In-game management of Molina-Burnett critical

GAME, WEATHER PERMITTING…
And really, what isn’t?

posada_275_100909.jpgI DREAMED I SAW ST. POSADA
There will be a lot of cheap material in the papers and on-line today, stuff about Jose Molina starting Game 2 and Carl Pavano starting in Game 3. After Jorge Posada’s erratic defensive game on Wednesday, it seems to me that it’s harder to criticize Joe Girardi for going with Molina, as egregious as Molina is at the plate. Perhaps Posada’s game was just a case of bad timing, perhaps Girardi’s decision is simply his reenacting the active player phase of his career, when Joe Torre frequently chose the Yankees’ then-Molina — that is, Girardi himself.

Posada gets it twice from the same guy, and in that sense you can’t help but empathize with his frustration. The drag here is that Nick Blackburn is the kind of ball-in-play pitcher that Posada conceivably could have damaged. Strangely, the two have never met in a baseball game, but Blackburn doesn’t strike out many and also allows his share of fly balls, all of which adds up to a nice recipe for runs in Yankee Stadium II. Molina will likely put the ball in play as well, but a lot less happens when he does. This year he hit .264 on balls in play, a slight improvement on last season, when he hit .255. This is actually kind of hard to do; the Major League average this year was about .303.

Despite this, if Girardi observed a difference in Burnett in those late-August/early-September in which the two catchers alternated, this is the right call. The Twins are not a big offensive team, and while this kind of move might sabotage the Yankees if it was carried out over the basis of 25 or 50 games (that is, benching Posada), in one game the Yankees can carry Molina’s bat. Given that the Yankees are carrying three catchers, another decision that would be problematic over the course of the regular season, Girardi can pinch-hit for Molina at any time.

That last is really the key. If Girardi is going to go with a glove man, he needs to channel a bit of Casey Stengel and be ready to pinch-hit as soon as the last notes of the National Anthem sounds. If it’s 0-0 in the third, the bases are loaded, and Molina is up, well, better Burnett struggles with Posada’s defensive deficiencies with a 4-0 lead than Molina and three runners stranded. It’s unconventional, but Francisco Cervelli’s presence sets Girardi up perfectly to manage aggressively. Heck, he could even pinch-hit Eric Hinske instead of Posada and put the highly mobile Cervelli into the game. Posada might pop a blood vessel, but Girardi’s defensive imperatives will be satisfied.

Starting Molina is in itself not a bad decision; Burnett might struggle anyway and it would still be a defensible call. It’s what Girardi does after that will make it a good call or a bad one. He can use Molina to the point that his negatives outweigh his positives and then dispense with him or he can let the offense be strangled in a key spot. Very few managers would feel secure enough to pull the trigger in that spot, but then, there are very few great managers.

12 Comments

I notice you have something against Jose Molina. Why aren’t you criticizing Posada for his sophomoric comments he made once he knew he was going to bench. Posada was a complete jerk saying the Yankees better win the game. If that was the case with Posada, last time i checked the Yanks are 4 – 9 in their last 13 postseason games before this year and Posada played in all of these games(started 12 of them). The whole point is that it wasn’t Posada’s fault that the yankees lost the series, but it was the Yankees pitching that cost him. Thus, anything you can do to help your pitcher pitch better, you should do it. I’m going preface this by saying i know Posada is light years ahead of Molina when it comes to swinging the bat, but Posada is not exactly mr. October himself with a career .236 batting average in the playoffs. What Posada needs to do is sit his butt on the bench and root for his teammates out there, including Burnett and Molina. I kind of feel sorry for Molina in this situation, because like he says: Joe is the manager and he decide who plays and who doesn’t. The two people at blame here are Posada and Burnett for not figuring this out, because you always want to maximize your the talent you put on the field. A good Burnett-Posada battery would have given the Yankees a stronger team, but It’s clear that the Burnett-Posada battery has been inconsistent.

This only seems to be an issue in NY. Many teams will mix and match pitchers and catchers on a regular basis. For example, Boston has benched their team Captain when Wakefield has pitched and has been done it for the teams success. Lets get Burnett as comfortable as possible and if he pitches like he should, it will not matter if we loose a little offense. We are not jumping off a bridge. If the combo does not produce, we have a well rested bullpen and a fresh Posada we can bring in at any time.

“I notice you have something against Jose Molina. Why aren’t you criticizing Posada for his sophomoric comments he made once he knew he was going to bench. Posada was a complete jerk saying the Yankees better win the game. If that was the case with Posada, last time i checked the Yanks are 4 – 9 in their last 13 postseason games before this year and Posada played in all of these games(started 12 of them). The whole point is that it wasn’t Posada’s fault that the yankees lost the series, but it was the Yankees pitching that cost him. Thus, anything you can do to help your pitcher pitch better, you should do it. I’m going preface this by saying i know Posada is light years ahead of Molina when it comes to swinging the bat, but Posada is not exactly mr. October himself with a career .236 batting average in the playoffs. What Posada needs to do is sit his butt on the bench and root for his teammates out there, including Burnett and Molina. I kind of feel sorry for Molina in this situation, because like he says: Joe is the manager and he decide who plays and who doesn’t. The two people at blame here are Posada and Burnett for not figuring this out, because you always want to maximize your the talent you put on the field. A good Burnett-Posada battery would have given the Yankees a stronger team, but It’s clear that the Burnett-Posada battery has been inconsistent.”

