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Bengie Molina Rumors
A pair of AL West teams are without permanent managers at the moment, following the Astros‘ firing of Bo Porter and Ron Washington’s abrupt an unexpected resignation from his post with the Rangers. Some new candidates are emerging for the positions, as Mike DiGiovanna tweets that Angels bench coach Dino Ebel is a candidate to fill the void in Houston. Meanwhile, the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher tweets that Rangers first base coach and former big league catcher Bengie Molina is a candidate for both managerial openings. Molina would continue a growing trend of recent big league backstops becoming managers, following in the footsteps of Mike Matheny (Cardinals), Mike Redmond (Marlins) and Brad Ausmus (Tigers).
Here’s more out of the AL West…
- Angels manager Mike Scioscia spoke highly of Ebel and Molina as future managers to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Of Ebel, he said, “He’s always been an incredible teacher, has a great passion … There’s no doubt that someday he’s going to be a terrific manager.” He offered similar praise for Molina, who served as Scioscia’s catcher when the Halos won the World Series in 2002: “…just has an incredible way of connecting with people, has a great understanding of the pitcher-catcher relationship, understands the offensive part, and I know he’ll eventually get an opportunity.”
- Josh Hamilton spoke with Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News regarding Washington’s resignation and had nothing but praise and well wishes for his former skipper. “He was always very enthusiastic, always on your side and encouraging, so you always want to play for a guy like that.”
- Commissioner Bud Selig fielded a question on recent rumors that the Astros could still sign Brady Aiken when speaking to reporters, including the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich (Twitter links). Selig himself may have fueled some speculation with recent comments to the San Diego media, but that sounds inadvertent based on his response: “I didn’t mean to create confusion although I guess Ive been known to do that,” said Selig. Drellich notes that it remains “very, very unlikely” that Houston would be allowed to sign Aiken.
- Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus examines the theory that the culture of losing could have long-term negative impacts on the talent the Astros have already promoted to the Major Leagues. Using an adapted Cox Regression model, Carleton concludes that a player is seven or eight percent more likely to flame out after spending three years in a losing environment. However, he concludes that while the end result may be one extra player flaming out, the Astros could likely recoup that value via the extra money they’ve been garnering in the draft and international signing arenas by the virtue of the poor records. While there could be negative effects, Carleton writes, fixing them likely isn’t worth it from a mathematical standpoint.
Bengie Molina has retired, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Molina, a catcher, played in parts of 13 seasons with the Angels, Blue Jays, Giants and Rangers, and though he did not play in 2011, he had remained open to the possibility of returning until now.
Molina, 37, was regarded as a defense-first backstop, posting a .274/.307/.411 line with 144 homers for his career. His full-season high in long balls was 20, which came in 2009. All told, Molina accumulated 15.2 wins above replacement, according to Fangraphs' version of that metric. He earned World Series rings with the Angels in 2002 and the Giants in 2010, though he actually finished that season with the Rangers, the team that lost the World Series, after a midseason trade.
Originally signed by the (then) California Angels as an amateur free agent in 1993, Molina earned $33.48MM in his career, per Baseball-Reference.
Bengie Molina told Jon Heyman of SI.com that he doesn't intend to play in 2011 (Twitter link). Though the backstop has not officially retired at this point, a return to the field currently seems unlikely.
Molina's stance has changed since late May, when he said he'd be open to returning to the Giants. His former team could still use catching depth; San Francisco has been looking for help behind the plate since losing Buster Posey to a season-ending injury. The Padres and Red Sox were in contact with Molina earlier in the season and the Pirates have since begun searching for catching as well.
In 118 games for the Giants and Rangers last year, Molina hit .249/.297/.326. He hit at least 15 homers each season from 2005-09, before hitting just five long balls in 2010. The 36-year-old has played for the Angels, Giants, Rangers and Blue Jays in 13 Major League seasons.
Now that Buster Posey is on the disabled list for the foreseeable future, the Giants are looking around for catching, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. Ivan Rodriguez, a player the Giants have asked about, and Bengie Molina, a player who would like to return to San Francisco, are the team’s most viable options at this point. Here are the details from Stark, plus other notes from around the league:
- The Nationals have been shopping Rodriguez since Spring Training and one executive says they would love to move him.
- The Padres are starting to give indications that they’ll be willing to move Heath Bell, Ryan Ludwick and Chad Qualls in a few weeks.
- However, rival teams say the Padres are “not motivated” to talk about players who are under control through 2012 or later, such as reliever Mike Adams.
- The Astros keep saying that they imagine Hunter Pence on Houston’s next winning team, which would presumably make him difficult to obtain this summer.
