Archive for Jose Molina

With Xavier Nady out for the rest of the season, the Yankees’ roster picture has become clearer. Whereas before they were awaiting the return of a player who would add depth, now they know that player is not coming. The Yankees have a number of options moving forward, both for the immediate future and in preparation for the July 31st trade deadline.

Starting in the present, PeteAbe reports that Jose Molina will return in about a week. The Yankees could do one of three things:

  1. Carry three catchers and option Ramiro Pena to Scranton
  2. Option Cervelli to Scranton
  3. DFA Jose Molina

Let’s rule out the third option, since it’s not at all likely. If they release Molina and Posada gets hurt, they’d be stuck with Cervelli and Cash instead of Cervelli and Molina. The latter is preferable. Cervelli isn’t that much better than Molina, anyway — if he’s better at all, which at this point I’m not about to declare.

Carrying three catchers would mean Jorge Posada is the de facto DH. Pete says that Jorge isn’t “going to be the DH because the Yankees aren’t releasing or trading Hideki Matsui.” Yet this scenario would allow them to start one of Cervelli and Molina, use Matsui as a pinch hitter, and then substitute the other, with Posada still available as an emergency. It’s certainly not the most efficient use of roster space. This option is also unlikely, unless the Yankees are more concerned about Jorge’s health than they let on.

This leaves optioning Cervelli to Scranton. By all appearances, this is what will happen. He’ll get regular reps at AAA in preparation of taking over for Molina in 2010. Meanwhile, he serves as an insurance policy in case either Molina or Posada go down again. Yes, it’s nice to have him around, and I can see why everyone is high on him, but let’s not let his personality overshadow his ability. Right now, there’s no harm in having him in AAA.

Pete also brings up another notion: option both Cervelli and Pena, and opt to bring up a better bat off the bench. Once Molina returns, the bench will be him, Cody Ransom, Gardner/Cabrera, and Ramiro Pena. There’s not exactly a bopper in there. True, Pena can serve as a late-inning pinch-runner, especially if Gardner starts. Pete suggests recalling Shelley Duncan or John Rodriguez. I’m not so sure.

Over whom in the starting lineup would Shelley Duncan be an upgrade? In other words, for whom would he pinch-hit? Maybe Gardner or Carbera, but even that’s debatable. The league seemingly figured out Shelley after 32 plate appearances — he started his career .321/.406/.857 in 32 PA and finished the season with a .217/.280/.370 run in 51 PA, plus his .175/.262/.281 in 65 PA last year. In theory it would be nice to have Shelley Duncan on the bench — if Shelley Duncan would actually represent an upgrade. Maybe he can provide a short-term burst of production, but he’s not someone who should be on the roster August 31.

As it stands, the Yankees might just be better off keeping both Cody Ransom and Ramiro Pena on the bench. Pena can play multiple positions and has some wheels. Ransom also plays many positions. They have four outfielders, and Matsui in an emergency situation. Since they don’t have someone on the farm who can provide an upgrade in a pinch-hitting situation, it’s tough to call on such a move. Again, since the team has some flexibility with Pena they could give it a shot, but they shouldn’t expect much from either Shelley or J-Rod.

This leads to the longer-term lookout, i.e., the rest of the season. Could the Yanks pull a trade for an outfield bat? Someone who could, perhaps, provide a platoon partner for Matsui against tough lefties and buy some days or half-days off for the other outfielders? Perhaps. Steve Lombardi wants a more consistent alternative to Nick Swisher. Says he:

Don’t get me wrong. I know that Swisher works counts and gets walks. And, when he’s hot, Swisher can hit the ball out of the park. But, when he’s cold, he’s beyond ice cold. And, at times, Swisher takes some curious routes on fly balls. Basically, when he’s bad, the Swish Hawk is “T-Long Like.”

While I’m an unabashed Swisher fan, I’m not going to stick my fingers in my ears and ignore his shortcomings. He does have some pretty bad cold streaks, and it would be nice to have someone to give him some time off during them. What’s that worth, though? Can the Yankees get the import (because the answer is not in the system currently) at a reasonable enough price? Can they get him enough playing time to justify the price? Those questions will be clearer as the Xs mount in July and we get closer to the 31st.

