Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Talkin' All That Jazz
2007-09-13 09:47
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Our pal Allen Barra talks to Mets announcer Ron Darling about Jazz in this week's Voice. Darling knows Lee Morgan from Ahmad Jamal. Who knew? And not for nothing, but I think that Darling is a superior color man.

Okay, here's something to chew over. Yesterday, another BB friend, Pete Abraham, wrote a post about Jorge Posada. Pete thinks Posada is a "probable" Hall of Famer. I'm not so sure about that--as much as I'd like to see it happen, of course. Yeah, I believe that Posada is the third-best catcher in Yankee history (behind Yogi and Bill Dickey), but I think he needs to have another two or three very good seasons in order to be worthy of the Hall of Fame. Just off the top of my head, I wouldn't rank Posada ahead of Ted Simmons, would you? Discuss.

2007-09-13 10:18:15
1.   Mattpat11
In other Pete Abe Blog news,


Move that team. Give San Antonio a shot for christsakes.

2007-09-13 10:18:51
2.   williamnyy23
We covered this pretty nicely back in March:

Copied below are my thoughts from March. Knowing what we now do, I think the case for Posada is now approaching borderline. A 160 OPS+ is going to give him an all-time season, so if he can be productive (OPS+ around 110) for two or three more seasons, I think he becomes a lock.

March 20:
Posada's HoF case is hurt by the relatively late start he had (thanks in part to Joe Girardi, but mostly because he was a converted infielder). With only 5,000 PA, Posada would need to play at least 4 more seasons to reach the 7,000 PA mark that seems to be the average range of so many Hall of Fame catchers.

With an OPS+ of 122, Posada's offensive production is already on par with the Hall's catching fraternity. If (and it's a big if), Posada can maintain a similar level of production for 3-4 years, I think you could start making the case for him. Everything from history tells us the chances of a mid-30's catcher maintaining his production are slim. Having said that, perhaps Posada relatively light workload might help him reverse the overwhelming precedent?

2007-09-13 10:34:57
3.   RichB
Well, first I think that Posada should get into the HOF, given what I expect him to minimally do for the rest of his career. But, if he had a career-ending injury this off-season, I'd probably amend that position.

That being said, he'll probably be voted in by the veteran's committee. There are two factors which are unchangeable and will forever hold him back: 1) the Yanks wouldn't play him full-time until he was 28; and 2)the vast majority of his time has been spent hitting 6th or lower in the batting order. Those two factors have colluded to dramatically reduce his ABs so that his career numbers are exceedingly low for a HOFer.

Since you brought up Simmons, let's compare: when Simmons finished his age 35 year, he had 8,269 ABs. Posada will finish this year (his age 35) with roughly 4,800. Yet you can say that Simmons' career numbers are not that far beyond what Posada already has. Jorgie will likely surpass Simmons in most cumulative categories and AB for AB is a much better hitter than Simmons ever was.

But, the fact that he only has 1,300 hits and therefore may not reach even 2,000 is very damning for HOF consideration. So, I think the BBWA might not get the distinction, but the veterans committee will.

2007-09-13 10:38:28
4.   Mattpat11
This may get be grief, but so be it. Girardi blocking him for so long may be the reason he's playing at this level. So while it may cost him the Hall, it may gain the Yankees an extra championship or two.
2007-09-13 10:42:34
5.   dianagramr

I agree, to a point .... bodies still age, regardless of when you start playing a position.

Posada has made himself a nice little career, but not-HOF worthy, especially not from the defensive side of the equation during his early years.

2007-09-13 10:53:59
6.   Rich Lederer
I don't believe voters would view Posada as a Hall of Famer at this point in time. He would have to put up another year like 2007 or add to his career totals in a much bigger way to get serious consideration. More likely to be one of those guys who becomes part of the Hall of the Very Good.

Posada is approaching Simmons in RCAA and has a superior OPS+ but remember Simba didn't even get a sniff when it came to the HOF. (The latter's OPS+ was also diluted by the decline phase of his career from 1986-88. Who knows if Posada might go through a similar stretch? Unlikely but certainly within the realm of possibilities.)

Posada has been underrated throughout most of his career and may finally be getting much-deserved recognition with his outstanding season this year, but I don't believe his current resume would be enough. However, he might become a "probable" HOFer if one is willing to project his recent successes over the life of his next (and likely final) contract.

