Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Molina Musings

You have to give Benjamin Jose Molina credit, he really does embody the pluck, grit, and fortitude of the "gamer" that Nuke & LarryB so desperately want to sell us. It was quite a display of VSC last night: four hits--two big bombs--and four RBI to lead the Giants past the D-backs for the team's 84th win. Señor Slow gets a lot of grief from me for his free-swinging ways, his mediocre fielding, and his frighteningly-low .285 OBA (an "out-percentage" of 71.5!!). He's slugged .440+ the last two seasons, well over his career average (.418), and a team desperate for offense can't ignore power hitting. Only Juan Uribe (.501) and Pablito (.547)--who had a monster game himself--outrank Ol' No. 1 on the squad. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if Bengie Molina hit 7th I'd love him like a brother. But there is NO WAY this team could realistically expect to win anything with a cleanup hitter whose .307 wOBA puts him in Pedro Feliz territory. Mr. Molina puts us in a quandary, though, as we really can't expect über-prospect Buster Posey to give us 1000 innings and 500 PA next year, can we? If it were my club, I'd throw him out there, and I've said that all along. But--and it's a big but--this version of Giants is a contender. That is not something I calculated. I figured we'd field a competitive team sometime around 2011, once all the old guys were cut loose and some of the young guys matured. Buster will be 23 next season, and it may not be realistic to expect much from him. I think we'll need another catcher to split the duties, somewhat like we did with Brent Mayne and Brian Johnson back in the day. Buster, of course, could prove me wrong and pull a Matt Cain/Tim Lincecum and be ready to roll as soon as he suits up, but that's not the most common scenario for ballplayers, especially in a demanding position like catcher. Bengie didn't get a full-time gig until he was 25, for example. The Giants love Bengie, and will want to lure him back, but will be reluctant (I hope) to give him anything more than a 1-year or 1-year-with-option deal. I don't see Molina wanting to take less or accept a reduced role (and puh-leeeze, no more talk of him "mentoring" Buster--why would a ballplayer cut his own throat by grooming his replacement?). I'm thoroughly ready to say "so long, thanks for the memories" to Molina, and I hope we realize that a 35-year old is not a sound investment. But we will need to find a capable day-to-day guy if Posey isn't ready for prime time. Take a look at the list of free agents and tell me what you think.


Ron said...

This was typical Molina - just when everyone was ready to pull the plug & say "Cheers, thanks for your efforts", he has a big game. In this case, in a completely meaningless game. Don't be fooled by this. The numbers, all of those cited by Mark plus others, are frightening. The indirect impact of his slowness cannot be measured, but is significant.

I say give the job to Buster - period. Molina will not sign on as a back-up, so therefore, Molina will not sign on. On this list of Free Agents, there are plenty of fine back-up Catchers (even a recycled Yorvit Torrealba).

As Mark says, the only other route is signing Molina to a 1-yr deal & batting him 7th (or 8th, if Rowand isn't stuck in that spot). Could Molina handle that ego blow? Can we get a credible #4 hitter in his place (Jason Bay?)? Is it really worth delaying Buster's rise to prominence? I think that Buster will produce immediately.

By the way, has anyone been noticing how totally awesome Dan Runzler has been?

Bob said...

It wasn't a totally meaningless game. The win kept us from being mathematically eliminated. That'll happen today or tomorrow.
Runzler is amazing. I'm probably naive to imagine him as a starter, he's probably been "projected" as a reliever since the 3rd grade, but I always figure if someone's that good why can't he be that good for 6 innings every 5th day?
I have never joined in on the dumping on Molina that seems to part of RMC orthodoxy. I know he looks awful on the stat pages, but he's always been right at the heart of the happy happy fun fun thing that is the 2009 SF Giants. Big Money and Little Money. Molina has more positive intangibles to him than just about any player I can think of.

Bob said...

I almost forgot to do my job and comment on J Sanchez. He did pretty well:
5.2 5 3 3 1 4
Good enough for a win as long as your side scores 4 or more.
He's had a few mediocre starts since his no-no, but no complete meltdowns.
So is he part of our future or new-and-improved trade bait?

Zo said...

Positive intangibles!!! Happy happy fun fun!! I love it. See the SF Chomic yesterday - it strongly suggests that Posey has a lot to learn as catcher about handling pitchers and will not be the starting full time catcher next year. Lincecum is quoted as saying that he did not agree with all of his calls. He did not in any way suggest that those calls were a reason for the outcome. Do not read John Shea today who states an opinion.

I note that the player whose OBA is most often compared to Pedro Feliz, Pedro Feliz, hit a grand slam yesterday. Recent results may not be indicative of future performance. "Why would a ballplayer cut his own throat by grooming his replacement?" Because if he didn't, he would incur the moniker of a clubhouse cancer and shorten his career. A little bochy bird sits on Sabean's shoulder, and my, how those gm's gossip!

So here is an idea that will probably will not please anyone. Get Posey on the big club next year, get a catcher - Molina or someone else and split the duties. Then, have Posey play also split duties elsewhere, like shortstop. He was a shortstop until some recent time, like a year and a half ago. That way, he could get maybe 3/4 of a year of ML at bats and if we could win all of those games, we would be doing OK. He can practice in winter ball and spring training. Could it destroy his fragile ego and will to succeed like it did with Pablo Sandoval?

Yes, Runzler has been awesome.

Zo said...

Bob - you will read a lot of opinion that suggests we trade Sanchez and/or Cain. Although a trade is always dependent on whom you can get in return, I am not in favor of trading either of these guys, nor Lincecum (duh!) nor Zito, on the assumption that he is untradeable without eating a lot of salary. In fact, I think it would be the height of folly. I will expound on these thoughts more after the regular season.

Ron said...

Thanks for the energy there, Zo! I am with you on just about everything.

First of all, I must reiterate, no trading any of our starters. What a stupid thing to do that would be. We have a foundation of strength. Starters also happen to get hurt once-in-awhile, so keeping 4 great-to-good ones around is just the right thing to do. And, somehow, we have to conjure up a #5 starter. Why would we trade Sanchez or Cain for some pud who marginally improves our offense? No way.

Overhaul team management should be the #1 concern this off-season. Then, focus on OBP-type hitters through free agency.

JC Parsons said...

I don't think the split position with Posey will work. Look how quickly they canned that idea with Pablo. Catcher (and SS) require full time focus. I expect Molina to get replaced by a solid backup type (Yorvit would be a good choice) and Buster will get most of the starts. Even if his defense is suspect, he is probably our 3rd or 4th best hitter RIGHT NOW so he must play.
JSanchez has clearly earned the 4th starter role. I doubt we trade him, but if MadBum makes the team in spring that could change. I say give him another full year to see if we have a keeper.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I think JSanchez has proved his worth. I'd like to keep him around. We had two guys this year who haven't missed a start, one R, one L (Cain and Zito). We have the super-ace who missed ONE start--The Franchise. And we have JS, who just logged his 28th start, and has 174 K in 158 IP! I like it.

I don't see Bengie sitting down for a pup-faced 23-year old, and I don't blame him for that. Excessive self-confidence is what makes professional athletes tick. I'm sure he feels he doesn't need to prove himself after 1200+ ML games. Buster, on the other hand, DOES need to prove himself at this level. If Bengie decides that playing Crash Davis to Nuke LaLoosh is not his bag, I respect that.

Jason Bay would be a great pickup.

Bob said...

Ooh I loves me them "Bull Durham" references.
Despite the nice things I may write about Crash Molina, I say put Posey in the starting lineup next year. Keep Whiteside around. He's okay.(I know, lousy stats.)