Jose Molina and the Game 5 DH debate

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With A.J. Burnett taking the mound later tonight to try to secure a Fall Classic face-off against the Phillies, his personal caddy, Jose Molina, will be behind the plate. Although the offense suffers, I’ve come to terms with this decision. After all, Burnett is sporting a 2.19 playoff ERA in 12.1 innings and has struck out 10. If he truly does pitch better to Jose Molina, then the Yanks should, by all means, make Burnett comfortable in a potential clinching game.

Were the Burnett start ever so simple. As with every other A.J. Burnett outing, this one is not without controversy. Yesterday, Jorge Posada went 1 for 3 and was on base two other times while Hideki Matsui walked away from a 10-1 win as the other Yankee without a hit. For this short series, Posada is hitting .308/.471/.615 to Matsui’s perfectly respectable if powerless .286/.412/.357. Over the two games in Anaheim, Matsui has not looked particularly comfortable at the dish, but I’d hate to lose either player’s bat in Game 5.

So what are the Yanks to do? Would they DH Matsui behind Alex Rodriguez and prepare Posada for a mid-game pinch-hit appearance? Would they DH Posada, use Matsui to pinch hit and then either burn the DH spot or go with Francisco Cervelli behind the plate for the final few frames?

Marc Carig posed these question to Joe Girardi yesterday, and Girardi was nocommittal. “That’s something we’ll talk about,” the Yanks’ manager said. Posada issued a similar statement: “I don’t know yet. They haven’t said anything yet.”

The Star-Ledger reporter offered up this take on the situation:

Posada has hammered Angels starter John Lackey in the past. In 32 lifetime plate appearances against the Angels right-hander, Posada is 12-for-29 (.414) with three walks, a homer, and three RBI…Matsui hasn’t been bad against Lackey either. Though his .286 average in 32 plate appearance against Lackey pales in comparison, Matsui has two doubles, a homer and seven RBI against Lackey.

Based on some very limited numbers that generally don’t mean too much, Posada should start. He’s the hotter bat right now, and he has more success off of Lackey than Hideki Matsui does. Of course, the easy answer is to start Posada behind the plate. Although Jose Molina said he doesn’t know if he’ll be catching Burnett, I’m not going to mess with a good thing this late into October.

And so we await the lineup card. I predict Posada batting behind A-Rod. Jorge right now gives them the best chance to win, and with the Angels so close to elimination, the Yanks are going to apply as much pressure as they can later tonight.

Curtis homers out in the desert
2010 Draft: Could Bryce Harper fall out of the first round?
  • Free Mike Vick

    Tomorrow is whatever….but i wonder if Girardi would have the guts to bench Posada in game 5 in philly?

    • Benjamin Kabak

      He’d be without both Matsui and Posada. Interesting question. Let’s get there first.

      • Dela G

        we wont get to game 5 because it will be a sweep by the yanks if the yanks make it

        [/supreme confidence

        • theyankeewarrior

          I really don’t think there is much to debate here. If we’re assuming that Molina is catching, then you have to DH Matsui. Unless you have a crystal ball, you have to consider Matsui and Posada a wash for the first 5 innings tonight.

          DH’ing Matsui allows both sluggers to finish the game next to each other

          Molina will bet 2 or 3 plate appearances and if he finds his way on base once (like he did in game 2) he will have done more than his job

          Posada can pinch hit for his 3rd plate appearance, (if necessary) even if AJ is still in the game

          Also, if AJ has one of his “bad AJ” starts and needs to be pulled for Gaudin in the 2nd/3rd, Posada can go in early (knock on wood this doesn’t happen)

          BOTTOM LINE: DHing Matsui gives the Yankees better options in the middle and late innings. DHing Posada gives them tougher decisions and allows Joe to micromanage the shit out of the end of this game.

          • Guest

            This. If you DH Posada, then that means you have a Molina/Cervelli spot for the entire game. The only way to do that would be to move Jorge to catcher and burn the DH, meaning you have a Molina/Pitcher spot for the entire game. This latter move is not ideal for a couple of reasons. First, with Freddy Guzman on the roster instead of Eric Hinske, the pinch hitting options are suspect at best. Second, you might be in a situation where you have to take a good relief pitcher out of the game because he would other have to take an important at bat (see game 3).

            Of all the bad options, DHing Matsui and bringing Jorge into replace Molina is by far the ebst one. There, you finish the game with your best lineup without having to worry about any further machinations.

            I still submit that all of this could have been avoided if Joe gave AJ and Jorge to work this stuff out down the strectch of the season.

