Unless you're living under a rock (and I won't judge you if you are), you've probably heard that New York Yankees' catcher Jorge Posada retired today. Posada was drafted out of Puerto Rico in 1990 - I was less than six months old - and debuted five years later on September 4, 1995. Needless to say I cannot remember a Yankees team without Posada behind the plate.
He'll end his career with a .273 BA, .374 OBP, .474 SLG, 275 HR, and 1065 RBI - extremely solid numbers for someone who squatted behind the plate an average of 93 games per season (when you take out his first two seasons and his last, that average jumps to 112).
With Pettitte now gone for an entire season, and Posada bowing out, the only remnants of the dream teams of the late 1990's are Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera (who we all know is some sort of android and will never get old). Even as a Red Sox fan, I came of age hearing these names and seeing these faces in magazines and newspapers and on television - and it certainly feels strange to know that I won't be seeing them anymore.
In a way, Pettitte's retirement was less jarring, as he spent three years in Houston just as I was getting old enough to stay up until the end of baseball games - he wasn't a Yankee lifer like Posada and the others. Even as it will be strange to see the Yankees without Posada, he is making the best choice for himself and his team. All too often in baseball, we see players trying to hold on just a few years too long, claiming that they'll regain their stroke with the right offseason diet plan or workout. As painful as it is to see your heroes retire, it is so much worse to watch them struggle on in denial.
Posada had a taste of that struggle last season, batting just .235 with 14 homers and 44 RBI, and managed just one game behind the plate. His retirement, though emotional for Yankees' players and fans, is the right decision.
But just for fun, let's look at what Bill James projected for Posada, had he participated in the 2012 season: 110 games, .246 BA, .343 OBP, .416 SLG, 12 HR, and 47 RBI. Apparently James foresaw Posada sliding slowly into mediocrity - but Posada had other plans, and made his final, tearful farewell this morning in the Bronx.