Checking birth certificates and backup catchers.

I see a letter to the Post and different blog entries decrying Nick Johnson for getting hurt and the Yankees for not bringing back Matsui and/or Damon.

Fair enough to be wary of Johnson and his injury history. But in their outcry to bring back Matsui and/or Damon, do these people ever check out baseballreference.com or Who’s Who in Baseball and check out the ages? Matsui will be 36 this summer, Damon is 36. Do you really want (outside of icons like Jeter and Rivera) to give multi-year deals to players 35 and over? Well, do you?

The Yanks already have that with A-Rod, 35 this summer. He’s signed until age 42. They’ll have that with Jeter. Pettitte (38 this summer) has a one-year deal. Mo, 40, is at the end of a three-year deal and you figure he will go year-by-year from here on out as will Pettitte. Posada (39 in August) is in the third year of a four-year deal. After that, who knows. One thing is for sure…40 year old catchers don’t get multi-year deals.

Yes, it’s tough getting rid of a DH who hit 28 HR, 90 RBI, 131 OPS+, and was the WS MVP.  His price with the Angels is affordable. Same with Damon, whose at-bat and play in WS Game 4 turned the series in the Yankees’ favor. 24 HR, 82 HR, 126 OPS+. Hard to replace. As for Damon and Boras, they could have taken the Yanks’ offer. Probably should have. Can’t fault the Yanks for that one.  

But are you going to, just out of sentiment, let the team get old overnight? What if everyone hit the wall at the same time?

I know it sounds cruel, and I remember the cries when the Yanks didn’t bring Bernie back, despite it being obvious that Bernie’s last great season was 2002 (OPS+ numbers, 2002 to 2006: 141, 107, 108, 85, 96). When the Yanks let Bernie go, it was TIME to let him go.

As Branch Rickey said, better to let someone go one year too early than one year too late, and quite frankly, I think Damon will have trouble in Detroit. His wife wasn’t happy about Detroit, it’s a big ballpark (over/under on JD’s HR total this year is 15 for me) and I don’t think JD’s arm (or lack of) and that ballpark will be a good fit.

On another front, there are concerns about backup catcher for the Yankees, especially after the beaning Cervelli took. Cervelli is young (24) with just 45 MLB games under his belt. Should he falter or this beaning have a great effect, Mike Rivera will be the backup catcher, as the Yanks aren’t going to rush Montero and Romine. Rivera, 33, has 181 MLB games under his belt. .244 career hitter.

A lot depends on Posada. How much do you need a backup catcher? If Posada is ok, then…for example, Jose Molina was fine defensively, but his 2009 offensive stats (.217-1-11, OPS+ 51) were horrible.

Of course we remember how much was lost when Jorge missed most of the 2008 season.

But how many of you remember the backup on the 2000 WS Champion Yankee team?

Chris Turner got in 37 games, went 21 for 89. .236-1-7. OPS+ 61.

The following year? The 2001 AL Champs?

Todd Greene. 35 games. .208-1-11. 20 for 96, just 3 walks. OPS+ 36. Yup. 36.

Every year, it all comes down to Posada’s health, not the backup catcher’s.

Once again, the key for me this year is Jorge. At 38 (39 in August), how long can he hold up?

Yanks have a trip to Ft. Myers today. Pettitte will throw a simulated couple of innings and not make the two-hour trip. Mitre will go. The advantage of being a seasoned vet.

Split-squad tomorrow.  

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2 responses to “Checking birth certificates and backup catchers.

  1. Tim The Wizard

    *Crashes through a wall*, yes I am still alive.

    I largely agree with what you said Mike. I was all for letting Damon leave considering his age and his declining defensive ability. Let’s be honest, the Yankees got a good return on the Damon contract. However, there is no guarantee that Damon would have repeated his performance this season. Granderson is more than capable of matching or surpassing Damon’s production.

    Regarding Johnson, I really do not think it makes much difference whehter he or Matsui occupy the DH slot. Both are injury risks, run producers, and good OBP guys.

    As a side note, I have to ask this question. Am I alone in not liking the fact that the Yankees play the Red Sox eight times in the first six weeks (six of those games are at Fenway)? I am also not a fan of playing the Red Sox right out of the gate. Thoughts?

  2. See the Yanks both opening and closing in Fenway. Of course, TV rules. Wonder if they just wanted the Yanks/Red Sox ratings?

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