Monday, June 15, 2009

Jorge Posada: Is It Time To Pass The Torch?

As I was watching yesterday's 15-0 beatdown of the Mets, I started wondering if A.J. Burnett would have pitched as well as he did if Jorge Posada were his battery mate instead of Francisco Cervelli. I've heard and read a lot of things over the years about Posada as a catcher. My impression of Jorge is that not everyone is a fan of his ability to call a game. Chalk me up as one of those people. I don't think it's a coincidence that Mike Mussina won 20 games when he primarily pitched to Jose Molina. Randy Johnson pretty much preferred anyone to Posada, using John Flaherty or Kelly Stinnett as his personal catcher. So as I sat and watched Burnett put up 7 scoreless, I decided to pull some stats from this year to see if I was off base. The stats I put together were a little surprising. I'm pretty sure that the numbers are accurate. I did my best to check and double check it for accuracy.Take a look:

Yankees record by starting catcher:

  • Jorge Posada: 15-11 (.577)
  • Jose Molina: 5-8 (.385)
  • Kevin Cash: 5-2 (.714)
  • Francisco Cervelli: 11-6 (.647)

The team is definitely winning more with Cervelli behind the dish. Over 162 games, that would work out to about 12 more wins. I also looked at who was the "catcher of record," meaning who was behind the plate when the team won or lost to see if that changed anything:

  • Jorge Posada: 16-13 (.552)
  • Jose Molina: 4-7 (.364)
  • Kevin Cash: 6-3 (.667)
  • Francisco Cervelli: 10-4 (.714)

Cervelli's winning percentage is the only one that increased, meaning more game where he starts are lost when the back-up catcher comes in. I also broke down each catcher's record by who got the win, a starter or reliever:

  • Jorge Posada: 9-10 rotation/6-1 bullpen
  • Jose Molina: 3-3 rotation/2-5 bullpen
  • Kevin Cash: 3-2 rotation/2-0 bullpen
  • Francisco Cervelli: 7-1 rotation/4-5 bullpen

I find it very interesting that the starters have a losing record with Jorge Posada. Cervelli's record is outstanding with the rotation. Considering how bad the Yankee bullpen has been, I'm surprised that Posada's record when it comes to the pen is so good. I'm taking the guy that kicks ass with the rotation. Cervelli's record with the SPs is pretty impressive. The next set of stats I looked at go a little hand-in-hand with each other. I looked at how many runs per game the Yankees scored based on who was the starting catcher, and what the catcher's ERA was. The catcher's ERA is based on the team's ERA only for when that catcher is catching:

  • Jorge Posada: 5.58 runs per game/cERA of 6.44 (career = 4.44)
  • Jose Molina: 5.38 runs per game/cERA of 3.66
  • Kevin Cash: 6.14 runs per game/cERA of 3.49
  • Francisco Cervelli: 6 runs per game/cERA of 4.18

I was shocked to see that the team scores fewer runs per game with Posada catching than with Cervelli or Cash. I made sure to triple-check that to make sure it was correct. Posada's cERA is absolutely horrendous. It's 2+ runs higher than the next closest. I know that some of that has to do with Jorge catching Wang's 1st 3 starts. If you toss those 3 starts out, Posada's cERA is till ridiculously high at 5.70. Posada is the only one whose cERA is higher than the runs scored per game. His cERa has also climbed every year since 2006. The cERA alone is enough for me to consider other options. Posada is just not getting it done this year. I'm not sure how much of that has to do with catching new pitchers, but if it is, those guys aren't going anywhere.