            People seem to forget that CC’s numbers were way better with Molina than with Jorge for most of the season. But they kept working together, CC got hot while JOrge caught him in September and he’s been pretty OK with Jorge catching him in the post-season.

            I agree that we can’t really switch horses mid-stream here. But it should have never gotten to this point.

          • toad

            Sounds right.

            The possibility of a bad start by Burnett is really important to allow for. You can’t afford to fall behind and then not have both Posada and Matsui in the lineup.

          • Shane23

            How about this…Posada catches, Matsui DH, Molina calls pitches from bench. Let’s face it, the issue between Posada and Burnett is pitch selection. Molina calling pitches rectifies that and the yanks keep their best offense in-tack

    • Chris

      AJ likely wouldn’t pitch until game 6. I really can’t see the Yankees planning on having AJ, Andy and CC all pitch on 3 days rest for games 4-7 in the world series.

    • jake

      want to have both bats in the lineup. If start matsui, can pinch hit for Molina mid-game (after one or two abs) with Posada so that late in game we have both good bats in lineup. if they start Posada, then will need to pinch hit for Molina mid-game with Matsui and insert Cervelli, replacing Molina’s weak bat with Cervelli’s weak bat. For innings 7 – 9, I would rather have Posada & Matsui’s bats than Posada and Molina/Cervelli, so go with Matsui as DH and pinch hit Jorge for Molina in 6th inning

  • Jamal G.

    Eh, I’m not ready to bench a guy over five plate appearances that came into Game Four’s action hitting .333/.500/.556 for the post-season.

  • crapulent aka I said good day sir

    We seem to find a way every week to have this same discussion so I’ll say what I’ve always said: a comfortable AJ is irreplaceable. Jorge’s bat can be picked up by the rest of the offense. Molina makes AJ comfortable and now is NOT the time to screw with that. Pinch hit Posada or DH him, but don’t screw up the Burnett/Molina platoon at this time.

    • Salty Buggah

      Um, the post didn’t argue anything about that. Ben accepted that Molina start and is discussing whether to start Jorge or Hideki at DH.

    • Mike HC

      “Although Jose Molina said he doesn’t know if he’ll be catching Burnett, I’m not going to mess with a good thing this late into October.”

      Not only did Ben say he was accepting it, but he basically agrees that he would start Molina at this point.

      • crapulent aka I said good day sir

        reading on an iphone lowers comprehension plus reading this debate (still) other places before loggin on here. sorry!

  • JackISBACK

    How bad do Mets fans feel now?

    I’d start Matsui over Posada. Why you ask?

    Well John Lackey is a fastball, curve, slider pitcher (in that order).

    Based on Fangraphs, pitch value charts:

    Posada has a 11.2 on the fastball this year, while Matsui has a 14.2.

    Posada has a -(negative) 2.0 on the curveball, while Matsui has a 6.1 (positive) on the curve.

    Posada has a – (negative) 2.7 on the slider, while Matsui has a 1.3 (positive) on the slider.

    So for all the pitches that Lackey throws, Matsui has been better at hitting them this year. Now, Posada has some good numbers against Lackey, so this is a bit of a tough choice. But when Burnett is finished around 6 or 7th inning, we can move Posada in there anyway, so its a matter of about 2 at bats. IF its a matter of 3 or more at bats by then, we had a good offensive day anyway.

    Late in the game, I’d much rather have them BOTH in the game than one, and burning the DH spot.

    • Tank Foster

      Those data include ALL fastballs, ALL curveballs, ALL sliders; Posada is a switch hitter and those data include his performance from both sides of the plate. Taking those generalizations and applying them to a decision on ONE game and ONE pitcher might lead to a totally incorrect decision. And what do the numbers signify? Runs per X number of plate appearances?

  • Salty Buggah

    I say we just start Guzman at DH to fuck with the Angels.

    • john tandlich

      why not start Mariano Rivera at DH. he’s slugging 1.000 with a walk and RBI this season in the game vs. Mets at Shiti Field.

      • Salty Buggah

        Nah, that’s just unfair when you already have A-rod and Jeter in the lineup. That’s just too many gods.

      • JGS

        he went 0-1 with a walk in two plate appearances–that’s a .500 OBP and .000 slugging

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      DH: CC Sabathia.

      • Mike HC

        Just so he can top off his ALCS MVP performance with a dinger

  • jim p

    Molina gets, what?, 2 at bats unless they are hitting well, and then Posada takes over. Then we have both Matsui and Jorge in the line-up for the later innings. Posada at DH loses us Matsui for the whole game. I’d favor Posada starting as catcher, but if they are committed to Molina, the math says we get the most effective at-bats with Mats being the DH.

