Molina to catch Burnett during ALDS


When A.J. Burnett takes the mound this week, perhaps on Friday in Yankee Stadium but more likely on Sunday in either Detroit or Minneapolis, Jorge Posada will not be behind the plate. Talking to reporters today at Yankee Stadium, the Yanks’ catcher revealed, in a rather terse exchange, that Jose Molina will catch Burnett this week in the ALDS.

During a workout day interview, Posada and the reporters were chatting about the Yanks and their playoff chances when the discussion turned to A.J. Burnett and Jose Molina. “I think Molina’s probably going to catch A.J,” Posada said when the topic was broached. “So that’s it.”

After a minute of awkward silence, questioning shifted away from Molina only to return to this hot topic a few minutes later. “I just hope we win that game. That’s all. That’s all I got to say,” Posada said in a clipped tone. “Not like I didn’t see this coming.”

For the Yankees and Joe Girardi, this is a particularly risky strategy, and already, fans are debating the wisdom of it. On the season, Jose Molina was absolutely awful. In 155 plate appearances, he hit .217/.292/.268. His .560 OPS was third worst among all AL hitters with at least 150 plate appearances. Jorge Posada, meanwhile, hit .285/.363/.522 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI. He was the best hitting catcher in the AL not named Joe Mauer. I don’t need to break out MLVr to show just how more valuable Posada is offensively.

But Girardi is willing to throw that out the window because of A.J. Burnett’s splits by catcher. In 16 games with Posada as Burnett’s catcher, opponents hit .270/.353/.421. In 11 games with a Molina-Burnett battery, opponents hit .221/.307/.352. There is a difference, but there is no way of knowing if Molina is the cause of it. After all, Burnett is the one pitching, and Burnett is the one who has to make his pitches. A.J. has expressed his willingness to work with Posada this year, and he should certainly embrace that when the season has been reduced to a five-game set.

So here we are with a lineup that will either feature no Jorge Posada or no Hideki Matsui. If Girardi is going to insist on sitting Posada for Molina during A.J.’s starts, he shouldn’t further weaken the lineup by benching Matsui. I’d like to think, however, that the Yankee skipper knows this aspect to lineup construction.

As Jorge said, the Yanks better win that game. They have the lineup to overcome this bad decision, but they shouldn’t need to rely on their offense to compensate for a move that reeks of overmanaging. Otherwise, similar to the decisions to avoid bunting against Curt Schilling in 2004, to bat A-Rod 8th in 2006 and and to leave the team on the field while under attack by midges, this one will be second-guessed to no ened.

Categories : Playoffs


  1. kunaldo says:

    i cant believe molina might start 2 friggin games in a 5 game series….i really like girardi, but the guy overthinks everything…dude, mkay was saying burnett even went to him during the season and said he wants to work on getting it right w/ posada…and what does joe do? pitch him w/ molina

    AJ’s OPS against w/ Posada: .775
    AJ’s OPS against w/ Molina: .658

    (not to mention his BABIP is a little higher w/ posada, so that gap lessens b/c of luck)

    Posada OPS: .885
    Molina OPS: .560


    not to mention posada caught AJ’s best start of the season(granted it was against the Mets)

    talk about a red herring

    • Nady Nation says:

      Jorge also caught the Boston start where AJ tossed 8 innings of 1 hit, shutout ball. My friend just texted me that bit about AJ wanting to work things out with Jorge, but Girardi insisting that Molina catches him. If true, that is ridiculous. This sucks.

    • RIYank says:

      Wait, I think you’re forgetting something — something very important.

      Suppose AJ pitches six or seven innings. Molina will then get two plate appearances. But Burnett will face 21-30 batters. The 70 points of OPS against is much, much more important over 25 batters than the 300 points over two PA! Not even close.

      I’m assuming the OPS against numbers reflect an actual difference in Burnett’s ability to pitch. I don’t know whether that’s true, it could just be coincidence or something.

      • andrew says:


        If people are going to argue that Posada>Molina for this game, then we need to see some stats that actually hold true. Posada’s .300 OPS advantage over Molina is NOT worth Molina’s .100 OPS advantage over Posada for every batter of the opposing teams. Posada MAY be the right choice here, but the OPS argument is not why.

    • Lucky says:

      You are making the case *for* this move. 100 points of OPS against by the entire opposing lineup is far more significant than 300 points of OPS by one player/position. 27 outs/game by the opposing lineup. 3-5/game by the Cs. There is a huge multiplier that must be applied if you are going to make this argument.

  2. Accent Shallow says:

    This is almost certainly a bad move, here’s hoping it doesn’t come back to haunt them.

    /breaks out torches and pitchforks

  3. Also, I have to leave for work but this is something I’ve wanted to discuss and this seems like a good place to do so:

    Why do we put credit and blame on catchers for the performance of pitchers? We’re so quick to give credit for a guy “calling a great game” but the pitcher has to throw the ball. Whatever. I’m pretty pissed.

    • the artist formerly known as (sic) says:

      “we” don’t. maybe the d*pshit lohud commentariat does, but i dont think we, as defined as the typical RAB reader/commenter, do. i know mike, ben and joe don’t.

  4. Tom Zig says:

    This better work.

  5. RCK says:

    This is madness!

  6. pat says:

    Baseball players are a weird, wacky, superstitious bunch. If for some reason Burnett feels more comfortable with Molina then u gotta go with Molina. Yeah I know the stats and plits between posada and Molina but if the difference boils down to 7ip 9k 1bb and 1er vs 4 ip 5bb 3k and 6 er I want Molina all day.

    Burnett pitching a great game is paramount to winning.

  7. nathan says:

    This is bad decision.. equally poor is Jorge’s reaction and pouting..

    why not let the manager get the info out… off later there aremore headaches coz of Posada than not, he almost broughtinjury with the TOR mele… just shut up and do ur role toperfection… God forbid the team asks to make afew sacrifices…

  8. Charlie says:

    oh fuck, i (and everyone else) knew it. i can’t be mad at jorge for this because it really does seem like a stupid decision. i hope it doesn’t come back to bite them in the ass

  9. Moshe Mandel says:

    I don’t like it, but I get it. This is not so much on Girardi as it is on AJ- he obviously feels more comfortable with Molina, and has said many times that the game is mostly mental for him. I bet that this means AJ only gets one start in the ALDS.

