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Jorge Posada benched as Yankees’ regular designated hitter

Aug 7, 2011, 10:35 PM EDT

Jorge Posada Getty Images

In a move that will lead to immediate speculation about top prospect Jesus Montero’s arrival in New York, manager Joe Girardi informed Jorge Posada prior to tonight’s game that he’ll no longer be the Yankees’ primary designated hitter.

Eric Chavez got the start at DH tonight against the Red Sox, with Girardi telling reporters: “At this point I thought I had to do what I did today.”

Asked about the conversation, Posada revealed that Girardi “said he’s going to put the best lineup on the field and he doesn’t know when I’m going to DH again, so right now I’m sitting the bench.”

Posada has hit just .230 with a .681 OPS overall in the final season of a four-year, $52 million contract, including only two extra-base hits in 56 at-bats since the All-Star break. However, according to Girardi there are no plans to release Posada and if Chavez struggles it’s conceivable the Yankees could turn back to him at DH. Unless, of course, Montero gets the call up first.

Montero, who ranked third on Baseball America‘s annual list of top prospects coming into the season, has hit .289 with 11 homers and a .789 OPS in 89 games at Triple-A. Those are incredibly impressive numbers for a 21-year-old at Triple-A, but don’t necessarily project to thriving in the majors quite yet.

  1. missthedayswhenwedidnthavetologin - Aug 7, 2011 at 10:57 PM

    So what does Daniel Murphy, a guy who can still hit, have to do to get attention around here? Tear his MCL or something? Oh…guess that doesn’t work either…

  2. pisano - Aug 8, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    This move is long over due, I hate to say it but the Yankees have had a problem with resigning players that are popular with the fans and then they’re stuck with these large contracts of aged players that don’t produce any longer. Jeter is next, most likely next year, and then it will be Arods turn.I’ve heard the phrase ” it’s always better to retire a year too soon rather than a year too late, ”
    but that was usually referring to the boxing world, but in reality I think it should pertain to all professional athletes.

    • Old Gator - Aug 8, 2011 at 7:47 AM

      From an aesthetic point of view, I agree with you. A struggling has-been is pretty pathetic to watch. On the other hand, it’s easy to blow off seven or eight or nine million dollars’ salary per year on the remainder of a contract when you’re not the one who stands to make it in the first place.

    • dodger88 - Aug 8, 2011 at 8:45 AM

      Actually, the Yankees seem to walk away more often than not (Jeter being the exception). They did use nostalgia as an excuse to bring back Bernie WIlliams when his contract was up and in the case Posada he is finishing out a four year deal, for which he was productive for 2-3 years, only tailing off during the 3rd year. If they were to bring him back next year, then I would agree with your point.

      • deathmonkey41 - Aug 8, 2011 at 10:02 AM

        The dude was tailing off last year at the plate and was flat-out awful behind it. He couldn’t throw out my grandmother and she’s been dead for 25 yrs. Look how much better the pitching staff is this year with Martin behind the plate. Jorge has always been a below average catcher- but his hitting helped to overlook that- now that his bat has slowed down, his kind of lost all relevance. The Yankees didn’t take away his catching duties to be mean- they did it because he’s a nightmare back there and it couldn’t be hidden anymore. And you can’t realistically expect to win the AL East with a DH who is hitting .230, strikes out a ton, grounds into a bunch of DPs, only gets singles when he does hit, and couldn’t beat a slug in a race.

    • kcfanatic - Aug 8, 2011 at 9:48 AM

      Jorge could still start on numerous teams in MLB. I agree he shouldn’t be playing for the Yanks, but what do you do? This guy was such an integreal part of the Yankee Dynasty. I think you have to keep him around at least as a reserve until he is ready to retire.

      • jwbiii - Aug 8, 2011 at 7:07 PM

        Which team has a worse DH than Posada?