Free agent catcher Bengie Molina told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that he could catch for the Giants, who are without 2010 Rookie of the Year Buster Posey for an extended period of time. Molina hasn’t played since last year, so he wouldn’t expect to be placed on the Giants roster without getting into playing shape first.
"If I get it in my mind to do this, I would go,” Molina said. “If they need me and want me and they ask me to spend two weeks in the minors, I'd do it. Do I expect them to ask? I'd love to say yes, they will, but I don't think so because of the way things happened at the end."
As Baggarly explains, Molina had critical comments for Giants general manager Brian Sabean after the GM commented publicly on his decision to deal the catcher last summer. The Giants have already inquired on Ivan Rodriguez of the Nationals, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Thursday night Quick Hits..
- Brandon Inge will pick up ten and five rights next Wednesday, according to John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press. That means the Tigers will need permission to trade Inge, who would like to spend the rest of his career in Detroit.
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post (via Twitter) could see the Rockies pursuing free agent catcher Bengie Molina. However, Renck tweets that the veteran would like to be in the majors right away and move through the minors quickly, which could be a hurdle.
- The Cubs have been looking hard for someone like Rodrigo Lopez, GM Jim Hendry told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Earlier today, Hendry acquired Lopez in exchange for left-hander Ryan Buchter.
- The Erik Bedard deal looks a whole lot better for the Mariners now that the left-hander is back to his winning ways as of late, opines Greg Johns of MLB.com.
- Landing pitcher Alfredo Aceves appears to have paid off big time for the Red Sox through the first two months of the season, writes Tim Britton of the The Providence Journal.
Oakland's manager recently faced criticism from current and former relievers and San Francisco catcher Buster Posey suffered an apparently serious leg injury last night. Here's the latest from the Bay Area…
- A's owner Lew Wolff told MLB.com's Jane Lee that manager Bob Geren is "fantastic" and said he likes "the way he deals with everyone." The manager recently faced criticism from relievers Brian Fuentes and Huston Street.
- If Posey is out for an extended period of time, the Giants will have few alternatives, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. There’s not much catching available other than Bengie Molina, who has expressed a reluctance to prepare for the season in the minor leagues.
- Olney says it’s not worth it for catchers to risk injury by blocking the plate when one run isn’t going to make or break a 162-game season.
Links for Wednesday, on a night we'll remember for Eric Hosmer's first MLB home run…
- The Mets signed Luis Figueroa to a minor league deal, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Figueroa hit .319/.354/.429 at Triple-A last year, but has just 16 MLB plate appearances to his name. The Brewers signed the infielder late last month and appear to have released him since.
- Peter Gammons said on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni show that he doesn’t think the Red Sox are actively pursuing Bengie Molina, even though they contacted him about a month ago, when they were more concerned about their catchers.
- Just because offense is down doesn't mean Angels aces Dan Haren and Jered Weaver are assuming they're going to put together standout seasons, as Yahoo's Tim Brown explains.
The Red Sox have made contact with Bengie Molina, but aren't ready to move on him yet, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. With Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hitting a combined .179/.246/.241 in 123 plate appearances this season, Molina could grow more appealing to the Sox in the near future.
We heard last month that Boston was eyeing catching help and that Molina was on the team's list of possibilities. Although Ivan Rodriguez and Chris Snyder were also on that list, Rosenthal says the Sox are "cool" on Pudge, and the Pirates are more inclined to move Ryan Doumit than Snyder.
Jeff Mathis, who received high praise from Varitek, could be available as well. However, as Rosenthal points out, while Mathis is a strong defensive backstop, his .199/.262/.311 career slash line wouldn't help the Sox.
The Red Sox continue to look out for possible catching help and the names on their potential wish list include Bengie Molina, Ivan Rodriguez and Chris Snyder, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Peter Gammons said today on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni show that the Red Sox are prepared to continue with Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia even though they’ve considered other options.
“I know what they were trying to do. They looked around. They didn’t have money to spend,” Gammons said. “They couldn’t go get Bengie Molina. They weren’t going to spend the money at this point.”
Boston’s interest in Snyder would likely fade if Pittsburgh’s asking price is high and Rosenthal hears that the Pirates are pleased with the catcher’s game calling and receiving ability so far in 2011. He's hitting at a respectable .333/.387/.407 clip so far and Arizona is responsible for $3MM of the $6.5MM remaining on his contract. As a result, it doesn’t appear that the Pirates are intent on moving him.
Gammons noted that the Red Sox don’t feel they have the answer to their catching issues in the minor leagues. That means trade chatter will likely continue until their current catchers start hitting or they make a move.