The Yankees today sit at something of a crossroad in 2008. They are on the verge of an important three-game set against the Red Sox in Boston. They’ve gained a lot of ground in both the division and Wild Card and could see their play this weekend determine whether they are pretenders or contenders.
Meanwhile, one of their star players and biggest money-makers, number 20 himself, Jorge Posada has a decision to make as well. On the one hand, we have doctors — many of them — calling for Posada to get surgery. It is a foregone conclusion that, at some point, he will need surgery on his ailing shoulder, and recovery time for this surgery is at least six months. If he has the operation now, he’ll be ready for the start of Spring Training if all goes according to plan. His window for this decision is about two weeks.
But at the same time, Jorge Posada sees the Yankees winning and doesn’t want to give up. He also knows that the Yankees rewarded him with a high-risk, four-year contract. While this shoulder injury isn’t indicative of the problems likely to show up in the latter years of the contract, that Posada is missing so much time at age 36 is sending off alarm bells left and right.
To that end, Jorge is considing a position change that would keep him in the lineup. He might play first; he might DH; he won’t be catching. Some reports have pressure on Posada originated with Yanks’ Team President Randy Levine. Others have it coming from Jorge himself and his desire to play.
But the reality is that the Yankees need Jorge Posada to be healthy for next season. They don’t need him to delay surgery, and they know that his bat isn’t what it should be with his shoulder hurting. In fact, Jorge has said so himself, and the numbers bear him out. Since returning from the DL in June, Jorge has hit .248/.380/.371 over 129 plate appearances. Since July 1, those numbers — .214/.365/.262 — look even worse.
For the Yankees and for Jorge, it’s not worth the risk. Posada should get the surgery and come back next year. The Yankees — 6-0 in the last six games — can win without Jorge, but next year, they’ll need him healthy and ready to go.