Bengie Molina never officially announced his retirement while sitting out the 2011 season, but he got a proper sendoff when his wife threw him a surprise retirement party Saturday, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly reports.
Albert Pujols, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Ervin Santana were among the guests at the bash, designed to celebrate the career of the eldest Molina brother. Pujols and catchers Ramon Hernandez and Miguel Montero showed up even though they were never teammates with Molina.
“It was a special night,” Molina said. “I can’t thank enough all the people that came. At some point they touched my life and helped me be who I am right now.”
Molina, 37, never signed for 2011 after finishing splitting 2010 between San Francisco and Texas. He was on the losing side when those two teams met in the World Series, but he got a ring anyway for the contributions he made with the Giants. He finished his career with a .274/.307/.411 line, 144 homers and 711 RBI in 1,362 games over 13 seasons.
Buster Posey still expects to be ready for the start of the season, but he told Rael Enteen of CSNBayArea.com during Giants’ media day yesterday that his surgically-repaired left ankle is “not 100 percent yet.”
“The games will be a whole new level and I’m excited to see how [my ankle] responds,” Posey said Friday. “I think it will respond well but it’s a long season, whether you’re 100 percent healthy or not…I’m happy with where I am and I’m optimistic for having a good, healthy season.”
Posey is currently working his way back from three torn ligaments in his left ankle and a fractured leg suffered in a nasty home plate collision with Marlins’ outfielder Scott Cousins last May. While the 24-year-old still deals with some soreness in the mornings, the good news is that he said the ankle feels good from the crouch position.
On a related note, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Giants manager Bruce Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean are already talking about playing Posey at first base once a week, if not more, in order to keep his bat in the lineup and lessen his workload behind the plate.
“The work’s been done,” Sabean said. “(Trainer Dave) Groeschner has been pleased with where they are. But we’ll be very conscious and diligent about what his schedule will be gamewise. At the finish line is to get him ready to be the opening-day catcher and then to figure from there how many games he can catch.
“But that will evolve as we see the workload and what that ankle can tolerate. Because everything he does is weight bearing, whether it’s shifting or throwing or blocking.”
Posey started 31 games at first base during his rookie season in 2010, mostly due to the presence of Bengie Molina, and made two starts there prior to last year’s season-ending injury. If the Giants truly intend to play him at first base at least once a week, one wonders whether Brandon Belt will be Fresno-bound to begin the season.
According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the Rangers have signed catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year, $6.25 million contract, which almost surely means Bengie Molina won’t be back in Texas.
Torrealba is five years younger than Molina and represents an upgrade offensively. Over the past two seasons Torrealba has hit .279 with a .725 OPS, compared to Molina hitting .258 with a .682, and the difference between them is especially huge when it comes to getting on base. Torrealba posted a .346 on-base percentage during that time, compared to a ghastly .290 OBP from Molina.
And while Molina has the superior defensive reputation, Torrealba threw out a higher percentage of steal attempts this season and they’re both right around 30 percent for their careers. Torrealba is also merely really slow, rather than the slowest player in the history of baseball, so the Rangers upgrade their team speed too.
Molina was acquired from the Giants at midseason because the Rangers were desperate for help behind the plate after none of their young catchers of the future panned out. He was a fine stop-gap pickup thanks to some postseason heroics, but signing Torrealba to a reasonable two-year deal is a smart move for the defending AL champs.
MLB has announced the “postseason shares” for each of the playoff teams and the World Series-winning Giants lead the way at $317,631.29 per player, which is just slightly less than the MLB minimum salary for the entire season and some pretty nice change for a month’s work.
Rangers players will receive $246,279.55 apiece for their runner-up finish, while the team they knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, the Rays, will get $28,000 each.
Bengie Molina is likely in line for a “full share” from both the Giants and Rangers, which means he’ll take home an extra $563,910.84 or $43,377.75 per playoff game played.
Bengie Molina is in the unique position of getting a World Series ring even if the Rangers lose, as the veteran catcher spent the first half of the season with the Giants before being traded on July 1.
He’s guaranteed some new jewelry and will pad his wallet with a playoff share from both teams, but Molina told reporters yesterday that he’s leaning toward retiring following the series:
It’s more a yes than a no right now. I’m not saying for sure because something can happen in the winter and it can get worked out. But as for now, yes.
Molina wasn’t able to secure a multi-year deal as a free agent last winter and at age 36 would likely have to settle for another one-year pact this time around, but he’d certainly be able to find at least a part-time gig for 2011. However, for all the talk about the importance of his veteran leadership and impact on the Rangers there may not be many starting jobs available for an incredible slow 36-year-old who hit .249/.297/.326.
I’d miss being able to watch a big leaguer with the same body type as me, but one upside to Molina retiring is that it would create a job opening for other Molina brothers who haven’t yet had an opportunity to join the family business of catching big-league pitchers. Bengie, Yadier, and Jose have been hogging all the gigs, but I’m assuming there are at least a dozen more Molina brothers somewhere with equally strong throwing arms and equally molasses-like gaits.