Jorge Posada is swinging the bat better from the left-hand side of the plate this week (although he is hitless from the right side this season). He thanked manager Joe Girardi for sticking with him. The Post has the story. Posada has already been relieved of his position as catcher and I could see him unceremoniously benched in favor of Jesus Montero come the middle of the summer if he doesn’t start hitting.
Derek Jeter is another case entirely. I just got back from the vet with one of my cats and the vet, a die-hard Yankees fan, spent most of the appointment talking about not giving up on Jeter even if he’s no longer a great player.
He told me how all he hears on talk radio is shouting about how the Yankees should trade for Jose Reyes. I haven’t listened to that noise but it doesn’t come as a surprise. Part of it is our insatiable urge to tear people down. Jeter is lordly and cool–so controlled–and has enjoyed such great fortune over the course of his Hall of Fame career that is must be delightful to some–they can have at him now that’s he’s vulnerable. As is the case with most great players things will likely not end well for Jeter.
There is no place to move him. So, like Cal Ripken, Jr, Jeter will be called selfish as his skills decline if he’s not prepared to be a part-time player. The rub is that the same characteristics that made Jeter great–the skill, drive, ego, the competitiveness–can turn on him, make him out-of-touch, or worse, a detriment to the team’s success.
It must be the hardest thing for a player to admit he’s losing it, that he’ll never be what he was, and also the easiest things for fans to see. You can’t blame him for not being ready to call it a day yet, and I don’t think you can blame management for giving him some leeway here. We’re not dealing with absolutes and in Jeter’s case there is more to the story than simply what is best for the team on the field. You may disagree, but that’s just the cold, hard truth of it.
If the Captain doesn’t improve offensively I can see Girardi moving him down in the line up this season but I don’t see him being replaced as the regular shortstop. If he has a lousy season, that will be addressed this winter. In the meantime, the Yankees are going to play with an average shortstop. Okay, you may argue he’s below average, but he’s the also most famous Yankee since Mickey Mantle and that’s part of the equation. I’m rooting for him, and will not be surprised if he has a couple of big moments left. If he doesn’t, so be it. Then it’s up to the rest of the team to pick him up.