    Mainly, if we win, I think it would be wonderful for both our sluggers to be on the field for it. They’ve earned it.

    • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP


  • Aaron Boone

    I’d start Matsui at DH. If Aj goes south after 5 innings, you want to to be able to get Posada in there and keep both bats in the game and also allow for Posada to get pinch run for later in the game.

    Girardi seems to burn the DH spot more than any other AL manager, but it’s just not a good idea seeing how long a few of these games have gone, and considering one less bat on the bench with Hinske off the roster.

  • iYankees

    Too bad Matsui can’t play the OF. If he could, the Yankees would have been able to move Swisher to the bench (for one game, Swisher’s numbers are poor against Lackey), put Matsui in RF, and use Posada as the DH. Ideal configuration if Matsui’s knees weren’t like Kyle’s in that episode of South Park when he wanted to be a basketball player.

    • larryf

      A good night to play Gardner instead of Swish. Can’t bear to see Swish swing over Lackey’s curves tonight. Be nice for Gardner to steal a base or two successfully…

  • BigBlueAL

    I have a crazy idea, how about starting Posada at catcher!?!?!?

    Oh wait never mind, the pitching staff has struggled mightily with Posada catching this postseason. Cant imagine how much better CC would be pitching if Molina was catching….

    • andrew

      o man, you are so clever and witty!

  • Mo Wang

    They should start Matsui at DH, like they’ve been doing. Then you can have both Posada and Matsui in the lineup once Burnett is yanked.

  • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

    At this point in time any suggestion of putting Matsui in the OF is probably no better an idea than playing Posada in the OF

    I’d start Posada on the bench – its less of a no-brainer away from YS3 (you get one more inning of batting for Molina to come to the plate). Still I think Molina is unlikely to be up for more than 2 PA’s. so say we’d get

    2x Molina + 2X Posada + 4x Matsui

    which is better in my mind than

    2x Molina + 4x Posada + 2x Cervelli or

    2x Molina + 4x Posada + losing the DH

    • Mike HC

      Your last equation can be

      3x Molina + 4x Posada + 1x Matsui (pinch hit for pitcher), or Molina can get two at bats at Matsui and Hairston can each take a pinch hitting spot.

      • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

        but that could mess up the bull penn which is a big detriment

        One thing to remember is that just because you replace Molina with Posada, you don’t have to pull AJ.

        Lets say your down 3-0 at the top of the 6th and Molina comes up for his second PA – just put Posada in tehre and have him catch AJ for the 6th and hopefully 7th (what am I talking about? of course we won’t be down)

        Posada on the bench creates so much more flexibility than Matsui on the bench

        • Mike HC

          It does give you more flexibility, but I like Posada’s bat a little more than Matsui’s right now, and I will figure out the late innings when it comes to that.

          But like I said below, I don’t think it is a big deal either way. The difference is really negligible.

  • gargoyle

    Stay with Molina. Posada will play tonight eventually.

  • Mike HC

    I would go with Jorge at DH. I would also catch Jorge behind the plate for AJ, but that is a entirely different story. If only Jorge was a better baserunner. I know he can’t help being so slow, but he has always been a bit of a bonehead on the bases.

    • larryf

      Right on Jorge’s baserunning. He should have scored on Cano’s double. How can a catcher be so clueless??????

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      He’s got more stolen bases than Gardner this series. :)

      • larryf

        shock is a great weapon…

        • LOu

          Let’s hope the Guzman experiment ends in WS…Hairston can be another PR and Hinske will be needed for the games in Philly

    • Rose

      We have plenty of weapons where we should do the exact opposite. If we didn’t have Jeter, Damon, Tex, Arod, Cano, etc… I would agree that Posada and his decent match up should be in the line up…but we have some superior talent…and we should take advantage of it. This shouldn’t even be an issue.

      Matsui DH’s…Posada pinch hits after AJ’s up.

      • Mike HC

        I am really fine with Matsui as the DH. No arguments from me here either way Girardi decides to go

  • phil O’neill

    matsui needs to be the dh tonight. posada comes in after burnett is pulled and we have posada and matsui for the end of the game. should be a no brainer

    • Rose


    • Doug

      yeah, but remember who our manager is ;-)

  • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

    I guess it to some extent comes down to if Girardi intends to pinch run for Matsui early on if he gets on base. I wouldn’t do that until the 6th or 7th inning at the earliest

  • Rose

    Matsui doesn’t look so swift at the dish…but pinch hitting Posada for Molina in the later innings is far easier than pinch hitting Matsui. Because if you pinch hit for Matsui…you eliminate him if the game goes to extras…he’s a one time use and Cervelli comes in. If you pinch hit Posada…his bat comes in later and Matsui is still in there. And even a slumping Matsui is vastly superior to Cervelli.

