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With Jose Molina gone, can Jorge Posada and A.J. Burnett work together?

Mar 30, 2010, 3:10 PM EDT

Now that Francisco Cervelli has replaced Jose Molina as the Yankees’ backup catcher A.J. Burnett and Jorge Posada are working together after making headlines last season for their lack of comparability as a battery.
They were paired up Saturday and Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News notes that “Burnett credited Posada for helping him through the outing” despite not having his best stuff.
Here’s more from Burnett:

I give a lot of props to Jorge back there. He gave me some early targets and we were in a really good rhythm from pitch one. It was easy upstairs for both of us. It was fun to work today. I was relaxed and confident because my catcher was.

Even though we talked about it and we knew it wasn’t about him and it wasn’t about me, the whole thing blew up so much, it keeps in the back of your mind. To come here and work with him, to throw to him every start and just have fun and relax, it’s so different. It’s nice.

Last year Burnett allowed 5.3 runs per nine innings in 16 starts with Posada compared to 3.4 runs per nine innings in 11 starts with Molina. Those stats are certainly significant at first glance, but when talking about a sample size of fewer than 100 innings with each catcher the conclusions drawn from them are iffy at best.
Molina was praised for working so well with Burnett during the regular season, but then they had a 5.27 ERA together in five playoff starts. If you combine regular season with postseason Burnett allowed 4.0 runs per nine innings with Molina and 5.3 runs per nine innings with Posada, which is well within range of “random.”
Small samples of stats like that can be misleading and Burnett’s time in Toronto throwing to veteran catcher Gregg Zaun provides a good example. They thrived together in 2007 with a 3.12 ERA, but then struggled together in 2008 with a 5.68 ERA. So for anyone drawing conclusions one year Zaun was a Molina-like great fit with Burnett and the next year he was a Posada-like terrible fit with Burnett.
Posada has had a lot of success catching a lot of good pitchers for a lot of good teams. And odds are he’ll be just fine with Burnett too.

  1. Joey B - Mar 30, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    “Posada has had a lot of success catching a lot of good pitchers for a lot of good teams. And odds are he’ll be just fine with Burnett too.”
    I doubt that would hold up to scrutiny. It’s tough to analyze since there aren’t a lot of long SPs for the NYY, but for the guys I examined with 2 or more years, their OPS is usually higher with Posada than almost anyone else with a material amount of IPs.
    Having said that, Molina is a poor comp. Even as a confirmed Yankee hater, I always enjoyed watching Molina catch. He has a real presence. Of course, he can’t hit or run, but he could simply graduate to catching coach tomorrow.

  2. Big Harold - Mar 30, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    “Liars, Damn Liars and Statisticians”
    Considering the the extremely small number of innings it was always beyond me the notion that Posada and Burnett couldn’t work together. It has more to do with fans trying to quantifying everything through statistical analysis regardless of whether it actually lends itself to it. This issue started after one or two bad outings and just snowballed. At least there should be no such distraction.

  3. james - Mar 30, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Posada has called a perfect game and won four World Series titles. He knows American League batters perhaps better than anyone playing in the game right now. If Burnett could simply stay away from wild pitches and walks he’d find that Posada is one of the best catchers to play the position in the last twenty-five years.

  4. Joey B - Mar 30, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    “It has more to do with fans trying to quantifying everything through statistical analysis regardless of whether it actually lends itself to it.”
    LOL! The fans are behind it. What happened here? Did the fans tell Burnett and Girardi that Molina should replace Posada as AJ’s catcher? Is that how it works?

  5. Michael J - Mar 30, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    Comparability as a battery?

  6. Big Harold - Mar 30, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    Is English a second a second language to you? You do realized following my every post and making idiotic remarks is called obsession. Or are you merely immature? Either get help or grow up.

  7. Joey B - Mar 31, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    To be honest, I usually don’t look at the names of the posters. I just comment when things don’t make sense. You have to admit blaming the fans for Burnett wanting Molina to catch him is rather funny, no? But since it offends you, I will not comment on any more of your posts. Good luck.

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