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Thinking About Jorge Posada

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I've heard in said around the Yankee blogosphere that a fourth year should be a deal-breaker for the Yankees and Jorge Posada.  I think we can count on Jorge to maintain his 2006 level of production for a few more years.  Just as importantly, the dropoff from Jorge to the second best catcher on the market (either FA or reasonable trade) is huge.

Ok, Jorge benefited from an .080 point gain his Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP), soaring to .389 after holding steady around .300 the previous 4 seasons.  So I expect his BA to fall back to his .277 lifetime mark.  Bye bye .340, hello reality.

While Posada did post the best slugging percentage of his career (.543), that's only a .050 point increase from 2007- and precisely what I'd expect from the higher BABIP.

That difference in BABIP comes came from  lowering his fly ball percentage from 42.2% to 37.5%, slightly lowering his strikeout percentage.  More contact+ better contact= more offense.

But the news gets better from there.

The percentage of Jorge's ABs that resulted in a BB actually rose (12.8% this year, 12.1 in 2006, and 12.2 2005).  

This seeming increase in patience could be a sign that he was pitched more carefully than in the past because of his great year, or it could indicated some further refinement at the plate.  

To me, it's a sign that we can expect him to remain effective for a few more years.  Regular readers know how much I value OBP; if Jorge can maintain and OBP in the .350-.375 range over the next three season, he'll remain one of the most productive catchers in the game.

Is there a chance he will suffer a sudden decline?  Of course, but remember Bernie Williams suffered shoulder troubles throughout the later stages of his career.  Jorge hasn't had a similar injury that could snowball.

My only real concern about Posada is his speed.  Doubles become singles when a 38-year old catcher steps to the plate.  That's why Posada's batting eye will quickly become his most important offensive feature.

Once Posada is signed the Yankees need to make a generous offer to Jose Molina.  Yogi benefited from Elston Howard assuming a share of the catching duties that increased every year.  Molina is only a stop-gap, but the Yanks have a pair of catching prospects in the system (Cervelli high-A, Montero, just signed, 30 games in rookie ball) who could be ready as Jorge transitions to DH or retires.