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View Full Version : Unselfish play



Red Leader
06-23-2006, 10:58 AM
RFS's posts on RZ about Liriano and other stuff that might not get the publicity or notice it deserves reminded me of a game I watched last week. It was a Yankees game. Randy Johnson vs Brett Myers and the Phils. Absolutely drove me nuts. Jorge Posada was catching Randy Johnson, and it was a nightmare. I've always been told since I started playing the position that the best trait a catcher can have is to be unselfish. All pitchers are different. Some need you to take the bull by the horns and call the game for them. Some need to feel that they are in charge, and that they are in command of the game. That's what gives them confidence to make the pitch when they need to in a tight spot.

This is the reason I can't stand Jorge Posada. He is not an unselfish catcher, at all. He has to be in control of the game in every game he catches. He has to call the pitches, setup the hitters the way he wants, etc. Because of this, he and Randy Johnson make an awful battery. Johnson likes to be in control of the games he pitches. He likes to throw what he wants to throw in the situations he wants to throw them. Posada simply won't let him. In that game, I'd bet that Posada went to the mound more than 10 times in 5 or so innings to talk to Johnson. Neither of them refused to give in to the other. At one point, Derek Jeter went to the mound when Posada came out (about the 7th or 8th time) to tell them to knock it off and that someone had to give in and let the other take control. It didn't work. They battled all night. The Yankees ended up losing that game, I feel, because those two couldn't be unselfish. In that instance, I think it's Posada's job to give up control to Johnson. The Unit is the one that is throwing the ball, executing the pitches, not Posada. It should be his job, if he wants to do it, to throw whatever he wants. It should not be Posada's job to tell him what to throw, even if he thinks he knows a hitter, and knows what will get him out. Many people around baseball feel that Posada is and was one of the best catchers in baseball. I totally disagree. He's a good hitter for a catcher, but his inability to give up control of a game in any situation really eats at me. If he continues to play this way (and I have no doubt he will) it's going to cost the team an important win in the post season where Johnson is pitching and they need Posada's bat in the lineup

RFS62
06-23-2006, 11:11 AM
Interesting stuff.

They have to have had a game plan. Usually, on that level, they go over the hitters before the game and decide how they're going to pitch them.

But ultimately, it's up to the pitcher to decide what he's got on a particular day. I wonder if the Big Unit wasn't comfortable with his stuff that day and Posada wouldn't relent?

I'd love to have been a fly on the wall for those discussions.

Red Leader
06-23-2006, 11:20 AM
Interesting stuff.

They have to have had a game plan. Usually, on that level, they go over the hitters before the game and decide how they're going to pitch them.

But ultimately, it's up to the pitcher to decide what he's got on a particular day. I wonder if the Big Unit wasn't comfortable with his stuff that day and Posada wouldn't relent?

I'd love to have been a fly on the wall for those discussions.


Yeah, I'm sure they had a game plan going in.

I think you're right in that Johnson wasn't comfortable with some of his stuff (and that probably what he wasn't comfortable with was a BIG part of the game plan). Posada refused to let him deviate from the game plan, though, which I don't think is right. He kept putting signals down and you could just see the Big Unit getting ticked off. He'd shake it off and Posada would give him the same signal again and again. At one point Johnson crossed him up (on purpose, I felt) and threw something other than what was called, which resulted in another trip to the mound. They showed them basically after every inning in the stairwell to the clubhouse talking and even arguing at one point. The conversations at the mound didn't seem to be "pep talks" or "just talking about signals", they were almost flat out arguing at the mound at one point--that's when Jeter came in. There are some serious issues that need to be worked out if that battery is going to work for the Yankees.

vaticanplum
06-23-2006, 11:34 AM
I think Posada is extremely frustrated with Johnson, and I can't say I blame him. While I agree with you that a catcher should often defer to a pitcher and certainly not make a bad situation worse (as in this case), I find it terribly ironic that in a situation between Randy Johnson and Jorge Posada, Posada should be called the selfish one. Johnson's had problems all year -- the last two years, really -- because he's been too stubborn to adjust his aging pitching. Posada did not catch him all last year because they didn't work well together, and now, when it's becoming clear that Johnson needs to adjust, Posada hasn't developed the rapport with him to help him do so, so there's frustration on all sides.