    • uyf1950 - Aug 8, 2011 at 11:57 AM

      pisano, my friend. How are you doing? Yes it is long over due, no doubt. I also agree with deathmonkey. Last year his defense was abysmal throwing out I believe just 15% of the runners trying to steal and his offense started going south around mid June last year and he has never recovered. Yes, it is long over due. I personally do NOT subscribe to the theory about keeping players around because at one time they ….(well you get my point). He was paid handsomely for his past contributions it’s time to move on.

      Time for the Yankees to get younger especially if they have other options in house. It just seems to me after this last series versus the Red Sox the Yankees seem to lack that “fire” or “burning in the belly” right now. Something needs to be shaken up, and Posada should be a start not the end. Just my opinion.

      • pisano - Aug 8, 2011 at 6:56 PM

        I agree with you as usual, but while we’re on the subject Andruw Jones has to also be replaced. I know with Chavez and Arod alternating at third base that will help but they need another productive bat hopefully a switch hitter. I think you’ll agree Jones has been a bust.As you say, “just my opinion”

      • Kevin S. - Aug 8, 2011 at 7:27 PM

        Meh, Jones can still handle the short half of a DH platoon. Maybe something like Chavez at third and A-Rod DHing against righties, Alex at third and Jones DHing against lefties.

  3. purnellmeagrejr - Aug 8, 2011 at 8:13 AM

    “.289 with 11 homers and a .789 OPS in 89 games at Triple-A. Those are incredibly impressive numbers”
    Geez, that means I have to recalibrate all my opinions about what’s incredibly impressive. Believe me, that is going to be one of the most unbelievably daunting challenges a human being has ever faced. Wish me luck.

    • Joe - Aug 8, 2011 at 8:42 AM

      “289 with 11 homers and a .789 OPS in 89 games at Triple-A. Those are incredibly impressive numbers for a 21-year-old at Triple-A, but don’t necessarily project to thriving in the majors quite yet.”

      When you look at the entire sentence, it actually means something quite different than what you are responding to.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 8, 2011 at 8:44 AM

      You took that completely out of context.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 8, 2011 at 8:54 AM

      THe BA is 25th in the International league – 10 spots or so Lastings Milledge. Does that make Lastings Milledge AWESOMEST?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 8, 2011 at 9:00 AM

        Once again, you took the quote out of context.

      • JBerardi - Aug 8, 2011 at 10:11 AM

        You’re massively underrating Montero’s level of advancement relative to his age. Think about it this way: of all the position players born in 1990, August 8th or earlier, here’s who’s in AAA or the majors:

        Matt Dominguez
        Hector Sanchez
        Mike Stanton
        Eric Hosmer
        Jason Heyward
        Freddie Freeman
        Jose Iglesias
        Ruben Tejada
        Starlin Castro
        Brett Lawrie
        Anthony Rizzo
        Jesus Montero
        Jose Altuve
        Mike Trout (kinda sorta, has been to the majors but hasn’t really played about AA)

        Basically 13 or 14 guys depending on how you want to count it, and it’s a laundry list of current and future stars. It’s a good list to be on. What Lastings Milledge is doing really has no bearing on that.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 8, 2011 at 9:04 AM

      @drmonk – I was responding to the absurdity of labeling those stats incredibly impressive – by any measurement an astonishingly selfless and heroic deed.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 8, 2011 at 9:05 AM

        You don’t find them impressive for a 21 year old at AAA? OK, maybe impressive is a bit strong, but certainly better than solid given his age.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 8, 2011 at 9:17 AM

      drmonkey – I think the “incredibly” was was threw up the red flag – I agree “more than solid ” is an excellent, accurate and concise way to describe them.

      • jjschiller - Aug 8, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        SHUT UP ALREADY. You’re making my sense of self-importance hurt.

    • JBerardi - Aug 8, 2011 at 9:48 AM

      “Geez, that means I have to recalibrate all my opinions about what’s incredibly impressive.”