2007-09-13 10:55:06
7.   Josh Wilker
As for the ranking of the best Yankees catchers after Berra and Dickey (for what it's worth): Posada has finished among the top MVP vote-getters just once (although this year will make twice) to Wally Schang's five MVP leaderboard finishes (four as a Yankee) and Thurman Munson's 7 (including his 1 first-place finish). I know that looking at MVP voting isn't at all the purest way to evaluate a guy's worth, but it's got to count for something if you were (as Munson was, no matter what Reggie said) the straw that stirred the drink.
2007-09-13 10:59:53
8.   Alex Belth
That's interesting about Munson. I don't know, though, I think at this point, Posada is a better overall catcher...
2007-09-13 11:00:36
9.   Sliced Bread
Oh, that Barra-Darling jazz thing is great. Cool cat that Darling, but he shoulda said something about his Beach Boys intro at Shea. Sheesh.

Don't go for the avant-garde myself, but I was fortunate enough to catch Miles at the end of his career. It was at the Jones Beach Theater on a chilly, misty night. He was wrapped in a blanket, and played with his back to the audience most of the show, but it was a thrill to be in his presence, and hear his unamplified horn. Didn't play a lick of Beach Boyz either.

2007-09-13 11:03:22
10.   williamnyy23
When comparing Simmons to Posada, keep in mind that he had only had 7,279 PAs as a catcher. The remaining 2,200+ were at other positions, mostly 1B or DH. So, Posada is really only three seasons behind matching Simmons in terms of PAs as a catcher (assuming he remains behind the plate). If Jorge can stay ahead of Simmons in the rates, I think his rings will make up for the lesser counting stats.

Simmons is probably lost in his era, but it seems like Posada is now starting to stand out. I think the jury will convene on Jorge once he hits that magic 7,000 PA threshold that seems to be the domain of most Hall of Fame catchers.

2007-09-13 11:11:01
11.   williamnyy23
7 Those figures are a little misleading because Munson's rankings include a 12, 19, 22 and 26. For Posada to have not cracked the top-20 in at least three other seasons speaks to why using MVP voting isn't a very good barometer.
2007-09-13 11:21:48
12.   dianagramr
Maybe you should consider which other catchers (if any) got ANY MVP votes in each year of their careers.
2007-09-13 11:26:48
13.   Chyll Will
Do you think Jorge has any Cannonball Adderley in his collection? I'm sure he can't help but have Max Roach and Tito... and Willie Colon.
2007-09-13 11:33:25
14.   Alex Belth
Nah, Jorge just kicks the Willie Bobo...
2007-09-13 11:47:58
15.   thelarmis
very cool post, alex - thanks! and a nice read on that voice article.

ron darling actually has played piano his whole life. he has 2 sons who are musicians, one of whom is in his 2nd year at Berklee and is a heavy metal guitarist.

i got to meet darling when i was a young boy and my godfather was the VP of the Mets. i also got to hang with Ron a coupla times last year (unless it was the year before, who can remember...) with my Jazz trio. he was doing radio for the Nats and ended up at a Jazz club downtown Atlanta after a Braves game. i, of course, recognized him immediately. he was really into my trio and tipped us nicely. on the set break, we spoke for a solid 25 minutes. he gave me his email addy and i let him know the next time we'd be playing that would correspond with when the Nats would be playing the Braves and he'd be in town. well, Ron came out to see me play yet again! he was very cool.

he had some seediness to him, as well, which was a little weird. but hey, who am i to say anything about his, um, extra curricular activities...

2007-09-13 11:50:09
16.   JL25and3
I hear all he listens to these days is Sun Ra.
2007-09-13 11:50:38
17.   RichB
Hey, not to go off on too much of a tangent, but while we're on the subject of catchers... has anyone been noticing Victor Martinez over in Cleveland? He's only 28 so it's way too early to talk about HOF for him, but he's having another great year, his third straight year with a BA above .300, 4th straight year with a OPS+ over 120... as Posada and I-Rod fade, we may be talking about Mauer and Martinez for a long time to come.

Hmmm... Posada moves to 1B and we sign Martinez when he becomes a free agent...

2007-09-13 11:51:39
18.   JL25and3
16 (Jorge, that is, not Ron Darling. Thanks for spoiling my timing, thelarmis).
2007-09-13 11:52:41
19.   JL25and3
17 Victor Martinez is a terrific hitter but a god-awful catcher.
2007-09-13 11:53:07
20.   Sliced Bread
Jorgie's salsa all the way Hector Lavoe, Ruben Blades... Bernie Williams.
2007-09-13 11:55:14
21.   thelarmis
18 : ) sorry JL! let's settle and just say some Ornette Coleman with a dash of Derek Bailey.

did you see the cool Evelyn Glennie dvd Touch the Sound w/ Fred Frith? very great stuff!