  10. Moshe Mandel says:

    Are you advocating Matsui over Posada? I’m not sure why. Also, I dont think this

    “But Girardi is willing to throw that out the window because of A.J. Burnett’s splits by catcher”

    is entirely true. He is throwing it out the window because Burnett is a fickle pitcher and is more comfortable with Molina. We have to speculate on that stuff, but Girardi can just ask him.

    • Burnett has said that he is fine working to Posada. This isn’t a secret. Burnett isn’t being fickle; Girardi is buying into something that isn’t necessarily true.

      As for Posada vs. Matsui as DH, that is actually a very tough call. I’d lean toward Matsui but for no rigorous reason.

      • AndrewYF says:

        AJ is being diplomatic to the media. What do you expect him to say, Posada and him don’t get along? That would spur a thousand times more controversy.

      • Frank1979 says:

        Wouldn’t they be better served to leave Matsui as the DH? That way if they need to pinch hit for Molina late in the game they just use Posada and its a straight up swap. If Posada is the DH, and you want to pinch hit for Molina, you would lose the DH by moving Posada to C. Of course, this would all be made moot if they took 3 catchers on the playoff roster.

      • Moshe Mandel says:

        Burnett has said that publicly. Don’t you think Girardi wants Posada in there? I don’t like the move, but I think it is pretty obvious that Posada and AJ were not clicking. Now, should Joe have forced them to work together more down the stretch? certainly, and that is my only problem with the managing job Joe has done this year. But at this point, this is who AJ is comfortable with.

        • Mike Pop says:

          but I think it is pretty obvious that Posada and AJ were not clicking.

          I don’t see how someone can say this.

          In this comment from the Congressman –


          It is quite obvious that Burnett can indeed pitch to Posada. Sure he’s had his run of bad games with Posada also, but if this were another pitcher, not named A.J. Burnett I think I would take it more serious. But since it is A.J. Burnett, I can’t put blame on Posada.

          Throughout Burnett’s whole career there are high points and low points in all of his seasons. That’s what he’s known for inconsistency, and I just think fans/media/whoever are looking for someone else to blame.

          • Moshe Mandel says:

            I’m not blaming Posada, nor am I saying that Burnett cannot pitch to him. I am saying that he has undeniably pitched better to Molina, and that it has become, in AJ’s head, an issue that affects his mindset.

            • Moshe Mandel says:

              Just to further explain. We could give a million reasons for why this is wrong- the stats are misleading, Molina happened to catch those games when AJ was hot, etc. But that is not the point. The point is that AJ believes it is an issue, in which case it becomes an issue.

              • andrew says:

                Molina happened to catch those games when AJ was hot

                Just to play devil’s advocate… you could also say that AJ got hot because he was pitching to Molina.

                Bottom line, over the course of the season, AJ has pitched significantly better to Molina than to Posada. Yes, he’s had bag games with Molina and good games with Posada, but on average, it appears he pitches better to Molina. I think AJ being as comfortable as possible out there on the mound is more important than 2 or 3 atbats. That’s just my gut feeling at the moment. Everyone knows Posada is a better hitter, so Girardi/Cash must REALLY REALLY feel that Molina provides a significant upgrade for Burnett over Jorge or they wouldn’t do it. I have to trust they know the situation better than I/we do.

          • I’m way late to this party (I’m so late they’re already pouring sawdust on the vomit), but since my old post about Posada was mentioned I figure I should get something on the record here… I’ve argued in a few threads that Posada should catch every inning in the playoffs, but I’m not freaking out too much about this AJ/Molina decision. AJ has thrown to Molina in his last 8 starts, and the last time Posada caught AJ was when he got blown out in Boston on August 22. Apparently AJ has been working on some mechanical issues lately, and he’s done all of his work while he got himself straightened out with Molina, not Posada, behind the plate. At this point, considering the foregoing, I understand why Girardi is going to let Molina catch AJ in the ALDS.

            Now… I do think a mistake was made, but that mistake was letting AJ throw exclusively to Molina for such a long stretch to close the season and not making it a point of strong emphasis that AJ and Jorge work together a lot and get more comfortable with each other. They never should have put themselves in this position, Posada should be behind the plate for every postseason inning. But, again, at this point, in the situation that they’re in (and that they created), I understand why they’re starting Molina with AJ.

      • Kyle says:

        I lean toward Matsui as well if not more for the fact that once Burnett comes out of the game, say in the 6/7th, then Jorge replaces Molina immediately…..this is assuming that they carry a 3rd catcher I suppose though…..

        • The Three Amigos says:

          I think that part is a no brainer. You hope the offense does very well and Molina surprises, but Matsui has to DH.

          Then consider the bad possibilities we are in a pitchers duel, meaning Molina is at least doing his job behind the plate… and he gets replaced the minute Aj is done around the 6th or 7th…

          We are being blow out, experiment failed Jorge is out there a lot earlier because AJ is out of the game.

          This also means Cervilli is probably a lock too now. Since Jorge is coming into the game late, someone will pinch run at least for Molina if the situation presents, does hurt to have Cervilli as insurance.

  11. Bone says:

    I’d prefer Jorge in there, but in the grand scheme of things, I think people are making it out to be a bigger deal that it probably is. Yes, Jorge is a way better hitter than Jose, and the numbers are clear. However, AJ often throws a lot of pitches and probably won’t go more than 6-7 innings. That translates into about 2-3 ABs for Molina before then can swap him out, and they will replace him as soon as AJ’s day is over, and maybe before if Molina comes up in a big spot.

    2-3 ABs over the course of a 5 game series is not make or break. Plus, we’re not even considering the impact his solid defense could add.

    • RIYank says:

      Exactly, thanks (I should have read this before I replied, above).
      I think it’s pretty unlikely that it amounts to more than two PA. I guess it could — AJ could go seven innings and then we’d just need six base runners to get Molina up in the seventh — but two+ PA means the difference in offensive production is tiny. As you say, now subtract from that difference Molina’s slightly better defense, add just a little more rest for Posada over what we hope to be a looongg post-season, and I figure pretty much *any* improvement to Burnett’s pitching would make this a good move.