For right now, the Yanks can afford to stand pat. There is no pressing need to make a roster move. If the Yankees want to give it a whirl with Shelley or J-Rod, they can do so with minimal risk. If they want to keep things how they are and have two multi-position players, one who can run, on the bench, they can do that. It just goes to show that when you have a solid starting nine, a bench becomes far less important.

Categories : Musings
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PeteAbe, writing for his actual paper and not the blog, notes that injured outfielder Xavier Nady has been cleared to play in Extended Spring Training. Nady will (or did) begin playing today. I’m assuming that Nady will just DH for the time being, but it’s progress nonetheless. The Yanks begin the NL park portion of their interleague schedule on June 19th, and you can bet they want to have that extra bat available off the bench by then. Alex Rodriguez spent about ten days rehabbing (a far different injury) in EST before returning to the lineup earlier this month. So I’m hopeful that Nady can make it back in time for mid-June.

Pete also mentions that Jorge Posada, Jose Molina and Cody Ransom started working out in Tampa yesterday. Posada could see some game action later in the week. Hip hip, Jorge. (h/t TYU)

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This morning, PeteAbe asked a question that is on many Yanks fans’ minds right now: “Do you keep Francisco Cervelli around when Jose Molina comes back?” Cervelli has been impressive in his short tenure. He’s played solid defense, has shown rare speed for a catcher, and hasn’t killed the team with his bat. The latest, of course, is subject to a small sample, but it’s reasonable to think he’d hit as well as Jose Molina, with the added benefit of some speed.

Dave Pinto later added his commentary:

Given that Cervelli and Molina should have about the same poor offensive production long term, I’d keep Cervelli and let Molina go. Francisco appears to be a capable defensive catcher, just like Jose. He does bring one thing to the table that makes him superior, however, and that’s speed. Cervelli’s legs haven’t worn out from catching yet, and he’s not an automatic out on a tough ground ball. It’s a small edge, but one the Yankees should take.

This takes the argument to a whole new level. Release Molina in favor of keeping Cervelli on the 25-man? That seems a bit harsh. Our own Mike A. provides the retort in Pinto’s comments: “Given that Posada isn’t a surefire bet to stay healthy, the Yanks aren’t in a position to let a quality backup catcher like Molina go just because some rook had a hot 40 plate appearances.”

The beginning of Mike’s statement says it all. Yes, Jorge will return to the lineup soon, but there is no guarantee that he’ll remain healthy for the remainder of the season. And in reality, Molina’s no guarantee either. The Yanks need to keep their options open in case something happens in July or August.

There is little chance the Yanks take anything but the safe road when their catchers return. Jorge figures to be back first, and for him the Yanks will option Cervelli. Why not DFA Cash? Again, because it’s no lock that Jorge remains healthy. If he succumbs to another injury the Yanks can simply recall Cervelli to take his place. It’s the easiest and safest way to deal with this situation.

Then, when Molina returns, the team can DFA Cash. Perhaps he re-signs, perhaps he tries his luck with another organization. In any case, that brings the Yanks back to where they started the season. If, in a stroke of poor luck, the Yanks lose both Jorge and Molina again, they’d recall Cervelli and then likely add P.J. Pilittere. If one goes down Cervelli is just a phone call away.

Yanks fans have grown fond of Cervelli, but thankfully the front office has a more objective measure of the team. They’re not going to expose themselves to an injury risk just to keep around a kid who’s performed well in a small sample. Posada – Molina is the ideal tandem at the moment. If something happens to one of them, the Yanks would still have options. However, if they fall in love with Cervelli and Posada gets hurt, their options are markedly reduced. Frankie will be the backup next year. This year, there’s no reason to keep him around if the team’s primary catchers are healthy.

Categories : Injuries
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We expected the Yankees to make a number of roster moves today, and via RotoWorld we find the first of them (you might have to scroll down, depending on when you see this). On the ledger now: Melancon down, Molina disabled, Cash up. With two players removed from the 25-man roster, that leaves one for A-Rod. However, purchasing Kevin Cash’s requires a 40-man roster move. That will more than likely be the DFAing of Angel Berroa, which would open up yet another 25-man spot. Here’s to hoping that Juan Miranda gets the call to deepen the bench a bit. He’d be valuable as a PH with two backup catchers on the roster.

