Lost in the uproar over the details surrounding Jorge Posada‘s absence from Saturday’s game is one over looked, important fact: This is a good thing. Jorge is expensive. Jorge is 39 years old. Jorge has a .276 wOBA and a 71 OPS+ so far this season. The cold, hard truth is that Posada is no longer a player you want on your baseball team.
It’s nothing against Jorge personally. I love the contribution he’s made to the Yankees over the years. The team has been incredibly fortunate to have had a 122 career OPS+ player at a position where most teams are happy to have a 90 OPS+ player. Unfortunately for Jorge, he’s too old for the team to give him any leeway with such an epic slump. Even if he were to turn his season around on a dime, and end with a stat line approaching his career numbers, the smart move for the Yankees will be to cut ties with Jorge at season’s end, simply because of his cost and his age, never mind his performance.
But, there is another reason why all the Jorge drama is actually a good thing for the Yankees. Unlike with Derek Jeter, another aging superstar who’s value on the field is declining, the Yankees have a clear replacement for Posada available right now in Jesus Montero. Posada’s current role as the team’s DH, with the potential to play catcher occasionally, is the ideal role for Montero to take on the team as he cuts his teeth in the big leagues.
As of Sunday night, Montero is hitting .325/.350/.421 in Scranton, which is a .341 wOBA. That’s down from his season long wOBA of .375 last season, but it is good enough to reinforce Montero’s status as a top offensive prospect. Furthermore, Montero has demonstrated power his entire minor league career. The extra base hits will start falling for him. Why have those hits drop in AAA? The team felt that Montero was ready to break camp with the big league club heading into spring training. He lost that opportunity, but the Yankees now have an opening at DH (even if they won’t admit it publicly). Isn’t it worth it to see if Montero can give the Yankees more out of the DH position than Jorge has done, or Andruw Jones will do?
Furthermore, this will give Montero a chance to train as a catcher with the big league club, without actually taking on the responsibility of managing a multi-million dollar pitching staff. The Yankees don’t need Montero to be an adequate catcher … right now. Russell Martin has the job locked down for the moment. But while his bat is valuable at any position on the field, even the DH spot, Montero’s total value sky rockets if he can prove that he can hit and catch. Whatever his future is with the Yankees, as a long time star, or a valuable trade chip, the team will need to give Montero a chance to hit in the big leagues, and a chance to catch. Jorge’s decline and subsequent erratic behavior gives the team an opening to ease Montero into Jorge’s current job, a job that seems tailor made for the young catcher.
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