Oct
09

Dissent in the ranks over Molina-gate

By

For 12 years, the stories about Derek Jeter and Joe Torre told a tale of deference. Jeter, a rookie during Torre’s first year in the Bronx, had a special bond with his manager. He would call him Mr. Torre and rarely, if ever, questioned his decisions in public.

While Torre was managing the Yanks, Jeter played with a back-up catcher named Joe Girardi. Jeter and Girardi captured three rings together, but for Derek, Girardi’s presence on the team and his amount of playing time must have raised an eyebrow or two. After all, the Yankees had Derek’s very good friend Jorge Posada, a far superior offensive catcher to Joe Girardi. In the end, of course, it mattered little, as the Yanks plowed through the opposition during the latter half of the 1990s.

Today, Joe Girardi is Derek’s manager, and for the first time in a while, Jeter is publicly questioning the man who holds the Yanks’ reins. When asked about Girardi’s decision to start Jose Molina in A.J. Burnett‘s starts, Jeter had a diplomatically loaded answer. As Jim Baumbach first reported yesterday, Jeter called the situation strange. “It will be kind of awkward not having Jorge in the lineup,” he said.

For Derek, the Yanks’ loyal solider and all around good guy at handling the media, that statement amounts to sheer mutiny. As Baumbach and others have pointed out, Jeter’s statement is also a bit hyperbolic. Posada wasn’t the only catcher during the Yanks’ World Series years, and as recently as 2005, Joe Torre used John Flaherty to catch the ornery Randy Johnson. The Unit lasted just three innings in a disastrous Game 3 start, and Jorge quickly entered the game in the 4th.

I have to wonder then if Joe Girardi is risking his respect by making an unpopular and questionable decision. Does Derek Jeter think Girardi is off his rocker? What about the other younger players who look to Jeter for leadership? Ken Davidoff claims all was calm at Yankee camp yesterday and offers us some translations of the players’ sound bites. Derek, he claims, is just trying to keep Jorge happy while not offending his manager, and Jorge has accepted it.

In a way, then, this move is certainly an experiment. If Burnett comes out and dominates the Twins and the Yanks handily win as they did on Wednesday, Joe Girardi will look good — or at least he won’t be subject to rampant first- and second-guessing. But if Burnett struggles through a start, those around the club — those whose respect Girardi needs — may wonder about the decision. Ken Davidoff doesn’t expect Molina-gate to “blow up these Yankees.” Here’s to hoping.

Categories : Playoffs

129 Comments»

  1. Chris says:

    Chances that Joe Torre would have Molina catch AJ: 0%

    Changes that Joe Girardi would bat A-Rod 8th in an elimination game: 0%

    It is nice that Girardi has stuck to his decision, despite the amount of backlash he’s gotten. Whether or not you like the decision, you have to like the fact that he’s not swayed by the media and fans.

  2. gxpanos says:

    Calling it:

    JoMo parks one today in a blowout in which AJ goes 7, gives up 2 ER, and K’s double digits guys.

    Take that, Molina-gate.

  3. I think the headline “Dissent in the ranks over Molina-gate” on a post mainly discussing Derek Jeter’s comments, and the conclusion that Jeter’s statements amount to “sheer mutiny,” are pretty hyperbolic and inaccurate. What Jeter said wasn’t very inflammatory.

    • Jamal G. says:

      Yeah, I agree with this wholeheartedly. Relative to what Derek Jeter normally says, I understand what was meant by the “sheer mutiny” bit, but, even considering that, I think it was quite a reach.

    • Yeah. You’re probably right about the headline. I wrote this at 3 a.m. after the Springsteen concert. My bad.

      • I actually think you make an interesting point about Girardi putting a little of his clubhouse credibility on the line with this move, I just think your post kinda over-emphasizes the intent/meaning of Jeter’s comments.

        I actually am a little surprised by the public statements made about this issue by Posada and AJ. I think they all should have shut up and just deferred to their manager, this is not the time to be making sure the press knows you don’t necessarily agree with your manager. Jeter’s comments, though… I just don’t think meant much other than “Posada’s my buddy, we’ve been playing together for a long time, and it’s weird to not have him in the lineup.” Whatever, it’s just a matter of interpretation. My reaction when reading his comments was just different than yours.