Categories : Asides
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We love features around here, but these early morning injury updates are not exactly the best “wake up” news for Yankee fans. Today, the update stars the back-up catcher thrust into the starting role and the team’s Hall of Fame closer. Hooray!

Last night, for the first time since July 18, 1998, Mariano Rivera gave up two home runs in one appearance. For the first time in his career, he gave up back-to-back jacks. Age, it seems, catches up with everyone. As Joe detailed, Rivera has put up some ugly numbers and some good numbers recently. He has nine strike outs and no walks over his last 4.1 innings but has allowed nine hits — four homers — and five earned runs over that stretch.

After the game, Joe Girardi said that Rivera had been battling “arm strength” problems. The velocity graphs show a slight dip this year. With the command still there, Mike thinks this is a dead arm period, and I’m inclined to agree. Rivera is 39 and had shoulder surgery last year. He ain’t the spring chicken he once was, and he may lose a tick or two. But unless the Yanks see something physically wrong with him, he’ll just work through it as he always does.

Jose Molina, on the other hand, seems headed for the DL. Molina strained his quad while scoring last night, and the Yankees are now down to their third- and fourth-string catchers. Who starts behind the plate on Friday night is anyone’s guess. Perhaps Joe Girardi will a sign a player/coach contract and slip on the gear. Even at 44 and five season removed from his last game, he’s probably a better choice than anyone the Yanks have in their system.

Categories : Injuries
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Molinas tracking Molinas

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I love “Inside Baseball” stories such as the one Tyler Kepner has featured on the Bats Blog this week. Jose Molina, one third of the Catching Molina Brothers, was sitting in the Detroit clubhouse when a clip of his brother Bengie’s hitting a triple came on screen. Jose started cheering, and Kepner asked him how he keeps track of his brothers during the season. Molina has BlackBerry alerts for his two brothers and records all of their games at home. Now that is family devotion.

Categories : Asides
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The Yankees didn’t just end their losing streak last night. They pulverized it, and then gave it a purple nurple for good measure. The 10-run seventh was just what the team needed, and it was more than enough to trounce the Tigers 11-0. Things looked grim for the offense in the early going, but they grinded it out* against Edwin Jackson and did what they do best, getting to the weak Tigers bullpen by the seventh. It was all over from there.

*It sounds better than “ground it out.”

While the crooked number in the seventh looks pretty, the story of the night was Phil Hughes. The Yanks needed a good start from their former No. 1 prospect, and he came through with six innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits and two walks. It was more than the team could have asked for. Hughes looked sharp all night, striking out six along the way. He threw 58 of his 99 pitches for strikes, 59 percent, a bit below the ideal number (66%). That led to a higher pitch per inning total, 16.5, than he’d like. But he’ll have at least a few more starts to work out those kinks.

Hughes mixed his pitches well, throwing what looked like three fastballs — a four-seamer, a two-seamer, and his cutter. Gameday logged almost all his fastballs as two-seamers, but also had him 93 to 94 on many of them, especially in the early innings. Before even seeing the Gameday I thought they were four-seamers and the 88-mph ones were either two-seamers or cutters, depending on how they broke. It looks like Hughes is back up to advertised velocity. His curve was on for the most part, and it was deadly when he got ahead in the count. If he can improve on his efficiency over his next few starts, the Yanks just might realize the potential of Philip J. Hughes.

Through six the results looked like the same old Yankees. They failed to score with runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, and six. In the latest they squandered a Hideki Matsui triple — a sign of the apocalypse if I’ve interpreted my scripture correctly. But while they were futile with RISP, they slowly chipped away at Edwin Jackson, forcing him to throw 117 pitches in six innings and forcing the Tigers to go to the bullpen. The Yanks saw 32 pitches in the fourth, including Robinson Cano‘s 12-ptich at bat which featured six two-strike fouls. Even in the fifth, when the Yanks went down 1-2-3, they managed to see 14 pitches. It all added up, and it exposed a weak Tigers bullpen.