  12. Paul O'neill says:

    I told you guys this was happening

  13. RCK says:

    I hope that the first question Girardi gets asked at his press conference is, “Have you lost your ever-loving mind?!”

  14. Paul O'neill says:

    molina should be bunting everytime he has guys on base with less than 2 outs.

  15. Yankee1010 says:

    It’s moronic.

    I’m really looking forward to Molina making about 6 outs on 5 pitches in 4 at-bats – those are always a pleasure. He should walk up to the plate without a bat.

    It’s as if the approximately 10 start run of dominance that AJ had with Posada behind the plate doesn’t matter at all.

  16. iYankees says:

    If the Yankees lose that game due to a lack of offensive production, make no mistake, Girardi will be the one blamed (whether that’s right or wrong is up to you). Of course, if Jose Molina helps A.J. toss a shutout, he’ll be praised endlessly. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

  17. yankeegirl49 says:

    I am with the majority that don’t like the move, but think about it..if having Molina in there for 1 or even 2 games for a couple of at bats sends us to an early post season exit, there are way more problems than just that.

    • Yankee1010 says:

      Well, yes and no. Yeah, it likely means that other guys failed to produce, but that is the beauty of the Yankee offense, i.e. they don’t have to just rely on one guy. It’s deep and versatile. Now, they’re taking out a switch-hitter with patience and power and replacing him with a guy who is worse than an automatic out. If there are any runners on base, he’s likely not going to settle for just making one out.

      The lineup goes from being awesome 1-8 with a slumping Melky in the 9 hole (I think Gardner should start, but that’s a different issue) to being awesome 1-7 with a slumping Melky and a complete black hole at 9. Last year showed that you can’t just give away outs like that.

  18. Paul O'neill says:

    they should of had cervelli catch aj his last few starts and looked at the results.

    • If you post again with this name, you’ll be banned until it’s changed. Final warning. Don’t push it.

      Just call yourself Paul O’Neill’s Dented Water Cooler. I don’t call. Just no impersonations.

  19. steve s says:

    Can’t wait to see the next walk-off hit Posada has. I don’t think AJ will be pieing this guy anymore.

    • Again, it’s not AJ making this decision. He has stated that he’s willing to pitch to Posada. This one’s on Girardi.

      • AndrewYF says:

        I look forward to RAB’s Girardi appreciation thread when he’s proven right and AJ pitches a good game.

        Of course, then you could just say there’s no way of knowing that he wouldn’t have pitched a good game to Posada, and you were right anyway.

        But RAB is better than that, right?

        • right RAB girardi said burnett right molina, right?


        • whozat says:

          I mean…it’s true that there’s no way of knowing that he wouldn’t have pitched a good game to Posada. He’s done it at least ten times this season.

          Your problem is that you’re assuming correlation == causation. You want to believe that Molina makes AJ better, so when AJ pitches well with Molina behind the plate, you take it as proof that Molina makes AJ better, despite the fact that there is no real proof of that. He’s pitched a bunch of good games to Posada…what was the explanation then?

          • Moshe Mandel says:

            What we believe makes no difference. If AJ believes correlation=causation, then it becomes an issue, and you may have to cater to your pitcher.

  20. Mitch says:

    This is really all on Girardi. It’s not just that AJ’s numbers are better with Molina so at the end of the season Girardi decided to let Molina catch AJ in the postseason, it’s much worse.

    Girardi made this decision a month and a half ago. Molina has caught all but 1 of AJ’s games since AJ’s awful start against the Red Sox on August 22nd. If Girardi had any intention of starting Posada when AJ pitched in the postseason he would have had them work together, especially in AJ’s last few starts when nothing was really on the line.

    Posada knew it, which is why he said, “Not like I didn’t see this coming.” Awful job by Girardi.

    • AndrewYF says:

      Or, a good job by Girardi. Why does everyone think they know better when they have so little information?

      • Rob in CT says:

        Little information? Seriously? There’s plenty of information available tos how why this is stupid.

        • AndrewYF says:

          Except the information that’s actually the crucial part of the decision, which is what Girardi and Cashman have, and we don’t.

        • andrew says:

          If there were really “plenty of information available tos how why this is stupid,” do you really think they’d do it?

          Whatever information you have to say it’s stupid, there’s probably just as much, if not more, to go the other way

          In the end, AJ has thrown better to Molina than to Jorge this year. Whether or not that is coincidence, or actually due to some difference between Jorge and Jose, we will never know. What we DO know, is that there is atleast some small psychological factor that has developed where AJ is more confident with Jose behind the plate.

          • Mitch says:

            Who cares what the information is? Posada is so far superior to Molina offensively that I can’t imagine any reason why Girardi couldn’t let Posada and AJ work together more down the stretch to see if they could get on the same page. How would it have hurt? Maybe the Yankees win 1 or 2 less games?

            If Posada and AJ couldn’t work it out, then you could at least say we tried and it’s just not working so we’re going with Molina. Instead, they gave up trying 7 weeks ago.

    • Guest says:

      + 80 Gazillion. I kept feeling queasy all through September as Joe repeatedly went to Molina over Posada when AJ started. This thing was basically wrapped up in August (a few brief scares, but nothing serious). There was absolutely no excuse for not running Posada out there with AJ to see if they could fix it. If AJ proved he just couldn’t work with Jorge at all in September, I might still not like the move, but it would make much more sense to me. As it stands, it seems like Girardi gave up way too soon on making the Jorge and AJ thing work.

      Also, as I believe TSJC pointed out a few weeks ago, why not sit AJ, Jose, & Jorge down to try and figure out why it is AJ seems more comfortable with the pitches Jose called than the pitches Jorge called. I mean pitch selection is pretty much the only material way a catcher could potentially impact a starter’s performance. If Jose acted as Jorge’s Cyrano De Bergerac and taught him how to call pitches for AJ, wouldn’t the problem be solved? Maybe this was already attempted unsuccessfully, but I find it hard to believe that Jose and AJ couldn’t get Jorge on the same page if the three of them discussed AJ’s pitch selection preferences with each other.

  21. Salty Buggah says:

    Damn, I guess Girardi DOESN’T read RAB. That sucks.