      You do, actually. Here’s what some other guys did at age 21:

      Derek Jeter – 816 OPS at AAA
      Robinson Cano – .796 OPS at AA and AAA
      Jorge Posada – .813 OPS at high-A and AA
      Nick Swisher – .770 OPS at A and high-A
      Curtis Granderson – .823 at High-A
      Brett Gardner – .752 at Low-A
      Mark Teixiera – was not a professional ballplayer at 21. He tore the crap out of A and AA at age 22. Montero tore the crap out of those same leagues when he was 19.
      Alex Rodriguez – One of the best players in all of baseball by 21. A generational player. A freak. An abnormality. One of the very best players of all time. Not a useful standard to judge other players by.

      So yes, you do need to recalibrate your expectations for players in the minors, and/or very young players. There’s a hell of a lot more to projecting minor leaguers than just glancing at a stat sheet.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 8, 2011 at 9:59 AM

        Jberardi All the players you mentiponed seem to have something in common but I just can’t put my finger on it. BTW – Triple AAA is generally a good place for a 21 year old hitterr to learn his trade. He gets to hit against AAA pitching (unless it unexpectedly gets downgraded to AA, of course.)

      • JBerardi - Aug 8, 2011 at 10:19 AM

        Well, they’re all Yankees but that was kind of the point. You’ve got one of the best hitting teams in the game and most of the guys on it can’t match Montero’s minor league resume to this point.

        As far as learning to hit AAA pitching, he’s done it. He’s had over 800 AAA at bats to this point, and his OPS is something like .850 in that time span (BR won’t combine minor league seasons for me and I’m too lazy/incompetent to do the math). Sometimes a player needs time at a lower level to polish his craft, but sometimes a player needs a challenge. When you’ve got a guy like Montero who can clearly handle the AAA level but also seems kind of stagnant there… maybe it’s time for a challenge. Certainly I’m not going to argue with the Yankees player development people if that’s the decision they’ve come to.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 8, 2011 at 10:29 AM

        Montyero by all accounts is a good prospect – so was Fertnando Martinez -= who at first glance seems to have similar (if slightly less incredible) strats.

      • JBerardi - Aug 8, 2011 at 10:53 AM

        Fernando Martinez isn’t any kind of comp for Montero, and besides that, he’s only 22 years old.

        Let me throw some more 21 year olds at you:

        David Ortiz – .940 OPS, at high-A and AA. (Montero accomplished this at 19)
        Adrian Gonzalez – .692 OPS at AA and AAA.
        Kevin Youkilis – Not even drafted yet.
        Dustin Pedroia – .837 OPS at AA and AA .

        I could do this all day. Seriously, go check your favorite players. See if Montero hasn’t moved through the ranks of baseball faster than they did. Because probably 90% of the time, he did.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 8, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        JBerardi – looked up stats of AAA offensive leaders since 2005 and their ages
        2005- Brandon Wood .835 OPS – age 20
        2006 Kevin Kouzmanoff -1.093 (25)
        2007 Stephen Pearce .924 (24)
        2008 Matt Wieters 1.083 23 (Double A)
        Chris Carter .894 (24?)

        Some make it and some don’t – agree that stats aren’t the best gauge of a young ball players future success – unless their incredibly impressive, of course.
        .

      • JBerardi - Aug 8, 2011 at 12:36 PM

        Again, you’re ignoring/underrating age relative to league. There is a chasm of difference in a guy who’s OPSing .800 in AAA at age 24 and a guy who’s doing it at 21. You know what every guy you listed as a failed prospect has in common? None of them made it to AAA as quickly as Montero did.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 8, 2011 at 2:21 PM

        JBerardi – I think you are overestimating the significance of age – especially since Montero is from Venezuela – where a ballplayer’s path to the majors is seldom through an American College (which obviously delays the players arrival at AAA.) By the way – why isn’t Martinez a good comp ? he looks like a ballpayer (except when he swings.)

