Bengie Molina didn't win the the San Francisco Giants' Willie Mac Award twice because him teammates liked how he looked in his uniform. He was, obviously, a very popular and respected teammate.
Molina calls a great game. Tim Lincecum admits often that he feels he should share his Cy Young Awards with the veteran catcher. So, since the pitcher won't do it, someone should mention that the right-hander should share half of the difficulties he has experienced in the last two months with Molina, too.
Matt Cain struggled early, went through a period where he was the best right-hander in the National League, but has had a couple of rough outings. Cain acknowledges how valuable Molina was to his development as a pitcher and to his success. Again, let's point out that Molina was doing his job exactly as he did during Cain's hot streak when Cain pitched poorly.
The Giants pitchers, who have been so fabulous for so long, have hit their first group slump in two years. So, if the hard times continue -- let's remember that Molina was on hand and calling pitches when the starting staff began to pitch like mere mortals, OK?
It's going to be really tempting, with the Giants at the point where being swept in Colorado could turn them from NL West contenders to division longshot, to look back in two weeks and mumble, "What were the Giants thinking trading Molina? Cain and Lincecum haven't won a game since he left? Buster Posey can't handle this staff..."
Buster Posey and veteran Eli Whiteside can handle the staff. The catcher suggests the pitch and the location. The pitcher has to deliver the pitch to the spot where the hitter can make solid contact. And, even though they are still young in baseball years, Lincecum, Cain and Jonathan Sanchez have a good idea of what they need to throw and when to throw it. Sanchez, actually, has had Whiteside catching him most of the season. Barry Zito calls his own game.
Madison Bumgarner's 20 years old. Posey knows him better than any catcher in the Giants organization. The Giants coaching staff should know every National League hitter Bumgarner and Posey will face. There's not a reason in the world for Bumgarner's progress as a big leaguer to be hindered if the guys who get paid to help the players do actually help Posey figure out NL hitters.
This is the point in a season where it'd be really easy for a team to make excuses for losing. Worse, it's a time when the Giants are fading and really could be looking for one reason to say, "OK. That's it! We give up!"
That holds for Pablo Sandoval, too. He's failed to perform at the same level he did a year ago. He hasn't been the lovable, run-producing Panda all season. So, there's no reason in the world for anyone to point to Sandoval's performance going forward and say, "He really misses Molina. The club never should've traded the guy."
The Molina trade is not, and should never be, used as an excuse for any failure the Giants pitching staff experiences. If he had that much to do with the staff success, the staff wouldn't be struggling today, right? And, Sandoval might miss his good friend -- but, Molina apparently wasn't able to get him going with the bat this season either.
Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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