The Yankees’ “Posada-gate”

On Saturday night, I got a call from my brother, who was at the Yankees-Red Sox game.  I figured he would be telling me about something that happened during the game, but to my surprise, he instead informed me that Jorge Posada asked out of the Yankees’ lineup after being dropped to the 9th spot in the batting order by Manager Joe Girardi.

Rumors were now flying on the internet that he was going to announce his retirement after the game.  Don’t you just love the bathroom wall formerly known as Twitter?

I was amused.  Little did I know that a “scandal” was born.

General Manager Brian Cashman held a press conference during the game, admitting that Posada asked out of the lineup an hour before the game, and adding that it was not due to injury.  After the game, Posada contradicted what Cashman said, and attributed his actions to a “stiff back.”

But the New York Daily News reported that when Posada met with Girardi and Cashman before Saturday’s game, he was irate and wanted out of the team altogether.  Posada later apologized to both and retracted what he said, attributing it to being angry.  He then got on-board with the company message and said that he asked out due to back stiffness.

Case closed, right?  Not so fast.

On Sunday, Yankees’ captain Derek Jeter weighed in on the whole controversy to the assembled media and defended Posada − whom he said is “like a brother” to him.  Clearly taking umbrage with the team, he added, “It’s not the first time someone has come out of the lineup, whether it’s something physical or some other reasons.”  Jeter reportedly took part in a conference call with general partner Hal Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine and Cashman on Monday, and all parties are now allegedly on the same page.

To make matters worse the team was swept by the Red Sox this past weekend, and have now lost six in a row after losing to the Rays last night.

Ouch.  So what has brought it to this point?

The Yankees’ front office, that’s who.  Steinbrenner, Levine and Cashman were all part of a bitter contract negotiation with Jeter this past winter, and he all but admitted that he wasn’t happy with the way the team handled it, particularly with Cashman’s outspoken ways.  And they wonder why some players are resentful?

The three are the same who gave long-term contracts to aging veterans such as Posada A-Rod and the atrocious A.J. Burnett.  However, Cashman does deserve some credit for not wanting to sign Rafael Soriano (who has been a bust so far) Cliff Lee at his $20+ million per year asking price.  But this is an old roster with no starting pitching depth, a shaky bullpen (other than the legendary Mariano Rivera) and AL East rivals that are all younger and hungrier.  In case you never read the book, the “Moneyball” movie is due out later this year, Brian.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have to hand it to Boston and their GM, Theo Epstein.  He has never been afraid to get rid of a player a year too soon, even if they were beloved.  Epstein traded Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez while they still had value, and let Pedro Martinez and Johnny Damon leave via free agency.  And he refused to offer a long-term contract to Jason Varitek.

No one wants to see an aging star get treated poorly.  But at the same time, no one wants to see them struggle and hang on for too long.  Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Brett Favre come to mind.  And if Posada really wasn’t hurt, his actions were uncalled for sad.

It sure makes Andy Pettite’s retirement this past winter look graceful.  Here’s hoping that Rivera rides off into the sunset in a similar manner.

But if you think this is bad, wait until Jeter’s skills erode even further.  That will be a potential PR nightmare for the Yankees.  Good luck, Girardi.

Are you paying attention, Lakers fans?  This could be your team in a few years.

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri runs the “West Coast View” column for Sports Climax. A veteran to the keyboard, Chris also covers the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter for more sports observations.

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