The Yankees’ Jorge Posada Benches Himself
What does a manager do when an aging (39) veteran player is hitting only .165 after 6 weeks of the baseball season? For Yankees manager Joe Girardi, the answer was simple: move the player down to 9th in the batting order. However, that aging vet happens to be former catcher turned designated hitter Jorge Posada, and arguably one of the more popular Yankees over the last 30 years. According to some reports, Posada was so offended by Girardi’s decision to bat in the 9th spot that he asked out of Saturday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox. There have been plenty of “cover-ups” to explain the Posada’s decision to sit against the Red Sox–he had an injured back, he needed some time off mentally, and he was just pissed that Girardi had the audacity to place him in the last spot in the batting order. Personally, I think the latter is the truth. What Posada really needs is a reality check.
At 39 years of age, his hitting skills are diminishing,and Posada is no longer able to catch up and hit the mid-90s fastballs like he used to. But Posada is like a lot other star athletes - they cannot accept the fact that their performance is slowing down with age. Like most elite players, the Yankees vet believes that things will solve itself as long as he plays regularly. Just don’t bat him 9th! Actually, the hurt feelings between Posada and the Bombers didn’tjust start last night. During the offseason, he was upset when the team asked him to change positions and become the regular DH instead of catcher. Posada has always loved being catcher, despite developing a reputation as a horrible defensive backstop and a bad handler of his team’s pitchers. This latest incident is just a sign that things between Posada and the Yankees have reached a boiling point. His pride and sensitivity led him to asking out of Saturday night’s game against the Red Sox.
Even the biggest Yankee fanatic is wondering how much longer Girardi would wait until Posada’s hitting starts heating up. Red Sox manager Terry Francona dealt with the same problem the past few seasons with his star DH David Ortiz. After ridiculously slow starts, Ortiz eventually started hitting again, rewarding Francona for his patience with the slugger. Should Girardi exhibit the same approach with Posada? Especially when he balks at being placed 9th in the batting order. No matter how much you have meant to a franchise, sports is all about “what have you done for me lately.” Posada is lucky that Girardi still sends him out every night to hit and try and resurrect his season. But the time is coming sooner rather than later where the aging veteran must realize that you cannot expect to be rewarded for past contributions to an organization. If you are keeping a scorecard at home, the count on Posada is no balls and two strikes. If he continues to put his pride and Bronx-sized ego ahead of this legendary baseball franchise, the next time Jorge dons pinstripes will be during the Old Timer’s games at Yankee Stadium.