Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Fine Mess in Yankee Land

The Yankees are led on the field by two former catchers. With Joe Girardi as manager and Tony Pena as his right hand man, they knew the writing was on the wall for Jorge Posada as a catcher after watching him last year.  They saw what we all saw and that was that Posada just wasn't a good option for the Yankees behind the plate any more. And so Posada was told flat out after the season that he was done as the Yankees' catcher. It was the right call. In fact, it should have been done sooner. Except the Yankees had no one else to take his place. This decision hasn't set well with Posada as anyone can imagine. This writer had posted earlier in the season that Posada's body language was terrible. If you sort through all the garbage that went down last night at Yankee Stadium, the thing that becomes clear is that all this boiled over for Posada with the news that he would bat ninth in the Yankees' batting order.

As we all know by now, Posada took himself out of the line up. The reasons behind his move have been debated and picked over as all things concerning the Yankees always are. He says his back hurt. Girardi and Brian Cashman said they had no knowledge of said injury. There were reports of a heated argument between Girardi and Posada prior to his Posada's self-scratch. What a mess. Now all parties are in spin control and none of this helps the fact that the Yankees are sinking toward the .500 mark while the Bay Rays are on a run and the Red Sox are finally charging the .500 mark.

None of this, of course, should take away from the fact that Jorge Posada had a great career as the Yankees catcher. He's got a fist full of World Series rings and he's been one of the greats as an offensive catcher. But it also seems obvious that Jorge Posada is a proud man and sometimes that pride creates situations that proud men will eventually regret. David Ortiz, who has been on his own end of the "put-up-or-shut-up" scenario in Boston defended Posada and said the Yankees were doing to old catcher wrong. And while Ortiz did say that Posada shouldn't have taken himself out of the game, Ortiz shares Posada's pride and can relate to what Posada is going through.

This Fan has the same take on things as with the Michael Young situation in Texas. When you are making that much money, you should smile while you clean the toilets. That's life. The difference is that Young got to play due to injuries around the diamond and got off to a great start. Meanwhile, Posada's performance is what led to the current crisis the Yankees now face.

Here are some other salient points this Fan can think of:

  • Yes, the other member of the old Core, Derek Jeter, is struggling offensively and seems to get a pass.
  • But, Jeter is manning his position capably, something Posada could no longer do.
  • Posada isn't the face of the franchise like Jeter and is not pushing for a milestone like Jeter is. If Jeter is still struggling when he reaches 3,000 hits, we'll see what happens to his place in the line up.
  • The Yankees helped create this situation by overpaying Posada a couple of years ago to a contract that would take the old catcher way past his point of usefulness. They are now reaping the crap of that decision.
  • Jorge Posada has not handled this situation with any amount of grace. His acts, at least from what we can see, are unprofessional.

So, yes, the Yankees are magnified above and beyond any other team in baseball. When things start to go sour, the media (both social and professional) pounce on any kind of controversy to the tenth degree. It can't be any fun right now for Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter, Brian Cashman and yes, Jorge Posada. If all this was happening in San Diego, nobody would be noticing and this wouldn't add so much pressure to the situation. Posada's situation seems a lot like Ken Griffey's last year. That didn't end well in Seattle and this situation with Posada won't end well either. It's not a good thing when sagging performance due to age is combined with those struggles of the team.

Who knows where the Yankees go from here. Perhaps they stick Posada back in the nine hole (though strategically, eight seems better) and leave him there and perhaps Posada starts to hit a little bit after getting his hubris hit by this story. Perhaps the Yankees trade him to the two million teams who need a catcher. Perhaps if the Yankees start winning again, the whole story goes away. From any perspective, the whole thing is a mess right now and the Yankees and Posada better find a way to turn things around in a hurry.

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