2007-09-13 11:56:20
22.   Sliced Bread
15 Yalie = seedy

good stuff, thelarmis!

2007-09-13 12:06:13
23.   thelarmis
22 sliced - he twice went "home" with the sketchiest, um, 'escort', in the jernt. they've cleaned that downtown area up somewhat and there aren't really any hookers hangin' in that establishment anymore. but for the first 5 years i played there (and i was doing about 150 gigs/year at this venue), we knew/recognized all these girls. Ron's choice was "Keisha," a tall, skinny, skanky 'lady of the evening'.

Darling seemed to be an old pro at this at it didn't faze him in the slightest. no embarrassment or anything. his ex-wife Toni took him for millions. he's got college-aged kids, etc. etc. he's good looking, single, smart and on the road. in our circles, he's pretty famous and a multi-millionare. to Keisha, he was just a lonely drunk in a suit with a posh hotel room around the block. for Ron, there's a hundred dollar love affair, no ?'s, no trails, no ties.

still, it's kinda icky and it was weird to watch go down. twice! he obviously saved keisha's digits for when he was to be back in town like i saved his email addy to let him know next time we were playing...

2007-09-13 12:15:14
24.   Sliced Bread
22 Yo, just kiddin' about the seedy, Yalies... lest the Skull and Bones crew gets on my case.

23 Dang. Darling always fielded his position well. Wouldnt figure him to go sloppy in retirement.

2007-09-13 12:16:39
25.   Chyll Will
16 Damn, isn't he red-assed enough?? >;)
2007-09-13 12:22:06
26.   Josh Wilker
23 : Wow, that's quite an image.

Speaking of jazz: R.I.P. Joe Zawinul.

Not to belabor the Munson v. Posada thing, because I guess it's hard to argue against Posada's superior offensive output, but here's a couple more thoughts:

Munson was considered to be considerably better than Posada defensively, wasn't he? That's got to count for something.

Munson usually hit third for the Yankees, suggesting that in the context of his team (at least according to his manager), he was more important to the Yankee offense of his day than Posada was and is for the Yankee teams of the current era.

Also, he played in a tough era for offense.

I'm mostly playing devil's advocate here but the more I think about it the more I'm talking myself into it.

2007-09-13 12:27:55
27.   thelarmis
josh - oh no, zawinul died??? blech. wish i were playing a fusion gig tonite to pay him a tribute. alas, it's a blues thang - stevie ray type stuff...
2007-09-13 12:31:27
28.   thelarmis
26 a coupla days ago. apparently the rock i live under did not receive the news. : (
2007-09-13 12:34:41
29.   Yankee Fan In Boston
23 that is absolutely hilarious.

i bet that isn't too rare a habit with former athletes, but it still made me laugh.

2007-09-13 12:35:08
30.   Josh Wilker
27 : Maybe you can squeeze in "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"? It's kinda bluesy, if I recall correctly. (Stevie Wonder played it at his Chicago gig in tribute to Zawinul a couple days ago.)
2007-09-13 12:41:42
31.   Sliced Bread
27 ah, play whatever you like. just lay off the Beach Boys if you wanna get laid. Look what their insouciant harmonies did to Darling's love life.
2007-09-13 12:43:08
32.   thelarmis
30 i was thinkin' that, too. i tried to squeeze in "Chameleon" last week on this gig, but the bandleader isn't quite up to it. it's blues, ya know! ; )

i'll definitely be playing 'Mercyx3' Sat nite w/ the jazz trio. it's at the aforementioned venue. and, guess what? the Nats are in town! too bad Darling is back w/ the Muts... ; )

2007-09-13 12:59:43
33.   JL25and3
I missed the item about Zawinul, too. Nice touch by Little Stevie, though completely in character.

26 Munson was considered to be considerably better than Posada defensively, wasn't he? That's got to count for something.

This is one of the big problems with assessing and comparing catchers. Everybody agrees that it's a crucial defensive position, but we have absolutely no way to assess a catcher's defense. With all due respect to the late JD, RATE and ZR and the like tell us absolutely nothing of value. SB% tells us something about one aspect of a catcher's game, but I don't know that it even measures that one aspect all that well.