  22. phil O'neill says:

    the media is going to love making a big deal out of this

  23. marc says:

    Isn’t this more like flaherty catching RJ in the ALDS against the angels in 05? Why wasn’t more made of that decision. At least Molina is great defender (wild pitches anyone/). Or, that if AJ pitches great its a moot point and if he stinks it up Molina will at most get 2 at bats?

    • Salty Buggah says:

      Because they are the Angels, we are the Yankees.

      Also, it seems like this is a big issue because of you are on a Yankees blog. Im sure some people were angered by that decision too but you didnt hear it and Im sure not too many outside of Yankees fans will care about this. Additionally, in 2005, blogs were not as prevalent as today so people could not discuss things as much.

      • marc says:

        Not my point. My point is do you think that is such a a big difference between starting molina or flaherty? It should be brought up now. And additionally, doesn’t make snese that we are arguing over a possible 2 at bats… 3 at most? And hell, who is to say Molina won’t get a big hit. I remember Posada not getting big hits plenty of times… bases loaded 1 out against cc and bam struck out.

        • whozat says:

          You asked why that wasn’t a “big deal” and this is. It WAS a big deal, but there weren’t so many blogs around to question it, and there wasn’t such a preponderance of statistical evidence to back up the notion that the move was stupid.

          Additionally, it DOES make sense. We’re not arguing over two at-bats. We’re arguing over the end of the lineup going


          instead of


          Melky has been off-and-on for a month, Damon is slumping, Matsui is even in a bit of a slump. I want Posada in there to hedge my bets, because he’s a better hitter than Swisher and Cano has had trouble with RISP all season. Also, now we’re looking at taking Cervelli instead of Guzman, meaning that Gardner will NEVER get a start in the postseason, because he HAS to be there to be the late-innings pinch runner. So…Melky starts every game, even if his slumping continues.

          There are a lot of consequences beyond Molina’s two-three ABs.

        • Salty Buggah says:

          Those 2-3 ABs matter a lot when you are facing good pitchers like Verlander. Remember how we bet him 2-1? Yea, you need every hit/run you can get and avoid any out possible.

        • fabio says:

          I’d like to play a simple game with you. we throw 2 coins in the air, if both fall heads up, you win 100 bucks, if not I win 100 bucks. And hell, there have been plenty of times 2 coins were thrown and 2 heads came up.

  24. Free Mike Vick says:

    If its the twins…i guess you can start AJ in Minnesota in game 3…but if its the tigers. There is no way in hell you can let AJ start in detroit…not with his splits there!!

    But Andy has better numbers at the Dome then AJ does….

    it’s going to be a HUGE mistake if Joe decides to start AJ on the road! H..U..G..E…M..I..S..T..A..K..E..

  25. phil O'neill says:

    need the veteran lefy on the road, i agree

  26. iYankees says:

    A.J. was dealing with mechanical issues for most of August and some of September, which is when Jorge was still catching him. That’s mainly why the two looked bad. They fixed the issue after studying videotape and this occurred as Molina began catching him. That’s why (or at least a significant part of why) the two have worked extremely well together.

  27. Nady Nation says:

    The question is, if AJ pitches poorly in his first playoff start, do you go back to Molina in his next start, which will be either Game 5 of the ALDS or in the ALCS? How long is the personal catcher leash?

  28. Anth says:

    The only way that I would be ok with this move is that if it was Burnett himself who approached Girardi and told him he feels alot more confortable pitching to Molina.

    If the move is based on Girardi looking at sss splits and making the decision on his own then I think its an extreme case of over anaging and just dumb.

  29. Riddering says:

    I just realized that I’m not frustrated due to Molina catching A.J. in Game 3 of the ALDS and being a vortex of suck for 2-3 ABs. I’m frustrated because I know he’ll be catching A.J. in the ALCS and WS too.

    So even with all this my confidence level = 27.

    OTOH, I don’t like the bad blood that might be simmering because of the catching drama and how it might affect the future considering how long A.J. is going to be with the Yanks. Well, not just drama but also how Girardi might baby Burnett.

    Yo, Joe. Burnett pitches to Jesus or you’re out of here!

  30. Salty Buggah says:

    FWIW, Molina is walking at the highest rate of his career (if you dont count the 10 games in first year). It’s close to being double his career BB%.

    I guess this provides a very small bit of comfort for Molina starting.

  31. steve s says:

    Give Posada points for being honest. Give him demerits for team leadership and maturity. His sound bite was one of a petulant child after his parent yelled at him. He should have kept his mouth shut. When Billy benched Reggie in game 5 of 77 playoffs with KC against the lefty Splitorff, Reggie responded with his bat (not his mouth) as a pinch-hitter later in that game and then on to the great series against the Dodgers. Hopefully Jorge channels the rest of his angst like Reggie did.

    • whozat says:

      The reporters asked, I’m sure.

      What’s he supposed to do, lie?

      • steve s says:

        I agree he was honest. Saying “no comment” or something generally supportive would have been the mature response of a team leader

    • Drew says:

      I don’t think it reflects negatively on his leadership or maturity. Dude is a future HOF (imo), he’s flat out better than Molina, he’s pissed. If JoPo acted like he didn’t give a shit, then I’d be pissed. I don’t think he said anything wrong, bottom line, if we lose said Molina game by one run, shit hits the fan.

  32. Rob in CT says:


    This is insanity. Molina is an automatic out (and often 2 outs). His defense has slipped, IMO (I’ve seen him fail to block wild pitches from AJ, just like Posada, and that’s like his ONE JOB – catcher defense). We’ve been over the fact that AJ has pitched good/great games to Jorge.

    I will hate Burnett if he doesn’t pitch very well. 7IP, 3ER or better, or I am Jack’s Seething Rage.

  33. pizzajohn says:

    I’ve never felt so compelled to comment on what I see as a
    very, very stupid move. Yet I am speechless that what we know about
    the precious nature of outs is lost on a college graduate like Girardi.

