Results tagged ‘ Jose Molina ’


pettitte_250_012609.jpgAs I take pen in paw here, reports are circulating that the Yankees are close to an agreement with L’il Orphan Andy Pettitte. This will no doubt make Andy’s many fans very happy, and for good reason, as he should be an asset this season. As I’ve written here several times over the course of the offseason, some of his second-half fade was attributable to very poor defensive support. It will also be fun to watch Pettitte add to a career which, while not of Hall of Fame quality, fits nicely into the wider but still relatively exclusive “Hall of the Very Good.”

That said, I do have some trepidation about the Yankees not reserving a spot for youth in the rotation. If Pettitte pitches the Yankees to a pennant, that’s one thing, but if not, at the end of the year he will (presumably) ride off into the sunset, leaving the team with nothing but memories. If Phil Hughes or Alfredo Aceves or anyone young was capable of giving the team something within ten percent of what Pettitte can, then the greater value would be in that pitcher gaining experience rather than the Yankees having a Cadillac in the Pinto part of the rotation.

…Before I close this subject until such time as Jorge Posada shows us the condition of his arm. This one is by “amdream23:”

You make two logical fallacies about Molina who would be fine as a full-time catcher with the Yankees, given their other hitting. You say he saved five runs based on throwing out 13 or so baserunners. But he didn’t play a full season so you should project that out further.

Second, what about the baserunners on first that didn’t try to steal since they knew he has a good arm? Isn’t there a deterrence effect? Rather than Molina, look at A-Rod’s failures. He excels in hitting mediocre pitching and padding his stats but chokes against good (never mind great) pitching. He’s another Winfield. The Yankees will never win in the playoffs with A-Rod anchoring the team.

Thanks for taking the time to comment, “am.” I thought a logical fallacy was something like assuming “after therefore because” or saying that fish can swim and so can Derek Jeter, therefore Derek Jeter must be a fish. No? I’m going to ignore the A-Rod bashing because it’s a non-sequitur in a discussion of catching, seems to suggest that we should somehow think Molina a better player than A-Rod. Maybe I’m misreading that, but it’s just weird. Finally, let us say this of Dave Winfield: yes, he had a miserable 1981 World Series, but not too long after leaving the Yankees he drove in the Series-winning runs for the ’92 Jays. Winfield was a terrific player and a lot of fun. His big sin with the Yankees was that he couldn’t pitch.

One logical fallacy I would like to stomp dead is the one in your first sentence: “Molina would be fine as a full-time catcher with the Yankees given their other hitting.” No. We should never look at it like that. It’s the worst kind of complacency, first because it says that a team can settle for mediocrity at a position provided that it did its job at the other positions, and second because it makes an assumption: “given their other hitting.” Every once in awhile, as with the Yankees in 2008, a team will spawn a couple of unexpected replacement-level hitters and suddenly the guy you could tolerate becomes the straw that broke the lineup’s bat — er, back. No, make that “bat.”

Let’s deal with MAD, Molina’s Alleged Deterrence. A full-season workload for most catchers is about 1200 innings, or about 140 full games. Molina caught 737 innings last season, so he got in about 60 percent of a full season. The Yankees played 1441 innings in total, so he took just a fraction over half of the team’s catching load. Now, here’s a very simple way of looking at things, but this is my take on all the baserunners that might not have run because Molina was in the game: they ran anyway. The average AL team saw 129 stolen base attempts last year — 94 steals, 35 caught stealing. Half of that would be roughly 65 attempts — 47 steals, 17 caught. Molina, though, saw 75 stolen base attempts. Another way of looking at it would be to say that the AL least year had .80 stolen base attempts per nine innings. Molina had .92 attempts per nine in the games he caught. Perhaps a lot of that was the pitchers, and had Molina not been catching even more runners might have gone, but that would be pure supposition.

Your request that we give Molina credit for the half-season he didn’t play won’t make him look any better. As above, he played roughly half a season, starting 81 games behind the plate and relieving in 16 more. If we simply double his playing time, we have a player who saved ten runs in dead baserunners and was roughly 30 runs worse than the average catcher and maybe 40 runs worse than the average hitter. Giving you more of Molina doesn’t make him any better; it just increases the damage.

I have a “Flight of the Conchords” song stuck in my head. I’m off to clear it out with some Beatles. 

