Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Crumbling Cornerstones

We knew there would be times like these. Heck, I wrote a chapter in Bombers Broadside 2007 (and updated it for the 2008 edition) which pretty much said there would be times like these. Three of the Yankees' home-grown cornerstone players--two of whom they just re-signed to huge contracts this off-season--are getting up there in age. They're at the age when players, particularly those who play the more demanding up-the-middle positions, start to break down.

Right now, it looks like like Derek Jeter's might be going on the DL. Alberto Gonzalez (the one whom, to our knowledge, does not condone torture) was in Kansas City (per PeteAbe) in anticipation of getting called up, because of Jeter's high quadriceps strain. The injury's not considered serious, but as Will Carroll points out at BP, the fact that it's near the groin means it might linger like groin injuries tend to do.

The more serious injury could belong to Jorge Posada. Jorge's been laboring with a "stiff" shoulder for about a week; given a start behind the plate in yesterday's loss to the Royals (with Joey Gathright, KC is a bad place to be if you're a catcher who can't throw) Jorge had to exit the game after six. There's something unintentionally scary in the description Posada gave Kat O'Brien of how the shoulder feels "dead, like you've got no strength." On the worst-case scenario, that description sounds a little like the "my shoulder got the wind knocked out of it" feeling Jay Jaffe once described when he tore his labrum. If Posada were to have a SLAP tear, that's surgery and a whole lot of lost time, perhaps even a lost season. So if you're a Yankee fan, this is a good time to keep your fingers crossed, or do whatever else it is you do when you need good luck.

While Gonzalez isn't a good replacement for Jeter, the Yanks have options. Wilson Betemit can stand in at short for the time being, and if the Captain's absence were to be prolonged, Girardi could see if Alex Rodriguez still has what it takes to play short, while having Betemit and Morgan Ensberg share the hot corner. Losing Posada means more Jose Molina, which, looking at the backups over the previous half-dozen years, could definitely be worse. But then Molina's backup is Chad Moeller, who isn't anyone's idea of a good time.

Stay tuned.

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