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Old Catchers and Jorge Posada

Posted By Brian Joura On February 10, 2009 @ 9:22 am In Catchers | 3 Comments

Everyone talks about how fortunate that Francisco Rodriguez was to set the all-time single-season saves mark in the last year of his contract. It certainly was ideal, but Rodriguez at 26-years old and a reliable closer for years, was going to get a nice contract, regardless. Instead, the person people should point to for coming up big prior to free agency is Jorge Posada.

In 2007, at the age of 35, Posada put up a .338-20-90-91-2 line, which earned him a four-year, $52.4 million contract. The good news is that on the Yankees, that is just another contract. The bad news is that there is no way he is going to earn that salary, either in 2009 or the final two years of the deal.

In baseball history, there have been only 18 seasons in which a player 37 or older has amassed 400 or more plate appearances in a season in which they appeared at 50 percent or more of their games as a catcher. And six of those belong to Carlton Fisk.

In only one of those seasons did the player hit over .300, and that was during World War II, when Ernie Lombardi hit .307 against competition that was not really major league caliber. Only three times did a player hit 20 or more home runs under these conditions, two of those by Fisk in seasons in which he batted .238 and .256, respectively.

Catching is hard. And Posada is climbing the ranks of most games caught in a career. He has played 1,390 games at catcher, which ranks in the top 40 in MLB history. Last year, Posada broke down. He had season-ending shoulder surgery and before he shut it down for the season, Posada was a liability behind the plate.

There is no guarantee that he can bounce back in 2009. And even if he can be a productive hitter, can he play well enough defensively to stay at catcher? And if not, does Posada still have enough bat for the Yankees to carry at DH?

All of these things combine to push Posada out of the top 10 in catchers for 2009. Yes, the possibility exists that he might be one of the top three at the position if he rebounds completely. But do you really like those odds? Because of his previous level of performance, Posada has more upside than only a handful of catchers. But he is much more likely to repeat his 2008 numbers, which means fantasy players should look elsewhere.


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