        • toad says:

          Sounds right to me.

          Could it be that Posada is angrier than we know about this, and Jeter and Burnett are aiming at calming him down rather than criticizing Girardi or, in Burnett’s case, deflecting blame?

      • CountryClub says:

        How was the show?

    • Blakes says:

      I agree, there is nothing to Jeter saying it will be weird not seeing Jorge in their in a playoff game because it is weird. Everyone realizes that. I’m sure Girardi even knows that but this situation with Burnett has caused him to do something “weird”. The title through me way off, I thought Jeter actually said something worth commenting on.

    • Tom Zig says:

      When has Jeter said anything inflammatory?

    • crawdaddie says:

      Yes, I agree, I think Ben’s comments are hyperbolic to say the least.

  4. Doug says:

    imagine how boring it would have been around here the last few days if girardi had just made the easy (and imo, right) decision and started posada.

  5. BBFan says:

    I think you are making too much out of nothing.
    There is nothing wrong in Jeter saying it is strange because it rerely happened in the past. That does not mean he is disrespecting Girardi and there is no cause for concern about mutiny.

    Winning takes care every thing.
    In fact, if AJ does very well tonight that will start the diminishing of Posada as a catcher. Whether people acccept it or not, his defense is not that great. And he does not work well with the sensitive pitchers as Curry stated in his article in NYT. Yes, he is good offensive player, but if the pitcher does not do well, there is only so much his offense matters.

    • Doug says:

      and who would you suggest our starting catcher next year be?

      • BBFan says:

        It will still be Posada, however the number of games he will catch will come down.

        • Doug says:

          he caught only a little more than half the games this year

          • Just my impression… But it kinda seems like you’re trying to catch BBFan in some sort of gotcha situation, but he’s not really saying anything unreasonable or controversial. I think it’s pretty widely-accepted that Posada will catch fewer games moving forward, since he’s getting old (he’s at a VERY advanced age for an MLB catcher) and because his defense, while not terrible and compensated for by his offense, is still less than stellar.

            • whozat says:

              What I take issue with is this

              “In fact, if AJ does very well tonight that will start the diminishing of Posada as a catcher. ”

              If true, that’d be monumentally stupid of the organization, especially given that (again) we KNOW AJ can pitch to Jorge just fine.

              If BBFan had said “Jorge is 38 years old and, as such, will catcher fewer and fewer games per season over the next two years,” yeah, that’d be a rational point of view based in the facts at hand. But he didn’t.

              • Yeah totally, I agree, but that’s not what Doug took issue with.

              • BBFan says:

                You certainly have a point, so let me explain further.

                Clearly, he will catch less becasue of his defense, which obvioulsy happens with age for catchers.

                However, given the past success, majority of people are unwilling to accept it. A noteworthy event will sway such opinion. If AJ pitches lights out today (I do not know if it will happen, though I hope it would for the team and fans sake) then it would be easier to accept the backup catcher catching more games. The end result is Posada catches less.

            • Doug says:

              my point is that yankee success over the next couple of years imo is linked to how many games posada can remain our starting catcher. his salary plays better behind the plate and i don’t believe the yanks would be willing to start someone like molina or cervelli (big glove, little bat) 100+ games. this means going out and getting another catcher, either by trade, in which we’re dealing prospects, or in FA, in which we’re spending $ that’d better be spent elsewhere.

              • I don’t think anybody is arguing that Cervelli should catch 100+ games next year, that’s kind of a straw-man. Posada will likely still be the primary catcher. But, the man is past the usual expiration date for catchers and has suffered injuries the last 2 seasons. It’s in everyone’s best interest to lighten his workload to keep him fresh and to keep his bat in the lineup.

          • BBFan says:

            That is because he was injured.
            In fact they lost both Posada and Molina for sometime.

  6. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Ehh I’m kinda tired about hearing about Molina catching. I know it’s not a popular decision but it’s all we’ve been hearing.

    • I blame the extra day off.