  34. pete says:

    Based on the information WE have available, this is the wrong decision. The wrongest, dumbest, worstest, shittiest, most comparable to the holocaust decision he could make. But he can talk to AJ behind closed doors. I think it takes a pretty easily flustered pitcher and a particularly stubborn catcher for a pitcher to not be confident in his ability to pitch to that catcher. But I also would be fairly unsurprised to find that AJ Burnett is a pretty easily flustered pitcher, and that Jorge is a particularly stubborn catcher. I base this on nothing but what I see in games, since that is all the access I have. But just because I see it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    I pitched in HS and found that pitching to the backup catcher was actually a lot better than the starter, because the backup was a freshman who wasn’t going to get stubborn w/ a senior pitcher, whereas the starter was a junior whose parents had spent thousands of dollars on catching clinics and what not. But I still knew more about how to pitch, and specifically how I should pitch, than he did, having thoroughly studied game film of Moose and Mo and how they set up hitters with the pitches i had (FB, slider/cutter, curve, change). But even though you were the guy throwing the ball, you really weren’t supposed to shake off your catcher, because it’s a cliche (and one that every coach, especially former catchers, follows) that the pitcher doesn’t know shit and the catcher does.

    From watching posada’s game calling the last few years, he does have a tendency to repeat patterns throughout the game, and it usually isn’t until late in the season, if at all, that his approach changes with new pitchers. I think Molina has a more expansive “catcher’s repertoire” (how to use pitches to set up hitters not just for the k but also for the grounder, foul ball, etc. etc.). Of course, it shouldn’t matter to an established Major League veteran pitcher (really to a rookie either) what the catcher calls. If the pitcher doesn’t like it, he should shake it off. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if AJ is the kind of guy who gets shaken up and thrown off his game if he has to call off pitches too much, especially when Posada gets in his face about shit (again, only from what I’ve seen, but given the decision that Girardi has apparently made, there could be something to it).

    This is, I think, a classic example of our knowing too little to make a fair assessment of the moves being made. While I’ve seen Girardi make some questionable moves (namely in the bunting department), this is a decision of the magnitude that Cashman was almost certainly in on the discussion. In this instance, I, for one, am willing to put my trust in Girardi/Cashman over my own instincts. Both of those guys are way too in tune with stats to not see that the statistical dropoff from Posada to Molina offensively is much greater than the pitching dropoff from molina to posada. They’re not idiots.

    • AndrewYF says:

      I enjoyed this comment.

      I think I may have heard it from Cone, but I feel that when AJ has his best stuff, it doesn’t matter who’s catching him, he’ll dominate anyway. But when he doesn’t have his best stuff, it does matter, and Molina is better than Posada at guiding AJ through a start where he doesn’t have his best stuff.

      • Rob in CT says:

        Alternatively, when AJ doesn’t have his best stuff he gets smacked around regardless, and the Yankees will need to win a slugfest – Posada’s department.

        AJ has gotten slaughtered with Molina behind the plate, too. He’s pitched wonderful games to Jorge. To me, this says it’s about AJ having command of his stuff – when he does, he’ll pitch well (regardless of catcher), when he doesn’t, look out.

        Of course I could be wrong, but the available evidence strongly suggests this move is stupid.

        Also of note: what was Joe Girardi as a player? Oh yeah, a banjo-hitting backup catcher who started over Posada in the playoffs. Hmm. I only hope it works out now as well as it did then.

        • AndrewYF says:

          “Alternatively, when AJ doesn’t have his best stuff he gets smacked around regardless”

          See, that’s the thing. AJ doesn’t just turn into Sidney Ponson when he doesn’t have his best stuff. He can still get batters out, but anecdotal evidence points to Posada not being able to coax it out of him, while Molina is able to.

        • Riddering says:

          Let’s just admit it:

          Girardi has been planning this moment ever since Posada supplanted him as starting catcher. It’s taken years but now he can enact his revenge on the Yankees.

      • Riddering says:


        But then there’s a start like A.J.’s against the Twins when he didn’t have his curveball working but, in his own words, Posada milked it out of him in key moments to get a SO.

        It’s impossible to break down and evaluate who “guides” Burnett better. It’s a matter of perception.

        • AndrewYF says:

          And guess who’s best positioned to have that perception?

          Hint: it’s not us.

          • Riddering says:

            Goddamn, you’re right.

            The rest of comments on this post I designate to Girardi, Cashman, and co.

          • pete says:

            exactly. For the purposes of our analyses, we have data that, while pointing in favor of molina over posada, is neither concrete enough nor empirically significant enough to supplant posada’s offense with molina’s defense. But we aren’t talking about Dusty Baker or Joe Morgan, here. I’m fairly certain that Girardi and Cashman are well aware of the enormous offensive dropoff and its relative enormity even when compared to molina’s possible “defensive” (not sure if it is exactly that, but you know what i mean) advantage.

            Given that Girardi/Cashman, two statistically inclined, head-on-their shoulders dudes, have made the decision to go with what the statistics say not to do tells me that they’re much more noteworthy perception of the AJ/Posada issue is concurrent with much of that of the general public/MSM – that Posada worsens AJ’s pitching ability. I would be wildly surprised if this issue isn’t worked on hard all offseason and all of next season, but now’s not the time for that. All that I’ve said is that this is one of the rare occasions where I would place more faith in the minds of people close to the players than the empirical data.

            As for the whole “AJ can blow up with anybody, in which event we’ll need all the offense we can get” argument, I don’t see the problem. Unless the yanks are doing well enough offensively that Molina’s impact doesn’t matter, AJ will have two innings under his belt before Molina steps to the plate. By that point, we will probably know if he’s going to blow up. Certainly, by the time two ABs have been sacrificed to the god of Hava, we will either know that AJ is pitching well, or that the yanks are steamrolling anyway, and don’t need Posada’s bat.

            The only real problematic scenario is that in which AJ pitches great but so does his opponent, and the yankees need all the pitching AND all the hitting they can get. I think if it comes to this, you have to pinch hit for Molina in his 3rd AB (or 2nd, if it’s the 6th inning – i.e. JV’s throwing a perfect game). By this point, AJ’s rhythm/approach will be established enough that Jorge will be able to follow it. Or you take out AJ after 6 and bring in your A-pen.

            Either way, it seems like there’s a pretty decent chance that Molina being in the lineup won’t have quite as much of an effect on this game as people are expecting

  35. rbizzler says:

    Molina should be instructed to ‘take until he gets three strikes’ in all of his AB’s. That way the most damage he can do is one out per at-bat and he will at least see three pitches per.

    Hopefully, this does not become ‘exhibit A’ in the case against Girardi for over-managing in the playoffs.