      • JBerardi - Aug 8, 2011 at 3:20 PM

        If I’m overestimating the importance of age, I’d like to see the evidence of it. Please find me a player who reached AAA at age 20-21, hit well there, and never hit in the majors. And no, at age 22, Fernando Martinez does not count.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 8, 2011 at 5:16 PM

        JBerardi – Man, you are tough. It will test my memory as success is usually more memorable than failure but I will get back to you.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 9, 2011 at 8:38 AM

        Easier than I thought – I just ran down Lastings Milledge and at 21 he was at AAA and had an .832 OPS. Probably plenty of others but it’s kind of irrelevant – though it is incredibly impressive. But then again it’s possible Milledge will turn into Willie Mays.

  4. FC - Aug 8, 2011 at 8:33 AM

    @yankeesgameday Either you’re a mind reader or you got a hot line to Joe Girardi.

  5. yankeesgameday - Aug 8, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    Chavez at 3rd, arod ay DH equals stacked lineup and keep arod healthy the rest of the year.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 8, 2011 at 8:48 AM

      What are the odds Chavez stays healthy the rest of the year though?

    • FC - Aug 8, 2011 at 8:57 AM

      Just remember to give me partial credit when people ask how you came up with the idea :)

    • APBA Guy - Aug 8, 2011 at 1:56 PM

      You could try Chavez at 3rd but it won’t last long. he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for years.

  6. spudchukar - Aug 8, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    Montero WAS ranked #3 at the start of the year, but his early struggles dropped him in the rankings considerably. Not only are his numbers lackluster, but he is basically a DH, a death knell to a 21-year old. Using his age to justify those numbers has merit, but the likelihood of him maintaining those numbers at the Big League level are minimal. I know many Yankee fans have been yammering for his call up, but it is foolish to believe he will suddenly blossom at the Major League Level.

    • JBerardi - Aug 8, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      “considerably. Not only are his numbers lackluster, but he is basically a DH, a death knell to a 21-year old. Using his age to justify those numbers has merit, but the likelihood of him maintaining those numbers at the Big League level are minimal. I know many Yankee fans have been yammering for his call up, but it is foolish to believe he will suddenly blossom at the Major League Level.

      Why? He’s doomed as a prospect… because you say so? I’m confused.

      • spudchukar - Aug 8, 2011 at 11:07 AM

        Yes, you are.

    • Joe - Aug 8, 2011 at 11:51 AM

      “Using his age to justify those numbers has merit, but the likelihood of him maintaining those numbers at the Big League level are minimal. ”

      Why do you think that? Is it because players in the major leagues are a lot better than players in AAA, and therefore he’ll be facing better pitching and defense?

      This is basically what Aaron says at the very end of his article: “Those are incredibly impressive numbers for a 21-year-old at Triple-A, but don’t necessarily project to thriving in the majors quite yet.”

      Do people on this board not understand that there is a growth curve, and that players tend to get better until they get to age 27 or 28, after which point they tend to decline? Because it sure sounds like a lot of people think that Jesus Montero has reached his peak now that he’s in AAA.

      • JBerardi - Aug 8, 2011 at 1:57 PM

        But dude, some old guy has great stats in AAA, so obviously Montero is worthless.

  7. spudchukar - Aug 8, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Anyone can be a DH. Currently there are 68 Major League players who have an OPS that is higher than Montero’s minor league number of .786. There are 140 AAA players who have a higher OPS. So there are at least 208 professional hitters who have proven they are better choices than Montero.

    To complicate the issue he sucks as a catcher. Last year at AAA, he allowed 99 stolen bases, and his numbers have declined in 2011 from throwing out 23% in 2010 to 19%. He also recorded 15 PB in 2010.

    Additionally he has regressed offensively. His OPS is down almost 90 points, his Double and HR rates are down considerably, and his SO/BB ratio has gone from 2/1 to almost 3/1.

