It’s Never too Early to Panic

Yankee fans, get out your worry beads. We've been saying it all winter; the Yankee FA additions are terrific, but the team may well live or die on the fragile shoulder of Jorge Posada. 

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  • but the team may well live or die on the fragile shoulder of Jorge Posada.
    What? This is ridiculous hyperbole.

    SF February 28, 2009, 9:45 pm
  • Thanks a lot. It’s always nice to be disparaged first thing in the morning!
    But seriously, numbers indicate Jose Molina, with his 61 ops+ cost the team a significant number of wins, and with the division looking to be super-competitve this year, those wins could well be the difference between October baseball or another early vacation.

    YF March 1, 2009, 8:58 am
  • those wins could well be the difference between October baseball or another early vacation.
    Yes, and so could five missed AJ Burnett starts, or just one missed CC start made by a AAA fill-in. I don’t think it is fair (or even remotely empirical) to put the balance of the season on the shoulder of an aging catcher. If the Yankees miss out on the playoffs by a game and Posada has been injured, it will be too convenient to place the basis of failure on him or his absence: there will have been countless missed opportunities, as there are throughout any given season, to do that.
    For example, we could say “if only Beckett were healthy the Sox might have beaten the Rays in the ALCS”, surely true. But the Sox could have beaten them even without Beckett, there were several chances for them on this front. So the Beckett explanation, while perhaps plausible, ignores the fact that the Sox had access to success without his health. The same logic applies to this ’09 Yankee squad.
    The ’09 Yankees will not live or die by Posada: that’s the hyperbole. They will live or die with Jorge, CC, AJ, etc., as a collective.

    SF March 1, 2009, 9:32 am
  • actually, i don’t think 1 missed cc start or 5 missed aj starts would have a major impact. starting jose molina 135 times would have a MONSTER impact. i think you’re being hyperbolic here, needlessly argumentative, and pompous. bottom line, posada’s health is a massive concern for the yanks, because when he’s in he’s a huge advantage over the rest of the league, and when he’s out the yanks are at a huge disadvantage. So parse that however you want. All else being equal (and who knows if it will be, fine), Posada’s shoulder is of grave concern, and a potential difference breaker between playoff ball and not.

    YF March 1, 2009, 9:47 am
  • Yes, of course Posada is a big factor, that’s not the point. The point is that their success or failure does not hinge on Posada. Sorry. There are too many players on a baseball team for this to be the case.
    Why is this assertion pompous?
    Honestly, it’s like you are making excuses already or something. I am really glad I didn’t put up that “If Big Papi is hurt kiss the season good bye” post I was about to make public.

    SF March 1, 2009, 10:02 am
  • Thinking about it, did Jason Varitek cost the Sox a successful season last year? Because that’s what the Yankees might expect with a Posada replacement: the production of Tek circa ’08, meaning something terrible. The Red Sox might have gone further with a career-average Tek, sure. But they didn’t fail because of Tek. They had their chances, Tek’s horrific performance considered.
    The Yankees have a ton of talent. If Posada is replaced with a Tek-esque sub, they should still contend and be an elite team.

    SF March 1, 2009, 10:11 am
  • Last year the Sox had enough firepower to overcome Tek, who they were probably not relying on for huge production. They outscored the Yanks by roughly .5 runs per game.
    If Posada is unable to catch most of the year and the Yanks don’t win, that would be an obvious crucial factor, and one the team might better have accounted for (but how, i have no idea.) Which is to say it’s foreseeable.
    I think their ability to make the postseason may well hinge on Posada’s health. I’m not positive, but I think it’s going to be a huge factor, and I’m not alone. (See also, Cliff Corcoran, Steve Goldman), etc.
    You’re arguing semantics, and for no reason except to prove some moot and irrelevant rhetorical point.
    Okay. I’ve said my peace on this. Now back to praying for our catcher’s shoulder!

    YF March 1, 2009, 10:36 am
  • I don’t know much about shoulder rehab, though I probably should by this point. I cranked my shoulder in an accident when I was 17 and never had it fixed; still hurts if I use it wrong. Still makes funky noises when I move it through full rotation, as when you shake around a box of lightweight bolts in corn syrup, to invoke an easily-accessible touchstone.
    Point is, I never had the money to fix my shoulder when it mattered, but I knew what I couldn’t do. That’s why I wonder what this quote means: “I was doing something I shouldn’t have been doing,” he said. “That is part of my routine in games and I wasn’t thinking.”

    attackgerbil March 1, 2009, 12:35 pm
  • Wow, that’s an accusation, YF. Particularly after you put up the open-ended semi-absolutist post with no links to other corroborative opinion-makers and no statistics to back up your hyperbole. Completely unfair.
    Were you not looking for some kind of response? Or are we minions just supposed to sit silent in awe of your expert and alarmist observations?

