Does the Bengie Molina Trade Signal a Giant Push or Fold?

Wesley YeeContributor IJune 30, 2010

By Wes Yee (@WesYee)

The Giants have apparently traded Bengie Molina today, moving their tubby catcher to the Texas Rangers for righthanded reliever Chris Ray and a player to be named later (PTBNL). Ray is a former closer who has struggled with his command since returning from surgery in 2008. His value is limited, and the trade will ultimately be determined by the PTBNL – Texas has a number of exciting young players in the minors and it will be interesting to see which of them is headed west.

This move offers more questions than answers for San Francisco, who was just swept by Los Angeles and is coming off of a brutal homestand that saw them embarrassed by the injured Red Sox and Astros. By moving Bengie, the team’s everyday catcher, the team is either signalling that they are:

Going for it: Trading Molina opens up the catcher spot for top prospect Buster Posey, who has been playing first. The move allows Posey to become the everyday catcher and opens up a spot in the lineup at either first base, which Posey vacates, or left field, where transplanted first baseman Aubrey Huff is putting up a  strong effort.

With Posey at catcher the team can look at first base options including Prince Fielder (who is starting to heat up and hit two home runs Tuesday or perhaps Jorge Cantu. The team could also look at outfielders, Coco Crisp, David DeJesus and Scott Podsednik would bring good defense and some speed, while Jermaine Dye and Corey Hart could bring some pop. Adding a major bat would inject some life into an offense based around beleaguered third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

Packing it in: San Francisco just got swept by their biggest rival, saw their ace pounded for four runs in three innings and has fallen to fourth place. Moving Molina gets Posey everyday action and is a move to build for the future. The team could look at moving the useful Huff, Juan Uribe and perhaps the resurgent Pat Burrell. Huff is the one with most value and will be a free agent after the season. Uribe has been useful and could be a great utility guy for a contender. Either could net useful prospects for a system that has graduated its top guys in Posey and Bumgarner.

Trading for Fielder or another free agent to be would be a desperation move that would cost the team prospects that it can’t afford to lose. It would also force the team to likely extend the acquisition, or risk losing them to free agency at the end of the season. The team would be best off holding their prospects and signing a free agent in the offseason.

So what do you think? Is Brian Sabean calling it quits for 2010? It would be the earliest that a Giants team has sold, and the squad is only 5.5 games out. Or is this the beginning of the playoff push and will we see a big name hitter acquired?