The last thing the New York Yankees need right now is controversy. While other teams like the Tigers, Twins, Rockies and Dodgers have been brawling for their respective slots in the playoffs right down to the very end (and for the Twins and Tigers, even longer than that), the Yankees cruised to the American League East title (103-59), finishing a shocking eight games ahead of the Boston Red Sox of whom they humiliated constantly after starting 0-8 against their East coast rivals.
The entire team is hitting, the rotation — while inconsistent at times — is still better than any of the other three American League Playoff teams, and their bullpen has been, by far, the best in baseball. Put simply, the Yankees are healthy, their rotation is in-line, and they are in perhaps their best position to win a World Series since 1998. But in the Bronx Zoom, even when the team is winning, something inevitably goes wrong, controversy is always lurking right around the corner. And like clockwork the Yankees got exactly what they needed the least this week, and from their very own manager none-the-less.
Jorge Posada is a cornerstone of the Yankees ballclub, on the field and in the club house. He is a leader in words and a leader by example, continuing to excel offensively and defensively at an age when many catchers begin to break down completely. Since 1997 Posada led championship pitching staffs, and helped the Yankees slug their way to more than a few dramatic wins.
His back-up Jose' Molina, while very proficient defensively (as most Molina's tend to be), leaves much to be desired at the plate. In a head-to-head comparison between the starter and his backup this concept is vividly illustrated.
Posada: .285/22/81 .363/.522/.855 130 OPS+
Molina: .217/01/11 .292/.268/.560 49 OPS+
Where as Posada is an integral part of the Yankees' lineup, Molina is a black hole that rarely gets on a base is responsible for a minuscule amount of run production, registering an OPS that is 51 points below the league average fot a hitter. Posada conversely, is still an All-Star catcher at 37, second only to Joe Mauer (this year's only deserving MVP) as the top offensive catcher in baseball.
By age 35 Johnny Bench was retired, besting 20 home runs for the last time at age 32. In another logical comparison, Mike Piazza was one year away from retirement at 37, having bested 20 home runs for the last time at age 36. When two catchers widely considered to be the greatest offensive players at the position in history were either retired or almost there, nearly completely eroded, Jorge was continuing to put up career numbers.