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Ferguson: Catchers having big influence on recent World Series

Scott Ferguson
10/14/2013 11:27:02 AM
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Whenever someone asks me to play general manager, wondering what position I would fill first in assembling a team from scratch, I invariably say shortstop, unless of course there is another Roberto Alomar on the horizon at second base.

However, I decided to take a look at the 13 World Series since the turn of the century and what I saw may have changed my mind.

Over those 13 years, eight catchers have shared those World Series rings and four have two apiece. Furthermore you could argue that four or five of those eight will be going to the Hall of Fame.

Let's start with the Yankees' Jorge Posada. He won the "Fall Classic" with the Yankees in 2000, (not his first) at age 28 and then won again in 2009 at age 37.

Then there is the Red Sox former captain, and now front office stalwart, Jason Varitek. He won that historic “Curse of the Babe” ending 2004 World Series with Boston at age 32. Varitek won it again at 35 with Boston in 2007.

Yadier Molina, the best catcher in the game right now, won his first with St. Louis in 2006 at 24. Then in 2011 he won his second at 29. Now at 31, he's into the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers, with a decent shot at winning a third.

Buster Posey of the Giants has had a remarkable career so far. He won the World Series in 2010 at 23 and, after missing a sizeable chunk of the following season, came back to win again in 2012.

Molina already looks like a lock for the Hall of Fame, and Posey is right on that path. You can argue for and against Posada and Varitek, but I believe both will eventually get into Cooperstown.

In 2003, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez won his World Series with the then Florida Marlins at age 31.

The only thing that might keep Rodriguez out of the Hall of Fame, or at least delay his entry, are the allegations that he used steroids.

If you're keeping count, that's nine of the last 13 World Series winners who had No. 1 catchers worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.

Included in the other four is Yadier Molina's older brother Benji, who won with the Angels in 2002 at age 28. A third brother Jose, who later played with the Blue Jays and now suits up for Tampa Bay, was one of Benji's back-ups that year.

The only one I really had trouble remembering was the Arizona Diamonbacks primary catcher in 2001 when they beat the Yankees. Damian Miller was 32 that year, and is probably the only one who might be termed a journeyman, at least compared to the rest.

The other 2, oddly enough are going to be free agents after the World Series. A.J Pierzynski won with the Chicago White Sox in 2005, ending that franchise's drought that dated back to 1917. He was 29 at the time.

And Carlos Ruiz was part of the great run the Phillies had under Charlie Manuel and won his "Fall Classic” in 2008 at age 29. Ruiz has had shoulder issues and was suspended for PED use. He'll be 35 next season.

The top two potential free agents in the off season are Boston's Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Atlanta's Brian McCann.

The Blue Jays must upgrade behind the plate in the wake of the horrible season J.P Arencibia had. McCann and Saltalamacchia are probably beyond their reach however Pierzynski and Ruiz would both offer a short-term fix and veteran stability.

Pierzynski caught Mark Buehrle in 2005, and is known as a fierce competitor, while Ruiz has caught the likes of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.

Travis D'Arnaud, didn't exactly make a major impact with the Mets after being dealt to New York in the R.A Dickey swap, but another catcher the Jays swapped this past off-season did make his mark.

26-year-old Yan Gomes was traded to Cleveland along with utility infielder Mike Aviles for right hander Esmil Rogers, who was plugged into the rotation when injuries took their toll again this season. Rogers effectively became the compensation for John Farrell moving on to manage Boston, since Aviles was part of that trade to Cleveland.

Gomes though, was the  real story of the deal. The Sao Paolo native was the first Brazilian to play in the Majors when he debuted with the Jays in 2012. He was viewed as more of a utility type who could catch, play third and DH, and hit with a bit of power.

For Cleveland though he caught 85 games, and had a .996 fielding percentage. He also threw out 41% of those attempting to steal bases against him.

Gomes hit .294 with 11 homers and 38 runs batted in. The Blue Jays may one day regret they dealt him away, if they don't already.

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