Some random bits gleaned from the comments

posada250_012209.jpgJlevy1112 asks: What about the Yankees two highly rated catching prospects in the Minor Leagues, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine? If Posada can’t make his full complement of starts, could one of these two be called up to join the team? I seem to remember they both have nice offensive numbers in the minors. If the Yankees traded for a Saltalamacchia, Teagarden, or Miguel Montero where would that put the aforementioned catching prospects?

Both Montero and Romine are both very far away. As you probably know, Montero may never arrive as a catcher, as he’s a hulking giant of a kid who doesn’t fit very well behind the plate. He has sufficient talent as a hitter that he should be able to make the transfer to first base — I keep thinking of Carlos Delgado, who actually made it to the majors as a catcher before everyone said, “Whoa, that’s not going to work,” and he went over to first base (after a brief stop in left field) and proceeded to hit (to date) 469 home runs. I’m not saying that Montero is going to be a borderline Hall of Famer — that would be premature — but that his career so far has echoes of the Delgado story.

In contrast to Montero, Romine seems to have the defensive tools to remain behind the dish, and he had a terrific finish to his season, punching out eight of his 10 home runs in the final two months of the season. Now, both of these guys are very young. Neither can legally buy a beer, with Montero having turned 19 around Thanksgiving and Romine reaching 20 less than a week earlier. Both finished the year at Low-A Charleston, which means they’re a big three levels from the majors, including the hard jump to Double-A, which many catchers do not survive.

If the Yankees traded for one of the players you mentioned, it wouldn’t harm these players at all given that they seem to be at least two years away, more likely three. As the younger players started to become expensive, the Yankees would have the option of moving them out and starting over. And, of course, Montero might not be a catcher anyway. We’ll soon see what the presence of Mark Teixeira means for his future.

Now, a lot of writers would ignore or ban the following crank, but you know, I find guys like this “42Yankee” kind of amusing.


1. “Retire?” Dude, I’m 38 years old. I have a mortgage to pay, two kids to put through college, and most importantly, I’m having way too much fun.

2. “Porky.” Well, that’s not a charitable description, but it’s not unfair. I’ve been working on it, including hiring a personal trainer to develop a workout program for me. Weight has been a thing I’ve fought my whole life. I can show you pictures where I’m kind of svelte and then others that are like, well, now. There are exculpatory medical factors, but they don’t really change the big picture, pun intentional. Anyway, it’s something that bothers me, but unlike “42Yankee” I’m not seven years old. Taunting my physical appearance as a way of attacking my ideas doesn’t really register as anything more than a pathetic, helpless gesture, an Internet wuss’s version of emotional terrorism. Nice try.

Back about my sophomore year of high school I guess I was having one of my heavier seasons. At this time, some friends and I were in the habit of scraping together teams of for pick-up softball or baseball games. We were in a fairly large school, so it wasn’t too difficult to come up with 18 or 20 kids who could show up at the park on a Saturday or Sunday morning and play six innings or so (the scores were usually too lopsided to go nine). One of my best friends threw very hard for a 15-year-old, and he and I made up the battery.

One day after school, he and I went out to a neighborhood park to practice. I was squatting down, catching his fastball. Parenthetically, I never was very good at catching his offspeed stuff, and one day a year or two later he crossed me up and unexpectedly threw something that broke sharply downward, ticking off my mitt and hitting me on the foot, mildly fracturing it. One of our class idiots wandered by — I would like to call him the class idiot, but as I said it was a large class and we had several — and came over to see what we were doing. After a few minutes of watching, for no particular reason he started aiming a series of very weak fat jokes at me, lines that even a third grader, or “42Yankee” here, might find too childish to use.

This was more irritating than effective. The guy had taken up a position a few yards behind me and was endlessly chattering as I caught the ball and flipped it back to my pal, the pitcher. I wasn’t bothered, but my friend was deeply offended on my behalf.  He warned Class Idiot, but the babble continued. I remember what happened next vividly. My pal wound up and fired with something extra on the ball. “Sssss” went the ball as it went over my head. Behind me, the Idiot said something like, “Hey, are you an elephant or — aaagh!” I turned around. There was another “Sssss” sound going past me. I ducked, but not before seeing a fastball come within a hair of hitting the idiot in the head.