  • Rose

    Put it this way, if Molina is staying in through the 6th or 7th…that means AJ is pitching great anyway. And the other guys can score a few runs off of Lackey. If AJ isn’t pitching well…Posada comes in early anyway.

    BUT…if AJ isn’t pitching well and is taken out…we’re then stuck with Molina or Cervelli’s bat in the line up for the rest of the game…and that will be that much harder to come back with.

    • Brien Jackson

      Makes sense to me.

  • miketotheg

    last night was nice enough to BBQ, all anyone could talk about was tonight’s game.

    Girardi is going to give us an NL preview I think. pinch running and double switching his face off.

    I can’t wait for tonight’s game.

    LET”S GO YANKEESS!!!!!!!!!!

  • Doug

    just as a side note, swisher is 5 for 43 in his career vs. lackey….yikes!

    • Doug

      digging a little more, he and arod combined are 14 for 94 (.149) with 40 Ks

      • Bo

        You make it seem like Swisher is a good hitter. He’s not.

        • Doug

          but isn’t he one of the guys that we count on to make up molina’s lack of offensive production

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Fun Fact: Nick Swisher’s career 115 OPS+ is higher than:

          Robin Yount
          Aramis Ramirez
          Ryne Sandberg
          Tino Martinez
          Cal Ripken
          Miguel Tejada
          Richie Ashburn
          Craig Biggio
          Michael Cuddyer
          Jermaine Dye
          Andruw Jones
          Mike Lowell
          Pudge Rodriguez
          Torii Hunter
          Chuck Knoblauch
          Johnny Damon
          Michael Young
          Garrett Anderson
          Brian Roberts
          Carl Crawford
          Jose Reyes

          • Klemy

            You make it seem like Swisher is a good hitter. He’s not.


        • Rob in CT

          Yes, he is. He’s not a high-average hitter, but he’s a good hitter overall due to power & patience.

          He’s slumping right now is all.

          • Klemy


        • andrew

          Bo, fo shoooo

  • Brien Jackson

    I don’t know what they will do, but I will say, as someone who’s been relatively ok with the decision to start Molina to this point, that they should probably sit him down this time and start Posada, for one simple reason; Burnett’s going to have to make a start against a National League team in a National League park in the WS. Which, of course, means no DH. I can live with sitting Posada down for Molina for a couple of at bats, but not without the DH. Sitting Posada and Matsui down gives up far too much offense. So Girardi may as well get Burnett and Posada going now.

    • Brien Jackson

      Actually, scratch that. There’s no extra off day in the WS, so if Burnett pitches game 2, he’d only pitch in Philly if the Yankees absolutely need him to pitch on 3 days rest.

    • Doug

      you mean you don’t like a melky-molina-aj, 7-8-9?

      • Klemy

        I just had a shiver go through me. It wasn’t the good kind.

    • Colombo

      While my confidence goes to 11 at the moment, lets not fall into the trap of overlooking the Angels.

      If we get through the Angels tonight, we can start thinking about WS matchups in the NL park.

  • Bo

    I dont think theres any doubt that he’ll start Molina. And if it plays like it did Burnett will pitch well with one shaky inning and the game will last 5 hrs and be decided by the pens.

  • Tank Foster

    I don’t change a thing. Jose catches. Posada sits. Fifth inning, close game, no outs, or any outs and men on base, or maybe ANY situation, I probably pinch hit Posada and let him take over.

    Posada gives the Yankees more offense, but the Yankees have alot of offense even without him in the lineup. I wouldn’t upset the apple cart with AJ by catching Jorge. Besides, if Jorge catches, he will probably forget how many outs there are or forget to tag someone or overrun second base on one of his doubles, so it’ll even out in the end.

    I would never DH Posada, because it leaves you with the possibility of having no DH late in the game, which I think is much worse than having Molina bat early in the game.

    • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

      fair enough but its not as easy away from home – when we bat its teh top of teh inning so in the 5th you’ll only have gotten 4 innings of Molina catching AJ.

      This is another reason you want to start AJ at home in the WS

      • Tank Foster

        We don’t know what really goes on behind closed doors, and I guess the situation could be “serious” enough that Molina will catch AJ no matter where or when, but I would agree with you that in an NL stadium, in the WS, I don’t want the Yankee lineup to be without BOTH Posada and a DH. So yeah, if there’s a way to do it where AJ starts at home (games 2 and 6?), that’s what I’d do.