Posada has worked just fine with an awful lot of pitchers over the years -- good pitchers, not-so-good pitchers, English-speaking pitchers, Spanish-speaking pitchers, Chinese-speaking pitchers. He's had some trouble at times, but certainly not more so than the average catcher. Johnson is not easy to work with, and yes Posada should give in at times and learn how to communicate better. But the blame can't be placed all on him, and I think his track record proves that he's not an inherently selfish catcher.

Red Leader
06-23-2006, 11:44 AM
From my experience, Posada has worked well with Wang, Small, Mussina, Jaret Wright, Esteban Loaiza, and Pavano, guys that will let him call the game for them. He doesn't work well with pitchers who want to be in control like Johnson. I can't remember Posada's relationship with Roger Clemens. I can't remember if they got along well or not. (I thought they did). If they did, maybe Posada was younger and was willing to reliquish some of the control to Roger back then. I know he struggled working with Javy Vazquez (another pitcher known to like to call his own game) when Vazquez was there.

and I'm not saying that some of the blame isn't on Randy Johnson. His communication with Posada could definately be better. It's almost as if Johnson doesn't like Posada on a personal level, that's how crazy that game was that I watched. I thought they were going to go after each other after one of the innings. But, Johnson does need to make adjustments. I just feel, as a former catcher, that it's Posada's job to do whatever he humanly can to help Johnson make those adjustments. That's part of his job as a catcher.

RFS62
06-23-2006, 11:57 AM
I have to agree with Red Leader, as I almost always do.

The pitcher has to be in control. He knows what stuff he has on a given day. He has to have confidence in the pitch before he delivers it.

If he were a rookie, different story. This is Randy Johnson we're talking about. He's got his own book on all these guys.

vaticanplum
06-23-2006, 12:08 PM
and I'm not saying that some of the blame isn't on Randy Johnson. His communication with Posada could definately be better. It's almost as if Johnson doesn't like Posada on a personal level, that's how crazy that game was that I watched. I thought they were going to go after each other after one of the innings. But, Johnson does need to make adjustments. I just feel, as a former catcher, that it's Posada's job to do whatever he humanly can to help Johnson make those adjustments. That's part of his job as a catcher.

Yeah, for the most part I agree with this. Posada should defer to Johnson due both to position and personality (johnson's not exactly known as a walkover type). I'm just biased in this particular situation because I don't like Johnson on the Yankees, I think his refusal to tailor his pitching as situations have called for has hurt the team, so my inclincation is to think maybe Posada had a point technically speaking. But he does not deal with it well.

I think it's pretty clear that there are some personality problems between them, as you said. Flaherty was Johnson's catcher last year and Stinnett has been on-and-off this year. It's still a surprise to me every time Posada catches him, actually.

On a side note, I do think that although a catcher should defer to a strong pitcher like Randy Johnson, I do favor catchers who call a good game (Girardi comes to mind). I think it gives good middle ground and perspective to the situation if the pitcher has control of his stuff.

Red Leader
06-23-2006, 12:18 PM
On a side note, I do think that although a catcher should defer to a strong pitcher like Randy Johnson, I do favor catchers who call a good game (Girardi comes to mind). I think it gives good middle ground and perspective to the situation if the pitcher has control of his stuff.

Oh, I prefer catchers that call a good game as well. Problem is, even with a catcher that calls a good game, you still have pitchers that HAVE to do their own thing. Take Clemens and Ausmus in HOU right now. Ausmus calls great games. That's mainly why he still has a job. Still, when Clemens pitches, it's his call. In their first game together last night, it seemed that Ausmus made all the calls up until the last inning. That last inning was all Roger. He basically told Ausmus what he felt he could throw and get away with as he knew what he could throw as he was tiring. Kudos to Ausmus for being flexible enough to know when to turn it over to Roger to start making the calls. That's a truly unselfish catcher.