(2006) Jorge Posada: Most Indispensable Yankee?

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Most people would name Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter if asked what player could the Yankees least afford to lose to an injury over an extended period of time. Certainly losing Rivera or Jeter would sting badly.

But think about it: If Rivera were hurt, Kyle Farnsworth would be expected to do a decent job in Rivera’s place, and, if Jeter went down, Joe Torre could move Alex Rodriguez to shortstop and play Miguel Cairo, Andy Phillips, and/or possibly Eric Duncan, the tremendous hitting prospect, at third base.

But my hunch is the player the Yankees really can’t afford to lose is Jorge Posada.

The other day he was playing catch with Kelly Stinnett, got distracted and looked away, and was hit in the face with the ball, suffering a broken nose. It was the kind of freak injury that seems to happen routinely during practice, especially batting practice, but, regardless, right now, Posada is still resting at home trying to keep his head from hurting. As tough a guy as Posada is (and he constantly shakes off aches and pains), there is nevertheless now a good chance he may not be ready for the season opener in Oakland on April 3.

The Yankees Have Thin Back-Up for Posada

Posada probably won’t miss more than a game or two, if that, but anytime he sneezes it points out how paper thin the Yankees are in backing up Posada.

John Flaherty did a good job for a few years, but he has left and retired. The new back-up, Stinnett, is perhaps best known for having caught Randy Johnson a little when both were with Arizona, but Stinnett would not be a good long-term solution if Posada was out of the line-up for a long period of time.

(2006) Jorge Posada: Most Indispensable Yankee?

Wil Nieves, hitting .286 (6 for 21) in spring training, has a very little bit of major-league experience. He is out of options, however, and the Yankees will lose him unless they keep him on the team when camp breaks. The way it looks now, the Yankees may be forced to keep Nieves as a third catcher and use this roster spot as insurance in case of injuries to either Posada or Stinnett.

Omir Santos, age 24, who has no major-league experience, caught part of today’s Yankees game in the Grapefruit League. He is hitting .167 (2 for 12) this spring, and I don’t believe he is considered a top prospect.

No Catchers in Yankees Farm System Considered Top Prospects

In fact, I am not aware of a single catcher in the Yankees farm system who is currently considered a top prospect. That doesn’t bode well for the future, as Posada is getting to an age when he needs to soon start breaking in his understudy and eventual successor, and it doesn’t bode well for the present either.

My guess is that if Posada got seriously hurt and had to miss more than a couple months at any point this season, the Yankees would have to go on the market and search for a capable everyday catcher. So, in the future, it is imperative that Posada be careful and not turn away when the ball is thrown his way.