So we're left with what their contemporaries said about them. I suppose that counts for a little more than Gold Glove voting, but not a lot.

2007-09-13 13:03:25
34.   JL25and3
21 I haven't seen the Evelyn Glennie CD, though I've heard her (and, of course, know her story). I have to admit I don't know Derek Bailey at all - or didn't, anyway, till I looked him up on

I love late Coltrane, though. Never mind understanding it, I just love hearing him blow from the bottom of his feet, with pure, insane passion. In that veinL have you ever heard the Franklin Kiermayer CD where Pharaoh Saunders blows his heart out?

2007-09-13 13:11:09
35.   thelarmis
glennie is a treasure. she's also 1 of the 2 greatest performers i've ever seen in my entire existence. tabla player, zakir hussain, being the other...

nope, don't know franklin kiermayer. i do like pharaoh sanders though. derek bailey is more 'out' than anyone on the planet. not the easiest stuff to stomach. he did a really weird record, where - and i might get this slightly wrong - he watched a naked japanese dancer guy and improvised what he saw on the guitar. then released it as a cd. i betchya ron darling has it! ; )

fred frith is really cool. i don't know him outside the glennie dvd. col. bruce knows him (of course!) and says he's great, also...

i like old Trane, too. but moreso when elvin was still there and he was the only drummer. of that stuff, Sun Ship is my fave.

2007-09-13 13:21:31
36.   JL25and3
35 Franklin Kiermayer is a drummer, you might want to check it out. The CD is called King Solomon's Daughter, and it's worth a listen.
2007-09-13 13:28:31
37.   mhmitch
26 Was Munson better defensively? I know pitchers seemed to like his game calling skills an awful lot while guys like Mussina, Johnson, and El Duque have had their issues with Posada. But does anyone remember Munson trying to throw out baserunners from about 1975 on? He had arm problems and flicked the ball sidearm causing an inordinate amount of throws into centerfield. I recall him getting booed for this sometime during his MVP season and responding by flipping off the crowd. Without poring through the stats, it seems to me that Posada is superior at throwing runners out.

Also the remark about where they bat in the order is a bit unfair having much more to do with the talent of others in the lineup than anything else. Munson may have well batted 8th or 9th in the current Yankee lineup.

That being said, unless the more statistically enlightened Neyer/Gleeman/Corcoran types of the world take over the HOF voting, I don't see much of a possibility of Posada being voted in.

2007-09-13 13:36:38
38.   thelarmis
36 oh, cool. thanks JL!

i'm playing with a cool trombonist next thursday - my jazz trio is backing him up. he does quite a bit of 'out' stuff and all the albert manglesdorf polyphonics. ray anderson, too. can't wait!

2007-09-13 13:46:54
39.   mhmitch
37 Perhaps, the comparison to Munson is also misplaced because he and Posada had very different styles of hitting. Munson had that inside out swing much like Derek Jeter. Didn't walk as much, didn't homer as much, didn't K as much as Posada. Perhaps (and Josh will probably cringe at the thought of this) the more relevant comparison would be to Munson rival Carlton Fisk. Fisk is the number one comparison to Posada at age 34.
2007-09-13 14:03:49
40.   Josh Wilker
39 : "Perhaps (and Josh will probably cringe at the thought of this) the more relevant comparison would be to Munson rival Carlton Fisk. Fisk is the number one comparison to Posada at age 34."

How . . . dare . . . you.

Just kidding. (Sort of.)

I'll say this, if Jorge can hit 190 more home runs, as Fisk did after age 34, then he's a lock for Cooperstown.

But OK, white flag on the whole Munson-is-better-thing. I guess I'm just turning into a crusty old "everything was better in my day when I had to walk five miles to school everyday uphill both ways through snowstorms" kind of guy.

2007-09-13 14:23:49
41.   mhmitch
40 Very amusing! I do see your point and it's not necessarily a "back in my day" type of thing. Munson was a special player and even though he may not have been as statistically productive as Posada he certainly was as valuable if not more valuable in terms of his relative contribution to the success of the team (if that makes any sense).
2007-09-13 18:05:40
42.   Matt B
Man, wouldn't Sun Ra's "Rocket #9" make great at-bat music?

And to bring the Beach Boys and jazz together...don't forget Charles Lloyd played on a BB track or two in the 70s. A Roger McGuinn album too, if I recall correctly.

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