Yesterday, the Yankees announced that Jorge Posada will no longer be their Designated Hitter on a regular basis. In one calendar year he’s gone from starting catcher, to starting DH, to DH against right-handed pitching, to not DHing against anyone. Is it time for the Yankees to just cut ties with Jorge Posada? Is there any way for them to do it in a way that honors what Posada has meant to the organization for the last seventeen years? The answer is probably no, but let’s think about it for a minute.
Why Should Posada Go?
Quite simply put, Posada is no longer good enough at anything to justify taking up one of the very valuable spots on the 25-man roster. Early in spring training, the Yankees decided he wasn’t good enough to catch on a regular basis anymore, and they signed Russell Martin. He wasn’t even good enough to catch on a semi-regular basis as a backup catcher, as the Yankees also named Francisco Cervelli their backup early in the spring. Quite frankly, it has been a long time since Posada was good enough defensively to be an every day catcher. From 2008-2010, Posada threw out an underwhelming 22% of runners, had 18 passed balls, 16 errors and none of the pitchers liked pitching to him (remember the Burnett saga?).
Posada was named the starting Designated Hitter early in spring. Despite hitting six very early April home runs, he could not have started 2011 worse. He hit .125 in April and “improved” to .219 in may. During that May, he was asked to hit 9th in the lineup and, instead, refused to play (We covered that here). When June came around, Posada seemed to perk up quite a bit, hitting .382 for the month. We all thought he was back and as good as always, but a .217 July led to him being benched against left-handed pitching (he is hitting .103 against them for the year). Through last night, Jorge was hitting .167 in August and the Yankees decided to make another change with him. They named Eric Chavez the DH against right-handed pitchers (Andruw Jones has been DHing against righties) for the “near future”.
This basically makes Posada the Yankees de facto backup first baseman and a left-handed pinch hitter off the bench. I guess this works for now, with Eduardo Núñez playing third base and Chavez/Jones as the DH, but what happens when Alex Rodriguez comes off the disabled list? Obviously A-Rod will start at third, and probably steal some DH at bats from Jones and Chavez. On the days A-Rod plays DH, Chavez is the backup first baseman, Núñez backs up third. What does Posada do? I mean they have guys that fill up the Gatorade cooler, and the bat boys make sure stuff is clean in the dugout and that other players have their equipment handy. There really is no spot for him. If you need someone to give Teixeira a day off at first, you’re probably gonna go to Chavez for his hitting and defense. Posada doesn’t play defense well enough to justify putting him in ahead of Chavez (not his fault, he’s only played a handful of games at first). The same goes if you need a left-handed pinch hitter. Are you really going to turn to Posada as your first option off the bench? He’s hitting .230 and you’ve already established he can’t hit well enough to be in the lineup.
Why Should Posada Stay?
Statistically speaking, there’s no reason that supports keeping Posada on this roster. He’s not good enough defensively to play anywhere ahead of anyone else who could also play there. He’s also not a good enough hitter anymore to keep on the bench just for his bat, because this is not the National League. The only reason to keep him on the roster for the next two months is the fact that he is Jorge Posada. He’s one of the “Core-Four”, and he’s been here for seventeen years. He has helped this franchise win five World Series Championships. He also has an outside chance to make the Hall of Fame one day (only when compared to other catchers of his era do his numbers really stand out). One day, he’ll probably even have his number retired by the Yankees. You cannot just cast him aside like so many Mike Gallegos or Danny Tartabulls. He deserves some sort of special treatment for what he has done for the franchise. Plus, who knows? Maybe he has a clutch hit or two left in his old bat.
What Would Jobu Do?
As a life-long Yankees fan, I honestly don’t know what the right thing to do is. The business of winning says that he’s no longer contributing enough to justify being on the roster. We could use his roster spot to call up someone who can actually help the team, be it the young phenom Jesus Montero, or just another bat who can help like Jorge Vazquez or Brandon Laird. The correct thing to do morally is to thank Posada for his time on the team by letting him play out the rest of his contract and retire, or go look ridiculous playing somewhere else. I think I’m more of the sentimental type, so I let Jorge stick around and play DH or 1B or pinch hit once a week… Anything to keep him around until the season is over. Hell, maybe he gets all pouty (like he does) and demands to be released or just retires on his own. At least we can all agree he should probably not be on the playoff roster, right?… Right??
image courtesy of: Al Bello/Getty Images
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