Jorge Posada is like ER.

ER lasted 15 seasons and was a cultural phenomenon, with George Clooney, Noah Wyle, Goose from Top Gun, Juliana Margolis, and a cavalcade of other stars that rotated in and out of the medical drama.  It became the medical drama all other medical dramas would be compared to and an underrated television classic.  But in the end, it was recycling old plots and ripping stories from the headlines and generally became unwatchable.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jorge Posada.  This is the end, and it is ugly.

I’m not talking about last night’s alleged hissy fit about batting ninth.  First, it’s plausible that Posada actually was hurt.  It’s also very possible that Posada backed out of the game knowing that, in his mental and physical states, he was not likely to help the club at all.  I’m willing to give the guy with the strong track record both on the field and off the benefit of the doubt, and can even understand if he needed a day to get his head right in what has been an incredibly difficult season for him.  Players, after all, are not robots.  While it’s tempting to scold him because he makes $13 million to play baseball, I know there have been stressful times in my life where I’ve needed to just leave and collect my thoughts, to calm down and to get right, before I got back to work.  I don’t believe in holding a ballplayer to a higher standard than I hold myself simply because of his paycheck.

No, what is more troubling about Posada is how terrible he’s become.  Jorge’s line drive percentage is down to just 11.4%.  His grounders and infield popups are up.  He simply is not making good contact.  He’s had just five extra base hits in his last 28 games and has simply looked hideous at the plate.  This is the end, and it is not pretty.

But the rest of his career is well worth celebrating.  He will go down as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history, currently ranking 12th among catchers in career WAR, and a crucial part of 4 World Champions, and 6 AL champs.  He was never really seen as the best catcher in baseball, while he was competing with guys like Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez, and Joe Mauer, but he was consistently excellent.

Frankly, the Yankees would be well served simply to move on at this point.  Even if there’s some regression, Posada simply doesn’t look capable anymore of providing enough offense to carry the DH spot.  For his fifteen years in Pinstripes, Jorge deserves a farewell tour, and a roster spot.  But the Yankees should be limiting his at bats.  When he’s healthy, allow Eric Chavez to take over DHing against RHP, at least until Jesus Montero is deemed ready or the Yanks acquire a big bat from somewhere else to handle it full time.

Joe Mauer is like The Man Without a Country

Classic short story. You should read it.  It tells the story of Philip Nolan, an American Lieutenant in the early 19th century, who joins Aaron Burr’s infamous attempt to kick the Spanish out of Mexico and claim the country for himself.  On trial for treason, Nolan condemns the United States and tells the judge, “I wish I may never hear of the United States again!”  The judge grants his wish, sentencing him to spend the rest of his life on US warships and ordering all of his shipmates never to speak to him of the US.  Even his books and newspapers are censored.  It was a powerful allegory to promote patriotism and the Union, written during US Civil War, as Nolan eventually regrets his rashness and betrayal.

Like Nolan, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Joe Mauer simply cannot go back to catching.  This must be eliminated as an option and the Twins should simply stop talking about it as a possibility.  He’s just too big and too fragile.  As Keith Law has explained, his big frame and long legs puts additional pressure on his knees, far more than a normally sized catcher.  Think of his knees as a fulcrum, and given his size, there is simply more pressure (his weight) exerted further back along the lever (his upper legs). It puts tremendous strain on that fulcrum. Plus, in order to provide a proper target, he must scrunch his back more than other catchers on every pitch.  Not coincidently, the vast majority of his injury problems involve his legs and his back.

Wherever he plays, Mauer’s bat is still going to be valuable.  DH, 1B, 3B, and the corner outfield are definite possibilities, especially as the Twins jettison Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Jim Thome this offseason.  His ability to draw walks and hit for high average will definitely play at any of those spots, provided he can stick defensively.  If he’s able to play an OF corner, he could at least become a much taller Tony Gwynn.  At 3B or DH, he could be a left-handed Paul Molitor.  And at 1B, he would at least match John Olerud offensively.  And perhaps the reduced wear and tear would help his overall power.

The Twins and Mauer both need to move past the thoughts of his returning to his old spot, even though it costs him some of his value.  The probability of having him available for 140 games is simply preferable to the prospet of losing him for a quarter of the season or more every year.  Time to set Joe adrift, since he’ll be more useful outside his original home.

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I just want to take a moment at the end here to echo what Bill said yesterday about Harmon Killebrew, a kind man who radiates warmth and dignity, and who also happened to be one of the greatest ballplayers of all time.  God bless him and his family.

The Common Man writes for The Platoon Advantage and uses his Twitter feed for good, not evil.

Comments (4)

  1. Great simile with Jorge Posada I agree that he should definitely be kept on the 40-man rotation because of his contribution, but saying that he should be kept in against lefties and taken out against righties is just silly. All his 18 hits this year have been against righties and he is 0-24 against lefties, so if the Yankees are planning a DH platoon, I’m pretty sure he’ll be on the RHP side of things. Going to hit up a library and look for A Man Without a Country, hope it’s not one of those ridiculous Nationalist novels!

  2. Agreed, if anything Posada and Andruw Jones might make a decent DH platoon until Montero is ready. I always enjoy seeing the Yankees squirm, but I do think the media reaction to Posada is unfair. I also think Cashman throwing him under the bus is unfair given his contributions to the franchise over the past 15 years. I understand that Cashman says what he wants now, and I actually like that about him, but I feel like going to the media the way he did was childish and something that wouldn’t be accepted if a player did it. Even if he did throw a hissy fit because of hitting 9th (something I truly find hard to believe consider the other eight hitters in that lineup), shouldn’t you give Posada a freebie here? I mean come on, this guy has been an underrated cornerstone of great teams for a long time an is going through a bit of a shitty situation. Everyone loses it once in a while.

  3. I understand the notion of paying respect, but what is with all this sympathy for Posada? Why does he deserve any sort of farewell tour? Age has finally caught up with him, as it does with every athlete and its time to move on. I do not recall Griffey getting a free pass last year when he could not cut it anymore, and subsequently retired early in the season.
    Fact is, if Posada is not part of the modern Yankee dynasty built on absurd spending and exploitation of the MLB system, this isnt even a discussion. Can you guys honestly tell me any other team other than the NYY that might have to contemplate letting an over the hill player go and play on a semi regular basis out of respect for past accomplishments? Don’t get me wrong, I hate this team like any Jay fan should, and look forward to their downfall with all their ‘ Posada’s ‘ (Jeter, CC, AJ, A Rod… ) , but rationally understand no other organization would have to put up with this bullshit. I doubt even Cardinal fans would allow for their team run out Pujols in 7 years if he could not bat .200 and wasn’t hitting anything other than doubles.

  4. Griffey received an additional one-year contract because they felt they owed him; hell, you could argue both of those contracts were in that vein.

    I’m not arguing that he should be kept on the roster (although I suppose I could, he’s probably not totally done and maybe could be useful off the bench), I’m arguing that he was getting slammed fro his behaviour unfairly in the media and by his GM.

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