Jorge Posada was benched in Boston Sunday night. The motion led to speculation about Posada’s future; Monday it was confirmed. The benching wasn’t a one-off. It’s indefinite.
Jorge Posada, NYY, 1995-2011?
The media are treating the news as if it’s Posada’s baseball obituary. It very well may be. Joel Sherman wrote that if he were not Jorge Posada “he would be treated like Jack Cust and Lyle Overbay.” Wally Matthews echoed that sentiment, writing that “the Yankees stuck with him far longer than they probably would have had his name been something other than Jorge Posada, simply out of respect for his legacy with the team.” In that same article, Matthews noted how the incident in May affected his relationship with his teammates. Girardi, if you remember, slotted the struggling Posada ninth in the order — also, coincidentally, in a series against the Red Sox — and Posada later pulled himself from the game with a bruised ego. At the Pinstriped Bible, friend to the Banter Steven Goldman writes that if the Yankees are strong in their conviction that he can’t help them win, then they should just let him move on.
Dave Rothenberg, filling in for Stephen A. Smith on 1050, said he still believes Posada has something left. Maybe he does, but the Yankees gave him four months to work it out, to adjust to being a designated hitter. They weren’t going to do what the Red Sox are doing with Jason Varitek — giving him one or two days behind the plate per week and figuring whatever offense he contributes is gravy. The Yankees knew they couldn’t sustain the defensive liability having him catch even one game would bring. The next best option: DH. In that, the Yankees sought the same — or at least similar — level of production he provided last year or in 2009. But it wasn’t there. I discussed the toll not being an everyday catcher has taken on Posada’s pride in May:
Posada has looked lost. A player suffering through an identity crisis. Having had to make an abrupt switch from catching 130 games a year to being the team’s full-time designated hitter, Posada has not adjusted well.
And he never did adjust. At least, not fully. Posada was able to get his average up to .230 before Girardi called him into his office to tell him, in no uncertain terms, that he’s done. Give Girardi credit: he didn’t continue to dangle Posada out there out of loyalty in the way that Joe Torre used to with Bernie Williams when his defense was declining as early as 2002. And they’re not ignoring Posada the way they did Williams in the 2006-2007 offseason. Girardi was not afraid to have the tough conversation. That’s the sign of a good manager. His job is to win game; if he doesn’t believe Posada gives him a good enough chance to win, then he shouldn’t be in the lineup. (Random aside: let’s see if Girardi does this with AJ Burnett in six weeks. Just sayin’ …) With all the undertones of their relationship as teammates when Girardi was the aging veteran and Posada the up-and-comer, of course this situation was bound to be a soap opera at some point.
Posada was the last person to realize that his skills were diminished. He wasn’t lucky enough to enjoy a renaissance in the way that his best friend, Derek Jeter, has in the past month. The anger and — depending on your perception, petulance — of Posada’s tone in May has turned to resignation.
Posada was a good soldier for a long time. Now, being a good soldier means being a disgruntled cheerleader. That is, until, or unless, the Yankees let him work his way back into the lineup.
[Photo Credit: N.J.com]