  • Matt ACTY/BBD

    I wish this choice didn’t have to be made and Posada was just starting behind the plate tonight. Both games started by A.J. this post-season have been low-scoring affairs in which a bat earlier in the game could’ve made a difference. Sadly, Girardi bought into the narrative. They really should be going in for the kill tonight by putting their best lineup out there, which includes Posada and Matsui for the entire game.

    • Brien Jackson

      This wouldn’t be the fallacy of the predeterined outcome would it?

      Anyway, I’m guessing a much more likely scenario is that Girardi/Pena/Eiland saw something in AJ’s performance that led them to believe he really did pitch better to Molina. It’s worked out pretty well, so I can live with it.

      • Matt ACTY/BBD

        How is it that fallacy? I’m not saying Posada’s bat definitely would have made the difference earlier in the game, but it’s pretty likely.

        As for the other thing, what about all the awesome starts in the middle of the year that Burnett had with Posada? Do those suddenly not count? This also makes me beg the question again: why are we, and the media, so quick to give the credit for pitchers’ successes to the catcher?

        • Tank Foster

          Matt, I don’t think the team is doing it because of some specific statistical thing that they can point to. I think it’s likely just an issue of personality, and comfort, working together. If the leftfielder and 1st basemen don’t like each other, it doesn’t really affect the defense. But if the pitcher and catcher don’t get along, or for any reason don’t work well together, it can be a big problem. Maybe the stats show something, maybe they don’t. We’ve been over this before; figuring out the effect a catcher has on a pitcher’s performance is nearly impossible for a host of factors, so I don’t think it’s smart to use stats to make a decision here. You go with your gut, and with the situation which you think gives you the best chance of winning.

          I will concede that you can argue that results are what matter, and if AJ’s numbers with Molina are no different than with Posada, the two guys should make nice and just play the freaking game. But I’m not sure that’s the best way to do it.

          Girardi is a catcher, and if anything I’d think he’d be more sympathetic to the catcher’s viewpoint in this, so I don’t think it’s a situation where they are babying AJ or letting him act like a Prima Donna. I think it’s just a situation where they want the best possible AJ, and they think they get that with Molina.

  • Joey D

    Another thing we might want to consider is that both games thus far in the playoffs where Molina caught A.J., have gone into extra innings.

    When Posada came into the game, he did not look particulayly sharp despite going 1 for 3 in both games. In fact, from the moment Girardi told Posada that Molina was going to catch A.J., Posada seemed to inherit this absent mindedness.

    I think this decision is really screwing with his head. I’m not saying that he isn’t mentally tough, as the other games have been played well, but both of C.C.’s games leading up to Posada’s “demotion games” have been played carelessly. I think this is an indication of that he is deeply disrespected and can’t deal with it on and off the field.

    At this point the damage is done, and Girardi should stay with his original plan of sitting Posada until A.J. is done. Girardi needs the flexiblilty of the DH spot if an opportunity to win late in the game arrises.

    • Tank Foster

      The damage is done? What damage? They’ve lost 1 game in the playoffs, and AJ has pitched beautifully.

      Maybe Posada played carelessly because of the demotion; I hadn’t thought of that but I guess it’s possible. But he started with CC and, let’s see, forgot how many outs there were (I can’t remember another catcher doing this), failed to score from second on a double, and overran a base, apparently intentionally, on a rundown. I’d say he’s prone to absent mindedness even when he starts…

  • Virginia Yankee

    The Yankees could have lost both game 1 and 2 — the offense needed the Angels defense in both games — Burnett was not all that good with his melt down inning and Molina was tragic

    Burnett can grow up in one playoff game right here and now – and settle this Molina BS FOREFRIGGINEVER

    Catch Posada and get both he and Matsui the max ABs — sit Swisher for Gardner — Swisher is just awful — which happens to him; you can stand it in the season; not in a short series

    Do not ever give Molina another AB — over a season or a short series Cervelli will be better

    I would like to know what medication POSADA is on that affects his short term thinking but allows him to hit

    • Matt ACTY/BBD

      Regardless of Swisher’s slump, he is still better than Gardner. A lot better.

    • toad

      Burnett can grow up in one playoff game right here and now – and settle this Molina BS FOREFRIGGINEVER

      Maybe spring training is the time for that.

    • larryf

      agree with all points and I am a Yankee fan in Virginia!!

  • thurdonpaul

    we play today…..

    • Brien Jackson

      We win today.

  • Seth Forrest

    Great Post, I think Posada should deff DH, and Molina behind the plate. But Ben, seriously, use spell check!

  • YankeeScribe

    Because Matsui has been slumping and looking terrible at the plate lately, I say Posada should start at DH