Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fielder for how much?

"I didn't overpay... did I?" - Mike Ilitch's inner thoughts

I'm still not sure I'm reading this news right.

The Detroit Tigers and slugger Prince Fielder have agreed to a nine-year, $214 million deal, a source told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.

I've been told by so many fans of different teams that only the Yankees would do something so nonsensical. You know, it's one thing to spend a ton on a guy that's needed, but I don't really see a need here.

For starters, Detroit already has an MVP-caliber player at first base. Apparently Miguel Cabrera will be moved to 3B so that Fielder can stick at 1B (Prince has never played anywhere but 1B in MLB or the minor leagues). Which sounds like a fine plan since Miggy has played some 3B, but a couple problems... 1) he hasn't played 3B since 2008, and 2) his UZR/150 there that season was -36.8. To be fair Cabrera only played 116 innings there at year, but in the previous two seasons... in which he averaged about 1,318 innings at 3B... he was still below average. So the defense has certainly taken a step back.

Like I was saying when it came to the Yankees not needing to improve their pitching by signing Cole Hamels next offseason, now that they have Michael Pineda to go along with CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova for another 5 years, I don't think the Tigers needed this offensive boost. Sure, losing Victor Martinez for a season hurts, but look at their runs total last season. They scored 787 runs, which was 47 more runs than the next highest team in the AL Central. And that was the 4th place Kansas City Royals, as the 2nd place Indians scored 83 less runs (704), and the 3rd place White Sox scored 133 less runs (654). Not to mention that in 2013 and 2014 the team will get Victor Martinez back, and have an offense that is way more than they need. Especially when you consider the contracts that will be on the books.

Now, keep in mind that Detroit's payroll last season was around $107 million. Well, over the next 3 years, the team will be paying 4 guys a total of $77.9 million a season (Fielder's AAV is $23.8m, Cabrera's AAV is $21.3, Verlander's is $20.1m, and Martinez's is $12.7m). Unless the team plans on raising the team payroll then they are looking at having 73% of their payroll for only 4 guys on the 40-man roster. That's insane. I looked up the top 4 players, as far as salary, for the Yankees and they'll make just over $93.9 million (ARod - $30m, Sabathia-$24.286m, Teixeira-$23.125m, Burnett-$16.5m), or less than 50% of the team's payroll. That's still a ton for just 4 players, but it's a little different when the team is spending around $200 million.

I'm not saying I won't be nervous about facing Detroit, but I really don't think it made sense for them.

Thank You, Jorgie

He may not have made the play, but it's the effort shown in this photo that tells the story.

To start, I was never the biggest Jorge Posada fan. I've always been partial to defensive catchers, and all of you are aware of Jorge's deficiencies behind the dish. But I would never downplay Posada's importance to the Yankees. That importance went a lot further than the numbers show, although the numbers are pretty impressive.

Jorgie made his first appearance for the Yankees against the Mariners on September 4th, 1995. He didn't bat in that game, which is kind of funny to look back at now. This is a guy whose Hall of Fame career (yeah, I'm calling it) is based around what he did with the bat, and not so much the glove. But instead of batting in his first game, he entered the game in the 9th inning for Jim Leyritz as the catcher. Posada actually didn't get his first hit (a single) until his 7th at bat over a year later against the Brewers. Another funny thing I saw here is that he moved to 2B on a groundout by Mike Aldrete, then scored from 2B on a single by Luis Sojo. Why is that funny? First of all, how often do you remember Posada advancing two bases on a single? Secondly, the guy that knocked him in was one of the reasons Posada was moved from 2B to C in the minors.

Jorge started one more game in 1996, and was a substitute in a couple more games after that, but his career with the Bombers didn't really start until 1997, when he walked up to the plate 224 times. From 1997 to 2010, when he was at least a part-time catcher (catching one game the following season doesn't do it for me), Jorge's WAR was 48.2. Looking at catchers over that time period, Posada was 2nd to another Hall of Fame catcher... Ivan Rodriguez. In that time he hit 261 HR, second only to Mike Piazza... another Hall of Famer. Over those 14 years he had the 2nd highest OBP (Mauer was #1, in 867 less games), and the most RBI (1021).

But as I alluded to in the opening paragraph, Jorge Posada's legacy goes further than that. I'll start with this quote from Mr. Posada during the press conference this morning, where he announced his retirement...

"I could never wear another uniform. I will forever be a Yankee."

I'm sure there will be people calling bulls*** on that, saying that he would have played elsewhere but he didn't get an offer. Well, the fact that he didn't wait another month or so shows that that's untrue. If he had held off on retiring I have to believe somebody would have stepped up, namely the Tigers after the loss of Victor Martinez. Not to mention that MLBTR reported that the Rays, Orioles, and Phillies had interest too. But the fact is that when somebody thinks of Yankee players, Posada's face is bound to pop into their heads. That's what'll happen when a guy was part of 4 World Championships with them (1998, 1999, 2000, 2009), played in two more World Series as a Yankee (2001, 2003), and 9 other postseasons in pinstripes (1995, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011).

I'm going to let others speak for me on Jorge's importance outside of the numbers...

"He plays the game, I think, the way Thurman played it. " - Diana Munson

"Jorge is a good kid and he had a wonderful career. The Yankees don't win those championships without him." - Yogi Berra

"Jorge was one of the cornerstones of all those championship teams, handling the pitching staff all those years." - Tino Martinez

"He was one of the greatest catchers of his era, and one of the best Puerto Rican players to ever play the game" - Bernie Williams

"He played under pressure as well as anybody for me." - Joe Torre

"We're going to miss that intensity and what he brought to the game everyday." - Joe Girardi

"He's a brother..." - Derek Jeter

"Jorge was obviously one of the heart and soul pieces of all those championships with us." - Andy Pettitte

"Jorge has bled the pinstripes for a long, long time, and he played with a passion that certainly rubbed off on his teammates." - Alex Rodriguez

"in my mind, he was the greatest catcher." - David Wells

"Jorge was one of my most favorite teammates of all time." - Paul O'Neill

Jorge didn't say he would try coaching, but there's no doubt in my mind that he'd make an excellent one. The game is played through catchers, so nobody knows the game like they do. And we're talking about a catcher that spent 17 seasons in MLB. I'd tell him to take a year off, where he can not only relax and enjoy things, but he can reflect on his career and think about what he wants from there.

He probably won't see this, but just in case I want to end this by saying "thank you, Jorgie".