Angels not done yet (cont.)
Behind the Molina-for-Posada switch
A.J. Burnett threw another nice game with favored catcher Jose Molina behind the plate, allowing three hits and two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. So look for Molina to remain his personal catcher thoughout the postseason. Yankees manager Joe Girardi and Burnett have suggested it was Girardi's call to employ Molina. But of course it comes with Burnett's unspoken (at least publicly unspoken) approval.
A couple of the Yankees' more finicky star pitchers have had issues with Posada before, most notably Randy Johnson, who was eventually caught every game by backup John Flaherty. Others see the benefits of Molina but understand that the team is better off with Posada in the lineup. According to people in the Yankees' clubhouse, the two biggest reasons Molina may be favored by pitchers are 1) game calling (and more specifically, the speed of his game calling), and 2) framing pitches.
Word is that Molina is much quicker than Posada at calling for pitches when there's a baserunner at second base, enabling the pitcher to stay in rhythm, and also much more likely to accept a pitcher's wishes. Posada is seen as slightly stubborn about his opinion of what pitch should be called. Molina is also viewed as one of the best in the league framing pitches, and thus stealing strikes. One pitcher said Molina may steal up to three or four strikes an inning when he's at his best.
The reason Girardi employs Hideki Matsui as his DH over Posada is that Girardi and Yankees higher-ups believe Matsui is a slightly better offensive player. Girardi was merely being diplomatic when he claimed the reason Mastui's getting the starts at DH over Posada the games that Molina catches is because Masui is more accustomed to DHing. That was the p.c. answer, but not the right one.
Girardi presses a lot of buttons
In each of two different playoff games already, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has used eight different pitchers. Perhaps he'd use even more if he wasn't running out of them.
Girardi's playoff style is part Joe Torre and part Tony La Russa, which makes sense since he played for Torre during three victorious World Series and calls La Russa the best tactician he ever played for. La Russa was practically the inventor of the pitching change. And Torre learned early to manage with great urgency in the postseason from Don Zimmer, who's also a mentor of Girardi.
But Girardi has taken the urgency to a whole new level.
Girardi used Joba Chamberlain for only one out in the seventh inning, and he used vaunted closer Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning of a tie game (plus the next two innings, as well). Rivera's 2 1/3-inning outing was the longest of his season.
In the five games, Giarardi has made 19 pitching changes to cover 17 2/3 innings. That's a lot of calls, but a vast majority of Girardi's relief calls have worked.
Long shot Ng interviews in San Diego
New Padres owner Jeff Moorad did the right thing by interviewing Kim Ng, who's worked in some of baseball's better front offices (Dodgers, Yankees and White Sox) and who is hoping to become the first female general manager. Moorad met with Ng over lunch in Newport Beach, Calif., according to people who witnessed the meeting.
However, Ng is still viewed by outside observers as a long shot to get the job. MLB strongly urges teams to consider worthy minority candidates, and with Moorad becoming a new owner, he surely will comply with Bud Selig's wishes.
Ng previously has been interviewed for GM jobs with the Dodgers and Mariners, and baseball insiders don't believe this will be the time for her to break through. Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer is thought to be higher on Moorad's list, and baseball people also believe Moorad will talk to a couple others in the next few days.
Beyond the Ng revelation it's been a fairly secretive process. It is believed that highly-regarded assistant GMs Rick Hahn and David Forst aren't showing interest in leaving their current jobs with the White Sox and A's, respectively. Moorad said in a phone interview that he had no intention of poaching anyone fof his old Arizona team, and a Diamondbacks person confirmed that's the case, meaning Jerry DiPoto is likely staying put.
The Padres played very well in the second half next year, but with the payroll expected to remain in the $40 million range, whoever does get the job has a major challenge on his -- or her -- hands.
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