"Somebody will have to come out and take the uniform off me, and the guy who comes after it had better bring help."
--Early Wynn, Hall of Fame Pitcher
Retirement is a fickle creature. He waits in hiding and pounces at the right time, reducing an otherwise healthy and productive athlete to a shadow of their former selves. When he gets near, you can almost see her coming and her affects are both bewildering and vengeful.
No man escapes Father Time.
Lost in the bombshell of the mega-deal signed by Prince Fielder, was the formal press conference announcing the retirement of Jorge Posada from the Yankees. At the age of 40, and relegated to a part-time DH role, Posada decided that his best days were behind him and he had no desire to suit up in any other uniform than the Yankee pinstripes he wore for the past 17 seasons.
It is funny that Posada would go out with the relative anonymity that characterized his playing days. Always overshadowed by players with more star power, Posada was just as important a piece of the Yankee puzzle as the Derek Jeters, Mariano Riveras, or countless other players who received more credit for their contributions. He ranks among the best backstops of all-time, sporting a lifetime batting average of .273 with 379 doubles, 275 home runs, and 1065 runs batted in.
As a fan, especially a Red Sox fan, I find it interesting that we may also be seeing a somewhat unique coincidence between the longtime rivals. With Boston’s Jason Varitek still without a contract and, for all intents and purposes, without a position with the club, we may see both retire in the same year, riding off into the sunset as comrades rather than enemies.
Varitek may not be as accomplished with the bat as was Posada, but he was no slouch either, especially considering he wore the tools of ignorance in between at-bats. If Varitek chooses to end his career in a Boston uniform and retires as many expect, he’ll do so with a .256 career average, 306 doubles, 193 home runs, and 757 home runs. But Varitek didn’t carve out his name as an offensive force. Rather, he was the receiver that pitchers wanted to throw to, a man regarded for his preparation and his ability to call a game unlike most catchers of his generation.
In all honesty, it is kind of fitting that both the Yankees and the Red Sox would go through a changing of the guard at the same time. Both are likely to also begin a new journey at the same time; in a new career with the game they love. Varitek is destined to manage; you don’t just learn to prepare and lead like that without taking the next logical step into the dugout. Posada has already been mentioned within either a coaching role or an announcing role within the Yankee organization. Given the pride he carried last season when the reduced roles were thrust upon him, it may be better in the announcing booth for a year or so, just to let those hurt feelings heal a bit.
In the end, this fan just wants to make sure that these two pillars of the baseball community get the tip of the cap they deserve.
Thank you gentlemen!
- The Red Sox made a nice “under the radar” signing earlier this week, inking Cody Ross to a one-year deal to platoon in right field and provide a safety net for Carl Crawford. Ross is the prototypical “dirt dog” player that characterized the 2004 championship team, cut right in the mold of Kevin Millar. He’ll be productive in Fenway Park, but his hustle, attitude, and leadership will be what really earns him his paycheck from game to game.
- For all the talk of Fielder’s bat being added to Detroit, the shift of Miguel Cabrera to third is going to be the real challenge. Remember, this is the same Cabrera who had such limited range at 3rd that the Tigers moved him to first after just 15 games in 2008. He’ll need to show marked improvement at the position if the Tigers want to make the most of this arrangement. The loss of Brandon Inge’s defense will be a huge hurdle to overcome, and I’m not sure the “sturdy” Cabrera can make that jump.
- It took just one down year for Eric Wedge to consider moving Ichiro out of the leadoff spot. This is a man who prior to last season, had strung together 10 consecutive seasons of at least a .300 average and 200 hits, and he owns a .370 career on-base percentage. Now, I know the Mariners are an offensive juggernaut that can hide a bat like that if they need to, but I’m second-guessing moving the greatest singles machine since Pete Rose.
We had a huge level of success with the two live discussion groups we hosted during the NFC and AFC Championship games. Despite a technical issue that held people to having to wait five minutes between posts, we had our highest single-day hit total of all-time. Thank you to all that took part and made it a success.
To keep the good vibe going, we are going to host another such live session during the Super Bowl next week. Oh, and we’ve gotten the delay issue fixed on our end, limiting it to just 1 minute between posts, so the conversation can flow as needed.