Commentary

It's time: Posada should be full-time DH

Yanks' soon-to-be 39-year-old catcher must give up his beloved perch behind the plate

Updated: June 3, 2010, 11:01 AM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- You already know a final decision will come with some resistance.

There's no way catcher Jorge Posada wants to be a full-time designated hitter and give up his perch behind the plate.

In reality, though, it's exactly what should happen.

Not only will it help Posada stay healthy and be productive, it will help the New York Yankees do what they are trying to accomplish -- win another World Series.

[+] EnlargeJorge Posada
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIAt this point, Jorge Posada is more useful to the Yankees at the plate than behind it.

Posada, the Yankees' starting catcher since 1998, was back in action Wednesday night after his latest stint on the disabled list with a fractured right foot. In the Yankees' 9-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Posada was the DH and batted sixth. He singled, walked and scored a run in three at-bats.

Manager Joe Girardi acknowledged before the game that they just don't know when Posada will be able to catch again. At the same time, he wouldn't entertain the idea that perhaps Posada had caught his final game.

Girardi, a former catcher, has to have a soft spot in his heart for Posada in this delicate situation. After all, you're talking about a guy who has accomplished a lot behind the plate for the Yankees. Posada, a five-time All-Star, has won five championship rings.

Clearly, Posada is hoping that his days as the Yankees' starting catcher aren't over just yet.

"I know that I can catch and I can be out there but a lot of circumstances have come and I'm going to have to be smart about it," said Posada, who played 100 games behind the plate last season -- the most ever for a Yankees catcher in a season in which he turned 38 years old. "If I'm in the lineup, I'm happy.

"I would like to catch here and there sometimes, but I understand what the future holds."

In this case, the future is now.

It would be one thing if the Yanks didn't have a capable catcher to replace Posada. But it's exactly the opposite. Francisco Cervelli, just 24, has done a great job since taking over.

Not only has he caught well and handled the staff just as well, but he has also been a clutch hitter. Even Posada, who turns 39 in August, knows that. "He's done a great job," Posada said about Cervelli, who's batting .302 with 24 RBIs. "We obviously know we have a catcher here in the future. He's going to be the future of this team and I'm happy for him."

The idea that Nick Johnson, who started the season as the DH, will be back and help this team is mostly a pipe dream. He's on the 60-day DL and is unlikely to have an impact this season.

Hence, the Yankees need an every-day DH and Posada makes the most sense. The switch-hitter's batting .326 with six homers and 14 RBIs. Plus, this is the Yankees' best lineup -- with Nick Swisher second, Posada sixth at DH, Curtis Granderson seventh and Cervelli eighth. It gives them an honest shot at the franchise's 28th title.

Let's not forget that one of the reasons the Yankees didn't re-sign Hideki Matsui this past offseason was because they wanted to make sure they could get Posada at-bats in the DH spot and rest him enough to keep him healthy for the long run.

After all, it's what the Yankees are all about -- playing in October.

For sure, Posada will be hurt for a minute and it won't feel good. Nobody ever wants to give up their position, not after all the blood, sweat and tears put into a craft. It's the same reason shortstop Derek Jeter won't talk about a position change in his future.

Posada simply loves catching.

"It's a challenging position, it's the best thing in the world," Posada said. "You're involved, you're a part of every aspect of the game, being there for the pitchers is something you don't get anywhere else.

"That's something you get every day. It's really a lot of fun. You put that gear on, it's really a different aspect for me. It involves you everyday."

It will be a tough transition, but it's one that should take place now, not later.

Rob Parker is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com

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