center which they will be below the league average for sure with melky/gardner then they can be more accepting of below league average at Catcher. The likely hood of Posado playing 75% of the games behind the dish is remote. It is so much easier to upgrade in CF as opposed to catcher especially due to the fact you cant rule out Posada so your hands are tied. Cammy is a perfect fit, good character plus defender, uptempo style to replace what little you loose in Gardner.

    Bronx Flowers

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