In an age where everything is hyped to the nth degree, it’s hard to find something that can’t be overstated. But I’ll give you one candidate: Yadier Molina’s defense. Dude has been around for almost a decade now, and I feel like, while most people would agree that he’s the best defensive catcher in baseball, not everyone appreciates just how astoundingly good he is.
He put some of that astoundingly good on display last night.
In the bottom of the seventh, Don Mattingly put in Dee Gordon to pinch run for Luis Cruz after Cruz reached on an error. Mattingly has probably had his team run too damn much lately — Matt Kemp was gunned down by Molina in the fourth inning, and the Dodgers had been unsuccessful on their three previous stolen base attempts before that — but in a close game where runs were hard to come by, it wasn’t totally crazy to have one of baseball’s fastest men try to swipe second.
Gordon actually got a pretty good jump too. But Yadier Molina made what is one of the most fantastic throws you will ever see and nailed him cold. Here’s the GIF, via FanGraphs:
Just sick, really. Absolutely sick. Look how quick he releases that ball. Look how tight that thing is to the ground in flight compared to what you see from most other catchers. And look how hard he throws it, too. It has the same kind of movement you see on a fastball from some assassin closer or something. I’d love to see a radar gun reading of that throw.
Yadier friggin’ Molina, kids. Yadier friggin’ Molina.
The Tigers will promoted Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon to hitting coach for the 2017 season, according to a statement released by the team on Friday afternoon.
McClendon’s history with the Tigers is long and storied. After serving five seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ hitting coach and manager, he got his start with Detroit in 2006 as a bullpen coach, then transitioned to hitting coach from 2007 through 2013. When the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus to replace former manager Jim Leyland, McClendon took the opportunity to break from the team and pursue another managerial position of his own with the Seattle Mariners, whom he guided to a 163-161 record between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Following his departure from Seattle during the 2015 offseason, McClendon took a spot as skipper of the Tigers’ Triple-A club, managing the Toledo Mud Hens to a 68-76 finish in 2016. His return to the big league stage is accompanied by the hiring of assistant hitting coach Leon Durham, who previously served as the long-tenured hitting coach for Triple-A Toledo.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.