  36. Drew says:

    Molina hitting in the World Series is a frightful proposition.

    Not only does this weaken our lineup in the 9 hole, the Melkman will see few pitches to hit in those games. Not only with 2 outs, with one out as well.

    Total bummer dude.

  37. Michael says:

    I wish I could have bet on this!

    To repeat what I posted in the thread last week, I still don’t know if this is a good idea or not, but I have to say it was clear that Girardi was going to do this.

  38. Kiersten says:

    I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, but what happens when AJ starts game 3 of the World Series and we have Molina batting 8th? I cringe thinking of that lineup.

  39. cr1 says:

    Setting up this babysitting situation is just another illustration of why my main concerns going into the post-season are the starting rotation and managerial decision-making.

    • Drew says:

      Wait, your concern is CC, AP and AJ? They are pretty good, no?

      • cr1 says:

        No, my concern is not CC. Not much, anyway, since his apparent underperformance in the post-season may just be a result of the small sample. But I would think anybody who’s been watching the games could understand why I might have concerns about Andy and AJ.

  40. cr1 says:

    Thank divine providence that Molina will be gone next year and the curtain will go down on this particular melodrama.

  41. Salty Buggah says:

    Let’s start Cervelli! In the 2 starts he caught AJ, batters hit only .204/.304/.327. And he is a bit better with the bat.

  42. Mode:Theif and Lair says:

    Let’s hope this works out like the 1998 post season:

    Season stats:
    Girardi OPS+ 85
    Posada OPS+ 112

    A quick look on BB Ref and I found that Girardi caught Pettitte, Cone, and Clemens (except the last game of the WS (Posada caught Clemens). Posada caught El Duque. Posada also came in immediately after Clemens was taken out after a bad start against Boston in the ALCS.

    Posada was still young, and Girardi was a bit better hitter than Molina.

    • Drew says:

      “a bit better”

      That is the understatement of the year.

      • Mode:Theif and Lair says:

        Ok, I didn’t realize 1999 was a better example. Girardi had a OPS+ of 60 suring the season, but during the playoffs, he was Cone’s and Pettitte’s personal catcher.

        • Mode:Theif and Lair says:


          Girardi career OPS+ 72
          Molin career OPS+ 60

          Still, the contrast is stark between Posada and either Girardi or Molina.

    • AndrewYF says:

      It’s a miracle they won any of those games without their best lineup in there!

    • Mode:Theif and Lair says:

      And like I said, “I hope it works out”. I actually think Posada should start all the games. In 2000, Posada started all the games, and that worked out too!

  43. Kiersten says:

    Also, not that this is going to happen, but what IF the Yanks go down 0-2? Are we really not going to put our A lineup out there? Idiotic.

  44. e mills says:

    4th inning and it’s a 1-1 game, 2 outs with a man on 2nd and 3rd and Molina is due up…does Girardi PH for Molina??? I would think so, what do you guys think?

  45. JMK aka The Overshare says:

    Hey guys, quick question: Is the one-game playoff on TBS?

  46. Doug says:

    is it a bad thing that a little part of me is hoping that, with us up 2-0, that AJ gets pummelled in game 3 with molina behind the plate? this way girardi will abandon this ridiculous idea and we won’t see molina for the rest of the postseason.

  47. Tank the Frank says:

    I disagree completely with this move, for reasons that have already been mentioned by a number of other posters.

    But frankly, a decision like this should (or could) cost Girardi his job; and I wouldn’t shed a tear. I know I’ll probably catch shit for this, but it is what it is. Girardi’s overmanaging has been problematic all season.

    I want to hear this from AJ’s mouth. I want to hear him say, “I feel more comfortable mentally throwing to Molina.” But that hasn’t happened IIRC. As has already been mentioned, he’s previously denied any preference and has said he’s willing to work with Jorge. It was Joe Girardi’s job to put these two (AJ and Jorge) together down the stretch when the division was wrapped up and get them on the same page. In fact, that should have been priority number one. Yet he continued to march Molina out there start after start.

    I guarantee Molina will find himself in a pressure situation with men on base. That’s the way it works out. Again, the Yankees better win this series. Should they lose in the first round with Jorge playing every game, his job would probably be in jeopardy, but I feel like the Yankees would give him another year. Should the Yankees lose in the first round with the current decisions made, he shouldn’t have a job next year.

    • crapulent aka I said good day sir says:

      If the rest of the team can’t overcome Molina behind the plate, there’s something very very wrong.

      • Tank the Frank says:

        Sometimes that’s all it takes. Like I said, it wouldn’t surprise me if Molina finds himself in a situation with men on base and less than 2 outs. I’m not confident with him even moving the runners. Situations like that tend to find you. Hopefully that situation won’t find him until after the 6th inning, AJ’s already pitching a shutout, and he can be pinch hit for.

    • Drew says:

      I don’t consider his regular season to have any “over-managing” as so many people say. He plays matchups in the pen. Using a ROOGY or a LOOGY isn’t overmanaging as much as it is putting your guys int he best position to succeed. After all, that’s Joe’s job.

      AJ needs to pitch well, it’s as simple as that. I don’t see any situation where Joe is fired.

      • Tank the Frank says:

        I disagree. Joe’s overmanaging has been his number one fault. But I agree that his bullpen management is an improvement over Torre. It’s more the bunting situations that come up that I’m referring to.

    • AndrewYF says:

      “I want to hear this from AJ’s mouth. I want to hear him say, “I feel more comfortable mentally throwing to Molina.” But that hasn’t happened IIRC.”

      Apparently, AJ told Girardi that he wasn’t comfortable pitching his curveball to Posada when there are men on base.

      Looks like your entire post has been invalidated.

      • AndrewYF says:

        And, Girardi’s ‘overmanaging’ has only led to the best-managed bullpen in the game this year.

        You’re really not doing too well.

        • Tank the Frank says:

          Looks like your entire post has been invalidated.

          No need for that. I’m entitled to my opinion and I’m sure it’s shared by many fans. My main point remains that it was Girardi’s job to get these two on the same page over the course of the season and he failed to do it and opted instead to have Molina catch AJ time and time again down the stretch.

          Molina should not be starting what is now two games in the playoffs. Period. It’s not like we have a knuckleballer throwing Game 2.