    SF March 1, 2009, 12:56 pm
  • Reads to me like a lovers quarrel. :)

    I'mBillMcNeal March 1, 2009, 4:33 pm
  • I certainly hope YF is right because I think Posada is extremely unlikely to catch the majority of the season.
    In 2006, Posada was worth 4.7 wins; in 2007, 7.1. Let’s split the difference and say a healthy Posada could be worth about six wins as a catcher (defense neutral, and as a catcher. The number goes way down as a first baseman, where his offense is worth less).
    In 2008, Molina was worth zero wins. He was exactly replacement level. Of course Win Values doesn’t take defense into account, and everyone says Molina’s pretty good with the defense. The FanGraphs guys say the best catchers deliver no more than a win on defense, so let’s give him one win above replacement.
    So the difference between Molina and Posada is six wins. The Yankees missed the playoffs by six games.
    Arguably, there are other players who technically the Yankee season depends on more. Were A-Rod to go down and be replaced by a replacement level player all season, that would likely be more than six wins, but it’s also not likely because A-Rod is a healthy player. So YF I think is probably right. Among players with significant injury questions, Jorge Posada’s shoulder is probably the most important body part on the 2009 Yankees.

    Paul SF March 2, 2009, 8:27 am
  • “…lovers quarrel…” funny ibm
    sf gets caught doing something he accuses others of doing [esp. me]…picking a fight…i wasn’t going to comment but this one’s too easy…i don’t think yf needs the reminder that this is a team game and everyone has to do their job for the team to win…no duh…fact is that it’s not necessarily that simple…the team that best manages around injuries and other inevitable, but unpredictable, events as the season unfolds puts themselves in the best position to be successful…if molina were to have a career year as posada’s replacement, that mitigates his loss quite nicely…the fact that yf uses the phrase “the team MAY well live or die” with posada’s health is an accurate statement…it leaves open the possibility that there are other factors [like the health and performance of every other player]…what happens if arod gets suspended for 50 games, or tex simply chokes on the pinstripes?…yf is guilty of nothing more than something we’ve all said here at one time or another, and almost every fan says…”gee, if we lose [insert player’s name] we’re screwed”…you were just picking on him…you need a time out ;)

    dc March 2, 2009, 8:51 am
  • Of course, I said six wins, and the actual difference is five, assuming Molina provided excellent defensive value. That still makes for a much tighter race for the wild card, if not the division (assuming at least one of those wins would have come at the Rays’ expense).

    Paul SF March 2, 2009, 8:58 am
  • FWIW, the PECOTA projection which had the Sox winning the division and the Yanks getting the wild card (with a few games separating them on the Rays) is based on a particularly pessimistic outlook for Posada. We’re talking only slightly better than Varitek last season. SO if we follow the logic of that projection, the loss of Posada, while not far from ideal, probably still leaves them as a contending team, a favorite for a play-off spot.

    Nick-YF March 2, 2009, 9:07 am
  • there was a recent post on fangraphs about catchers defensive value, was a good read. Posada didn’t fare so well IIRC. Varitek was neither in the upper or lower tier (except for blocking the plate, was good at that)

    dw (SF) March 2, 2009, 9:14 am
  • Interesting, Paul. What was Varitek’s value to the Sox last year? Was his not playing career-average the difference between second place and home field throughout the playoffs? Or was it Clay Buchholz?
    Look, Posada is important, no question. But the analysis isn’t complete without slotting in Teixeira for Giambi, Burnett/Sabathia/Wang for the three guys who picked up the rotation in 2008. Last year’s value and context are irrelevant. If the Yanks were fielding the exact same 2008 team in 2009 this analysis would make sense. But they aren’t. Their team is vastly different and Posada is arguably a much lesser component of this team (that’s a great thing for Yankees fans), and that is why I object to this kind of hyperbole.
    Oh, and thank you Nick, for displaying common sense.

    SF March 2, 2009, 9:46 am