Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Jose Molina catching for A.J. Burnett in the playoffs is a good idea

Oooh, controversy! There's a whole to-do in Yankeeland today over the news that Jose Molina, not Jorge Posada, will catch A.J. Burnett's start in the ALDS. And Posada is not pleased. According to Sam Borden of LoHud.com, Posada said this when he heard the news:
"I just hope we win that game," Posada said. "That’s all I’ve got to say."


He also told reporters: 
"It’s not like I didn’t see it coming."
When asked if he might be the DH when Molina catches, Posada said he wasn’t sure but that, “Matsui is our DH.”

Aha! So we finally have acknowledgement that there is trouble in paradise between Posada and Burnett. And a little cattiness, as well. Good times!

You know the old adage about how if you have a dispute with someone, you ought to look at yourself first, to see if you're contributing to the problem? Well, Posada could use a little self-reflection. Because this seems to be a persistent problem with him. He hasn't gotten along with Mike Mussina, Randy Johnson, El Duque, and Roger Clemens, to name a few. And a number of times this year, CC Sabathia has appeared to prefer someone other than Posada to catch him, although it hasn't been the bad blood the way it is with Burnett.

Could Burnett be difficult to deal with? Of course. But at some point, maybe Posada ought to look in the mirror as to why so many pitchers don't want to throw to him.  Because Burnett is just one of a long line.

Obviously, I think Girardi made the right move, for this and other reasons:

* A.J. Burnett has never pitched in a post-season game. If having Molina behind the mound will help his comfort level, I say the Yanks need to do it. Because the last thing the Yanks need is those two arguing in the middle of the game, and blowing the Yankees' chances. Is it divaism to cater to Burnett's wishes? I guess. But that's the breaks. They're paying him $82 million to win playoff games. If having Molina as his catcher will make him do well, that's a price worth paying.

* For whatever reason, Burnett's numbers are much better with Molina over Posada. This, from Newsday's Erik Boland: "Batters hit .221 against Burnett in 11 starts caught by Molina compared with .270 in 16 starts caught by Posada, according to baseball-reference.com. Opponents' slugging percentage was .352 with Molina compared with .421 with Posada. And on and on." Whether it's superstition or what, is it any wonder Burnett wants Molina?

* Let's get over this myth that there are no Yankee personal catchers in the postseason. And Girardi should know better than anybody about that. How many postseason games did No. 1 catcher Girardi miss in the dynasty era because Andy Pettitte had Jim Leyritz as his own personal catcher? Did Girardi whine to the media, "I just hope we win that game," when he missed starting Game 1 of the 1996 World Series, his first WS game (and the first WS game in Yankee Stadium in 15 years)? I don't think so.

* If past numbers are any indication, Posada's bat isn't worth that much in the postseason anyway. For all the scrutiny A-Rod's playoff numbers have gotten, Jorge's numbers are just as awful. Posada's career postseason batting average? .236. He only hit .133 in the 2007 ALDS. And out of the 23 series he's played in, Posada was good in just four of them - the 1998 World Series, the 2001 ALDS, the 2003 ALCS, and the 2006 ALDS. In fifteen series where he was a regular, he hit below .250, and batted below .200 in seven of those series. Not exactly the second coming of Mr. October. Hideki Matsui has had his struggles in the postseason as well, but at .292, his overall postseason batting average is much higher than Posada. Besides, even if you think you'd rather have Posada and Matsui both in the lineup, we're only talking probably two at-bats Posada will miss.

At any rate, Posada needs to get over it. The important thing is the team winning. If that means Molina catching Burnett, so be it.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!


Bklynfan said...

Posada's comment about hopefully winning that game makes me sick. He needs to grow up. If AJ feels more comfortable with Molina, so be it. I think we have a better chance of winning if AJ is comfortable with his catcher rather than being tense. Get over it Jorge!

Anonymous said...

Meow is right. Jorge needs to get over it. If AJ works better with Molina then suck it up shut your trap cheer for you teammates and if you do get called in to pinch hit (which is very likely) do your best and help the TEAM win a championship. Girardi is making the right move. Someone remind Jorge that a)the team hasn't won it all since 2000 so what's your beef? Go cry on the your best bud/El Capitan's shoulder, wipe you eyes and keep it moving.

The Emperor said...

I know that Jorge has a lot of pride and somewhat of an infalted ego.

But this is no time for that in the playoffs. We have one goal, and that to win our 27th World Championship.

I applaud Girardi for having the balls to make this gutsy move knowing that some egos may be a little bruised in the process. It makes very much sense to make sure that our pitchers are relaxed and confident and pitching to their strenghts. In games like these, no matter how good your offense is, it's pitching that ultimately wins games, and we need all of our starters in top form.

Anonymous said...

For all the games where Burnett allowed nine runs over five innings, we salute you for taking zero responsibility. For god sakes, take the blame for your own errant control and placement problems instead of blaming it on pitch selection. If he feels comfortable not working with Posada that's fine, but Burnett's inability to work with Jorge Posada is costing the team an .885 OPS bat in the lineup. Jose Molina is bad.

Paul from Boston said...

For the money they make these pitchers should be able to suck it up. In the end though, it is the playoffs and I want my starters to feel as comfortable as possible. I just need to remember that I said this on Friday when Tek is behind the plate catching Beckett.

Given the lineup the Yankees have, if Posada's bat is the difference in a game at YS against the Twins then NY probably has bigger issues to deal with. I suppose maybe if its the Tigers because it will be Verlander and every bit will help. Even without him, BIG edge to NY - especially at home.

By the way - haven't posted in a bit so I'm WAY belated with a friendly congrats to the Yanks on the division title.

Cheers from Boston!

Uncle Mike said...

Jose Molina can put an end to this discussion by hitting like a hitter, instead of like a pitcher like he usually does, in his game.

If he does, then there's nothing Jorge can say except, "Now, I gotta do the same thing in the next game."

If he doesn't, and the Yankees move on to face the Chowdaheads or the Halos in the ALCS anyway, then it will likely be the last game Molina ever starts in Pinstripes, and no one should cry over it.

Besides, with the new Stadium and the Metrodump, the Yankees should be bombing the Twins' pitchers out anyway. And lest we forget, Joe Mauer's postseason OPS is just .432.

Riddering said...

Posada wants his team to go all the way and he will go along with the plans Girardi lays out.

But do I have a problem with him being a little sore that he'll be on the bench for an inferior player? Heck no. Frankly, I like to see a little flash of pride in my players. If Girardi benched Jeter in favor of Pena or Girardi put Alex in, say, oh...the eighth spot in the lineup--I'd want them to bristle a little bit at not being played as the phenomenal starters they are.

As for the numbers--the siren in my head goes off for small sample size. Ten games are not enough to say that Burnett and Molina are The Battery To Be Paired. A.J. has had stellar games and clunkers with both catchers.

I don't think Burnett, Posada, or Molina created this crisis. Personally, I feel that Girardi forced this dilemma by constantly putting Molina out there with A.J. down the stretch towards the postseason. Both Posada and Burnett wanted to work together--if interviews are to be believed--but Girardi didn't let it happen.

In the end, all I can do is light a candle and pray that Molina doesn't squash any Yankee rallies.

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