Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Reality Of Bengie Molina

  • Divergent reactions to the Mets "loss" of Bengie Molina:

In general, the Mets have become fodder for ridicule regardless of what they do even if it's not their fault. From the Carlos Beltran-surgery controversy to everything that's gone on in the past three years, they've become a convenient punchline on the receiving end of cheap shots by those who haven't the imagination nor the capacity to come up with something accurate or clever.

Strangely, such has not been the case with the drawn out negotiations/waiting game the club played with Bengie Molina which resulted in Molina spurning the Mets hard-line offer of one-year plus an option to return to the Giants on a one-year contract. Reaction has run from the usual laughter at the perceived shambolic nature of the Mets to the sentiment that the Mets were lucky that Molina chose the Giants instead----with very little in-between.

In truth, Molina appears to be one of those players who's always flirted around the Mets, but wound up elsewhere for one reason or another. It happened after 2005 when the Mets put identical offers on the table for Molina and Ramon Hernandez----both rejected----and instead of negotiating, turned around and traded for Paul LoDuca. Molina was forced to take a 1-year deal with the Blue Jays.

It happened again this winter as Molina seemed to be such a perfect fit for a team that needed a veteran catcher who could handle the pitching staff and would hit enough so as not to be a total liability; but Molina wanted three guaranteed years from the Mets.

That wasn't happening.

Then he wanted two years.

No dice.

Their offer was one year and an option. That's it.

Even with the Mets offer at $5 million guaranteed for 2010, Molina chose to return to his comfort zone of San Francisco for less money, in a slightly easier division and a more stable situation than to join the Mets. And it's fine.

It became increasingly clear from the 2005 contract talks and what went on this winter that Molina was looking to the Mets for a big payday; and the Mets, to their credit (and whether anyone wants to admit it or not) set a price they felt was fair for Molina, didn't panic and stuck to it even if it meant losing out on a player they wanted. Overpaying for players who weren't totally invested in being a member of the Mets is exactly what's gotten them in trouble in the past and it's a positive sign that they refused to cave into Molina's demands.

The truth about Molina is that he's not as bad as everyone is saying. He can still handle a pitching staff (back-to-back Cy Young Awards for Tim Lincecum is a pretty good addition to one's resume); he has some pop in his bat; he can still throw; and he's a well-liked guy. He's slow; but he was always slow. He's fat; but he was always fat. Is he a player upon whom the Mets should be lamenting that they "lost"? No.

As I said months ago, if Molina wasn't invested personally in being a Met; if he wanted to join the club to get paid; if he was always keeping an eye on the circumstances in San Francisco to return, then let him go back there and move on. It's not like the Mets just lost Mike Piazza's bat or Yadier Molina's defense. For a team that's been savaged for overpaying for aging veterans, ripping on the Mets for not doling a 2-3 year contract on a player who'll be 36 in July is second guessing for the sake of it with no basis in reality.

So, what's next for the Mets?

They're said to be pondering spending the money they had earmarked for Molina on extra pitching, which is a great idea; but going with some combination of Omir Santos, Henry Blanco and Chris Coste behind the plate is risky. I've been pushing for them to make a move on Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit for months, but it's never even been mentioned as a possibility anywhere that I've seen; but no one had discussed LoDuca at all before the Mets swung that deal in 2005, so who knows what they're thinking?

The easier thing to do would be to sign Yorvit Torrealba or Rod Barajas. Barajas has more power and is a better thrower; but Torrealba handles his pitching staffs very well and is well-liked. A big plus is that Torrealba kills the Phillies and has had numerous big hits in the playoffs. I'd feel comfortable going with a combination of Torrealba/Blanco/Coste if I were the Mets as long as they get another bat. A lack of power is repeatedly mentioned with the types of names still available for the Mets, but that works both ways; if they didn't have any power before, said lack of power won't be affected negatively by Citi Field.

One bat I'd look at as a complement to Daniel Murphy is Xavier Nady.

Pitching and a defensive specialist behind the plate is what the Mets should focus on.

Speaking of which, they're supposedly very interested in John Smoltz. Smoltz can still pitch and if he's coming out of the bullpen, that could be a big win; on the same token, the importing of a veteran Brave in Tom Glavine produced middling results; but I have great respect for Smoltz----a proven winner and post-season money pitcher. I'd do it.

