For all the hand-wringing regarding Derek “4-3ter” Jeter, the Yanks are getting even less out of their DH, mainly in the form of Jorge Posada.
Posada’s current .152/.257/.354 line in 113 plate appearances is ugly enough. Of the 173 players who have amassed at least that many plate appearances this season, Posada ranks dead last in batting average (Kelly Johnson is next in line, at a comparatively gaudy .175), tenth-lowest in OBP (though still higher than the $142 million man Carl Crawford’s .250), and 118th-best in slugging (between Michael Cuddyer and the recently-exiled Milton Bradley).
If we consider only DHs, Posada fares no better. Of the DHs with 75 or more plate appearances, Posada is last (out of 13) in BA, next-to-last in OBP (ahead of only Magglio Ordonez) and fifth-worst in slugging. And its not like its all about age, as 4 other DHs are 37 years old.
We all know that offense is down again in 2011, and DHs are not immune to this, as they’ve hit a composite .257/.339/.394 so far. But the question remains, could someone (anyone) provide more offense for a role that is ONLY about offense?
We know the Jeter slippery slope towards (and below) mediocrity still has a while to play out. The Yanks have no better internal option in the near-term. But what about Posada? The Yanks owe him nothing after this season, and swallowing the remainder of his 2011 salary (roughly another $11 million) would certainly sting a bit, even for the Steinbrenners. But the Yanks do have a viable DH option down in Triple A, and we all know Jesus Montero’s value is heavily tilted towards his bat.
Looking forward towards the July 31 trade deadline, promoting Montero to full-time DH now would allow for roughly 70 games/280 at-bats to showcase what he can do at the major league level. Assuming the Yanks will throw enough money at Russell Martin to bring him back for 2012 (when he’ll still be only 29), Montero can be safely dealt for whatever needs the Yanks may have at that time (starting pitching most likely, and middle infield help better than Pena and Nunez).
Or . . . the Yanks could hold onto Montero through the end of the year (presuming he’s putting up a 800+ OPS), and then value the free agent market before involving him in a deal.
Rob Neyer wonders the same wonder as I do, and comes down on the status quo side:
. . . nearly all of Montero’s value as a hitter this season is due to his batting average … and batting average is highly subject to luck. Which isn’t to say Montero’s not a high-average hitter; he’s got a .315 career batting average in the minors. But he might not really be a .337 hitter in Class AAA, and he might not be a .300 hitter in the American League. And given the paucity of walks and power, if he’s not hitting .300 he’s not creating many runs. Not yet, anyway.
That said, I do not think the timing is a real issue. Since when do the Yankees care about someone’s “Super 2” status? Plus, the rules regarding such things might well be different after this season, since they’re a part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that expires soon. What the Yankees probably do care about is Montero’s development. Do they want a 21-year-old catcher serving as their primary DH? Alternatively, do they want their primary catcher learning on the job, while Russell Martin or someone else is DHing?
No, probably not.