You need to go buy a clue.

“You need to go buy a clue”

Those were some very deep words. Thanks for making my day. I just love people who think that their opinion is the absolute truth.

Well Mr Goldman, Liked your article about Posada/Molina. AJ struggled but we won, and Molina did just fine. Posada has a I’m better than you attitude. I always thought Jorgy was a team player but this speaks otherwise. Oh yeah and Jorgy gets his wish and his at bat as he watched dumfounded as he takes a called 3rd strike. The blogger yankrulebostondrools, hit the nail on the head. Posada is not Mr October, and even thou he thinks he’s Mr Baseball(maybe Mr. Passed Ball) , he’s not even close. I wonder what all the A-Rod haters have to say so far in this series? Go Yanks,Go Team.

Well Mr Goldman, Liked your article about Posada/Molina. AJ struggled but we won, and Molina did just fine. Posada has a I’m better than you attitude. I always thought Jorgy was a team player but this speaks otherwise. Oh yeah and Jorgy gets his wish and his at bat as he watched dumfounded as he takes a called 3rd strike. The blogger yankrulebostondrools, hit the nail on the head. Posada is not Mr October, and even thou he thinks he’s Mr Baseball(maybe Mr. Passed Ball) , he’s not even close. I wonder what all the A-Rod haters have to say so far in this series? Go Yanks,Go Team.

hateslibs? Yeesh.
Let’s not go too crazy over Molina’s brilliant game-calling. Burnett allowed 10 baserunners in 6 innings thanks to Molina’s “brilliance.”
Also, Posada had more basehits in the game than Molina did.

Last time i checked, the deciding in baseball(sports) is which team scores the most runs, not how many base runners a team has in one game.

Thanks steeve, I wasn’t sure if that’s how it worked. I guess you buy into John Sterling’s assessment of Burnett’s performance (he pitched a TREMENDOUS game!) Yes, Burnett gave up only the one run. That’s not the point. The point is that if you put 10 runners on every 5 innings you will almost always give up a LOT more than just 1 run. Burnett was very fortunate to only give up 1.
He did not pitch brilliantly. 5 walks is 5 walks, and walks are never good. So the question is, did Molina call for Burnett to walk 5 batters?

My goodness, you guys just don’t get it, Pitching and Defense wins in the post season, weren’t you watching. Oh, Posada (T rex for big mouth small arms) got more hits, so what! If we’re down 4 or 5 runs because he’s catching, people what part of the Burnett/Posada experiment don’t you understand, the past ball part or the walk to the mound every other pitch because Posada wants a fastball as usual instead of a curve/slider. It’s like oil and vinegar they don’t mix, the one to blame for this is Posada then Girardi then the pitcher for not figuring this out during the season. So if Molina goes 1 for 4 or even 0 for 4 if he keeps the pitcher in the game then so be it. Nobody is saying anything about Damon going oh fer, or not making plays in the outfield. If the lineup does it’s job it shouldn’t matter that Molina catches. So stop referring to Posadas offense all the time because he is a liability behind the plate. Remember good pitching beats a good offense, especially in the post season. Go YANKEES!! and tell T rex to keep his mouth shut and cheer on or be ready to play when called!

jesseguerrero30-
I assume you watched yesterday’s game?
Did you see who caught that game? Your favorite whipping boy caught that game.
With Jorge Posada calling the game, Yankees pitching allowed 7 hits and 1 run. They got 10 strikeouts while issuing only 1 walk. Posada threw out a runner at third. He also hit the go-ahead homerun and added an insurance RBI single off of Joe Nathan in the 9th.
In other words, he’s not a “real” catcher.
And before you say “it’s only one game” at least be honest. If Molina had a game like that you’d be shouting it from the rooftops and saying this proved he needed to play every day.
Also, oil and vinegar mix just fine. It’s called salad dressing.

Well no one ate the salad. I guess you weren’t watching the first game because you didn’t blog about it.. Posada can hit anybody can see that, but what your missing is if you go by the NUMBERS which some people only see NUMBERS, Molina is Burnetts catcher, now do I think Molina should start everyday absolutly NOT, but if he can get a pitcher to pitch me a good game or even keep me in a game, he’s in. Listen no one disputes Posada can hit, but he needs to keep his mouth shut and cheer his teammates especially if he’s not playing, because HE couldn’t iron out him and Burnett’s differences. Utimately the Yankees have to WIN and in this post season and every other, it’s pitching that’s going to get the job done….

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