I wrote yesterday about Jorge Posada’s plans to continue playing next season and how that almost surely would mean leaving the Yankees, speculating that he’ll have a very hard time finding a guaranteed job because the market for 40-year-old designated hitters with .388 slugging percentages isn’t going to be pretty.
It sounds like Posada had that same realization, because last night he told Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York that he hasn’t given up on being a catcher even if the Yankees basically did everything possible to avoid putting him behind the plate for even spot duty this year:
I could catch next year. I could have this year. I could have been a backup this year, could have backed somebody up.
Technically he’s right, but only in the same sense that I could be, say, an underwear model. Wallace notes that he hasn’t caught a single inning all season, including spring training, and that’s because the Yankees were terrified of Posada behind the plate after watching his defensive skills deteriorate in recent years.
I’d be shocked if there’s another team out there willing to let him catch again, at age 40 and after a year off from playing the position, although in fairness the odds of that happening probably aren’t considerably lower than the odds of another team wanting him as a full-time DH.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.