    • JBerardi - Aug 8, 2011 at 2:01 PM

      “So there are at least 208 professional hitters who have proven they are better choices than Montero.”

      How many of them are 21 or younger?

      • spudchukar - Aug 8, 2011 at 3:41 PM

        The 21 or younger argument is fine if you are evaluating his future worth, although his drop off this year should be alarming. But we are not talking about HIS future, we are talking about the wisdom of the Yankees bringing him up to majors in favor of other moves. The fact that he is 21 only reinforces the argument that he is not ready. Augmenting the concern that he will not be ready is his slow foot speed, and poor defense. This makes DH, the only legitimate option, as he has shown no ability to contribute in other areas, and while it is true the Yankees have boxed themselves in and do not have a lot of other options, they would be better served to DH either Chavez, upon A-Rods return, or Nunez.

        What the Yankees should have done is packaged him with other prospects earlier and acquired a meaningful DH, and starter, but that is water under the bridge.

        In comparison, the #1 prospect, by most accounts is Mike Trout. True he is only 20, but still he grades out better than Montero. He was called up in July by the Angels and produced a .163/.213/.492. No one knows if Montero would do that poorly, but the vast majority of scouts prefer Trout, who can contribute in other areas as well. Here are his splits .326/.418/.956 with 31 steals, and a total of 3 errors in 3 minor league seasons. And this comes in the pitching rich AA.

        If Montero had roared through the minors, elevating his numbers at every stop, one might make the claim that he is on the rise, and will only continue to improve. But his numbers have gone backwards since moving up to AA in each of the past 3 years. Plus this is year 6 in the minors. So he has been brought along slowly, not rushed or skipping classifications. Is it possible he will become a meaningful force in the Bigs? Maybe. Is it likely at this stage in his development. Doubtful.

      • Joe - Aug 8, 2011 at 4:24 PM

        I remeber when Hanley Ramirez played AA in Portland, Maine back in 2005 at age 20. He had played a month at AA the year before, and his numbers in 2005 took a distinct step backward. A lot of shine went off his star that summer, his stock as a prospect really dropped. His defense no longer looked like it would play at SS in the majors. And, as is likely with Montero, he never did develop into a decent batter in the majors.

      • JBerardi - Aug 8, 2011 at 4:51 PM

        “they would be better served to DH either Chavez, upon A-Rods return, or Nunez. “

        I’d say that when your options are Eric Chavez and Edwardo Nunez, that’s all the more reason to take a chance on Montero. The Yankees are basically already in the playoffs. If Montero fails they can always just go back to using Chavez or whoever. Now’s as good a time as any to give the kid a shot.

      • spudchukar - Aug 8, 2011 at 5:00 PM

        That is probably news to the Rangers and Angels who sit 6 & 7 games behind the Yanks in the wild card, and have much easier schedules in the last 50 games.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 8, 2011 at 7:38 PM

        Yeah, you have any idea how hard it is for two teams to overcome that kind of deficit in seven weeks?

      • spudchukar - Aug 8, 2011 at 11:51 PM

        It is a far cry from recognizing the difficulty of overcoming a team, particularly the Yankees, than to assert the team from New York is basically already in the playoffs. I know neither the Pin Stripe management nor their fans would ever concede a season, but there is a part of me that believes the inner circle of New York management has measured the 2011 squad, and come to the conclusion that this most likely is not their their year. Magic happens, and Colon and Garcia have out performed even the most optimistic of projections, but the inactivity at the trading deadline speaks volumes. When you refuse to part with any of your young talent for short term additions the message is, most likely, this is not our year.

  8. bostonfan4eva - Aug 8, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Stop your whining about Posada, he served the Yankees very well in his prime. It’s time to give him a dignified send off at the end of the season. He often burned the Red Sox (Sox Fan Here), did I like him, NO, he’s a Yankee, but he does deserve respect, even though his skills have declined.

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