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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Blue Jays - Signed Molina

Toronto Blue Jays - Signed C Bengie Molina to a 1-year contract.

This one comes in at $4.5 million for 2006 with a $500,000 buyout if the $7.5 million option for 2007 isn’t picked up.  Molina’s another unhappy user of the Jody Reed Hardball Negotiations handbook, going from a 3-year, $18 million offer with the Mets before the Lo Duca trade to this 1-year, $5 million deal with the Blue Jays.  Another year isn’t going to get Molina that money - he’s too old for that to happen and given his growth pattern, his Pop Tart-infused buttocks will need two first class seats by the start of the 2007 season.  Molina isn’t a major upgrade over Zaun, but he has more power, which the Blue Jays can always use, and is a very good defensive catcher as long as the plays involve him not having to do that whole “movement” thing.  Only a single season makes this a good signing for the Jays.

2006 ZiPS Projection - Bengie Molina
————————————————————————————-
AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG
————————————————————————————-
398 43 117 20 0 14 64 22 38   0 .294 .332 .450

Dan Szymborski Posted: February 07, 2006 at 07:48 PM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 07, 2006 at 08:26 PM (#1853653)
There's definitely a running joke about Bengie Molina and Pop Tarts that I'm not in on. Anyone want to enlighten me?
   2. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: February 07, 2006 at 09:54 PM (#1853816)
Looks like Guillermo Quiroz is toast.
   3. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 07, 2006 at 10:06 PM (#1853841)
Only a single season makes this a good signing for the Jays.

Come on, Dan, that's a great hitting projection. His defense is a little below average and his baserunning is a problem (but it's mitigated because his position is awful as a general rule) and this is a move that costs the Jays money that would almost certainly be lining the owners' pockets.

The only possible downside is if Molina is worse than Zaun. I don't think he is. This is a no-brainer for any GM.
   4. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: February 07, 2006 at 11:00 PM (#1853922)
Quiroz, frankly, is probably not yet ready and is out of options.

I like this deal - decent/solid hitter, plus glove (catchers, after all, rarely have to move), reasonable terms. Thumbs up. (Granted, the contrarian in me asks how much better Molina is than Jason Phillips if Jason's arm returns to its pre-'05 form, but I'm a Phillips apologist.)

Not to be dense, but as for "Only a single season makes this a good signing for the Jays", it's a team option, right? So, if it lasts one season than it may well have not been a good deal for the Jays (since they elected not to pick up the option), whereas it likely a good deal in at least year 1 if they choose to pick it up.
   5. akrasian Posted: February 07, 2006 at 11:51 PM (#1853994)
That OBP projection is optimistic. Before last season, he'd never put up an OBP higher than .318 (and has a .309 for his career). For that matter, before last season's .295 batting average he'd never hit above .281. Does Zips really think that he'll keep virtually all of last year's improvement?

Color me skeptical.
   6. akrasian Posted: February 07, 2006 at 11:55 PM (#1853997)
Oh, and I'm very happy that the Blue Jays outbid the Dodgers for Molina. The Dodgers' pursuit of him was idiotic, with Navarro in the majors and Martin a step behind.
   7. Horace Clark Posted: February 08, 2006 at 12:14 AM (#1854024)
BP projects a much more modest 270/309/403 line (not yet adjusted for Toronto, I assume). This strikes me as a tad pessimistic but much more in line with his lifetime numbers and his age/weight issues.
   8. Dirty Tom Rackham Posted: February 08, 2006 at 01:16 AM (#1854079)
The option is a mutual option.
   9. DCW3 Posted: February 08, 2006 at 01:17 AM (#1854081)
That OBP projection is optimistic. Before last season, he'd never put up an OBP higher than .318 (and has a .309 for his career). For that matter, before last season's .295 batting average he'd never hit above .281. Does Zips really think that he'll keep virtually all of last year's improvement?

Keep in mind that he's also moving to a much better hitting environment than he's ever played in before.
   10. akrasian Posted: February 08, 2006 at 02:07 AM (#1854148)
But the biggest difference between the parks is hrs. Toronto isn't that much better for hits, and is listed as even Anaheim (or whatever you want to call it) for walks, according to the park factors that Dan has posted.

Last year was such an outlier for Molina's OBP, and seemed to be driven largely by an unusually high batting average by his standards. I think it rather unlikely that will happen next year. Now, that doesn't mean he'll be a terrible hitting catcher - the bar is set rather low, after all, and he should have above average power for the position. But I'd expect him to make a bunch of outs along the way.
   11. the guy Posted: February 08, 2006 at 06:53 PM (#1854782)
This is all about situational hitting.
   12. mr. man Posted: February 08, 2006 at 07:47 PM (#1854844)
molina will also gain more of a platoon advantage...zaun will only play against righties so molina will get pretty much every AB against the lefty pitchers...last year jose molina and josh paul took 34 lefty atbats that could've gone to bengie...who had an OPS of 1.077 against southpaws.

as a note zaun is one of those rare true switch hitters who actually has no platoon split. can anyone enlighten me as to why so many catchers switch hit? i've always wondered about that.
   13. _ Posted: February 08, 2006 at 08:11 PM (#1854884)
why so many catchers switch hit


I have a theory. Catchers are by nature players who need to obtain any advantage they can to get to the big leagues. One of those is to become a catcher, another is to switch hit. Of course there are exceptions, like Joe Mauer, but I think most big-league catchers were not drafted as catchers; they were encouraged to don the gear in order to stay in the game. The same is true of switch-hitters. Great switch-hitters like Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams are rare exceptions; most switch-hitters are the lighter hitters just trying to gain an advantage. Most great hitters don't need to switch-hit.
   14. If theres a bunt w'all remember twas back in ol 92 Posted: February 08, 2006 at 08:14 PM (#1854888)
I haven't heard a lot of this kind of talk here, but over on battersbox there's a lot of talk of Molina in a prime position for a decline after his career year, which makes a lot of sense.

But no one seems to be taking into account Zaun's (god bless him) probable decline as a 34-5 year old.

I was just wondering
Who do you rather have, a 29 year old coming off a career year, or a 34 year old (admittedly one who hasn't been catching full time throughout his career) but still....it's 5 years!
   15. akrasian Posted: February 08, 2006 at 08:35 PM (#1854926)
You're a year and a half off on Molina. He turned 31 last July (making last year his age 30 season.

But I don't know if anybody thinks that the Jays aren't better off with Molina AND Zaun available. The question is, was there a better way for them to spend the money this season - say, by picking up insurance for right field for instance.
   16. mr. man Posted: February 08, 2006 at 09:06 PM (#1854981)
i'd say picking up a RF just wasn't possible...niether sosa or hidalgo has incredible upside...certainly i'd take hidalgo over rios/hinske this year but molina fills a greater need. asking zaun to catch 110-130 games seems a lark, and quiroz/phillips is not a thrilling backup catcher. There is no chance that those two would outperform molina this year--it's very possible that rios/hinske will do better than hidalgo or sosa this season.

ALSO if the jays are in contention late in the season it seems they'd have an easier time adding a RFer than a catcher...though i haven't put any thought into this. it does seem they could get their hands on an aubrey huff, to throw one name out there, if they feel it'd be the difference down the stretch. for the time being, they've got guys to try in RF...let's see how they do.
   17. Jonny German Posted: February 09, 2006 at 06:56 PM (#1856176)
most switch-hitters are the lighter hitters just trying to gain an advantage.

The theory generally sounds good, but I've never heard of a player learning to switch-hit after he's been drafted. Are little league coaches able to identify the guys who figure to be marginal but not good major leaguers, and advise them to learn to switch-hit? Given that major league teams are unable to consistently peg major leaguers coming out of college, that seems like a huge stretch. Maybe a lot of kids switch hit until college or until they're drafted, at which point it's more apparent what type of player they are and they can drop the switch-hitting if it's not helping their chances.

But no one seems to be taking into account Zaun's (god bless him) probable decline as a 34-5 year old.

Two things make me optimistic that Zaun will decline less than the average 35-year-old catcher: a) low mileage b) he's a recovered alcoholic - this is a handy way to explain away '02 and '03.
   18. SABRJoe Posted: February 09, 2006 at 07:21 PM (#1856216)
Molina is not happy...

"The way they let me go without a notice, without calling me, that said a lot," the catcher said Thursday, three days after agreeing to a $5 million, one-year contract with Toronto. "That's what really hurts me."
   19. Boomer Posted: February 09, 2006 at 07:51 PM (#1856263)
but I've never heard of a player learning to switch-hit after he's been drafted.

Tons of guys are taught to switch hit in the minors, Mariano Duncan is an example, Shane Victorino from the Phillies is a current example. I am sure there are dozens others if not hundreds over the past 30 years.
   20. 1k5v3L Posted: February 09, 2006 at 07:54 PM (#1856269)
The New York Mets spoke with Bengie Molina in November and offered an $18 million, three-year contract.

...

"I took a lot less money to come over here for a reason, and that's to win," Molina said.




Obviously, Minaya's street spanish lexicon doesn't contain the word "winner"...
   21. Randomly Fluctuating Defensive Metric Posted: February 10, 2006 at 03:04 AM (#1856986)
Eddie Murray and Bernie Williams also learned to switch hit in the minors. That's crazy.
   22. John Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: February 10, 2006 at 05:28 AM (#1857180)
Switch-hitting catchers... in addition to the point that weaker hitters are often encouraged to switch-hit (which is certainly true) and the point that catchers are often less physically talented, hardworking players with a good head for baseball and therefore good candidates to learn and work at switch-hitting (an excellent idea that may well prove true) I'd offer the following:

(1) all catchers are righthanded
(2) the vast majority of righthanded players bat righty as well
(3) because of the demanding nature of the position, catchers are more prone to being platooned than players at any other position
(4) because there's a need for LH-hitting catchers, professional teams will both create and advance those players who fill that need
(5) instead of trying to find B-L T-R players and turning them into catchers (hard to do) teams take the pass of less resistance by teaching catchers to switch-hit
   23. Christi Chung Posted: February 10, 2006 at 04:00 PM (#1857399)
I am always wondering why certain positions must be right-handed. In my mind, a lot of them could as well be fielded by left-handed, but just use a little different positioning and throwing tactic. Is it because these are too hard and most team won't even try it?

What strikes me the most is that why catcher should be right-handed. I don't think there is anything disadvantageous for being a left-handed catcher...
   24. Craig in MN Posted: February 10, 2006 at 04:23 PM (#1857428)
Christi:

I asked the same question a couple months ago in this thread. There's a lot of interesting discussion of a lot of factors that could explain why there aren't left handed catchers, but you have to wade through a bunch of other catcher defense posts to read it. The catcher defense posts are interesting too, though.

I came to the conclussion that it isn't impossible, but there are a lot of small things that are harder for a left handed catcher that make it hard to be an elite catcher and be left handed. Plus if you can throw left handed with a strong enough arm to be a catcher, most coaches will turn you into a pitcher.
   25. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: February 15, 2006 at 10:21 AM (#1862685)
If every Little League and other youth league team in the country had access to a left-handed catcher's mitt, then we'd see a left-handed throwing catcher. But most never get a chance to learn the position, and by HS/College most coaches aren't willing to let a guy try a new position out--especially if he's the team's best player (which presumably a future major leaguer would be). Consequently, left-handers with strong arms become either outfielders or pitchers.
   26. akrasian Posted: February 15, 2006 at 06:04 PM (#1862943)
Do they even make left handed catchers' mitts? Or would they have to be custom made?
   27. Oggman Posted: February 16, 2006 at 02:44 PM (#1864279)
Do they even make left handed catchers' mitts? Or would they have to be custom made?

I assume they make them, growing up my team had one that was part of the kit we got from the league I played in. I guess it could have been a custom job that someone donated, but I doubt it.
   28. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: February 20, 2006 at 05:04 PM (#1869268)
Is there something about the way the throws naturally tail from a left-handed catcher that would make them go away from the runner instead of towards him . . . I always thought that was the biggest detriment to the LHC . . . we're talking split seconds making the difference on throws to 2B, I'd imagine that could make a huge difference.
   29. Quinton McCracken's BFF Posted: March 01, 2006 at 04:15 AM (#1879088)
my manager in little league had a left-handed catcher's mitt... I hated warming up, felt so wrong.
   30. MM1f Posted: March 01, 2006 at 04:24 AM (#1879094)
"(2) the vast majority of righthanded players bat righty as well"

More righty throwers hit lefty than lefty throwers hit righty
   31. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 01, 2006 at 06:05 AM (#1879174)
More righty throwers hit lefty than lefty throwers hit righty

Yet another reason why Rickey Henderson was such a unique ballplayer.
   32. mr. man Posted: March 01, 2006 at 08:30 AM (#1879282)
i hit right and throw left. there are actually plenty of lefthanded people who hit right. why?

1. lefthandedness is less dominant than righthandedness. Lefties tend to ambidexterity, and will do some things righthanded, for example i throw a baseball left but a football right, a frisbee right etc...

2. lefthandedness is a disadvantage in the field, because the most athletic lefties (henderson, bonds etc) have to play premium-offense positions (outfield, first) if they're not pitching. when you think about it, bonds and rickey might've been shortstops if they were right-handed. thus light hitting t-l/b-r players can't make it to the bigs on the strength of their glove the way lighthitting righty throwers do. With that in mind, think of the best defensive outfielders in the league...large numbers of them are left-handed, because they'd have been infielders if they threw right.

3. righthanded hitting is a disadvantage. leftys who hit right lose pretty much all the advantages of their handedness if they hit right, and thus must be as good as a righthanded player to make it.

as a note, lance berkman is one of the rare leftys who switch hits. most switch hitters (i suppose all-non berkman switch hitters, i'm pretty sure he's the only one) throw right.
   33. If theres a bunt w'all remember twas back in ol 92 Posted: March 02, 2006 at 05:12 PM (#1880930)
Cool
I feel special...

I was a left handed catcher in Little League
PLUS I bat right handed

TWO specialnesses for me!

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