Bengie Molina: Back on the Giants

A partial transcript of a fictitious press conference that hasn't happened yet:

Reporter #1: How many RBI will Bengie Molina bring back to the Giants?

Sabean: Oh, there’s no question that he’ll bring a bunch of RBI back. He had them neatly packed and hanging in a garment bag, ready to leave, and we weren’t going to be able to replace them. You say we signed a player; I say we signed a bag of RBI that can also manage a pitching staff. It’s a coup for this offense.

Reporter #2: If Bengie Molina is such an integral part of a successful lineup, why do you think he couldn’t find anything close to the contract he was seeking?

Sabean: …

Reporter #2: …

Sabean: …

Reporter #3: In your opinion, why wasn’t Buster Posey ready to be a starting catcher?

Sabean: Well, it’s a complicated position -- the on-field general, really -- and we weren’t sure if Posey was ready to call a good game.

Reporter #3: Couldn’t Bochy call a game from the dugout if that’s such a huge problem?

Sabean: …

Reporter #3: Uh…

Sabean: Bruce has better things to do with his time in the dugout.

Reporter #3: What would Posey do that would make his game-calling so poor? Would he call fastballs down the middle on 3-2 counts? Would he ask Tim Lincecum to throw a three-seam fastball? Did the San Jose Giants or Fresno Grizzlies have instances of bizarre pitches being thrown in crucial situations?

Sabean: The majors are a whole other ball of wax, and at the end of the day, Buster wasn’t ready.

Reporter #1: Bengie Molina had the 2nd-worst on-base percentage in the National League last year, and when he does get on base, he’s the slowest player in baseball. He’s also in awful shape, and he’s going to be 35. Even if we accept the argument that he’s a positive influence on the pitching staff compared to a cheaper free agent, or when compared to what Buster Posey would do, do you think he will improve the Giants’ efforts to score runs?

Sabean: See, that’s just selectively plucking your data points. He was 54th in the league in batting average, and 33rd in RBI. So, yes, he will help the offense.

Reporter #1: Do you think that he’ll continue to get the same number of RBI when he’s not hitting cleanup?

Sabean: Of course, those are the RBI that he’s creating. Why wouldn’t they stay the same? He’s a run producer. So his RBI will just move to a lower spot in the order, which makes this lineup even stronger.

Reporter #3: Do you think that Bengie gives the Giants a chance to score more runs than Buster Posey would, and why?

Sabean: It’s a no-brainer. Of course. Molina is a proven RBI man, and all Posey has done is hit well in the upper minors. We wouldn’t know how Posey would hit until he received playing time in the majors, and we certainly aren’t going to give him playing time in the majors until we know how he’ll hit. That’s how most teams operate, I’m sure. So when you get a chance to add a proven run producer over an unknown quantity, you jump at it.

Reporter #4: What do you think of Beethoven?

Sabean: Great. Especially his poems.

laughter

I had already resigned myself to the idea that the Giants were going to sign a catcher like Rod Barajas or Yorvit Torrealba, neither of whom are much better than Molina. And I’m actually fine with the idea that Posey should be eased into the starting job; he’s young, and catching is a heckuva strain on the body. If Posey was really worn down after the Hawaiian League, spring training, the minors for a full season, sitting on the bench in the majors, and the Arizona Fall League, maybe it’s not a bad idea to let him ease into the job.

What kills me about this move is: a) I think the Giants really believe that Bengie Molina is an above-average hitter, and b) I think the Giants really believe that the difference between the greatest game-caller/pitcher-handler in the catching ranks and the worst game-caller/pitcher-handler is worth several million dollars on a tight budget.

All things being equal, I don’t mind a player with Molina’s résumé hitting toward the bottom of the order while Posey, who would probably be an offensive improvement, hones his craft in a situation that isn’t as physically demanding while keeping his service time down. I just hate the move because I know that’s not the reason the Giants re-signed Molina. They think he’s a good offensive player.

They’re doing cartwheels in the front office because they think they’ve signed a good hitter, and the beliefs that lead to an evaluation like that are why the Giants have been at the bottom of the National League in runs scored for the past five seasons. That’s why I don’t like the move. If Bengie Molina’s name were Mortimer Stankovich, I’d probably be completely indifferent.

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