• Yanks Should Move Posada To D.H. In 2010

    Posted by on November 29th, 2009 · Comments (24)

    There are two more years left on Jorge Posada’s current contract with the Yankees. New York is on the hook to pay him $13.1 million in 2010 (at age 38) and 2011 (at age 39).

    Forgetting about Posada’s age, the biggest issue with all this is that Jorge is a terrible defensive catcher at this stage of his career.

    In “The Bill James Handbook 2010” the Fielding Bible’s “Runs Saved” leaders over the last three years are listed at each defensive position.

    At “catcher,” over the last three years, Yadier Molina has saved the most runs with a mark of +22. Who was the worst, at “catcher,” over the last three years here? That would be Jorge Posada with a mark of -23. And, keep in mind, this is with Jorge missing two-thirds of the 2008 season due to injury!

    Next, in “The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2010,” among the many stats that they provide are SBA/G, CS%, ERA, and WP+PB/G for “catchers.”

    In 2009, Yankees pitchers had an ERA of 5.04 with Posada behind the plate compared to an ERA of 3.31 when Jose Molina caught and an ERA of 3.43 when Frankie Cervelli played. And, on the whole, the Yankees team ERA with Jorge Posada catching was 1.5 runs higher than all their other catchers. (This is a very interesting stat when you consider all the “connection” issues that Jorge had with A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain last season.)

    Now, let’s look at those other metrics:

    Catcher	  SBA/G	  CS%	WP+PB/G
    Posada	  1.18	  22%	.562
    Molina	  0.71	  18%	.454
    Cervelli  0.78	  38%	.261

     

    As you can see, teams ran more often on Posada and were successful nearly eight times out of ten. Since 75% is considered by some as the go/no-go breakpoint on stealing bases, this CS% tells other teams that they should run on Posada. (Yes, Posada’s CS% was better than Molina’s last season – but, keep sample size here in mind…as team did not try to run on Molina all that much because of his arm.)

    The WP+PB/G mark here for Posada should be alarming – but it’s not news to anyone who has been watching Yankees games over the last few years. Jorge is terrible at catching and blocking pitches. Also, don’t lose sight of the fact here that Jose Molina often caught A.J. “Mr. Wild Pitch” Burnett – sparing Posada from having to absorb those wild deliveries.

    Seeing all this, and factoring in that Hideki Matsui is a free agent, it makes a lot of sense for the Yankees to “play” Posada at D.H. next season and limit his catching to 50 games or less. And, then, repeat this in 2011.

    Who will catch if Posada is the D.H.? Well, here, you have to get creative. Whether it’s signing someone under the radar like David Ross…meaning getting someone with better catching skills than Posada but with a bat that won’t kill you like Jose Molina…or, swinging a trade for someone like Ryan Doumit…meaning someone who is not terrible behind the plate and who has some potential offensive upside…the Yankees have to do something here.

    Two more years of Jorge Posada catching 100+ games a season is not going to help the Yankees – and it may just offset the value of his bat in those seasons too.

    Comments on Yanks Should Move Posada To D.H. In 2010

    1. Corey
      November 29th, 2009 | 2:23 pm

      In the very beginning of the season I made note of how the pitchers didn’t seem to pitch as well with Posada behind the plate and questioned his plate calling, and nearly everyone here alluded that i was crazy.

    2. Corey
      November 29th, 2009 | 2:28 pm

      Anyway, can we wait to think about 2011 till 2010 is over? Ya never know, by that time Montero could have proved critics wrong by improving his game behind the plate.

      In either case, I think Posada will make enough noise to still get the bulk of the catching time through the remainder of the contract.

    3. GDH
      November 29th, 2009 | 2:35 pm

      I have no problem giving the job to Cervelli until he proves otherwise. He runs well, seems to defend well and IIRC calls a good game. He it .298 in 94 AB. With Posada as DH, you still have a decent DH, but you lose his power and production from the catcher position. The question is whether you you gain more from Jorge’s bat than you lose with his glove (compared to Cervelli or replacement). If Jorge’s your DH it also frees up about 10 million of salary in not bringing Matsui back.

      I don’t have a problem with the move, but I don’t think we should trade for a catcher – the market’s thin and we have a pretty good guy in Cervelli.

