Friday, August 21, 2009
Should Giants extend Bengie Molina?Posted by Evan Brunell
Bengie Molina today said that he is hoping for a two-year extension from the San Francisco Giants.
Of course, the problem is that the Giants have top catching prospect Buster Posey waiting for his shot in the minor leagues.
During that time period, he's overseen Tim Lincecum emerge as perhaps the game's most dominant pitcher, Matt Cain solidify his reputation as an elite arm and worked at returning Barry Zito to his former self.
With the Giants, Molina has hit .277/.301/.437 overall while serving most of his time as the club's cleanup hitter. Yes, that says more about the Giants' offense than Molina, but the fact remains that the Giants are a wild-card contender with Molina as a cleanup hitter. Not too shabby.
He is actually having his worst season as a Giant, which could give the team pause in offering a two-year extension. After all, his OBP is .277. His .708 OPS would be his worst since 2002, when he had a .596 OPS.
That .708 OPS ranks him seventh of nine catchers who qualify for the batting title -- more a testament to Molina's durability than his excellence.
Molina's done enough to warrant a two-year pact from a team that needs a catcher, but for the Giants, a one-year deal with a club option for a second makes far more sense.
Posey, 22, currently has a .319/.404/.543 line with Triple-A Fresno in 26 games. His time is near as a full-time starting catcher, but will not make his big-league debut in September, according to general manager Brian Sabean. There's no question Posey will see some time in the bigs next year, though... but under what circumstances?
There are two ways the Giants could go here.
The first is to pass up on Molina and install Posey as the starting catcher from day one, saving money in the short-term to bring in a bat.
The second would be to sign Molina or another catcher as a placeholder for a year, maybe less, while waiting for Posey.
Given that Molina deserves to start for the foreseeable future, he's not a good name for the second option. Bengie Molina should not be asked back to the Giants unless they are fully prepared to start him the duration of the 2010 season.
However, Gregg Zaun could fill the role of placeholder. He's already comfortable doing so, having signed on with the Baltimore Orioles fully aware he was a placeholder for Matt Wieters. He served his use and was moved to Tampa Bay not all that long ago, where he's making more money for himself as a free agent. His production filling in for an inconsistent Dioner Navarro has been sensational and could very well opt to return to Tampa Bay while the Rays try to figure out which Navarro is the real one: 2008 or the rest of his work.
Sticking with Zaun for a moment, he would allow the Giants to bring Posey along on their own schedule (and of course, the schedule would be financially-related) and still not experience a massive dropoff in terms of defensive and offensive production. Going this route would free up more money for the Giants to address their offense, which continues to be a major liability and likely the reason why they will be playing golf in October.
What do you think? Should the Giants bring back Bengie Molina or should Molina depart for greener pastures?
Here are some teams that could fit for Molina: Cincinnati, Milwaukee, New York Mets, Toronto.
Evan Brunell is currently editor of Fire Brand of the American League, a Red Sox blog he began in 2003. He also scores games at Fenway Park for MLB. He was the co-founder and president of MVN, an independent sports media web site.