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Has Posada earned the right to decide when to play?
Jorge Posada is batting .165. He’s a DH. Of the 13 DHs in the American League with enough plate appearances to qualify, he’s 13th in average and on-base, 10th in slugging and 12th in OPS. Has he earned the respect of fans and teammates? Absolutely. Has he earned the right to be given the benefit of a doubt by his manager? I think so. Does Posada deserve for his manager to come and talk to him about his role? Yes. But should Posada expect to determine his own place in the batting order? No way.
Judging by his reception when announced as a pinch hitter the other night, Yankee fans are obviously proud of what Posada has done for the past 15 years. And they should be. He’s earned that.
But Joe Girardi is paid to give his team the best opportunity to win the American League East division. It’s a tough division, and the Yankees can’t afford to give away games. This team needs more from its DH than a .165 batting average.
I understand that Girardi has few options right now. With Eric Chavez injured and Andruw Jones hitting a whopping .220, it’s not like he has a clear decision. But the point is that the Yankees lineup is Girardi’s decision.
About this time last season, there was an aging DH in the American League whose average had dropped to .200. He was benched, and over the last 20 days of May, he had just 21 plate appearances. That was future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, who recognized his role, didn’t complain and soon retired.
Now I’m not suggesting that it’s time for Posada to retire. He seems to have a fire that Griffey had lost by the time he returned to Seattle, not to mention better skills at this point. Clearly, what Posada has accomplished for the Yankees since 1997 has earned him a special place in the game. But it has not earned him the right to decide when and where he plays.