          And, again, I have no issues with Girardi’s bullpen management. But he does overmanage and no mistake.

          • Joe D. says:

            Hey, I’m with ya.

            We have some evidence that AJ might pitch quite a bit better to Molina than Posada. The numbers are there in 2009, but small sample sizes abound.

            We have enormous mountains upon mountains of evidence (ie: many thousands of plate appearances over the last decade) that Posada is a far, far superior hitter to Molina and it’s never been remotely close.

            Me, I’ll take the “certainly” over the “maybe, perhaps” every time. Joe Girardi — unfortunately for Yankee fans — disagrees.

            Side note: I’ve seen in mentioned that “our lineup can make up for Molina” and that particular line of reasoning is hilarious. It assumes that the Yankees are 1) so much better on offense than any potential competition that we can throw outs away and 2) that the Yankees’ hitters will positively be firing on all cylinders.

            We found out last year how much Jose Molina’s veteran leadership and game calling skills trounce Jorge Posada’s potent bat. Now we have the chance to find out again.

      • I wouldn’t be, either. I don’t buy the game calling claims, but it’s pretty clear that Molina handles balls in the dirt far better than Posada.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      And how do we know that AJ hasn’t said, “I prefer Molina more?”
      This assumption that Girardi is doing it to “over manage” is annoying frankly. What if they don’t release it to the public so they don’t create the ensuring shitstorm of stories about it?

      I’d rather trust this decision from Girardi than anyone else. he deals with them every game and if Burnett doesn’t like Posada or if he like pitching to Molina better than so be it. This isn’t anything new. Some pitchers don’t like Posada catching them.

      Unless there’s some other article out there than Girardi himself said this was all of his doing with no opinions from Cashman, Burnett, Posada or Molina then we shouldn’t automatically point our fingers directly at him.

      • Tank the Frank says:

        And how do we know that AJ hasn’t said, “I prefer Molina more?”

        That’s the point. I don’t know. But what I have heard from AJ during postgame interviews is that there is no disconnect between he and Jorge. If AJ went to Joe and requested to throw to Molina…well then there’s nothing you can do. I just wish I knew that was the case. I’m just of the opinion that it’s not.

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:

      I agree with a few of your points, but Girardi needing to be fired because of this? A bit of an overreaction, I think. Sure, the move could end up being a huge mistake (and I think it will), but the Yankees have easily been the best team in the league this season.

      You can’t measure Girardi’s direct impact on the team, but he’s done a good job resting guys, managing the bullpen, integrating younger players with the veterans, and understands match-ups. His analysis, I sometimes disagree with (as you indicated, he does occasionally over-manage), but the team doesn’t win 103 with a guy asleep at the wheel or consistently mismanaging. Who knows, maybe they’ll turn out to be solid strategy moves? I’ll be bummed out if this bites us in the ass and we lose because of Molina’s offensive futility–but Girardi has proven he knows what he’s doing and that one move doesn’t negate his ability as a manager.

      • Tank the Frank says:

        No, don’t misunderstand me. I think Joe is a great manager. But this is a move that can have major consequences and I don’t think that’s an overreaction. Joe Torre fell out of favor with bad decisions of this nature that Ben mentioned in the OP. I think this falls in line with batting A-Rod 8th and so on. That being the case, should the Yankees lose the ALDS, it wouldn’t surprise me if his job is in major jeopardy.

        Everything is magnified in the playoffs.

  48. marc says:

    How about the red sox won 95 games with jose molina catching 75% of the time and alll those playoof games they started mirabelli over tek for wakefield. How abotu this idea… the rest of the brilliant offense should be able to carry load and step up?

    • Tom Zig says:

      Molina’s bat is worse than Cody Ransom’s. Sure the rest of the offense could step up, but how much can they step up when they have someone at the bottom of the lineup who goes 0-3 with 2 GIDPs and a strikeout.

      • JobaWockeeZ says:

        Where does Cody Ransom fit to this?

      • steve (different one) says:

        Sure the rest of the offense could step up, but how much can they step up when they have someone at the bottom of the lineup who goes 0-3 with 2 GIDPs and a strikeout.

        it’s amazing that every game in the NL always ends 0-0, isn’t it?

  49. Mike R says:

    This isn’t going to be an issue. Burnett is going to throw 7 innings of shutout 3 hit ball and Molina is going to contribute with a big 2 run 2B to the RF gap.

  50. Frank says:

    The playoffs haven’t even started and already everyone is in panic mode because Molina is catching AJ. Big fucking deal. This offense is too potent- it can afford to carry a weak bat for one game. Besides, the defense improves significantly. This series won’t be won or lost because Molina is catching AJ 1 or 2 games.

  51. [...] Confidence Poll « Molina to catch Burnett during ALDS Oct [...]

  52. yankeegirl49 says:

    Hey guys…welcome to National League baseball :-)

  53. nathan says:

    If ARod yucks it up this series… and we lose AJ’s game..whowill get the blame..

    AJ Molina Girardi or ARod

    the ALDS is not even setup, i am in panic mode… damn… nota day of peace with this team

  54. Moshe Mandel says:

    From Neyer:

    “Now, whether it makes sense to bench Posada at all is a different story. Essentially, Girardi has to get inside Burnett’s head. And if he thinks that Burnett might give up even a quarter of a run more with Posada catching, then Molina’s the better choice. Because as well as Posada hits and as poorly as Molina hits, the difference between them within a particular game is so small, it defies measurement.”

    Makes sense to me.

    • Not to me.

      Molina sucks.
      Posada doesn’t suck.

      That’s a metric I use to determine the difference between players.

      And there’s a pretty big fucking difference between them.

      Neyer is krillin.

    • Tank the Frank says:

      Because as well as Posada hits and as poorly as Molina hits, the difference between them within a particular game is so small, it defies measurement.”

      Yeah, maybe I’m thick but I’m having trouble understanding his point too. Is he saying that the probability of Jorge’s hypothetical impact in a singular game compared to Molina’s is so minuscule that it’s not relevant?

    • Joe D. says:

      “Because as well as Posada hits and as poorly as Molina hits, the difference between them within a particular game is so small, it defies measurement.”

      Neyer is right that the difference between Posada and Molina in a single game is small — if you smooth the hitting difference at one position out over many, many games .