    4. BOHAN
      November 29th, 2009 | 2:40 pm

      i agree with this but you dont need the stupid sabermetrics crap to prove this just watch the games. montero or romine could be ready by ’11 so u can have cervelli start majority of the games and use posada as his back up once a week or so. defensively i love cervelli love his energy and all the intangibles he brings. hits well enough for a 8 hitter, dont need a 20 hr guy at every spot in the lineup to win. a hitter like cervelli who makes contact and can do the little things can be very useful in this lineup, gives you many more options.

    5. 77yankees
      November 29th, 2009 | 2:48 pm

      Posada’s been a below average defensive catcher for years. The only aspect he’s done reasonably well was throw out runners at times. He never blocked pitches, and those outside the catcher’s box he always stabs at with his mtt, often unsuccessfully. Plays at the plate? Forget it – nine times out of ten he doesn’t hold on the the ball.

      And what about all the pitchers he had difficulty with? Cone preferred Girardi back in the late 90s. There were rumors about Mussina as well. Even though they were high maintenence cases, throw in The Big Eunuch Randy Johnson as well as El Duque.

      I’ve been saying for years they’ve had to cut down his starts behind the plate, but they never really had an alternative who could shoulder more than half of the load. (Remember Chris Turner, Todd Greene, & Joe Oliver anyone?) Flaherty & Molina were ok……as backups catching 25-30 games a year.

      So now that they have Cervelli, who was really one of the unsung heroes of this team this year taking over behind the plate when they basically had nobody else, let’s see how they handle this in 2010. Will we see him behind the plate for 75-80 games? Or will it be more passed balls, dropped throws at the plate, and higher ERAs?

    6. Tresh Fan
      November 29th, 2009 | 2:58 pm

      In point of fact, Posada caught 785 of the Yanks total 1450 defensive innings last year That’s about 54%. My guess is he’ll be below 50% or quite near it in ’10. That’s just the natural progression of things; especially for poor defensive catchers who are turning 39.
      Let’s face it, Jorge’s going to hit the wall soon—maybe as early as 2010—and when he does….well, Cervelli is our best bet for now.

    7. November 29th, 2009 | 3:23 pm

      No one is concerned about Cervelli’s lack of experience and production at AA and above?
      See his numbers there to date:

      Year   Age Tm Lg Lev Aff  G  PA HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG
      AA (2 seasons)           37 152  2  15 17 27 .260 .362 .351
      AAA (1 season)           21  75  1   7  3 13 .275 .311 .391
      
    8. Corey
      November 29th, 2009 | 3:43 pm

      I don’t think I would be apposed to signing Jose to a 1 year and do the 3 catcher thing again.

    9. GDH
      November 29th, 2009 | 3:59 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Concerned – yes, he’s a rookie. But he did well last year, runs faster than a potted plant and couldn’t possibly hit worse than Jose Molina.

    10. redbug
      November 29th, 2009 | 4:02 pm

      I’m concerned about Cervelli’s minor league #’s, and so is Girardi, I guess, because once Molina came back, we rarely saw Cervelli.

      But, I’d like to see more of Cervelli in 2010. He did a great job in the majors when given the chance.

      I’m not ready to give up on Jorge as full-time catcher yet. Despite a recovering shoulder he did a good job last yr. I think that inflated ERA is due to the couple of awful games Burnett pitched in.

    11. Raf
      November 29th, 2009 | 4:47 pm

      GDH wrote:

      Concerned – yes, he’s a rookie. But he did well last year, runs faster than a potted plant and couldn’t possibly hit worse than Jose Molina.

      But he doesn’t hit enough to be a regular. That .294 he hit was pretty hollow

    12. OldYanksFan
      November 29th, 2009 | 4:53 pm

      How about some RUNS SAVED and RUNS SCORED numbers on Posada and Molina? Is Posada’s D so bad as no nullify his bat (and Jose’s too?).

    13. GDH
      November 29th, 2009 | 5:42 pm

      @ Raf:
      Hollow how – low on base percentage – no walks? That would be true. I give him credit on a pretty small sample size, about 100 PA he hit .300. Not bad. I think he won a game for us with a walkoff too. I was impressed. His performance left me feeling that he was good enough to be a backup. Starter – not sure – he’s a kid. If the league adjusts he could be hitting .190.

      With Romine and Montero coming up, if we’re going to move Cervelli, it would be good to get him some playing time, show what he can do. The catching market these days is very thin all across the bigs.

    14. Corey
      November 29th, 2009 | 6:24 pm

      @ GDH:
      I think he’s referring to Cervelli’s SLG.

