Jorge Posada is hitting .145/.243/.435 this season. According to Joe P. over at Fangraphs, he’s swinging at more bad pitches, making contact less, and continuing downward trends from past years. Almost all of his offensive contribution has come from his 6 home runs. He has just 3 singles other than those, plus 7 walks against a sky-high 19 strikeouts. He is not simply suffering from bad luck – the inputs are bad.
Sure, he has played less than a month of baseball, and has earned just 70 plate appearances. For many players (Say, Nick Swisher), it would be logical to wait out their down streak before even thinking about replacing them. Players can be relied on in the long term to for the most part play to the back of their baseball cards. However, under no circumstances should Jorge Posada be given the benefit of the doubt. This is exactly the type of performance that we should expect to see from a 39 year-old catcher in the twilight of his career. Jorge Posada could right himself, but the weight of probability says that he probably will not. The Yankees should force him to prove that he can still play. If not, they should replace him.
Jesus Montero (once his voice returns to normal pitch, following a ball to the cup this week) is the best possible replacement player that the Yankees could hope for in the case that they need a new designated hitter. He is a 21 year-old super-prospect who brings pretty much nothing to the table except an ability to hit the crap out of the ball while plausibly playing catcher. Before the minor injury, Montero was hitting .407/.400/.525 for Scranton. One could point out that he’s just hitting a lot of singles, while not taking walks or putting the ball out of the ball park. That’s a valid criticism, but its not like Montero has not hit at the Triple-A level before. He played the entire season there in 2010, and was one of the level’s best hitters – completely dominating the league during the second half. The more likely explanation is that Montero’s line is both the product of a small sample size and a player too good for his level being able to hit singles at will. His K rate has stayed at career norms.
If Jesus Montero is called up, he will receive very little playing time at catcher. Russell Martin has resurrected his status as one of the game’s best two-way catchers. Normally, I think that it might be wise long-term planning to keep Montero at Triple-A to work on his defense if he were not going to get playing time in the major leagues. The (good) problem of Martin’s return to form is that there is absolutely no foreseeable time horizon where Montero would be able to get regular playing time in New York. Martin is not a free agent until after the 2012 season. Montero is not going to stay in Triple-A that long. He would serve as the Yankees back-up catcher and designated hitter. Martin, Girardi, and the rest of the Yankee coaching staff would work on his catching skills on the side, while he (hopefully) mashes opposition pitchers as a designated hitter.
Jorge Posada, for the time being, would become a bench player. Jesus Montero would take Gustavo Molina’s roster spot. Perhaps over time, Posada could play his way back into some DH at bats. However, I do believe that this would be a waste of a roster spot. If a better option emerges (Say, Jorge Vazquez, Brandon Laird, or someone else), the Yankees should consider ending his career. It won’t be the way we wanted a Yankee great to go, but the 2011 Yankees deserve the best possible roster in order to compete in baseball’s toughest division.
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