Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Does Jesus' Arrival Spell The End Of Jorge Posada?

(Jorge might have to get used to this seat.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

Before Jesus Montero made his debut last week, the DH spot in the Yankee lineup was a bit of a revolving door.  With Andruw Jones swinging the bat incredibly well lately as the designated designated hitter against lefties, and Eric Chavez and Jorge Posada not so much against righties, Joe was left to play the matchup game or just ride the hot hand when it came down to Chavez and Posada.

With the arrival of Jesus, though, and the way he's handled himself at the plate so far (not even including yesterday's power breakout), that revolving door appears to be on its way to closing pretty soon.  Montero has looked confident and composed at the plate, definitely not overmatched, and has already shown the ability to hit to all fields and the opposite-field power that had helped draw him such high praise as a top prospect.  After being inexplicably held out of Friday night's game when both The Horse and Teix were given the night off, Joe has penciled Montero's name into the DH spot each of the last 3 games (against RH and LH starters), and Jesus has rewarded him with increasingly positive performances each time out.

Since Jesus' arrival, Jorge has had exactly 1 at-bat, a pinch hit attempt on Saturday.  He had already become a bit of an afterthought as a DH option thanks to his horrific R/L splits, and this introduction of another potentially potent bat will lessen Jorge's already declining opportunities to prove he can still be a valuable part of this team.  With roster space at a premium again come playoff time, teams want to make sure they are getting the maximum value out of each of the 25 spots.  Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez, even with at-bats being taken away by Jesus, still have value as a 4th OF and a backup for the corner infield spots should one be needed, and they will be included on the postseason roster because of this.  But Jorge is basically only a bat at this point, and a limited one at that.  If Jesus continues to show he can carry the load, his bat becomes more valuable to have coming off the bench in the playoffs than Jorge's.

The Yankees have not completely cast Jorge aside, at least not yet.  He is in tonight's lineup, DHing and batting 8th, most likely as an opportunity to show he still has something to offer as a left-handed hitter.  I know if I were filling out the lineup card, there's no way I sit Jesus after the show he put on yesterday.  But Joe, being the loyal type, is going to do everything in his power to give Jorge chances here and there down the stretch.  But if Jorge doesn't produce, and Jesus keeps firing Heavenly lasers into the bleachers, Jorge could spend the entirety of the postseason strictly as a spectator.  Not a very pretty image for one of the great Yankees of this recent generation, but an increasingly likely one.

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