Monday, October 5, 2009

Whatever is best for AJ Burnett is best for the Yankees

The newspapers are full of stories about Jose Molina catching AJ Burnett in Sunday's baseball game, in what increasingly looks like preparation for him to catch during AJ’s Game 2 or 3 start in the ALDS. The communication problems between AJ and Jorge Posada are well documented. The Daily News does a good job of breaking down the stats, which clearly demonstrate that hitters don’t fare nearly as well against AJ with Molina guiding him through a game.

If the road to victory is paved by good starting pitching, then it’s clear that Molina needs to catch AJ. I know that the whole idea of a personal catcher is repugnant to many baseball fans, but the Yankees have to give themselves the best chance of winning and that is clearly with Molina behind the plate when AJ starts. It does weaken the lineup a bit at the end, with either Posada or Hideki Matsui having to take a seat, but a lineup led by Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez should be able to provide plenty of offense.

It was fun seeing Posada act as manager during Sunday’s game, although it didn’t look like he got to make many decisions. Jorge was the manager by default as most of the other regulars were going to play the last game of the regular season with two full days off before postseason play begins. But it was clear Joe Girardi had a plan for bringing in as many relievers as he could to check out those on the bubble and get Mariano Rivera and Phil Hughes some work to try to keep them sharp for Wednesday’s Game 1. Jorge did get to make the calls to the bullpen—wonder what was said during those conversations! Jorge didn’t even get to do the manager’s postgame interview, which Joe Torre routinely let the acting manager do. It was always comical watching the players sit in their manager’s chair and try to deal with the media.

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