Now from the core four we are down to the terrific two (Sounded better in my head).
On tuesday morning a teary eyed Jorge Posada announced his retirement from the game of baseball, a career that spans 17 years all wearing pinstripes for the New York Yankees. Posada, a member of the “core four” along with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and already retired Andy Pettitte, were some of the key pieces for the Yankees from 1996 to the present overtime earning 5 championships.
Jorge’s first game in the MLB was in 1995 but he was sent down to AAA before the postseason so he could not be apart of the 1996 World Series. In 1997 Jorge was named the backup catcher to then starter Joe Girardi and eventually would begin to split time with Girardi. Joe Girardi began to grow into a mentor for Posada, until after the 1999 season when Girardi left New York to play for Chicago Cubs when Posada took over starting at catcher. Over the next few years, Posada flourished into one of the games best and most consistant catchers in the MLB. Posada won a Silver Slugger Award for catcher every year from 2000 to 2003 as well as starting for the American League in the All-Star Game in 2002 and 2003. From 2000 to 2007 Jorge consistently put up numbers that top the league not just for catchers, but for all players.
After the 2007 season, Jorge became an unrestricted free agent and could sign with any team that would make an offer. One of the biggest offer Jorge would receive would be from the Yankees cross town rivals, the New York Mets, offering him a five year contract. Tempted by the contract Posada turned the Mets down and resigned with the Yankees for a four year, $52 million contract, taking less money to stay in the Bronx. Jorge returned to the Yankees in 2008 and him and the rest of the core four won another World Series Championship in 2009.
In 2011 Jorge was moved away from starting catcher to be the DH where he struggled, hitting .230 which lead to manager Joe Girardi removing Jorge from the everyday starting lineup. Jorge was very vocal about being displeased with his recent playing time and when in the lineup batting 8th in the order. As the season progressed a rumor began to spread around that Jorge would retire during the season due to his displeasure of his role on this Yankee team. But Jorge held it together and played the season out with the Yankees, coming off the bench several times and eventually getting himself back into the lineup on occasion. Durring the Postseason against the Detroit Tigers, Posada got six hits (including a triple), four runs, and four walks in 14 at-bats as the starting DH for a .429 batting average and a .579 on-base percentage. After the series ended with the Yankees being eliminated from the postseason Jorge sat in his locker and fielded questions about his future with the team and the possibility that this may be the last time he ever puts on a Yankees uniform and he started to get teary eyed realizing that his future was uncertain. Over the offseason, Jorge was offered several contracts from other teams and he considered continuing his career away from the Yankees but he just could not.
Jorge Posada finished his career batting .273, hitting 275 home runs, batting in 1,065 RBI’s, appearing in 5 All-Star Games, winning 5 Silver Slugger Awards, and most importantly won 4 World Series Championships. All of his stats are great but what he ment to the Yankees goes far beyond statistics.
Posada was one of the most stable and reliable players the Yankees could have hoped for at one of the most important positions in the field. Being a leader in the clubhouse along with Jeter gave the team an identity of professionalism that he showed every time he went out on the field. Jorge didn’t have to put up MVP numbers all the time, he was consistently good putting up numbers that topped hitting stats for catchers all throughout his career. Batting in the heart of the Yankees order for years he was a stable rock that the Yankees could depend on. In his career he has caught pitchers such as Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, David Wells, David Cone, Mike Mussina, and hundreds of Mariano Rivera’s record 603 saves. Not to mention the success of his charity, Jorge Posada Foundation to help find a cure for the disease, Craniosynostosis which his son suffers from, and support families with children affected by the condition. Jorge has made an impact on and off the field.
Growing up watching the Yankees in the late 1990’s and now through the 2000’s, Posada was one of those players who you would just always expect to see behind the plate and batting 6th or 7th in the lineup day in and day out. It will be very odd for years to come to now see someone else behind the plate wearing the traditional Yankees pinstripes catching for CC or Rivera but Yankee fans are going to have to get use to seeing players that they have made huge impacts on the Yankees success over the past 15 years.
As players like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera get older, the end of the road for the members of the “core four” is within sight and the Yankees organization and their fans will have to prepare for life without them. Whether the players leave and join another team or retire, there will be a day when someone else will be lining up at shortstop or catcher and the numbers 2, 20 and 42 will be retired in monument park.
I believe in the future a place in Cooperstown will await Jorge wearing a New York Yankees cap as he has done his entire career adding that to his already impressive resume putting him in the long list of great Yankee catchers where he belongs. Forever in Pinstripes.
But for now lets celebrate and remember the career of one of the great Yankees catchers to put on the pinstripes and one last time,
by Andrew Isaac