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.
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.