    • Tom Swift says:

      Isn’t Molina batting .300 against the Twins? Girardi might be wrong about this decision, but it isn’t like starting Hairston at 3rd base. Next year, we will have the same discussion about Cervelli starting in post-season.

      • “Girardi might be wrong about this decision, but it isn’t like starting Hairston at 3rd base.”

        Offensively, one could argue it’s actually worse.

        OPS+

        Rodriguez: 143
        Hairston: 84
        Difference: 59

        Posada: 130
        Molina: 49
        Difference: 81

        • a realist says:

          Wow thanks for the meaningless stats. Molina is gonna get, what, 4 AB at most, but more likely 3 if we get a close game as Posada would most likely serve as a pinch hitter in the later innings. And we talking about the 6th or 7th hitter in Posada and the the 9th hitter in Molina respectively. What’s the big fucking deal, anyway.

          In game 1 Posada cost us a run and produced nothing with his bat. I got no problem giving Molina a shot. It’s not like he can do worse. Lost in this whole thing is Jose Molina. Derek may very well be showing his support for Posada, that’s great. What he’s not doing is showing his support for his other teammate and support for his manager’s decision. This is not what a good captain does. That’s what a selfish player does.

          You think fellow captain Jason Varitek wants to sit? Is he bitching like a primadonna or second-guessing management for going with Victor Martinez? He sure isn’t in the media to say the least.

          There’s too much hero worship going on here in a lot of ways in regard to this whole Jeter-Posada “we’re gettin’ older” melodrama and not a lot of rational thought. Can’t wait for the day when Jeter resigns and everyone has no problem giving him 4 years and 100 mill to play short.

          • “Wow thanks for the meaningless stats.”

            The numbers I provided are totally relevant to the comment I responded to. You are wrong.

            “Molina is gonna get, what, 4 AB at most, but more likely 3 if we get a close game as Posada would most likely serve as a pinch hitter in the later innings. And we talking about the 6th or 7th hitter in Posada and the the 9th hitter in Molina respectively. What’s the big fucking deal, anyway.”

            Totally irrelevant to this particular conversation.

            “In game 1 Posada cost us a run and produced nothing with his bat. I got no problem giving Molina a shot. It’s not like he can do worse. Lost in this whole thing is Jose Molina. Derek may very well be showing his support for Posada, that’s great. What he’s not doing is showing his support for his other teammate and support for his manager’s decision. This is not what a good captain does. That’s what a selfish player does.”

            Totally irrelevant to this particular conversation.

            “You think fellow captain Jason Varitek wants to sit? Is he bitching like a primadonna or second-guessing management for going with Victor Martinez? He sure isn’t in the media to say the least.”

            Totally irrelevant to this particular conversation.

            “There’s too much hero worship going on here in a lot of ways in regard to this whole Jeter-Posada “we’re gettin’ older” melodrama and not a lot of rational thought. Can’t wait for the day when Jeter resigns and everyone has no problem giving him 4 years and 100 mill to play short.”

            Totally irrelevant to this particular conversation.

            Other than that, though… Awesome job.

            • a realist says:

              What particular conversation? Why are you using OPS+ numbers from an entire season when what’s at stake is one game? All you showed me is that you can cut and paste and be snide. Kudos to you.

              • I responded to a particular sentence, quoted in my original comment (above), stating that playing Molina over Posada isn’t as bad as playing Hairston over A-Rod, by providing stats that show that the offensive gap between Posada and Molina is actually greater than the offensive gap between A-Rod and Molina.

                You responded to my very narrow and on-topic response by attacking my comment based on your mistaken understanding of the conversation and then providing a litany of completely irrelevant statements.

                Yes, kudos to me. No kudos to you. Good day, sir.

                • “… is actually greater than the offensive gap between A-Rod and Molina Hairston.”

                  (fixed)

                • kimonizer says:

                  could “a realist” be alex gonzalex? seems like the same kinda provocative trollines

                • a realist says:

                  Try to not be a tool first (j.k.). Then, explain why these numbers mean anything over the course of one game. If we’re talking a full season of Hairston over A-Rod and Molina over Posada, then yes, I get it, but we’re talking one game. You’d be better off showing the splits vs Nick Blackburn than throw OPS+ around like you can take that number and apply to a handful of at-bats and prove anything to anyone. Then and only then will you get your kudos, friend!

