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.