Jorge Posada’s brain underwent a battery of neurological tests, and all of them came up negative.
Because of that diagnosis, Posada is likely to endure some good natured ribbing from his teammates, but what the Yankees’ catcher was potentially facing is really no laughing matter. After Tuesday’s game against the Orioles, Posada complained about “concussion-like” symptoms that didn’t subside completely by the morning. Alertly, the Yankees didn’t take any chances and sent Posada to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for further evaluation.
Thankfully, the Yankees got positive news when Posada’s tests came back negative, clearing the switch hitting catcher to fly with the team to Texas and rejoin the starting lineup. The alternative could have been very scary, both in terms of Posada’s health and the Yankees expectations for the post season.
Had Posada’s name been added to the growing list of major league baseball players who have suffered concussions (or at least the growing list of those finally being diagnosed as having them), it isn’t a stretch to think that his season could have been placed in jeopardy. Just ask Jason Bay and Justin Morneau, among others.
Although the Yankees dodged a bullet with Posada, the scare did shine a light on the team’s short-sighted decision to not add Jesus Montero to the 40-man roster. Had Jorge Posada been seriously impaired, that omission would have forced the Yankees to enter the post season with Francisco Cervelli and Chad Moeller as their only catchers…an eventuality that still exists. Considering the relative likelihood of an injury to the 38 year old Posada, who has been hobbled with various ailments during the season, it is inexcusable that the Yankees have decided to take that risk.
For sure, there would have been some drawbacks to adding Montero to the 40-man roster. Not only would the Yankees have prematurely started his service time clock, but they also would have been forced to protect him in the 2011 Rule V draft. However, both of those concerns pale in comparison to the risk of facing the post season with the anemic tandem of Cervelli and Moeller.
Another potential concern would have been Montero’s ability to quickly adjust to the major leagues (after all, he did take a few months before taking off at the triple-A level) as well as his defensive acumen. Although legitimate issues, again, they don’t overshadow the alternative. After all, even if he didn’t hit and played poor defense, Montero wouldn’t be that much worse than Cervelli has been over the last three months of the season.
Even if Posada remains healthy down the stretch, keeping Montero off the 40-man still seems like a penny wise decision. Not only could Montero’s bat have come in handy during the pennant race, but the September audition would have also given the Yankees a chance to gauge his readiness to make a permanent leap to the majors.
Finally, to those who still have doubts about Montero’s viability at such a young age, think back to what the Braves and Marlins did with Andruw Jones and Miguel Cabrera, respectively. In 1996, the Braves promoted Jones, who was then 19, at the end of August. After going a paltry .217/.265/.443 in his first 31 regular season games, Jones eventually paid dividends in the playoffs, positing OPS’ of .972 and 1.250 in the NLCS and World Series. Following a similar game plan in 2003, the Marlins promoted a 20 year old Miguel Cabrera in late June and then watched their wunderkind develop to the point of posting an OPS of1.027 in the NLCS.
The Yankees should be fully aware of both cases because Jones and Cabrera each hit homers against them in the World Series. Instead of trying to see if they could catch the same lightning with Montero, all while giving them a much needed insurance policy against a potential Posada injury, the Yankees overlooked the opportunity. Now, they just have to hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them.
Andruw Jones’ 1996 Regular Season and Playoffs, Age 19
Miguel Cabrera’s 2003 Regular Season and Playoffs, Age 20