                  I do apologize for my long-winded tirade though, I got here late and put everything I wanted to say in one post as opposed to spreading it around. This one particular conversation was nested in a much larger that you had also commented on, maybe I need to check the “rules” or something, but I thought it was all fair game.

                • “You’d be better off showing the splits vs Nick Blackburn than throw OPS+ around like you can take that number and apply to a handful of at-bats and prove anything to anyone.”

                  I never claimed the evidence I provided was dispositive. I said, to quote myself: “Offensively, one could argue it’s actually worse.”

                • a realist says:

                  No troll here. Just a guy with a really slow computer and no time to habitually post here. Don’t even know what’s so trollie about what I said.

                • a realist says:

                  “Offensively, one could argue it’s actually worse.”

                  Would that one be, perhaps, you?

                  Nope. No kudos, but good save.

                • Again… Nothing in my statements should reasonably lead anyone to believe that I think the numbers provided above are dispositive of anything. Relevant, but not dispositive. It’s unfortunate you seem unable to grasp the difference between those concepts.

                • a realist says:

                  Why’d you use them then? I mean why take the time to look these numbers up if they’re not dispositive, as you’re so adept at saying, of anything. The only concept I have difficulty grasping is why you got so upset when I called your meaningless stats meaningless.

                  Off topic, is dispositive even a word?

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:

                  Just to show that the comment I responded to wasn’t necessarily accurate, that it’s entirely possible that the offensive gap between Posada and Molina is as great as or greater than the gap between Rodriguez and Hairston. “Dispositive ” might be a legal term of art and not a commonly used word. Hopefully my intent was clear enough.

  7. Listen.

    Torre would have used Posada because Torre had a preferred cadre of players, not because he was always committed to starting the “right” player, the player that best suited the matchup, or whatever.

    • Tony says:

      Girardi using his own preferred cadre of players (who generally happen to be untalented “grinders” because that’s what he was) is no better, and in fact worse, than Torre using his preferred cadre of players.

  8. Cam says:

    I think if AJ bombs tonight, it will have more to do with the coverage this is getting than any catcher behind the plate. How someone like AJ, who apparently is a bit fragile emotionally, can concentrate with all this shit going on is beyond me. Again, this is all ridiculous is just one of those “everything is so good around the yanks right now that we need to make up something to talk about” issues.

    • Doug says:

      when you don’t play your starting catcher, who is a borderline-HOFer and has been behind the plate for 4 WS champions, it’s an issue. it’s not made up.

      • Cam says:

        Yeah, but it’s been done in the past. This isn’t the first time in the history of baseball that’s its been done, which is how this whole saga feels.

    • Beyond emotionally fragile? Where do you get that from? At least my comments on the issue are based on statements Jeter actually made.

      Burnett may be demonstrative on the mound. That doesn’t make him fragile. If anything, the guy’s been a rock in that sense. His pitching hasn’t been as consistent as we would want, but his emotional state seems pretty solid to me.

      • Cam says:

        Emotionally fragile was bad word choice, plus I didn’t say “beyond”, I said a “bit”, meaning small. But one of the issues always discussed with AJ is his penchant for getting distracted on the mound because of his emotions. I think he’s held his emotions in check pretty well this year, but this is what this whole decision is based on, isn’t it? His mental comfort level with one catcher over another?

    • “it will have more to do with the coverage this is getting than any catcher behind the plate.”

      So you’re saying that the people talking affect the game more than the players in it?

  9. I think people are putting waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much into this tonight…

  10. A.D. says:

    Classic NY media needing something, since the Yankees won game 1 fairly easily, and nothing terrible happened, they need to harp on this. If Posada was catching they’d run out numbers on how AJ has pitched better to Molina and thus should be the catcher.

    Should Posada be catching, sure. But its Girardi’s call, and his job to keep or lose.

