Sports

Jose Molina and Tampa Bay Rays: A Good Combination?

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Excuse me while I step out of my element for a minute because of yesterday’s baseball news, I just can’t contain myself.

JOSE MOLINA IS A TAMPA BAY RAY!!!!

Yes, multiple exclamation points. I would just tweet and blog exclamation points all day if I could.

Why? Well, I’m so happy you asked. Because the Rays needed a complete catcher. Shoppach was decent behind the plate and terrible when he was at it. Jose Molina has a pair of World Series rings, detailed knowledge of the American League East and a reputation for being a great mentor for young pitchers.

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“That’s not true, Dory! I saw him hit 2 HRs in one game!” Big deal. “But he hit them when it mattered!” Sure, but let’s not forget how many times he was up with RISP and struck out. Or fouled out, or popped out, or grounded…ok, you get the point.

Baseball is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport, I get that. Most non-Rays fans remember what they saw during game 1 of the ALDS. Rays fans remember April-until September 30th. Yes, of course we were thrilled when he hit the two homers, but we were also kicking the tar out of the Rangers thanks in large part to fantastic pitching by the kid, Matt Moore.

And then there’s John Jaso. Sweet, likeable John Jaso. He was drafted by the Devil Rays in 2003 and spent his time in the farm system until 2008 when he got called up. He didn’t make the playoff roster however and spent 2009 in Durham. His numbers aren’t great , but his “strength” was the fact he had a cannon for an arm. In 2011 he threw out 8 of 58 base runners. I’m not an MIT grad, but I know enough math to recognize that isn’t good. He also has a bit of an error problem. In 2010 he played in 96 games (started 80) and recorded 5 E. This past season, he played in 82 (started 67) and recorded 4. Doesn’t sound like a lot, until you compare him to a catcher like AJ Pierzynski. In 2010 the ChiSox catcher played in 127 games (123 starts) and had 5 E, then in 2011 played in 120 games (112 starts) and had 4. Again, I’m not getting into mathematical equations, but I know comparatively it’s not good. Yes, I’m aware Pierzynski is a better catcher than Jaso. That’s the point. Jaso isn’t a very good catcher.

No worries though, he was traded to Seattle for relief pitcher Josh Lueke. Sounds like a good plan if a disturbing criminal background doesn’t bother you.

Let’s get back to Molina! First of all, the most obvious – he’s a Molina! Look, these dudes have the most premier catcher-DNA ever. Yeah, he might be getting up there in age, isn’t the best hitter, and has only played 100 games in a season once, but who cares? He’s a Molina!

He’s an asset to the Rays (because he’s a Molina!) because he’s familiar with not only the AL East but Joe Maddon. Molina was traded to the Yankees mid-way through 2007 then played the last two seasons in Toronto. He spent 2001-2005 playing under Maddon with the Angels. Aside from him just being a Molina, this benefits the 27 year old catchers, Jose Lobaton and Robinson Chirinos, who will undoubtedly be splitting time with Molina.

Molina gets a $1.5-million salary for next season under Monday’s agreement, and the Rays hold a $1.8-million option for 2013 with a $300,000 buyout. That’s a bargain for a Molina! Jose, 36, hit a career-best .281 last season with three homers and 15 RBIs in 55 games. He has thrown out 62 of 170 runners attempting to steal in the last four seasons, the top percentage (36.5) in the big leagues. The brother of Bengie and Yadier Molina, he also has played for the Chicago Cubs (1999) and the Angels (2001-07).

Plus, it leaves plenty of Raysos (clever, huh?) left to work out a deal for Johnny Guns. A Molina and a new deal for Damon? Oh how the exclamation points will fly!

Dory LeBlanc, covers Gator sports for Gators First and BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc