Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thats right I support Bengie Molina...

I'm not sure what my fellow Mets fans expect, their aren't perfect players out there, everybody has flaws. The negativity is incredible, every player we've been linked to, by many, they've torn apart and when too many days go by without a rumor they tear apart the organization for not being involved...

It appears that eventually Bengie Molina is going to be our starting catcher, and he's probably going to get two years because that's market value. I know Molina has his flaws, that he's a free swinger who will produce a lot of outs and strike outs, while clogging the base path. But I also know some of those complaints will diminish when he's not batting clean-up which is where the Giants were using him.

More importantly I have no problem giving Molina two years at 6MM because of what he provides that can't be measured, that's right game calling. Now before I go on I'd like to show some of you who are rolling your eyes one of the best articles on game calling I have read and just so you don't think I cherry picked it, in the stats they do use Molina is at the bottom of the list, for those who won't read lengthy articles at least read these two paragraphs...

There is generally some truth to commonly held beliefs. If every person who works in baseball or has ever played baseball believes that catcher defense is extremely important, then it probably is. Generally speaking, this many people, over many generations, cannot be wrong. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. Just because we cannot measure an effect does not mean it is nonexistent, and if we must turn to the baseball establishment to gauge its importance, so be it.

And this is what a catcher’s job boils down to—a catcher needs to call the right pitches in the right location to get a batter out. The actual outcome is unimportant in terms of evaluating catcher defense; too much noise in terms of luck and fielding is involved. But if we kept track of this data for every catcher in the major leagues, I bet you would find some large, sustainable differences. You would find that some catchers call a better game than others, and you would be able to say precisely how much that is worth. Using this kind of granular data, we can take the next step in fielding analysis, and it will be a big one, I think. Now someone just has to keep track of this stuff. source Hardball Times

So if Molina's biggest asset is something that can't be measured then how do we prove that it exists, well I'm not willing to crunch numbers on every pitcher who he caught and how he did before and after he left, so I looked for what his former managers had to say. Molina's first manager is considered to be one of the best in the league and a former catcher himself, in the 2005 playoffs Molina's bat was carrying the Angels but Scioscia considered his game calling the most important contribution. Bengie was the catcher on the 2002 World Series championship Angels which featured a rotation of Jarrod Washburn, Ramon Ortiz, Kevin Appier and Arron Sele ( not very opposing).

''Bengie's biggest contribution to our club -- and even the games like he's had the last couple of games driving the ball -- is the 140 or 150 pitches he'll call on a nightly basis,'' Scioscia said. ''That's the biggest input any catcher has on a championship-caliber club, and he's no exception.'' source NY Times 2005

But some of you are going to say that was a long time ago, he's no longer a gold glove caliber catcher, he's slower and less agile, of course he is, but he also received praise in San Francisco from Bruce Bochy another former catcher turned manager, for the same things that were said about him in LA...

"Overall, he's done a damn good job," pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "He was new to the league, and we had a lot of young guys on the staff. It's been a frustrating year for us, and he finds a way to get ready and excited every day. I think (pitchers) sense that he cares, besides his effort out there. They know they could go to him. He carries some respect there."

Perhaps no one appreciates Molina more than manager Bruce Bochy, a former catcher.

"He's been a real pleasure to manage," Bochy said. "He really takes a lot of pride in what he does behind the plate. That's his priority. But if you need a base hit, he'sthe guy you want up there. He's done a tremendous job and is a joy to work with."Molina praised the pitching staff and suggested it's fine as is, from the top of the rotation to new starters Kevin Correia and Jonathan Sanchez to late-inning relievers Brad Hennessey and Brian Wilson.source San Francisco Chronicle

So we all just read the recent article on Mike Pelfrey's anxiety ( source Metsblog), we know how critical John Maine is of himself and who knows what will help Ollie, for this rotation Molina and Blanco are exactly what we need.

I've read a lot of reports about how many fans want to go with Santos or Thole, I don't think either are ready to be in the majors full time. I think Thole needs to get more minor league experience while Santos is a AAAA player. Molina has his own blog and here's how he approached Buster Posey coming up as his future replacement, I hope he could help Thole in the same matter over the next two years...

"Hey, kiddo,'' I said to him, "it's not all about hitting. It's about how those pitchers are throwing the ball and how you're helping them.''

I'm happy to help a kid who might take my job. I want him to have a great career. That's part of what I love about playing baseball - the relationships in the clubhouse, how the veterans can give advice to the young guys, how we help and support each other. That's always been so important to me. I take my role as a mentor very seriously. source Bengie Molina Behind the Mask

But even with all his strike outs and first swing outs he's definitely an up-grade over our starter from last year in Brain Schnieder, who received two years as a back-up in Philly. Here's a comparison of their offensive numbers, with all his warts he's still an upgrade; Molina .265, .285, .442, .727 - Schneider .218, .292, .335, .627. In a year in which he battled injuries and his numbers were down, he still hit for a better average and definitely has more power. Putting him at the bottom of the order to drive in the end of a rally or to turn the pitchers spot over, diminishing the clogging of the bases argument and free swinging concerns.

In addition to Molina's assets I don't feel Rod Barajas is sufficient as a starter and Olivio just isn't good enough defensively for what we need, most of the other catchers are off the market and I'm not willing to trade prospects for a catcher when Molina's available.

Finally for those who have been clamouring for a Lo Duca type personality since he left, take a look at Molina's response to a losing streak in 2007 .

"It's a freakin' embarrassment what we're going through right now, losing so much, being in last place," Molina said. "I don't take that lightly. I don't take it as nothin'. I'm embarrassed. I can't even pick up my head because we're in last place. I can't take it no more.

"I'm freakin' tired of being embarrassed. I just hate losing. I'm sorry. I'm not a big guy on anything else but winning. If nobody likes the way I take it or go about it, come and see me. I just like winning. That's why we're here. source SF Gate