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  12. At least I’ll get to see how this plays out first hand =D

    The bad news, however, is that every time I’ve seen Burnett pitch in person this season he’s been shelled…

  13. pete c. says:

    Did anyone see Posada’s passed ball with Mauer on 3rd? Not only did he whiff on the catch, he nonchalanted his way to the ball with Mauer halfway and almost got Sabathia spiked.
    Yeah Posadas’ an offensive force, but with all this smoke about him not being the pitching staffs favorite, there must be some kind of flame in there somewhere.

  14. mryankee says:

    How are we looking to get this bad boy in tonight?

  15. mryankee says:

    I can assure you that Beckett is getting the same heat Burnett is as The Sox will go with Varitek tonight as opposed to VMART. this decision is just as unpopular. Both Beckett and Burnett better come through tonight.

  16. TheZack says:

    As always, it simply comes down to winning, doesn’t matter how. They win, no story. They lose, then there are issues.

  17. Tank Foster says:

    Non-story….there must be a pretty good reason for keeping Jorge on the bench to start the game. I trust the manager…

    • yankeegirl49 says:

      BINGO!! I am not thrilled with the idea but I have to trust that Girardi and the others know a hell of a lot more than I do.

      • mryankee says:

        I would suggest the reason Girardi is doing this is because they are playing a weak hitting Twins lineup. Trust me if this were the Sox or Angels Posada would be playing.

      • I get where you’re coming from here, but I think deference to the greater knowledge of the manager should only be one component of how we analyze these situations. It should be taken into account, but if you give it too much emphasis you’re basically saying “the manager always knows better so I can’t question him,” and I can’t see how that’s reasonable.

        • mryankee says:

          Exactly to me as I said this puts a hige target on AJ’S back and the same is true for Beckett. Girardi might end up being right and it might work out for him, but make no mistake this is a big gamble. Not only would AJ be under fire fron the fans and medical. His teammates will not be thrilled especially if Molina does not come through in a few ab’s.

        • Chris says:

          True, but we have the feeling of the manager as well as statistical splits indicating a significant difference. If you want to discount those splits, that’s fine, but then you have to offer up justification. Sure the statistics make up a small sample size, but it’s still data supporting Girardi’s move.

          • Chris – 1
            Straw-Man – 0

            Point to something, anything, in my comment where I express the opinion that there is evidence proving Posada should start and Girardi is wrong to start Molina. You can’t, because it didn’t happen. You’re beating up a straw-man, not responding to my comment.

            • Chris says:

              Huh?

              I pointed out that it’s not just deferring to the manager in this case. It’s deferring to the manager plus statistical evidence, which is not saying “the manager always knows better so I can’t question him.” If anyone is using a straw-man it’s you.

              • Nope, sorry. A commenter said “I am not thrilled with the idea but I have to trust that Girardi and the others know a hell of a lot more than I do,” to which I responded that deference to the superior knowledge of the manager should only be one component of analysis of this, or any other situation. That was the full extent of my comment, I didn’t say anything about how additional evidence in this case shows that Girardi is wrong. My comment was a general statement about not giving too much deference to the manager. You responded to my comment by implying I was wrong and talking about your opinion that the stats in this situation point to Girardi making the right decision. But for your comment to make sense, I would have had to have expressed the opinion that additional evidence would cut against Girardi, and I did nothing of the sort in my comment.

                • Chris says:

                  Please re-read my comment:

                  http://riveraveblues.com/2009/.....ent-617820

                  My point was not that Girardi is necessarily making the right decision. My point is that there is evidence to support his decision, and thus there is no blind faith in the manager, so your need to point out that blind faith is bad is not needed.

                • Ok dude, this is tedious so I’ll just give one more comment and let it die… The comment I responded to said, if I might paraphrase, that Girardi knows better than we do, so we shouldn’t question his decision. My point about deference to the manager was a general statement about how to analyze this, and similar, decisions. It was not a rebuttal, in any way, shape or form, of the argument that Molina should start with AJ tonight. Thus, the only part of your original response to me that was really relevant to my comment was the word “True.” Your use of the word “but” after that was inaccurate, as it implies an argument with my point, when your point was not an argument with my point. You continue to say “if you want to discount those splits, that’s fine, but then you have to offer up justification,” which is also irrelevant to my original comment.

                  That is why your comment was an argument against a straw-man. You were arguing against arguments that had nothing to with anything I actually said.