And then there’s the seventh. Oh how sweet was the seventh. After opening the frame with a strike, the Tigers’ 2008 No. 1 pick Ryan Perry had trouble finding the plate. It’s not a good day when you walk Melky Cabrera on four pitches. With runners on first and second with none out Girardi decided to nix the double play and have Molina sacrifice. That’s not normally a good move with Ramiro Pena to follow, but Jorge Posada toughed out his sore hammy and hit a strange sac fly/error combination to plate two runs. He looked pretty bad in the at bat, and the ball should have been caught, but it plated runs and that’s what the Yanks needed. Little did they know it was only a prelude to a drubbing.

In fact, let’s relive the seventh via the play-by-play:

That’s two Melky Cabrera walks, two appearances on base for Nick Swisher, and, of course one grand slam by Jose Molina, an absolute bomb to left-center. Like Varitek on Saturday, Molina cheated fastball and it paid off. While the Tek homer still hurts a bit, comparing him to Molina dulls the pain a bit.

With the win in hand we can now look forward to tomorrow night when Joba Chamberlain faces 20-year-old Rick Porcello. His full name: Fredrick Alfred Porcello. That is a fine sounding name. Hopefully he pitches like Ryan Perry.

P.S. Teixeira had better get a hit tomorrow, or he knows what’s going to be waiting for him at the Stadium on Thursday.

Categories : Game Stories
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Last night, while Twittering about the game, Ross from New Stadium Insider posed the following question:

Can someone get the following stat for me: Yankee pitcher’s ERA with Posada behind the plate (and # of innings) vs. when Molina catches?

Always up for a run through Baseball Reference, I obliged. The findings were not pretty. Counting last night’s game, Jorge Posada has caught 105 innings, and Yankee pitchers have a 7.97 ERA in those innings.

There is one caveat though. Posada has caught all six of Chien-Ming Wang‘s innings. Since Wang has been epically bad, it’s not fair to Jorge to saddle him with those runs. So Jorge has caught 99 non-Wang innings and has seen his pitchers surrendered 70 runs. That’s an ERA of 6.36.

On the other side of the ball is Jose Molina. The Yanks’ defensive specialist has caught 58.1 innings this year, and pitchers are throwing to the tune of a 3.09 ERA. That’s a rather stark difference.

Now, these numbers suffer from an obvious sample size problem. Jorge’s 100 innings are far to small a sample to judge his catching, and Jose’s numbers in fewer innings are equally as suspect.

Right now, though, with the Yanks’ pitchers going as they’ve been going, it’s hard not to notice the difference. Pitching to Jorge Posada, the Yanks’ staff has been absolutely horrible; pitching to Jose Molina, the Yanks have among the best ERA in baseball.

What this means right now for the Yankees is nothing. The Yanks need Jorge’s bat in the line up, but they also need him to draw some semblance of success out of his pitchers. For now, is too early to draw any conclusions, but this is certainly a trend worth watching.

Categories : Analysis
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The Jorge Posada problem

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While the Yankees are dealing with injuries that have shelved their number one starter and starting DH, they’re also attempting to handle the Jorge Posada situation. Posada, suffering from a shoulder heading to surgery, is no longer a viable option behind the plate this year. He’s thrown out just 7 of 39 would-be base stealers and can’t command the running game. His back up — Jose Molina — has thrown out an astounding 25 of 52 attempting basestealers but has a pathetic OPS+ of 48. Jack Curry checked in with Posada and Joe Girardi today and finds that Posada is frustrated with his shoulder but won’t have the surgery sooner. The Yanks need Jorge’s bat, but they can’t afford to stick him behind the plate. How Joe Girardi handles this over the next few months will go a long way in determining the Yanks’ success this season.

Categories : Asides
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Hava Molina!

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PeteAbe passed along a rather impressive statistic yesterday: when Jose Molina threw Jacoby Ellsbury out trying to steal second in the 5th inning yesterday, it was the 10th consecutive would-be base stealer that Molina has gunned down. Despite being a backup for most of the year, Molina has thrown out a league leading 22 base stealers, good for 47.9%, which also leads the league. Just imagine if he didn’t have a .572 OPS.

Categories : Asides
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