This photo, with its torqued bodies in violent motion, looks like something Peter Paul Rubens might take up if he were to come back to life as a baseball fan. The play is from September 2005—perhaps you remember it; Jorge held on for the out and the Yanks won, 8-4. It’s posted here as it suggests what is surely the worst case scenario for either the Yanks or the Sox: the potential injury to their prized backstop. The red cross on Tek’s helmet seems almost prophetic.
When Yankee fans talk here about team MVP’s, the discussion usually comes down to Mo, Jeter, Alex. Their values are astronomical, but the truth is that the one player the Yankees can least afford to replace is Jorge Posada. The Bomber bullpen is stacked—even if Mo goes down, the Yanks will convert most of their save opportunities. Losing Jeter or Alex would be tough, especially with Cairo as the primary backup, but finding a replacement on the market at one of those slots is not an impossibility. If the Yanks lose a starter, their Triple-A rotation can easily fill in. But Posada? The drop between his production and that of his likely backup, Todd Pratt, is enormous. Every time Jorge’s involved in a play at the plate, it’s going to be a cringe-worthy experience. Frankly, it’s probably worth conceding all but the most crucial runs to protect his health. Varitek, who’s already shown more wear and tear than Jorge, is in a similar position on the Sox. He had a down year in 2006, and look what happened: Boston was passed by the Blue Jays. I certainly hope these two can stay healthy this year; it’s fun to watch great players play, and it’s great for the rivalry to have the best on the field. A la santé!