New York Yankees: Girardi Names Jorge Posada DH for ALDS Clash with Detroit Tigers
Jorge Posada's story may not be quite finished yet.
On the eve of the American League Division Series matchup between the Yankees and the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers, New York manager, Joe Girardi, has given a much needed vote of confidence to embattled former catcher, Jorge Posada.
Posada, himself the successor to Girardi as Yankee backstop, has had a difficult season coming to grips with the reality that his long, fruitful career is nearing its end.
Stripped of the tools of ignorance and relegated to the designated hitter role, Posada found the transition to be more difficult than anticipated, and endured the most arduous season of his career.
Without the constant involvement that characterizes the catching position, Posada's offense slipped, and he became a mere shell of the offensive force he had been previously.
After starting April with six home runs in his first 16 games, Posada's bat went missing, and he ended the season's first month hitting .125 with a .607 OPS.
The whispers of discontent began to grow louder, and Jorge's days as a regular appeared numbered.
May brought more of the same, as he hit .219 with a .639 OPS, but the production evaporated, as he failed to hit a single home run and only drove in four runs.
However, June represented a rebirth of sorts, and Posada unexpectedly hit a robust .382, while slugging three home runs, driving in 11 runs and posting a 1.007 OPS.
It would only provide temporary relief from the doubters though, as he reverted to batting .217 in June, with a meager OPS of .534. Clearly his bad days were now outweighing the good, and questions over whether he would finish the season with the Yankees began to surface.
His dwindling production and atrocious splits from the right side of the plate combined to make him just a part-time contributor down the stretch. From the left side, he still possessed the talent and veteran savvy to contribute to the Yankee cause, but from the right side, he appeared over-matched and was barely even serviceable any longer.
Over the course of the season, his number batting left-handed remained respectable, as he hit .269 with an .814 OPS, and hit 14 home runs with 41 RBI in 316 plate appearances.
From the right side, the story was entirely different, as he managed to hit only .092, with a pathetic OPS of .277, while not hitting a single home run, and only driving in three runs. His 71 plate appearances as a right-handed batter were enough to convince the Yankees that he was no longer a viable contributor as a regular, and was best suited for a platoon position.
In total, Posada hit .235 with a .714 OPS, 14 home runs and 44 RBI. Overall, his numbers were disappointing for a full-time designated hitter, but from the left side of the plate, he offered enough to be a viable platoon partner for Andruw Jones, A-rod and various others.
Thankfully for his sake, the Yankees' ALDS opponents, the Tigers, will fill out their playoff rotation with solely right-handed hurlers, making his left-handed bat a potential weapon for the Yankees.
Just today, Girardi announced that Posada will indeed serve as the Yankee DH for the ALDS, considering Detroit's distinct lack of left-handed starting pitching.
If Alex Rodriguez is able to play third as reported, then Posada will likely serve as the DH for the entirety of the first round. Should Rodriguez have health issues that prevent him from taking the field regularly, his bat would likely be preferred, and the Yankees will have to amend their plans on the fly.
Clearly, the Tigers will look to turn Posada around to the right side in any critical situation late in a game, in which case rookie phenom Jesus Montero may earn some at bats, or experienced veteran Andruw Jones might have a role to play.
Further down the road, the Rangers, and to a lesser extent, the Rays, have more left-handed starting pitching, and we could see a drastic reduction in Posada's role, but it is folly to look too far into the future with a tough series against Detroit about to begin.
In what could be Jorge Posada's last games with the New York Yankees, the only franchise he has ever known, the venerable catching stalwart at least knows that he will have the opportunity to leave his mark on the baseball postseason. With season to forget just behind him, there could be no greater way to conclude his outstanding 17-season career, than to help his beloved team win the 28th World Series title in their illustrious history.