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

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

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

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

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

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.