In five years, would you vote for Jorge Posada to make the Hall of Fame? Do you think he belongs?
-- Michael M., New York
I don't have a vote, but it promises to spark some healthy debate when the time comes to evaluate Posada's career in those terms. I think he'll be a borderline candidate who receives some support on the ballot. My initial reaction is to say no, that Posada will fall short -- much as Bernie Williams is expected to -- but that is not to diminish the contributions Posada made to collecting those championship rings.
He was an above-average offensive catcher, one of the game's best during his prime years, and certainly ranks as a worthy entry in the franchise lineage that includes the likes of Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra and Thurman Munson -- the latter of whom Posada idolized and honored with a tribute in his Yankee Stadium locker for years.
Posada's legacy promises to be one of a hard-working lunchpail demeanor on the field coupled with unbridled fiery passion in the Yankees' clubhouse. Of course, his bloop double off Pedro Martinez in the 2003 American League Championship Series will stand out, and there would have been no Derek Jeter flip play without Posada's alert sweeping tag of Jeremy Giambi in the 2001 AL Division Series.
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Sure, the 2011 season was tough for Posada, whose pride had to be dented by losing his catching job and his struggles offensively, but it shouldn't overshadow his career. I also can't help but think of the times that made you laugh; Posada on the bases always could be an adventure, as his teammates would often joke.
If that all doesn't turn out to be enough for Cooperstown, it ought to be enough for Monument Park someday.
Is there any chance the Yankees will bring back Eric Chavez?
-- Robert S., Painted Post, N.Y.
There seems to be a good shot, especially after negotiations with Hiroyuki Nakajima didn't work out. General manager Brian Cashman had said that he wasn't in a position to pursue anything for that role until the Nakajima situation was resolved, but the Yankees are known to have interest in bringing Chavez back.
If the Yankees field the same team in 2012 as they did in '11, what's to say they will go further in the playoffs?
-- Robert A., New Point, Va.
Hopefully John Sterling hasn't copyrighted the phrase, "You can't predict baseball," because I'll use it with a nod here. Let's say that they replayed the '11 season 100 times -- how could we be sure they'd get bounced by the Tigers in a five-game series every time? Not many were expecting that outcome the first time around.
The Yankees have their flaws, to be sure, but they did win 97 games -- most in the league -- for a reason. As much as we've talked about the starting pitching, for the purposes of the playoffs, a few key hits in big spots and healthier players could have tipped the balance against Detroit.
The Yankees are an older club, but still a strong one, and if they don't get into October, it'll be a surprise. Whether it's enough to win the World Series is another story, but you know what Jeter always says -- the best eight teams get in, the hottest one wins.
Are the Yankees really very interested in Yoenis Cespedes? Why go after a commodity unproven against Major League competition, especially at that price tag? Isn't that why they didn't pursue Yu Darvish?
-- Matt O., Wilton, Conn.
To some extent, but as we've seen, the Yankees are looking to reduce the amount that their payroll exceeds $200 million. That's made this a relatively quiet winter, beyond re-signing their own players like CC Sabathia and picking up options on Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. New York has scouted Cespedes, including those wild YouTube videos, but in the end, I would expect Cespedes to wind up with another club -- the Yankees just aren't cutting those checks this year. It's possible they could try to deal Swisher to create room, but that seems like a long shot.
What are the Yankees' plans for DeWayne Wise?
-- Jennifer O., Bergenfield, N.J.
The man without whom Mark Buehrle couldn't have pitched his 2009 perfect game, Wise signed a Minor League contract with the Yankees in December and offers some insurance. He figures to start the year at Triple-A and could come up in the event of an injury.
What is Joba Chamberlain's status? When is he going to be ready to pitch?
-- Shannon R., Denver
Chamberlain has been saying all along that he hopes to be ready to go north with the team in April, and while that's probably not going to happen, he is being mentioned in the Yankees' plans for 2012. They're doing nothing to discourage that optimism. Cashman has said that Chamberlain conservatively could be back in New York's bullpen by June or July, but it's possible he could come back sooner.
Mark Teixeira has not come through in the clutch. Why settle when you can get Prince Fielder? We can make some real history here.
-- Keifer L., New York
That's not going to happen. The eight-year, $180 million deal Teixeira signed before 2009 has a full no-trade clause, and Teixeira put a quick stop to any Albert Pujols talk last year by saying he has no intention of going anywhere, adding, "I'm going to be buried in pinstripes." At first base for the foreseeable future, the Yankees have bet their chips on Teixeira.
Is there any talk about developing Jesus Montero at another position? His size is a concern. Austin Romine looks like a credible big league catcher whose hitting will improve with experience.
-- Bob B., Glendale, Ariz.
Not right now; they'll give him every chance to prove that he can handle life as a catcher, and there are voices in the Yankees' organization that truly believe Montero is capable of success there. He might get a few reps at first base this spring, but for the purposes of 2012, Montero is being looked at as a catcher and DH.
"We have a player with such a high ceiling in Jesus Montero that needs to catch and continue finishing off his development as a catcher," Cashman said recently. "I expect him to catch a lot in the spring, and I would think that he'll continue that development as a catcher in-season as well at the Major League level."