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Jorge Posada And The Long, Torturous Goodbye

-- See Pinstripe Alley for complete discussion and analysis

<strong>Jorge Posada</strong> has spent more time on the bench this season thatn ever before. Removed now from the regular lineup, that is only going to get worse.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Jorge Posada has spent more time on the bench this season thatn ever before. Removed now from the regular lineup, that is only going to get worse. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Jorge Posada's days as a productive, regular contributor to the New York Yankees appear to be finished. The latest blow came Sunday when Posada, reduced already from catcher, to designated hitter, to part-time DH only against right-handed pitchers, did not start against Boston Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett. Veteran infielder Eric Chavez was the DH.

Posada was told on Sunday by manager Joe Girardi that he is out of the lineup.

"He said he was going to put the best lineup on the field, and he doesn't know when I'm going to DH again," Posada said before the Yankees lost, 3-2, to the Red Sox in 10 innings. "So right now I'm sitting on the bench."

Posada, 40, in a few days is likely to remain there. If he remains on the roster at all. The Yankees will soon have to find roster space for Alex Rodriguez, who is rehabbing from knee surgery and seems as if he is not more than a couple of weeks from a return. There is also increasing speculation that the Yankees could bring highly-touted Jesus Montero to the big leagues -- perhaps as soon as this week -- to serve as the regular designated hitter for the rest of the season.

Posada is hitting just .230 with nine home runs and 31 RBI. He is no longer a catcher, and appears to be a designated hitter who can no longer hit. He certainly can't run -- he has never been able to do that. The hard part is telling a proud 17-year veteran, five-time All-Star and key member of so many championship teams that he can no longer get the job done.

Watching the painful way in which the Yankees have taken away Posada's position, then his at-bats, bit-by-bit makes it obvious this has not been easy for them.

Veteran columnist Bill Madden of the Daily news wrote this about the Posada situation:

It is never easy or pretty when a once-productive player is told by management that his services are no longer required, but in Posada's case this has been an almost torturous process in which the Yankees, with Girardi mostly serving as the messenger, have been saying goodbye to him in stages. The first stage was last winter when GM Brian Cashman told him to forget about catching anymore and concentrate on being a full-time designated hitter. If that was a bit of a haymaker for Posada, the second stage was much more subtle when in mid-May the veteran was still hitless against lefties, and Girardi began phasing in more and more at-bats for Andruw Jones as the DH against southpaws. ...

With less than eight weeks left in the season, it's unclear whether Posada will be given a chance to regain his spot as the DH, although .Girardi didn't rule it out completely. Posada, who turns 40 on Aug. 17, is in the final year of a four-year contract, likely playing out the final two months of his 15-year Yankee career.

"It's tough; Jorge and I, our relationship goes back a long, long ways, 1996, and he's done so many great things in this game and great things for the Yankees and been a part of so many championships and division winners," Girardi said.

Time, though, catches up to all athletes -- usually long before they are willing to admit it has done so. Obviously, it has caught up to Posada.

If the Yankees chose to cut ties with him soon, it will be a sad ending to a brilliant career. If they carry him as mostly a spectator the rest of the way that really won't be pretty, either.

No matter how it officially ends, Posada's run as a truly important Yankee ended on Sunday. Whenever it ends officially I hope Yankees fans will remember to celebrate the many great things Posada has done, not kick him in the backside on his way out the door. He doesn't deserve that.