Considering how many great players have passed through the Bronx, one might think retirement press conferences would be a rite of winter for the Yankees, but when Andy Pettitte decided to walk away last February, it was only the third time the franchise had the opportunity to bid farewell to a former great in such a manner. Almost exactly one year later, that list will now grow to four when long-time Yankees’ catcher and potential Hall of Famer Jorge Posada officially retires from the game during an afternoon press conference at Yankee Stadium.
Although it’s nice that Posada will be given a proper send off, the announcement seems a little premature. Assuming Posada would be willing to accept a part-time role as DH and full-time position as team leader and mentor, bringing the veteran back for one more season seems to make all the sense in the world.
Putting aside his intangible qualities as well as deference to his long and illustrious Yankees career, Posada’s return is also justifiable based on bottom-line performance. Despite struggling as a right-handed hitter, Posada batted .269/.348/.466 in 316 plate appearances as a lefty, which, on an OPS basis, was 18% better than the league average. If Posada was able to replicate that performance, he would provide the perfect complement to Andruw Jones, whose OPS was 44% better than league average when facing left handers.
Jorge Posada/Andruw Jones DH Combo, 2011 Performance vs. League Average
|Jorge Posada||vs RHP as LHB||316||279||0.269||0.348||0.466||0.814||118|
|Andruw Jones||vs LHP as RHB||146||126||0.286||0.384||0.540||0.923||144|
|A.L. DH Average||0.265||0.340||0.429||0.770|
sOPS+ is a comparison of the players split OPS versus the league average in that same split.
If the Yankees really are trying to be cost conscious, then why bother signing a veteran bat to be the DH? If used properly, a tandem of Jones and Posada is more than capable of outperforming the average player at the position. It’s also worth noting that Posada hit much better versus righties than several other options reportedly being considered: Raul Ibanez (OPS of .747), Johnny Damon (.715), and Hideki Matsui (.654). So, unless the Yankees have a DH ace up their sleeve, it’s hard to figure out why they haven’t been more interested in having Posada return for a swan song.
According to most accounts, Posada wanted to play for one more season, so the Yankees’ lack of interest had to hurt. Fortunately, the situation didn’t lead to an acrimonious departure, but it still seems a shame that Brian Cashman couldn’t find room on the roster for Posada. After so many years of service to the organization, his presence will be greatly missed, but ironically, if the Yankees do not find someone who can hit right handed pitchers, what they may initially miss most is his bat.