Friday, October 7, 2011

Don Kelly and Jorge Posada

At this moment, Thursday's game was scoreless. When
Don Kelly finished his swing, the Tigers had the lead,
and they never gave it back.
Don Kelly first came to my attention in 2009 as the conduit for a piece of Metrodome magic — a misplayed fly ball that ignited a five-run rally that gave the Twins a win over Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.

That season ended with the Twins beating the Tigers in the memorable Game 163, so that was no small failure.

But Jim Leyland, Dave Dombrowski and Company kept Kelly around. He's a Swiss Army Knife of a player — plays defense in the corner outfield positions (and with regulars Delmon Young and Magglio Ordonez  around, Leyland has plenty of use for defensive substitutes), is an infield option, provides a left-handed bat -- heck, he even pitched for one out and caught six innings this season.

And on Thursday night, for Game 5 of the ALDS, Leyland wrote him into the starting lineup in Yankee Stadium, hitting second — and Don Kelly hit a first-inning home run. He made plays at third base, he made plays in right field.

In September 2009, I didn't think Kelly was long for the majors. Today, there's a generation of Tigers fans unlikely to forget him.


Jorge Posada hit .429/.579/.571
in the ALDS. If those are his final
games, he went out well.
An image from the TBS broadcast that will linger for a while: As soon as Alex Rodriguez struck out to end the Yankees season, the entire dugout turned away from the field and headed back to the clubhouse.

Everybody except Jorge Posada, who continued to stare out at the Tigers celebration.

This is probably it for Posada. He's 40 years old now -- a well-used 40. His contract is expired. His play has diminished to the point where he had become a platoon DH. The Yankees have no real use for him anymore, and it was widely believed early in the season that the higher-ups were hoping to prod him into retirement.

He swallowed his considerable pride (the bitterness of that menu being considerably sweetened by the $13 million or so the Yankees paid him) and stuck it out.

I don't know that he's all that interested in playing for somebody else, especially for the kind of money a platoon DH should get (roughly a tenth of what he made this year). If he does, it will be odd to see him in a different uniform.

His has been a unique and high-level career. The Yankees have had a string of stellar catchers over the generations. By my reckoning, he's the third-greatest catcher they've had, and he's worthy of the Hall of Fame.

1 comment:

  1. 2 posts in one, Ed. Goes to show ya that the first faltering steps in a MLB career rarely tell what the player will ultimately become. Good for Kelly and the Tigs!

    The bit on Posada shows me that he's probably worth an entire post or more all by himself in the future. I tend to agree with you on his worthiness for the HoF. His was a fairly quiet career, but he was always there, quietly playing outstanding baseball.