Maybe Molina just didn't want to play for the Mets

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MetsBlog.com’s Matthew Cerrone wrote an interesting article about Bengie Molina’s surprising decision to return to the Giants yesterday after seemingly being all but signed with the Mets.
Molina inked a one-year, $4.5 million deal with San Francisco, but Cerrone reports that New York’s offer–which was made in mid-December–included $1 million more in salary for this season and a player option for 2011. So why would a 35-year-old catcher who didn’t draw a ton of interest as a free agent spurn a more lucrative multi-year offer?

In talking with a few people around baseball, it sounds to me like Bengie Molina always wanted to return to the Giants, or are at least he wanted play with a team on the West Coast. Also, as the offseason moved on, Molina became more and more skeptical of playing in New York. I had some people suggest he might have become leery of fan and media criticism, while another person speculated he was scared off by how Carlos Beltran’s surgery was communicated in the press, saying, “Players talk.”

There was similar speculation about Jason Bay’s lack of interest in the Mets, except for Bay at least more money and more years eventually won out and he signed a four-year, $66 million deal with New York. Of course, as Cerrone notes most Mets fans weren’t all that keen on signing Molina in the first place and they might be better off turning their attention to Yorvit Torrealba or even going with some combination of Henry Blanco, Omir Santos, and Josh Thole behind the plate for a fraction of the cost.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.