  • The one interesting arbitration hearing:

Unless the financial award precipitates a player being put on the trade market, I have almost no interest whatsoever in the arbitration process; but there's always one or two offers/submissions that pique my interest. Last year, it was Ryan Howard; this year, it's Tim Lincecum.

Lincecum, the twice running NL Cy Young Award winner and arguably the best pitcher in baseball, asked for $13 million; the Giants countered with $8 million. One would think that there's room to come to an agreement in there at around $10.5 million and the chance at a long-term contract extension; but if Lincecum has his heart set on $13 million and the Giants want to wait and see about his durability into his mid-20s, this could go to the table.

Speculating on an arbitration hearing is a waste of time because no one can know where they're going to go, but if I had to bet, I'd say that the Giants would win a hearing. Jumping from $600,000 to $13 million----even for a two-time Cy Young winner----is a gigantic leap that's hard to believe will happen. We'll see.

  • Viewer Mail 1.20.2010:

John Seal writes RE Bengie Molina:

Prince, with Bengie Molina re-signing with the Giants, it looks like your 74% accuracy rate has taken a hit. Frankly, I think the Metropolitans dodged a bullet: Bengie is just about ready to join AARP and he couldn't beat Dave Parker in a foot race. Which, of course, makes him a mouth-watering proposition for Brian Sabean.

I'd kinda hedged on Molina. When I did my Giants hot stove preview, I mentioned that there was the chance he'd return if they didn't think Buster Posey was ready, which they evidently don't. I'd give Molina more of a break than others have. As I said before, he still calls a good game and Lincecum and Matt Cain are comfortable with him. The Giants will be more than the sum of their parts this year.

One funny thing I heard was "Barry Zito credited Molina...." Credited him for what?

Jeff (Underboss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Red Sox:

Ah, yes, the Red Sox whine-fest continues. I'm pretty numb to it all now, though I have to say I thought it would all end in 2004.

I was wrong.

And I have a feeling it'll be a looooooong time before the old schoolers let Bonds/Clemens in.

It's one thing to let Bay leave, but why slime him after he's gone? I don't get it.

With the Hall of Fame, I really don't know what's going to happen with Bonds/Clemens. The sentiment is hard to grasp; possibly because not even a huge chunk of voters know what they'll do. Both are Hall of Famers. Keeping them out would be wrong.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Jason Bay:

Jason Bay is a jewel thief. LOL! I guess Nomar, Pedro and Damon are too. They all got dissed after leaving Boston.

That stuff can't be lost on the other players. And I'm wondering if his shoulders, knees and horrendous defense inhibit his take when he goes on a heist.

Joe at Statistician Magician writes:

The Red Sox aren't exactly working on a budget this season. They will invest about $160 million into the payroll. And they have spent about $33 million on Lackey, Cameron, and Beltre this off-season. A lot of money comes off after the season though in Ortiz, Lowell, and Lugo.

The budget stuff was sarcastic to a point; but I love how they cry about financial constraints with that amount of money invested; and Joe, do you think it's right that they're planting all this stuff in anticipatory self-defense of the decision to let Bay leave and go with the idea of defense over offense?

Taking the high road and saying, "we made a decision and that's it." isn't a bad thing. Why keep coming out with this stuff? Why?

Gabriel (capo) writes RE the Pirates:

Let's form a group to manage the Pirates: Joe in charge of the stats, Jeff and I in charge of scouting, Jane as the PR consultant and Paul as the GM. Maybe we could get them in contention in 6 years.

I might murder Joe (or at least hit him over the head with a paperweight) if I had to deal with him and his stats on a daily basis, but I'm willing to give it a shot. The Pirates could use my kind of jolt.


Jeff said...

I like the way Gabriel thinks. I'll start working my magic... besides, if we pool are money, I'm sure we could come up with the couple hundred dollars the Pirates are actually worth.

I applaud the Mets for sticking to their guns on their offer to Molina. They may be a punchline, but they're nowhere near the laughingstock that is the Chicago Cubs.

Jeff said...

*our* money... duh.

She-Fan said...

Smoltz a proven winner? His stint with Boston was not a happy one. He was throwing batting practice there. Maybe he's a proven winner in the NL only.

Joe said...


Or maybe he's just old.

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