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.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.