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New York Yankee notes: Posada's defense already a hot topic

One game, one passed ball and one looming start today for A.J. Burnett. That's all it has taken for Jorge Posada's declining defensive skills to become a topic of conversation.

John Harper of the New York Daily News today basically reiterated my point from the other day. If you are not used to Posada's occasional missteps behind home plate by now, you had better get used to them. At least this season, he isn't going anywhere.

After all these years, you know what you get with Jorge Posada. At age 38 he is still one of the best offensive catchers in the majors, as evidenced by his loud 3-for-4 night in the season opener, but obviously his defense sometimes giveth what his bat taketh.

Yes, that passed ball Sunday night cost the Yankees dearly. Yes, Posada should have handled that up-and-in fastball from Damaso Marte, even if he was set up down-and-away and had to react quickly to a pitch that missed location badly.

But it is what it is, as Mike Piazza used to say, when his defense became a major issue late in his career. And indeed, it remains to be seen if Posada's defense deteriorates to the point where it makes for an unpleasant finish to his days in New York, as it did for the former Met star.

Posada catches Burnett today. Both claim to be looking forward to starting fresh after last season's difficulties.

We will just have to see. Burnett is just a difficult guy to catch, with movement and occasional location issues. The type of pitcher Posada, at this stage, has a tough time handling. I still think our man Francisco Cervelli catches many of his starts this season.

  • Manager Joe Girardi made his bullpen plan pretty obvious Sunday night. And that means Joba Chamberlain will be the primary setup man for Mariano Rivera. Question is, will he be up to the task?

    TYU wonders where Joba's velocity went, since even as a reliever it doesn't seem to be what it used to be.

    Out of the bullpen, where one would expect to see an uptick in velocity, Joba’s fastball was generally where it was as a starter a season ago, in the 92-93 mph range. He touched 94-96 three or four times – out of 33 pitches, mind you – however, when one considers that Joba used to regularly fire 95-98 mph fastballs into Jorge Posada’s glove as a reliever, the appearance was disheartening to say the least. Joba seemed to share that sentiment, avoiding his fastball in favor of his slider.

    Writing for ESPN New York, Andrew Marchand says the Yankees have a problem if Joba proves unable to lock down the 8th inning.

    The Yankees are a $200 million machine -- but if the bridge to Mariano Rivera collapses, the Red Sox and Rays could fly by in the standings, and it is not inconceivable that the Yankees could miss the playoffs. That is the pressure on Chamberlain's right shoulder.

    How he handles this could be the most important element of the Yankees' young season. And if he fails, this could be the end of Chamberlain as an important Yankee, or even a Yankee at all. If he doesn't take hold of the eighth-inning role, his next stop may be riding on a Triple-A bus. ...

    The expectations as we move from the Joba Rules to the Joba Roles are very high. There has been a public outcry that the Yankees have ruined Chamberlain. They held him back and have not let him be himself. Chamberlain's never said it, but you get a sense he might be feel that way, too. ...

    Chamberlain is just 24 and he seems a little worn out by all the attention, all the expectations and the perception that he is failing.
  • New York Magazine is planning to have a little fun with John Sterling's calls this season. Sorry, but listening to Sterling is rarely fun. It's usually torture.