Yadier Molina is going to take the Albert Pujols route after all. Molina’s agent, Melvin Roman, informed Cards GM John Mozeliak yesterday that his client will not negotiate a contract once the season starts. Does this sound familiar to anyone? It should, and it sounds like Molina is pouting about his friend.
“When you spend time for how many years, eight years, I feel Albert is like my big brother,” Molina said. “When you see a guy going like he did last year, going to another team, yeah, it affected me.”
Maybe Yadi doesn’t understand if the Cards would have re-signed Pujols, he would be packing his bags anyway. Maybe the Cards are looking to see if the drop in Molina’s defense in 2011 was a fluke. For his career up until last year, Molina threw out 46% of baserunners. In 2011, it dropped to 29%. Molina still won the gold glove, but had more to do with reputation than actual defensive production.
What a great way to get negotiations going with the Cards front office by giving them a deadline like Pujols did. The only difference at this point is that Molina isn’t bringing God into the mix. You gotta love the line about taking care of his family though. I’m sure a long term deal with the Cardinals wouldn’t be enough.
I like that Molina has said that it is about the money, but he should know by now that following the other actions of Pujols is going to rub fans and the front office the wrong way. Under owner Bill Dewitt, the Cardinals have always taken care of core players with long term contracts. You didn’t hear Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Chris Carpenter or Mark McGwire along with a few others taking these matters and playing them out in the press.
I think Molina is a very important piece to the Cards. We’ve all given him a pass for not running out grounders to first base because he’s a catcher and needs to keep his knees and legs fresh. I love that Molina stood up to Brandon Phillips, and I love the fire he plays with. However, it’s clear that Molina, like Pujols, doesn’t feel the love in St. Louis. From his own words, love is going to come from whoever gives him the most money. Acting like a mercenary is not going to sit well with ownership, and ownership is not going to bid against themselves at this point.
At this point, I don’t expect Molina to be wearing a Cards uniform in 2013. I think he’ll be playing with his old pal in Anaheim. Mike Matheny knows the importance of a good signal caller, and he’ll groom another one just like he did with Molina. Molina was a highly touted prospect, who came from a baseball family, and is clearly the best of the family, but to think that Matheny didn’t have an impact on his growth in naive.
The Cardinals have seen this coming since Pujols left. Molina didn’t attend the Cards Winter-Warm Up or go to the White House with the rest of the team. Just two days before saying he wouldn’t negotiate during the season, he said he would negotiate during the season, but didn’t want to negotiate during spring training. What changed his mind? We all know the answer to that question.
I’m not sure if Tony Cruz has a long term future as the starting catcher for the Cards, but it’s time to find out. If the Cards are going to compete in 2012, Molina is going to play a big part. At this point, I think the best thing to do is let Cruz learn from Molina and Matheny, offer Molina arbitration after the season, and collect the draft pick when he signs elsewhere.
It may be premature of me to think that the Cards and Molina won’t work something out during ST, but just like with Pujols, I’m predicting they won’t. It seems to me Molina is trying to sabotage his relationship with the Cards with his recent actions and words. I’m not worried though, ownership has a plan, and so far it’s worked out pretty well.