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.
The book heading into the series was that the Dodgers’ starters needed to come up big for them due to questions in the bullpen and that the Brewers’ bullpen was going to dominate Dodgers batters, so they had best do what they can to score off of Milwaukee’s starters. So, of course, the Dodgers starters turned in performances of three and four and a third innings and eight of their nine runs the Brewers have given up have come from their relievers. I dunno, man. It’s baseball. It lends itself to anticipatory analysis worse than any other sport.
All I do know for sure is that this series has been as close as it gets so far, with each game being decided by a run and the outcome being determined late. The first two games have given me a sense that the teams are just feeling each other out and that the next three, in Los Angeles, will provide a bit more coherence to all of this. Not that there isn’t something a bit fun about incoherence when it comes to a playoff series.
Your viewing guide:
NLCS Game 3
Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler
Jhoulys Chacin had an excellent NLDS start against the Colorado Rockies, turning in five scoreless innings. If he does something approaching that tonight the Brewers will be in pretty good shape given that Josh Hader — who pitched three shutdown innings in Game one — is available again tonight. To the extent Craig Counsell needs to dig more deeply into his reliever corps, however, things could get dicey. Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Joakim Soria have combined to allow seven earned runs in four innings. Brandon Woodruff, who has been dominant thus far, throwing five scoreless innings, stands a good chance of being the opener for Game 4, so Counsell will likely try to keep him off the mound tonight. That puts a decent amount of pressure on Chacin to get the game to Hader with as few innings remaining as possible.
For Los Angeles, it’s Walker Buehler who, the grand slam he gave up to Ronald Acuña in the NLDS notwithstanding, was the Dodgers’ most dominant starter down the stretch. In keeping with the somewhat flipped script so far, however, the Los Angeles bullpen has been solid, allowing just two runs over their ten and two-thirds innings in Games 1 and 2. Not that Dave Roberts wouldn’t love to see Buehler go deep tonight too.