San Francisco Giants Trade Bengie Molina, Manage to Cash Out on Big Money
The deal for right-handed reliever Chris Ray and the ubiquitous "player to be named later" is pending approval from Major League Baseball's front office, but San Francisco also wired its counterpart $2 million to offset the salary differential.
Unless there's something we're not being told, the swap should go through despite the budgetary concerns as the franchise changes hands.
That's terrific—if somewhat bittersweet—news for Giant fans.
It's a little like ending a relationship with an otherwise ideal girl who is a certifiable maniac. You knew the day was coming before the relationship ever started and you probably stayed on the train long after you should've pulled the emergency brake, but things started so well that there's a little tint of regret.
Of course, the overwhelming relief makes that tint easy to ignore.
Especially because, in this analogy, Buster Posey would be represented by Kim Kardashian (minus the "Will &*#! for fame and/or money" sign) waiting for the rebound.
As I wrote in the linked piece, Big Money was one of the best to strap on shin guards during my tenure as a die-hard for the team. In his four years with the club, he made it very easy to forget just how barren the position had been prior to his arrival.
Since 1987, the team has seen an adored-but-average group pass through the Tools of Ignorance with a minimum of 50 games played.
The collective includes a fading Bob Brenly, Bob Melvin, Terry Kennedy, Kirt Manwaring, the empty shell of Gary Carter, Steve Decker, Craig Colbert (who?), Jeff Reed, Tom Lampkin, Rick Wilkins, Damon Berryhill, Brian Johnson, Brent Mayne, Scott Servais, Bobby Estella, Doug Mirabelli, Benito Santiago, Edwards Guzman, Yorvit Torrealba, A.J. Pierzynski (remove the "adored" bit), Mike Matheny, Eliezer Alfonso, Todd Greene, and Molina.
Some on that noble list had their moments, but only Benito and Bengie were consistently productive while coming through in big situations.
Only Bengie Molina became the heart and soul of the franchise.
Nevertheless, the big fella had long overstayed his welcome.
With the apple of the Gents' eye and catcher-of-the-future Posey ready to assume the starting role, Molina's days were numbered even before he went Big Molasses. Once the bottom fell out of his game, it only expedited the inevitable.
In the analogy, Bengie's performance in 2010 would be the equivalent of the psychotic finding an ex-girlfriend's number in your phone after things had already gotten rocky.
The end that was coming has just arrived.
Considering the doomsday clock that hung over Molina's head, the real news here is that general manager Brian Sabean was able to get something useful in return.
Ray won't be confused with Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman in his prime, but he's no slouch. The former closer saved 33 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2006 and was cobbling together a nice '10 campaign in an ongoing effort to return from 2007 Tommy John surgery.
Before anyone scoffs at his relatively pedestrian line—31 2/3 IP, 3.41 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .205 BAA, .677 OPSA, 4.55 K/9, 1.00 K/BB, and 1.14 HR/9—the context should be noted. Not only were those numbers amassed in the more offensive American League, but you must also account for his home yard.
The Ballpark at Arlington plays like it's been soaked in kerosene.
AT&T Park, on the other hand, plays as if they chose flame retardant as the marinade.
There's a very good chance that Ray will be even more effective in the City's heavy air and spacious confines while facing the National League's more muted lineups. Particularly because his home/away splits already support the proposition, the highlights are a .167 BAA and a .508 OPSA.
Ultimately, however, this is about entering with zero leverage and returning with an asset.
I'll say it again, Bengie Molina's performance had fallen off a cliff. Whether with the leather or the lumber, he was killing "Los Gigantes".
His defense never made the resume as a selling point when he first donned the Orange and Black. It's deteriorated since those days.
Meanwhile, his pop seems to have vacated the premises, which means he's a choking hazard for any offense. His singles are possibly worse than his outs since he clogs up the base-paths.
So good luck finding a spot for him in a batting order that features Elvis Andrus, Julio Borbon, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and Vladimir Guerrero.
Somebody in there is going to be far less effective with Big Money blocking the way.
Most troublesome, this quote from April makes him sound like a bitter and broken man:
"If I had trouble finding a job after five of my best years, what am I supposed to expect...even if I have another good year, I know I cannot expect anything."
And you know what they say about something that looks like a duck and sounds like a duck.
Yet check this reaction from Dallas.
It would take a shocking renaissance for Molina to prove he has "something in the tank" and his own words make such a revival look highly unlikely.
I don't know what Sabes told them down in Big D (I suspect it was "we'll give you two mil"), but from here it looks like a first-rate job of selling snake oil. A messy situation is gone and potential help has arrived in its place, all without additional expense.
Granted, Brian Sabean was cleaning up his own mess.
But at least he did it well.
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