Jorge Posada's Up Next on the Wheel of Yankee Scrutiny

Posada's slow start makes him the next veteran under fire

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Designated hitter is just a title.

    With the Derek Jeter crisis on the back burner for the moment, it is time to start worrying about other slumping Yankee bats.

    Nick Swisher doesn't quite have the stature necessary to create a Def-Con 4 situation around the Bronx so we can't make him the top priority. Alex Rodriguez has the stature and his slump is bordering on epic proportions, but he's had bad slumps before and come out the other side smelling sweet as a rose.

    That leaves Jorge Posada as the player to keep Yankees fans up at night. He's really the best choice for the position.

    Not only does he duplicate Jeter's status as an aging legend producing at a level well below his established norms, he is actually producing at a level below what's acceptable for any player. His .152 batting average, his 611 OPS, his miserable walk/strikeout ratio and inability to hit lefties at all paint the picture of a player with nothing much to offer his team as he nears his 40th birthday.  

    We mentioned Posada's bad luck on Friday and that batting average on balls in play certainly looks suspect, but the lack of line drives and absence of hits that aren't home runs make it harder to use that as a crutch for a pro-Posada argument. It is equally tough to buy the argument that there's some rush to judgment going on here.

    On Sunday, after Jeter's breakout game, Joe Girardi complained that people were "quick to judge" the shortstop. You can imagine he'd say the same thing about Posada and he's wrong in both cases.

    Jeter wasn't being judged on the first month by itself, he was being judged on his subpar 2010 season as well as the start to his 2011 season. Being quick to judge is saying that all is well after one good game not after using a ton of evidence to start drawing a conclusion.

    Posada wasn't awful last year, but it was one of the least productive offensive seasons of his career. Seeing what he's done to this point only makes it natural to conclude he's continued traveling the back side of his career hill toward the moment when he hangs up the cleats.

    How do you deal with such a moment? Some are wondering if it is time to call up Jesus Montero who is off to a good start in Triple-A, but that good start is short on power and patience which makes it hard to believe he's ready to handle big-league pitching.

    At the very least Posada needs to give up at-bats against lefties -- he's 0-for-23 this season -- with Andruw Jones, Eduardo Nunez and others picking up the slack. With the team winning, they can afford to hold off on more drastic measures until it becomes clear that Posada's bat isn't returning to anything resembling the good old days.

    It may seem far-fetched to believe such things are possible, but David Ortiz looked just as finished in each of the last two seasons before showing there was life in him yet. It isn't every day that Big Papi is the desired outcome for the Yankees, but this isn't exactly a normal state of affairs.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.