Watching Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada struggle through the first first month or so of the 2011 season has not been fun for New York Yankees' fans. Rather you might use the following adjectives to describe the experience: painful, sad, unpleasant, disturbing, troublesome, uncomfortable ... there is a long list of ways to describe what we have seen from these two iconic figures thus far in 2011, and none of them mean fun.
Jeter got two hits Monday night against the Detroit Tigers and is now hitting only .250 for the season. If you watch enough games you know it is a "soft" .250 at that. One of Jeter's two hits was an infield single, typical of the numerous infield hits or soft rollers through the infield Jeter has gotten for hits thus far in 2011. Pinstripe Alley, in fact, notes that Jeter has 11 infield hits already this season. Jeter has just two doubles, a pitiful .270 slugging percentage and a paltry six RBI, a pace that would give him just 37 RBI for the season.
Jeter got his hits Monday in his first two at-bats, but when Detroit's hard-throwing Justin Verlander was in trouble in both the fourth and sixth innings and Jeter was at the plate Verlander simply overpowered him with fastballs, striking him out both times. Jeter had no chance.
It used to be that as a Yankee fan you wanted Jeter at the plate in those situations. Now, it seems it is the opposition that relishes seeing Jeter at the plate in a clutch situation rather than just about any other Yankee. He seems unable to drive the ball, can be overpowered and when he does hit the ball he is a ground-ball machine, making him an easy double-play candidate.
In discussing Jeter's decline, Bob Klapisch pointed out Monday that Jeter has hit only eight line drives in his 100 at-bats all season.
Jeter, 36, is 49 hits shy of becoming the first player to reach 3,000 hits with the Yankees. It should be fun watching him assault that milestone. Right now, it's more like a slow, painful march. Sort of like one of those slow rollers through the infield he seems to get his hits on these days.
Posada, 39, has been even tougher to watch than Jeter. The former Yankee catcher turned designated hitter also got two hits Monday night, raising his batting average all the way to .150, just 12 measly hits in 80 at-bats. Posada, at least, can still do some damage when his bat runs into the ball -- he has six home runs and two doubles amongst those 12 hits, and has 14 RBI.
Posada has already lost his place as the Yankee catcher -- a spot now occupied by the much younger, much more athletic and much better defensively Russell Martin. If he keeps hitting like this, meaning not hitting, you have to wonder how long before he loses DH at-bats to Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones or highly-touted AAA slugger Jesus Montero.
Jeter and Posada have been centerpieces of five New York Yankees world championships during their careers. This Yankee team does not revolve around them, though. Not even close. Now when they come to the plate in a key spot or during a potential rally you don't hope for a big hit -- you simply pray that they won't do something to kill the rally. That is sad.
There are still more than 130 games to play this season, and Yankee fans have to hope that these two proud stars find enough of their old form to end up as solid contributors to another late-season playoff run by the Bronx Bombers. Right now, though, it is looking like the Yankees will have to win despite these guys, not because of them.