Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Starting pitcher M.C. O'Connor
You have to give Benjamin Jose Molina credit, he really does embody the pluck, grit, and fortitude of the "gamer" that Nuke & LarryB so desperately want to sell us. It was quite a display of VSC last night: four hits--two big bombs--and four RBI to lead the Giants past the D-backs for the team's 84th win. Señor Slow gets a lot of grief from me for his free-swinging ways, his mediocre fielding, and his frighteningly-low .285 OBA (an "out-percentage" of 71.5!!). He's slugged .440+ the last two seasons, well over his career average (.418), and a team desperate for offense can't ignore power hitting. Only Juan Uribe (.501) and Pablito (.547)--who had a monster game himself--outrank Ol' No. 1 on the squad. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if Bengie Molina hit 7th I'd love him like a brother. But there is NO WAY this team could realistically expect to win anything with a cleanup hitter whose .307 wOBA puts him in Pedro Feliz territory. Mr. Molina puts us in a quandary, though, as we really can't expect über-prospect Buster Posey to give us 1000 innings and 500 PA next year, can we? If it were my club, I'd throw him out there, and I've said that all along. But--and it's a big but--this version of Giants is a contender. That is not something I calculated. I figured we'd field a competitive team sometime around 2011, once all the old guys were cut loose and some of the young guys matured. Buster will be 23 next season, and it may not be realistic to expect much from him. I think we'll need another catcher to split the duties, somewhat like we did with Brent Mayne and Brian Johnson back in the day. Buster, of course, could prove me wrong and pull a Matt Cain/Tim Lincecum and be ready to roll as soon as he suits up, but that's not the most common scenario for ballplayers, especially in a demanding position like catcher. Bengie didn't get a full-time gig until he was 25, for example. The Giants love Bengie, and will want to lure him back, but will be reluctant (I hope) to give him anything more than a 1-year or 1-year-with-option deal. I don't see Molina wanting to take less or accept a reduced role (and puh-leeeze, no more talk of him "mentoring" Buster--why would a ballplayer cut his own throat by grooming his replacement?). I'm thoroughly ready to say "so long, thanks for the memories" to Molina, and I hope we realize that a 35-year old is not a sound investment. But we will need to find a capable day-to-day guy if Posey isn't ready for prime time. Take a look at the list of free agents and tell me what you think.