From Jon Heyman (SI):
It’s become obvious that Jose Molina is CC Sabathia‘s personal catcher, though no one’s admitted it yet. Sabathia, by the way, hit 98 on the gun Sunday night. He gets better as he goes, it seems. While he’s supposedly not having a great year, he leads the AL in wins with 15.
Earlier today, I was asked why it was a problem to have A.J. Burnett and Jose Molina work together from now on. My initial response was exactly what Heyman has written here—that Molina is already someone’s everyday catcher and that someone is CC Sabathia. Since the calendar flipped to August, CC and Molina have worked together more often than Jorge and CC have worked together. In 5 games this month, Molina has caught CC 4 times, while Jorge has caught CC once. Based on the sheer number of times the two—CC and Molina—have worked together, it’s easy to say that CC and Molina are battery mates for the rest of the season. CC has also won each of those starts, which helps that argument. In fact, that’s what I was going to say to the person who asked about Burnett and Molina (if Molina catches both Burnett and CC, then what’s Posada’s job, really).
However, then I took a look at the one start CC and Jorge worked together in Oakland this month. In that start, CC pitched 8 strong innings, giving up only 2 ER on 5 hits. He also struck out 7 and walked one. That’s a terrific start and, believe it or not, it came without Jose Molina behind the plate. Because of this, I actually believe that CC’s “personal catcher” is whoever is available on a given day, depending on their playing time (if Jorge needs a rest, Molina gets it, and if he doesn’t, he gets it). In fact, the CC-Molina situation may just be a coincidence.
Based on what we’ve seen this month, especially with Molina catching most of CC’s starts, it’s easy to say that Molina is helping CC become dominant and therefore, he is and should continue to be CC’s personal catcher. CC’s K/9 is on the rise while his BB/9 has fallen dramatically. But, as we all know, CC really loves the month of August and has historically been an unbeatable force at this point in the season. For that reason, I don’t think we can really attribute CC’s dominance to Jose Molina (and he was dominant against Oakland with Posada receiving him). At this point, I think you could put Derek Jeter behind the plate and watch CC carve up a lineup. He’s just that good right now.
In addition, earlier in the year, it was evident that CC had been dealing with mechanical issues and his command was a bit off (he said as much a few weeks ago). He was walking too many people and wasn’t striking out as many. During that time, Jorge Posada was catching most of his starts and, while CC was effective, the mechanical issues seemed to hinder him from reaching his full potential. However, he has since corrected that flaw (he did it during the Chicago game on the 2nd). Essentially, Posada wasn’t catching the best CC Sabathia, as that Sabathia has appeared in the month of August. Coincidentally, Jose Molina has been at the forefront for most of those games. If you didn’t know about the mechanical adjustment, it would be easy to evaluate the CC-Posada duo as the weaker one while holding up the CC-Molina duo as the stronger of the two when that’s not necessarily the case.
In the end, I don’t think CC Sabathia has a personal catcher. I think Molina is getting most of the starts in August because Posada has been unavailable on the days CC has pitched (plus, it makes sense to rest him those days because they probably won’t need as much offense). Also, I wouldn’t attribute CC’s newfound August dominance to Jose Molina since it’s an historically demonstrable phenomenon. If Molina catches every one of CC’s starts from hereon in, then maybe I’d think Molina was his personal catcher, but, for now, I don’t think that’s the case.
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