‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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Jorge Posada has been playing on borrowed time since his well-publicized flare-up on May 14th. When he chose to yank himself out of the lineup that evening, the Yankees could have simply opted to wash their hands of Posada by releasing the struggling veteran.
Instead, he was given a second life by the Yankees. Given his importance in past postseason glories and track record of being one of the best switch-hitters of his era, there was reason to keep Posada around and see how he responded. The result? His decreasing bat speed coupled with a lack of confidence has seen his numbers spiral into a black hole.
Posada, a hitter once praised for his powerful stroke hasn’t managed a home run since June 29th. Even more worrying is his measly total of three doubles and four RBIs collected since that date. Joe Girardi finally decided to pull the plug on Posada this weekend when he stripped him of designated hitter duties and relegated the aging veteran to the bench.
Right-handed Eduardo Nunez and left-handed Eric Chavez had proven to be more effective options for Girardi from both sides of the plate. Suddenly, the switch-hitting Posada was without any role. Paying the remainder of his $13.1M contract to serve as a pinch-hitter? That must be some kind of record. With the superb-fielding Chavez back in action, Posada doesn’t even have any use in the field as he occasionally spelled Mark Teixeria at first base.
Posada couldn’t hide his emotions when asked about the decision by Girardi to relieve him of role as part-time DH in the Yankees’ lineup. “I’m not happy about it. But right now I can’t do anything about it,” he responded.
We all know that Posada is a passionately prideful personality and saw him boil over when dropped to ninth in the lineup on that fateful night in May. Situated on the end of the Yankee bench, Posada is a ticking time bomb waiting to erupt. We don’t know when he’s going to go off but eventually it will happen. The question is how long can he put on a brave public face and play the good solider?
It’s always a shame to see the greats deteriorate. Yankee fans were desperate to see Posada get his act together and be a part of another moment of postseason glory. Getting a key hit en route to yet another Yankees’ World Series championship was the only way we imagined Posada bidding adieu to the only ballclub he’s ever known.
Sadly, the aging process had other plans and Posada is now a helpless figure, searching for any way to contribute to the Yankee cause. Confused and possibly enraged either at himself or Girardi, there isn’t a purpose for Posada to continue taking up space on the Yankees’ roster.
The only escape route is for Brian Cashman and Girardi to meet with Posada and explain to him that he isn’t of any use to the Yankees. It might get ugly and an unmentionable word or two might be directed at Girardi or Cashman by Posada but it needs to be done. The Yankees might even need to bring in Jorge’s buddy and confidant Derek Jeter to help ease the process.
What the Yankees should offer Posada is a situation where he can save public face. As a thank you for his efforts over the years, they’ll pick up the tab for the remainder of his contract. More importantly, they’ll allow Posada to announce his retirement publicly to save the embarrassment of having his career come to an end by being released outright.
It’s the only way where both sides can part ways amicably. Alex Rodriguez will soon be coming off the DL and there isn’t anyone the Yankees’ active roster who should make way other than Posada. Hector Noesi might be the only other name that sticks out but at least he serves as an innings-eater. Andruw Jones provides a more threatening power bat off the bench and can at least play the corner outfield positions.
Without a position in the field or a defined role, his power sapped and pride swallowed – there’s only one way to say goodbye to Jorge Posada. It isn’t the way we imagined when the season began but it’s unfortunately the only way. Pick up the phone, Brian Cashman.
How do you see Jorge Posada’s Yankee career coming to an end? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartyLFC.