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As a strong member of the “Red Sox/Yankees Rivalry is dead” Club, I’ve been forced to look for new and innovative ways to entertain myself when Boston and New York play. By that I mean, I decide who would win positional battles. Like actual positional battles. Like if two players of the same position literally fought each other, who would win? Gonzalez wins over Teixeira easily. Sabathia overpowers Beckett with his 5,000 pounds of saturated fat. Pedroia cat fights his way over Cano. What do all these players have in common? These guys are all the cores of their teams. Comparing role players and the bench just seems irrelevant (and really lame). But two players stand as anomalies to this disgusting generalization — Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada.
Five or six years ago, this would have been right up there as one of those highlighted positional battles. These two were the hearts of their respective teams. Today–well they’re both still playing for the same teams. However, with age and diminished skill sets, both Varitek and Posada have similarly seen their roles change. How these two handled the transitions could not have been anymore different.
As far as we know, very well. Varitek never caused any clubhouse drama claiming he was disrespected. He didn’t refuse to bat ninth. He even chose not to vent any pent up frustration by starting a fight with Kevin Youkilis! (My mind games certainly can be applied to real life). All in all, he kept his mouth shut, and was a team player.
Varitek has been in decline for a few years now, so the adjustment couldn’t have hurt him (He hasn’t hit over .260 since 2005). People actually have speculated whether switching to a bench role has improved his play. This year the batting average and OBP still aren’t so hot, but he already has more home runs (10) than all of last year (7).
Varitek has never been in the elite echelon of players in the game. What he has been is a captain, a two-time World Series champion, and invaluable help to the pitching staff. Since his role change, none of that has been any different. At the same time, he seems to be mentoring Saltalamachia to eventually taking complete control of the reins. He looks old as dirt and painfully slow when he swings a bat now, but that’s what happens when you get old.
Posada’s numbers trump Varitek’s, but this whole sitting on the bench thing seems new to him. How does a four-time World Series champion respond to that?
Gossip central. This one time against the Red Sox, coach batted him ninth. He threw a hissy fit and sat out and it was a lot of fun for us Sox fans. I think his wife even got involved by tweeting. More or less the Yankees insulted him and the rest of the Posada clan (his wife). It was an uncomfortable situation because he was producing virtually no offense, but it would a PR disaster to cut a Yankee-lifer and natural winner. Again, if you’re a Red Sox fan, this was particularly enjoyable.
Posada certainly has been in decline the past few years as well, but only this year has there been such a noticeable drop off. The power is gone. He can’t play catcher anymore. His batting average could be a career low. Even so, his numbers are fairly comparable to Varitek’s.
This is probably a matter of expectations. The Red Sox have witnessed Varitek decline significantly the past several seasons. Posada has never been this bad. And while I hate to ever side with a Yankee (especially one from the glory days), doesn’t it seem like Joe Girardi takes a little too much pleasure in this? It’s clear they don’t like each other and probably never have. There had to have been some friction when they played together (Posada was Girardi’s backup). This is based in no fact whatsoever, but I can’t imagine they liked each other very much back then either. Girardi took the Yankees job knowing that in several years, Posada would decline, and he could really mess with him then. Or more realistically, Posada’s skills have deteriorated due to age and Girardi has to make the tough decision any manager would have to make.
Posada thwarts Varitek and his ancient frame in a one hit knock out. I said this was a positional battle, right?