I’ve rarely been more moved in my life. Here was my friend about to turn this guy into Ray Chapman because he had attacked me. Simultaneously, I also knew that if I cared at all about my friend, that I couldn’t really just watch it happen, because friends don’t let friends go to jail for murder. I shouted that it wasn’t worth it, that the Idiot should be allowed to live, but before the message could sink in, one more fastball lazered just past the bridge of Idiot’s nose, at which point he fled, threatening to tell his mom.  How can I be bothered by weight jokes when I have friends like that?

“42Yankee” is correct that in an ideal world the Yankees should not have given Posada a four-year deal after 2007, because his age and position made him even riskier than would be typical when you’re booking a player for seasons 36 through 39. That’s the only argument against it, however, and if the deal had been for only two years there wouldn’t be any grounds for criticism at all. However, even the four-year deal has to be excused because Posada had all the leverage in the situation. The Yankees weren’t about to get Joe Mauer away from the Twins, so if they didn’t want to take a big, giant hit at catcher, they had to cater to Posada’s demands. I wrote at the time that they were paying for four years to get two good ones, and perhaps that will still be the case.

“42Yankee” is, however, spectacularly wrong when he implies that the Yankees were solely overreacting to Posada’s 2007 season. Yes, he had an unusually belated peak and an uncharacteristically high batting average that season, but he was also a player who had had three other seasons with an OBP above .400, was a five-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner as the best hitter at his position. Among catchers with 5000 or more career plate appearances, Posada ranks fifth in OPS, trailing only Mike Piazza, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, and Gabby Hartnett; fifth in on-base percentage (Cochrane, Wally Schang, Dickey, and Piazza are ahead of him); f
ourth in isolated power (behind Piazza, Johnny Bench, Javy Lopez). He even ranks 17th in batting average. If he can hit at all this year, he’ll break into the top 10 in home runs by a catcher, and if he plays something like two more full seasons he’s going to have drawn more walks than any catcher to play the game. Posada may or may not be a Hall of Famer, but as a hitter his peers are all guys with plaques.

I think the most amazing thing about “42Yankee” having written that the Yankees should not have re-signed Posada is that he did so despite having the evidence of what a Posada-less Yankees team looks like. We call it the 2008 Yankees, and they don’t make the playoffs. There you go, “42” — thanks to Posada’s shoulder, they did it your way. Look how it wound up. Congratulations.

How many games did Molina win by throwing out baserunners? The easy answer is, not as many as he lost by making outs. First, The Yankees went 43-38 in Molina’s starts, which is a .531 percentage. They were actually a game better with other catchers in the lineup, which says something given how miserable some of the other guys were. Now, I see that one of our correspondents ran through some very simple math for you in the comments, but let me try taking it from a different angle. Last year, Molina caught 44 percent of attempting basestealers, or 33 in 42 attempts. The average stolen base success rate was 27 percent, so in a similar number of attempts, we should have expected the average catcher to catch 20 or 21 baserunners. Right away we have a problem with your valuation of Molina, because his real defensive worth becomes 13 dead baserunners. On average, four or five of those would have scored. That’s what you’re touting here, a defensive benefit of five runs. Given that a generous estimate of his offense would have him worth something like 20 runs less than the average player and 15 runs less than the average catcher, Molina is still deep in the hole. The Yankees didn’t get back to even on those ex-baserunners. Surely, “42,” you can recognize that games won and lost are a matter of those scored and allowed, and that had the Yankees scored 20 more runs in Molina’s plate appearances, but allowed five more, they still would have been close to two wins better off?

6. “Chubbo,” “Moron.” I don’t mind debating with third-graders, Hall of Fame voters, and members of Congress.

Here’s that “retire” stuff again. You know, my boss at YES told me that the current caricature on the site made me look too old. Now I believe him. Fortunately, the great Rich Faber will soon be supplying us with some new art. By the way, I’ve never claimed to be a “sports reporter.” Nowadays people tend to call me a blogger, but having opened the Pinstriped Bible in the days before blogs, I’ve always thought of myself as a columnist, although the content here has always been blog-like. My BP colleague likes to use the term “analyst,” and maybe that works too, but in the final analysis I’m just proud to be a writer and happy that I get to engage the public on a regular basis. For now, Chubbo the Columnist is going to retire to the kitchen for some pasta and then do some sit-ups. Thanks for writing, “42.” I look forward to your next note on how Melky Cabrera is more valuable than Mickey Mantle, or perhaps something on how much the team misses Tony Womack’s baserunning capabilities.