  18. The Iron Horse says:

    yo who cares we’re gonna kick ass

  19. mryankee says:

    Personally I dont care how they win as long as the win. I will cringe when I see Molina come up in any critical situation and await the expected strikeout or ground out. If however Burnett is throwing well and the Yanks win then all is well.

    • Tank Foster says:

      I know what you mean, but man fans are spoiled today. The homer-happy 90s and early 00s have spoiled everyone into thinking that you can field a team where every player is a good hitter.

      I don’t “cringe” when he comes up in a critical situation; this just happens in baseball. Well, it used to, anyway, meaning you always had situations where guys like Fred Stanley, Jim Mason, etc., would be called upon to hit.

      Molina is not a good hitter. He’s a bad hitter. But with the exception of last season, he is/was at least a slightly above replacement level hitter, and he does run into one and hit a homer every once in a while.

      Even with him in there, the Yankees have so much more offense than just about any other team, it really isn’t a huge deal. And of course, if and when there is a critical situation in that game, which would be any time after the 5th inning if AJ’s cruising, we all know Jorge will come in the game.

      • mryankee says:

        True enough but lets be honest if this were the sox or angels as I said before Posada would be playing. The Twins offesnively without Morneau are very beatable. Maybe tonight they can get by but down the line Posada will have to catch so you can get in Matsui. BTW I have to think Molina is teh worst hitter in MLB this year, I am not sure who is worse andif the situation does arise and he fails then there is more pressure on AJ. I am not even sure if this was AJ’s suggestion and he may not have asked for Molina. Giradi did just put a huge target on AJ’S back and a lot more pressure. Sam is true with Beckett and if AJ comes through then fine, but this is a dicey call.

  20. Karl says:

    Girardi wasn’t on the 2000 Yanks so he only won 3 rings with Jeter, just fyi.

    • vin says:

      I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember who the BUC was that year. Chris Turner. He only got 23 starts. Posada started 136 games. Leyritz only played in 2 games, both of them starts. Posada started 8 games at the dreaded first base.

      Torre managed to get Jorge into a career-high 151 games that year.

  21. Kevin says:

    When Jeter came up with the Yanks in 96 (first full year), Joe G. was the veteran starting catcher, not backup.

    But yes, Jorge, the young backup, quickly earned game starts. I remember at the time everyone commenting on how great the veteran Girardi was in helping mentor his replacement, knowing it would mean fewer games for him.

    Girardi may not have made the decision here — it’s fun to debate it — but I think Jeter knows better than anyone else on that team that Girardi has the baseball street cred to make the call.

  22. HC says:

    What’t the deal with standing room only tickets? I heard rumors about them but can’t find any info on the website…

  23. westcoastyanks says:

    Look, I love Jorge just as much as the next Yankee fan. His experience and attitude are a big part of this team and his toughness is pretty amazing. But let’s be honest with ourselves – he isn’t Joe Mauer or Mike Piazza with the stick. He is an above-average hitting catcher that has risen to an All-Star level at times, but sitting him for a few innings isn’t going to dramatically alter the dynamic of the Yankees offense. With all the hand-wringing over this move, you’d think that Girardi had taken him to vet to be put down.

    • whozat says:

      He’s one of the three best hitting catchers in the last 5-10 years, and his defense is significantly better than Piazza, who was near historically bad.

  24. YankeeScribe says:

    I cringe everytime AJ throws a nasty curve with Posada catching…

    • dkidd says:

      pick your poison:

      cringe when molina comes up with men on base
      cringe when posada calls a curve ball with a man on third

      tonight is on aj. i want him to step up and dominate

  25. ansky says:

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…If the game comes down to Molina’s bat, then we’ve got bigger problems than whos’ catching what pitcher.

    Plus, its not like we’ve lost every game Molina started this season.

  26. Bo says:

    The Beckett pitching to Martinez thing is a MUCH bigger story and will have more effect on the game than this.

  27. David says:

    We’re talking about 3 or 4 ABs right? 5 tops, and only if the Yankees are scoring a bunch.

    Teix went 0-4 on Wednesday, and the Yankees did OK. I don’t see the big deal here.

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