The Yankees had to wait three years for Jorge Posada
to realize his potential. Over his first three seasons, Posada hit well only in streaks, suffered stretches in which he couldn't hold onto pitches that hit the center of his glove (in May 1999
he had nine passed balls, more than any team except the Boston Red Sox
) and battled confidence problems. But the Yankees knew they had talent on their hands, and after long-time mentor Joe Girardi
went to the Chicago Cubs
as a free agent after 1999, Posada blossomed, batting .287 with 28 dingers, 86 RBI, and passing only seven balls.
When Posada was named the club's primary backstop, Yankee coaches had no concerns about his hitting skills, but they worried about how he would handle the pitching staff. The emotional Posada had struggled, becoming offended when pitchers shook off his signs. With the newfound confidence of a starting catcher, he opened up the lines of communication, learning the quirks of each pitcher: David Cone's need to get the signs down quickly, Andy Pettitte's perfectionism, and Orlando Hernandez's temper. The result: another Yankee championship.