Jorge Posada plans on remaining Yankees’ starting catcher

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With a solid backup in Francisco Cervelli and an elite prospect in 20-year-old Jesus Montero there’s been a lot of speculation about how the Yankees will divvy up playing time at catcher next season and beyond, but Jorge Posada told Christian Red of the New York Daily News that he expects to remain the starter:

I’m going to prepare for [the starting catching job]. I love catching, love being behind the plate. I take a lot of pride, that’s my position. If they want me to be DH or catch, just be honest and let me know what’s up.

Red notes that Posada was behind the plate for just 83 of his 120 games this season and a similar split makes sense for 2011, when he’ll be finishing up a four-year, $52 million contract at age 39. Posada continues to be a major asset offensively, posting an .811 OPS that ranked seventh among all players who started at least 75 games at catcher, but his defense has become a major liability.

Of course, while everyone seems to love Montero’s potential offensively few people are convinced that he has the defensive skills to stick behind the plate long term, let alone take on significant innings at catcher in the majors as a 21-year-old.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