Well, not really, but John Harper (Daily News) seems to think so:
Jorge Posada’s defense is an issue that’s not going away, especially as he turns 39 next year. Joe Girardi’s willingness to let Jose Molina catch A.J. Burnett in the playoffs was an indication of his feelings about the importance of defense behind the plate, and if Matsui is not re-signed, Girardi is likely to ease Posada into more of a DH role.
In that case, they need to re-sign Molina. He’s such a brilliant defensive catcher that the Yankees can carry his bat in the lineup for, say, 80 games.
Okay, so I have two issues with Harper’s text, as these issues appear to be central going into the 2010 season. The first issue is in relation to Harper’s opening sentence, in which he writes, “Jorge Posada’s defense is an issue that’s not going away, especially as he turns 39 next year.” Now, Harper cites no statistic or specific incident which demonstrates Posada’s defensive decline. This is likely because there are no sources from which he can draw upon in order to verify that Posada’s defense is, indeed, as poor as he says it is. Instead of solidifying his case with factual analysis, we are left to assume that Posada is a terrible catcher because Jose Molina got to catch A.J. Burnett in the postseason.
That’s all. There is nothing substantive of note here.
In reality, the main reason Joe Girardi paired A.J. Burnett and Molina together is simple. It’s not that Posada is awful, rather, it’s Molina is good and he and Burnett have had success together throughout the ’09 season. This doesn’t necessarily speak to Jorge Posada’s defensive talent, instead, it says something about the rapport established between Molina and Burnett (and Burnett’s comfort level with Molina). That’s not to say that Posada and Burnett haven’t had their ups and downs this season, however, those issues can be explained by the time frame in which Posada caught Burnett. There were mechanical problems affecting Burnett during his starts with Posada for much of the season, ultimately causing some statistical blow back in the form of Burnett’s .270/.353/.421 line with Posada (luck was also a factor, as Burnett’s .309 BABIP with Posada was higher than his career average of .294). Basically, to claim Posada is an altogether awful defender based on this Burnett situation is particularly bogus.
Digging deeper into Harper’s text of horrors, we find the rotating DH theme—the second issue which I mean to address. In the passage featured above, Harper writes that “Girardi is likely to ease Posada into more of a DH role,” because of his defensive ineffectiveness (which Harper has yet to affirm with any type of quantifiable data). Under Harper’s plan, it appears as though Posada would become a DH piece while he’s not catching and, while he is catching (poorly, I might add, according to Harper), A-Rod and others could rotate into the DH slot.
My biggest concern with the rotating DH plan is that it gives at-bats away to inferior offensive players such as Francisco Cervelli, or, in Harper’s case, Jose Molina. Essentially, a Ramiro Pena-type becomes an everyday player while A-Rod, Jeter or whoever else is marked as “old” is the team’s DH, an issue that no one seems to discuss or detail in any of the articles or opinion pieces that praise the rotating DH idea. Now, can the Yankees seriously afford to give regular at-bats to Jose Molina? Well, John Harper seems to think so, going so far as to say that Molina is such a “brilliant defensive catcher that the Yankees can carry his bat in the lineup for, say, 80 games” (and, here, 80 is a random number). Well, in 2008, Molina was the Yankees’ regular catcher for the better part of the season, hitting .216/.263/.313 over 100 games and the team ultimately failed to enter the postseason (that brilliant defense only goes so far). If you implement a rotating DH, it ultimately becomes a significant offensive liability.
Somehow, though, according to Harper, the Yankees’ offense can sustain that blow, despite losing Matsui’s bat.
How does this make sense again? In fact, how does the rotating DH idea make any sense at all? Everyone seems to love the idea, yet no one seems to be able to explain how it will work from a practical perspective. In his text, John Harpers introduces us to the nightmarish reality of the plan, albeit inadvertently. In 2010, in order to sustain their overpowering offense over of the American League, the Yankees need to have a regular DH, and that DH should not be named Jorge Posada (the regular catcher). It’s the only legitimate plan that exists at this point in time.
Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images
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