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.
People are the absolute worst sometimes. The latest example: someone stole one of Jose Fernandez’s high school jerseys, which had been displayed in his old high school’s dugout for a vigil last night.
That report comes from Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times who covered the vigil at Alonso High School in Tampa yesterday. Her story of the vigil is here. Today she has been tweeting about the theft of the jersey. She spoke to Alonso High school’s principal who, in a bit of understatement, called the theft the “lowest of the low.”
The high school had one more Fernandez jersey remaining and has put it on display in the school. In the meantime, spread this story far and wide so that whatever vulture who stole it can’t sell it.
In an earlier post I made a joke about the Indians starting Dennis Martinez if forced to play a meaningless (for them) game on Monday against the Tigers. On Twitter, one of my followers, Ray Fink, asked a great question: If you had to hand the ball to a Hall of Fame-eligible pitcher to give you three innings, who would it be?
The Hall of Fame-eligible part gets rid of the recently-retired ringers, requiring a guy who has been off the scene for at least five years, ensuring that there’s a good bit of rust. I love questions like these.
My immediate answer was Mike Mussina. My thinking being that of all of the great pitchers fitting these parameters, he’s the most likely to have stayed in good shape. I mean, Greg Maddux probably still has the best pitching IQ on the planet, but he’s let himself go a bit, right? Mussina strikes me as a guy who still wakes up and does crunches and stuff.
If you extend it to December, however, you may get a better answer, because that’s when Tim Wakefield becomes eligible for the Hall. I realize a knuckleball requires practice to maintain the right touch and subtlety to the delivery, but it also requires the least raw physical effort. Jim Bouton went well more than five years without throwing his less-than-Wakefield-quality knuckler and was still able to make a comeback. I think Tim could be passable.
Then there’s Roger Clemens. I didn’t see his numbers for that National Baseball Congress tourney this summer and I realize he’s getting a bit thick around the middle, but I’m sure he can still bring it enough to not embarrass himself. Beyond the frosted tips, anyway.
So: who is your Space Cowboys-style reclamation project? Who is the old legend you dust off for one last job?