      What Neyer means is that **on average** the difference is immeasurably small.

      Otherwise, by Neyer’s logic, the Cardinals should start Troy Glaus in place of Albert Pujols for a couple of LDS games since, hey, what the hell, the difference between them is so small that it defies measurement. Might as well give Troy a shot.

      The problem is this is not going to be smoothed out or averaged over a long time span. The difference in a single game could easily be the difference between a three-run double and an inning-ending double play. That’s a three run + two out swing there, which obliterates Neyer’s potential quarter-run margin on the other side of the ball.

      It’s the whole reason you want better players in the first place. Otherwise, what the hell is the point?

  55. UKYankee says:

    I appreciate what you guys (and evrybody else) seems to be saying. But increasing the chance of AJ being good while Molina swings and misses surely improves our chances more to win than AJ being bad but Posada hitting well. Jorge could go 4-4 and contribute no runs but if AJ is good we have a great chance to win.
    NB: I would play Posada. But Giradi knows AJ better than anyone here

  56. BklynJT says:

    I agree thats it’s most likely a bad idea to start Molina, but we knew this was happening and I’ve come to accept it. Now, why does Posada need to be a little baby about every little thing. Mo, he needs some therapy. Sensitive little beotch. STFU and let things play out. You just making things harder for every by opening your fat mouth.

  57. Ace says:

    Catchers/Season OPS from last 4 world series teams:

    2008: Carlos Ruiz/.620
    2007: Jason Varitek/.787
    2006: Yadier Molina/.595
    2005: AJ Pierzynski/.728

    Everyone relax. We have more talent up and down our lineup than all of those teams. Jorge missing one game (maybe 2) per series isn’t going to sink the team.

  58. danny says:


  59. cult of basebaal says:

    From Tom Tango’s blog post earlier this afternoon

    Presuming that the quality of opposition is the same, we have a K rate of 18.2% with Posada and 26.7% with Molina. Figure an average of 350 PA. Burnett has a career K rate of 21.9%. One standard deviation, given 21.9% as the true rate and 350 sample PA is .022 K per PA. That puts Posada and Molina at roughly 2 SD from the mean (each going the other way, obviously). (The real numbers are 1.9 SD for Posada, and 2.4 for Molina.)


  60. westcoastyanks says:

    This move makes good baseball sense. Molina will hit at the bottom of the order and the Yanks will bat in the bottom of the inning, which means that Molina will only have two or (maybe) three AB’s before eventually being pulled for Posada (either because Burnett is out of the game or Girardi decides that he needs Posada’s bat in the later innings). You are effectively sacrificing two offensive ABs in exchange for giving your starter 6+ full innings with his best chance to dominate. With it looking like the Yanks will face Verlander in a Game 2, every run allowed will be huge and a strong start from Burnett absolutely critical, much more than Posada’s bat. And if Molina comes up to bat 3 times in the first 5 innings, it means the Yanks offense is clicking and they didn’t need Posada anyway.a

  61. ansky says:

    I think its all moot. A-ROD hit as well as Molina in the last couple of playoff series and he wasnt benched. So Murder’s Row 1-8 should be able to hide the offensive inefficiency of Molina. If AJ has a great start then 1-3 runs could win the game. I’d like to think the rest of the offense could muster 1-3 runs with Molina in the lineup.

  62. Sammy Feds says:

    I’m starting to think its a good idea. If Molina can save one run over what Posada would’ve done, it worked.

  63. steve (different one) says:

    how come this article cites AJ’s splits with Molina/Posada, but not the entire Yankee pitching staff with Molina/Posada?

    hint: the gap is just as wide and the sample is much larger

    maybe Molina is just that much better that he has a substantial impact on run prevention?

  64. Joseph M says:

    Ben, don’t blame Joe Girardi for overmanaging he was influenced by another overmanager named Joe Torre who started Posada in only 4 of the 8 World Series games played in 1998, 1999.

    Pitching will make or break you in the postseason. It’s that simple. If AJ has that big a problem throwing to Jorge then Jorge takes a break and Molina goes in. We’ve been hearing this from Yankee pitchers since the 90′s, everyone from David Cone to Randy Johnson to AJ. It is what it is. Let’s understand one thing it the Yakee line up with all the talent present hinges on Jorge being there then something is wrong.

    One final note World Series history is filled with bench warmers who have come on and done great jobs (ever hear of Al Weis, Brian Doyle).

  65. Tom says:

    AJ has not earned the right to make this demand. Posada has earned the right to play the biggest games of the year. Joe G, while doing a good job, really blew this one. Maybe he can come up with Posada rules just like the Joba joke.

  66. Jamie G. says:

    At the very least is should be Cervelli…Molina is dead weight.

  67. Tom says:

    When your biggest contribution to the team is whipped cream pies smashed into the face of the walk off hero you need to be a better team player when it comes to post season. Let’s see Posada has 4 rings and AJ has pitched 0 post season games. As a Yankee fan, I’m a little tired of AJ.

  68. Tom says:

    I hate to admit it, but I’m hoping the Yankees take this series in 4 games with CC winning 2 and Andy winning his and AJ getting blown out just to teach this selfish guy that it is about team and in NO way about him. He is not this special. Posada deserved more respect from AJ and better treatment from Joe G. Randy Johnson acted this way and how many championships did he get us?

  69. Loyaldog7 says:

    Posada is a proven winner. Molina is not! Molina is an automatic out. This is a bonehead move by Girardi. AJ seems like an insecure headcase. His Pie-in-the-Face nonsense is sophomoric and it urked me that he had the gall to do this after pitching so many sh*tty games. Girardi is creating a problem with team unity and chemistry.I hope they get rid of Molina next year and let Cervelli be the backup catcher…LOTS of energy and he can hit and he can run. Stupid, Stupid move on Girardi’s part. Losing the short serties because of this bone head move will create a firestorm in NY.

  70. toad says:

    What is all this stuff about “earned the right,” etc.?

    This is not a court case. The point is to win games. Get down on Burnett all you want, but recognize that of his five terrible starts – 6 ER or more – Posada caught four. Give Girardi some credit also for having a pretty good idea of the dynamics involved in this situation.

    If you think it’s an attitude problem that Burnett needs to work on, fine. A good time for that would be spring training.

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