The last stat I looked at was the percentage of runners they throw out stealing:

  • Jorge Posada: 31.91% of runner caught (career = 28.6%)
  • Jose Molina: 23.53% of runners caught (career = 40.5%)
  • Kevin Cash: 18.18% of runners caught (career = 32.1%)
  • Francisco Cervelli: 37.5% of runners caught (career = 35.3%)

Posada has never been thought of has having a great arm. Maybe in his younger days, but not anymore, especially after going thru his recent injury issues. Speed is becoming a very big part of the game. The Rays lead all of baseball with 105 stolen bases. The Red Sox have the 4th highest number of stolen bases in the AL with 47. Teams are going to be better suited by having a catcher with a good arm behind the plate, especially in the AL East. Cervelli has a leg up on the competition.

I also took a really quick glance at Posada and Cervelli's zone rating, range factor, and fielding percentage. Cervelli's fielding percentage is higher (.993 to .986). Cervelli's zone rating is higher (3.179 to 3.121). Cervelli's range factor is higher (7.93 to 7.90). Cervelli has Posada pretty much beat up and down when it comes to catching. The only thing Jorge has on Cervelli is his bat. No question about that. But is having Jorge's bat in the lineup providing a huge impact? According to their runs/game, it's not. It's also evident that the added offense is only making up for the inferior catching.

And that was pretty much how I spent my Sunday night. I asked in the title of this post, is it time for Jorge to pass the torch? It's evident to me that the team is better off with Cervelli catching. The numbers to me bear that out. Now I know it's not a large sample size and Cervelli doesn't have a lot of time in the majors under his belt, but Cervelli has Jorge beat pretty much up and down the line. Unfortunately, Cervelli playing full-time is probably not in the cards. I have to think once Jose Molina comes back that Cervelli is on his way to Trenton or Scranton. That's a shame. He's playing better than anyone the Yankees have. I understand their hands are tied because it's not like they can just throw Posada at DH. It's something the Yankees need to consider, if not now, for the future. Maybe they can find somebody to unload Matsui on? It would allow Posada to DH more.

The Yankee bullpen is atrocious right now. The team is better off when the SPs go deep into games. Right now the guy getting it done with the SPs is Cervelli. His winning percentage is high. His cERA is pretty good. He cuts down more runners. He's flat out the best option the Yankees have right now. They say pitching and defense wins championships. Right now, I'd take Cervelli over Posada. He's getting the job done. If not in a full-time role, maybe in some kind of a platoon with Posada. What say you? Am I off my rocker?

I wonder who the Yankee pitchers prefer?

Peace, love and Pinstripes,



Anonymous said...

Great Read and very interesting! Thanks. It also seems to me that our starters are stiking out less batters and maybe walking more with posada and it has alot to do with Posada's pitch sequencing/ Calling behind the plate. Is there anyway you can check this out as well?

Anonymous said...

Good post. Posada looked like a deer in headlights when asked why they lost Joba's last start. All he could say was "He didn't have his good stuff." It's long past time that Cervelli was the starting catcher. I don't care if Cervelli's batting .150 - if they are winning with him then he should be the starting catcher.

J-Boogie said...

Thanks! If I get some free time I'll see if i can dig that stuff up. That would take a little more of my time which at times is fleeting.

It'll be interesting to see if Posada catches CC tonight. since, Posada came off the DL, Cervelli has caught CC 3 of his 4 games. Posada has had 2 days off and the Nats are throwing a RHP so no reason to sit Matsui.

Carlos said...

Great post!! I'm happy someone finally saw what i've been seeing for the last 5 years. The guy is great with his bat, but his overall defense is horrendous at best. I'm sorry but his defensive stats are from his early years and stats for the last 5 yrs should be put up.

Everyone that follows the Yankees like I do, have always said the Yankees would be a better team with a true defensive catcher than Posada, why? because he doesn't follow stats, he thinks that all players are going to think like him. Enough said, change catchers PLEASE!!!

J-Boogie said...

Thanks Carlos. I agree that the Yanks would be better off with a better defensive catcher and Posada as the DH. I think the issue is that they still have Matsui and he basically becomes usless when Jorge DHs. I don't think they'll sit Matsui unless they're facing a lefty. Cervelli should at least catch when they face a lefty.