Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jorge-Gate and Everything Else

It is a bad time in Yankeeland. A very, very, very bad time. As the Yankees go down last night for the second straight game to the Red Sox 6-0, the loss marks their 8th in the last 11 games.

In these first 2 weeks of May, the Yankees have managed only 5 wins, 51 runs, 15 homers and 48 RBIs. Their April numbers were 14, 128, 41 and 127, respectively. They've gone from slugging .475 to.395, a drop of almost 100 points. And their OPS has shifted from .813 to .728, another significant drop. Yes, we're only halfway through May, but in watching these games for the past two weeks, seeing what appears to be a total collapse of this team's offense, it seems hard to fathom that the Yankees can pull their numbers up to even contend with what they did in April.

And the ugliness of what is becoming pure fodder, made a terrible turn for the worse last night. Jorge Posada, who has been absolutely abysmal as of late and was slated to bat 9th in the lineup, decided to scratch himself from the game because he needed to "clear [his] head," as he told the media afterward. Rumblings from different media sources were that Jorge "threw a fit" on learning of his demotion, this according to team officials. Ken Rosenthal, who reported from the sidelines for the FOX game coverage, said that he personally spoke to Posada before the game and Jorge said that he was okay with playing 9th and acknowledged that it was a deserved move by Joe Girardi. During the game, Rosenthal spoke to GM Brian Cashman who said that Jorge's removal was not injury related and that Jorge "just took himself out of the game." Shortly after Cash spoke, Jorge's wife Laura posted on facebook that her husband suffered with a stiff back.

In the midst of all this, rumblings began that perhaps Jorge was about to make an early, permanent exit. But YES' Jack Curry spoke with Jorge's dad who said that Jorge was in no way retiring, but acknowledged that his son should have played in the game. After the loss, Girardi told the media that Jorge came to him and just said he needed to "take a day," but never made mention of any back stiffness. Finally, when Jorge spoke to the media at his locker, he said that he just needed a day off, but also acknowledged that he never told Girardi or Cash that his back was stiff. He also acknowledged, when asked, that he felt disrespected.

So you can see how all of this is very confusing. The stories aren't clearly adding up. But regardless of that, one thing is clear: Jorge Posada gave up on his team last night, and that is unacceptable, especially for a guy who has been known to get in the faces of other players in that clubhouse who he himself has accused of doing the same thing.

I have no problem with Jorge needing a day off. In fact, I think that it was necessary. He has been struggling mightily of late and seems to be falling into the worst luck of his career. But my problem, is the timing. If any of us showed up to work an hour before the start of the workday and decided that we needed to take that day off for personal reasons, we'd be fired. Period. I refuse to believe that Jorge didn't realize the need for a day off, say, the night before. It's obvious that he was upset over being moved to the 9-spot and he protested; I'm not buying that this had no bearing on him scratching himself.

So what could this mean for Jorge? Quite simply, no negotiation for a new contract. Don't know if any of you fanatics out there saw Rosenthal's interview with Cashman, but Mr. GM's tone and body language were reminiscent of the "cryptic" response he gave when he fired Dave Eiland as pitching coach. When he said that he spoke to Jorge and that Jorge pulled himself out of the game, he twitched, almost like he was struggling not to announce Jorge's dismissal right then and there. But Cashman is the master of holding back, yet giving viewers just enough to know where his mind is. It's classic PR, and he is the best at it. One can only imagine, however, if Rosenthal were interviewing Hank Steinbrenner, how different that would have gone down.

And, Jorge was upset that Cashman decided to make a statement during the game.

"I don't know why he made a statement during the game," Jorge said. "I don't understand that. That's the way he works now, I guess.

"I think we should have waited for the game to be over to talk to whoever. You don't do that. You're not supposed to do that."

Cashman countered that it is common practice for a statement to be made when a player removes himself from the lineup and that Jorge knew that he was going to make a statement. Matter-of-fact, Cashman spent an hour talking to Jorge and his agent letting them know as much. My question is, if Cashman was so wrong to interject during the game, what does Jorge have to say about his wife Laura, who is making it a bad habit to post and tweet comments at inopportune times? Comments that should be left to her husband?

But with all this, it remains that there is serious trouble in the Yankee clubhouse. This team as a whole is not living up to their billing at all and it's embarrassing. No offense, silly errors in the past few games and a disgruntled soldier within the ranks, all add up to the need for a shake-up. I'm calling for someone in that clubhouse to crack skulls. Normally, that would be Jorge, but at the moment, I think he could use someone shaking him up a bit. I elect Derek Jeter for that role, as the two are best friends and Jeter's careful approach to everything, can only work for a guy with as much pride as Jorge.

But it would really surprise me if a team meeting hasn't already been called. Someone needs to remind Alex Rodriguez of why he's the highest paid contractual player in the history of sports. Somebody needs to tell Mark Teixeira that it's enough with the pop-ups already, especially with men on base. Somebody needs to let Nick Swisher know that his patience at the plate has been lacking and that it's time for him to stop swinging at bad pitches. And Jeter needs to remember that the name "Captain Clutch" was not simply given, it was earned. It's time for this team to get back to playing YANKEES baseball. Period.

And for an interesting and eye-opening look at how Jorge-gate is only the beginning of what may be in store for this team, check out ESPN's Wallace Matthews' scathing assessment here.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper