Catching Burnett

Rob Neyer has it right: if Joe Girardi truly feels that A.J. Burnett is going to pitch better with Jose Molina receiving his pitches, then he has little choice but to bench Jorge Posada despite the huge offensive difference between the two catchers. Burnett is a highly variable pitcher. When he’s on, he’s unhittable. When he’s off, he walks the ballpark and gets pounded. Posada did most of the catching for Burnett at midseason (with some Kevin Cash and Frankie Cervelli throw in). They had the usual mix of good starts and bad, but things seem to have changed in late August after a three-start sequence in which two Posada games bracketed a Molina game. Burnett was savaged in the Posada starts, but struck out 12 Rangers in the Molina start (August 27). That seems to have convinced Burnett or Girardi or someone, because the Burnett’s final six starts were taken by Molina. Burnett’s ERA in those starts was 2.92, so clearly something was working.

The Yankees should survive three Molina at-bats in one playoff game, but this does raise an interesting question for next year. Molina’s contract is up and Cervelli is clearly ready to contribute at roughly the same level as Molina does now. It would be a shame if the Yankees retained Molina just to cater to the whims of one pitcher. And before anyone suggests as an alternative that Posada replace Hideki Matsui as designated hitter while Molina and Cervelli handle the bulk of the catching, keep in mind that the offensive loss would be disastrous.



    Boy oh boy! What happens if this series goes 5? Catching Molina would be like starting Brown in Game 7 2004 ALDS – still my worst-ever experience in the Stadium.

  2. chriscsg

    I really don’t get it. AJ is in his first year here and has done nothing in October in his career. Posada has 4 rings. Why the heck can’t Burnett commit to getting Posada on the same page with him and keep his bat in the line up? If he pitches well in game 2 does that mean Molina becomes his personal catcher for the rest of the post season?

    Hey AJ, who was behind the plate when you pitched that 1 hitter against the Sox? Suck it up buttercup!

  3. ckinney75

    They are making a huge mistake assuming his 3 at bats per game they are giving away an inning worth of scoring opportunities. Burnett needs to grow up, for all that money he should be able to pitch to anybody.


    I really don’t understand all this kvetching by pitchers against Posada. He has caught some of the great Yankee pitchers of recent vintage: Cone, Clemens, Pettite, etc. Burnett has been wildly inconsistent this year.
    Myself, I would pitch Andy on Friday — he at least has had post-season success. Burnett is a blank page.
    From what I saw this year, Cervelli will make a fine catcher and he may be able to hit a bit as well.

  5. hatsallfolks


  6. letsgoyankees

    Unfortunately I can’t take credit for this quote, this was from a smart poster on lohud, but I agree with every word:

    Rob Neyer has a good take on the Posada Benching:

    ?Essentially, Girardi has to get inside Burnett?s head. And if he thinks that Burnett might give up even a quarter of a run more with Posada catching, then Molina?s the better choice. Because as well as Posada hits and as poorly as Molina hits, the difference between them within a particular game is so small, it defies measurement.?

    Neyer is off on this one.

    For every plate appearance, Posada generates 0.1 runs more than Molina does. 0.1 runs more.

    That is an enormous difference.

    For every 4 at pats Posada generates 0.4 runs more than Molina.

    So in order for this move to make sense, you?d have to be very confident that Molina will shave off close to half a run off burnett?s runs allowed for a game.

    And there?s no solid evidence that how Burnett pitches is correlates to who is catching him.

    Burnett very well could go out and throw a shut out in game 2 or 3. That wouldn?t be a surprise and I really hope that happens. But he could go out and give up 5-6 runs. That wouldn?t be a surprise. Who is catching him makes no difference.

    What we do know with much more confidence is that with Molina getting 3-4 at bats instead of Posada the yanks will be in a relative hole of -0.3 to -0.4 runs.

    That is a huge loss. So even if molina did shave off a quarter run from Burnett?s runs allowed as Neyer is saying (which there is no evidence to support) the yankees would still be worse off.

    People are underestimating how enormous the gap at the plate is between these two players. Neyer is doing the same.

  7. yanksrulebostondrools

    Are you people brain dead? Pitching wins games in the post season, not hitting. So shaving runs off the bored is VERY important, this lineup has enough offense to carry Molina.


    I’ve been waiting for this topic! PITCHING AND DEFENSE WINS PLAYOFF GAMES. Which part of any of that don’t you guys get? Posada can go 4-4 and we still lose the game if Burnett gets bombed! NUMBERS AND RINGS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS!! If your pitcher with those same NUMBERS you all look at pitches better to 1 over the other then WHAT DO YOU DO? Point blank you have to WIN! Whatever it takes to get you that win, so what you hurt Posadas feelings. That’s his fault by not learning from the Yogis/Penas/GIRARDI yes his manager now and mentor back in 96. I guess you guys weren’t paying attention!


    “Are you people brain dead? Pitching wins games in the post season, not hitting.”

    Yeah! What’s WRONG with you people?! Hitting doesn’t win you anything in the postseason; only pitching does. Just look at all the championships the Atlanta Braves racked up in the 90’s with their awesome pitching staff! Er…uh…well there was that one in ’95…


    The Posada/Burnett experiment failed by alot, so you rather see your pitcher struggle because you that 1 pitch is coming, the curveball in the dirty with a runner on 3rd, How confident are you that Posada aka alligator arms will pick it?? Look don’t get me wrong Posada can hit, he can really hit but if you can try to keep Burnett’s head straight (which would be a miracle) for even 6innings, we are going to win!

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