    15. November 29th, 2009 | 7:30 pm

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    16. Raf
      November 29th, 2009 | 7:33 pm

      That is correct, no power and no walks. Cervelli’s value’s tied to his batting average. He’s good defensively, but his glove isn’t good enough to carry his bat.

    17. Evan3457
      November 29th, 2009 | 9:55 pm

      Unfortunately, the Yanks are at the break even point with Posada vs. Cervelli/Molina

      He’s probably about a -10 to -15 runs catcher at this point, counting just his fielding. I have no idea how big the gap is do to his poor game calling and pitch receiving. Let’s assume it’s 80% on the pitcher, and 20% on Posada, just because I have no idea where to draw the line on it. Even so, that’s another -30 to -35 runs.

      So, let’s say Posada is 45 to 55 runs worse than Cervelli and Molina when it comes to pitch-handling, game calling, preventing PB/WP, fielding, throwing in blocking the plate, when measured over a full season of 162 games.

      The problem is this: that’s roughly the same as the offensive gap between Jorge and the Defensive Duo. Posada is, based on last season, with some slight projected dropoff, roughly a 110 run per 162 game hitter, and Cervelli/Molina are about 55 runs a year, combined. (And this assumes Posada’s bat won’t slide significantly next year, which it stands a good chance of doing.)

      To me, this looks like a break-even call, more or less. I realize the assumptions I made here about the validity, consistency, and especially the size of the CERA adjustment is dubious, but I think Girardi’s handling of the situation bears out the overall evaluation, as he has not hesitated to go to Molina to catch Burnett. If Posada’s offense were worth much more than the defensive loss, he wouldn’t be doing that.

      It would be nice if the Yanks could work a trade for Doumit, but he’s essentially a younger, more risky version of Posada, and he’d still cost at least one real prospect. Barajas, Yorvit Torrealba and Bengie Molina (not in that order) are the best catchers on the market, I’d assume each still wants to be the starter. Redmond, Zaun and Castro are tolerable backups, but none is playable as a starter. Dave Ross is signed with Atlanta through 2010, the article linked from Fangraphs is out of date by a year.

      Maybe the Yanks best option is to go with Posada (Sabathia, Pettitte, split 5th starter) and Cervelli (Joba, Burnett, split 5th starter) for one more year, and hope Montero is ready, willing and able by 2011.

    18. Raf
      November 29th, 2009 | 11:21 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      I think Girardi’s handling of the situation bears out the overall evaluation, as he has not hesitated to go to Molina to catch Burnett. If Posada’s offense were worth much more than the defensive loss, he wouldn’t be doing that.

      That isn’t necessarily true. At minimum, it’s a built in off day for Posada. Gamelogs show that the pairing of Molina & Burnett started early, with Posada catching Burnett in only a handful of starts

    19. kskinn
      November 30th, 2009 | 9:23 am

      @ 77yankees:
      is there any chance of getting Mauer?

    20. Scout
      November 30th, 2009 | 10:57 am

      If the Yankees were to offer a multi-year deal to a decent catcher who could start, they risk blocking the advance of Montero, Romine, and others. The more likely approach will be to ease Posada out of the catching role gradually. I wiuld expect him to catch about 100 games in 2010. That means keeping three catchers on the roster, in all likelihood.

    21. jrk
      November 30th, 2009 | 11:18 am

      Wow. So many people ready to hand the job to Cervelli? Seriously? I loved the guy this year for all the same reasons you guys did, but the sample size is just WAY too small, especially given his numbers in the minors. Yes, Posada is awful defensively, but the only way I’d switch him to DH is if we traded for a catcher. I think it would be crazy to give the majority of starts to Cervelli or Molina next year. Yes, Posada might decline more next year, but don’t forget we DID win the World Series with him as our starting catcher this year! Can’t be perfect at every position. I’d let him stay as the starter, and try to get Molina back for another year, and keep Frankie to have 3 catchers.

    22. Tresh Fan
      November 30th, 2009 | 3:23 pm

      There seems to be two approaches to this issue:

      1.) Let’s deal with this now, break in Cervelli a little more, maybe half the games in ’10 and keep an eye fixed on Montero and Romine for ’11.

      2.) Let’s wait a year to see if we can squeeze another productive season out of Posada. If not we’ll deal with it in ’11.

    23. December 1st, 2009 | 4:36 am

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