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.

Brewers on the brink of their first pennant in 36 years

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A series that had swung back and forth twice already swung back in Milwaukee’s favor last night with a convincing win. That it was convincing — it was not at all close after the second inning — is a key factor heading into today, as Craig Counsell has his bullpen set up nicely to shorten the game if his Brewers can get an early lead.

Josh Hader — who, if you are unaware, has not allowed a run and has struck out 12 batters in seven innings of postseason work — did not pitch yesterday or in Game 5. As such, he’s had three full days off. Given that this is a win or go home day and, if they win, he’s guaranteed two more days off before the World Series, he’s good for two innings and could very well go for three. That’s not what you want if you’re the Dodgers.

But it gets worse. Jeremy Jeffress pitched last night but it was only one pretty easy inning, so he could go two if he has to. Corey Knebel pitched an inning and two-thirds but he could probably give Counsell an inning of work if need be. Joakim Soria didn’t pitch at all yesterday. Between those guys and the less important relievers, all of whom save Brandon Woodruff are all pretty fresh, the Dodgers aren’t going to have any easy marks.

But the thing is: Counsell may not need to go that deep given that Jhoulys Chacin, their best starter of the postseason, gets the start. So, yes, in light of that, you have to like the Brewers’ chances tonight, and that’s before you realize that the home crowd is going to be louder than hell.

Not that the Dodgers are going to roll over — it’ll be all hands on deck for them with every pitcher except for Hyun-Jim Ryu available, you figure — but if they’re going to repeat as NL champs, they’re going to have to earn it either by bloodying Chacin’s nose early and neutralizing the threat of facing Hader and company with a lead, or by marching through the teeth of the Brewers bullpen and coming out alive on the other side.
NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Walker Buehler vs. Jhoulys Chacin
Breakdown:

The most important part of this breakdown — the stuff about the Brewers’ pen — has already been said and, I presume anyway, the starters here will have the shortest of leashes. Chacin’s will be longer, as he has not allowed a run over 10 and a third innings in his first two postseason starts, making him the Brewers’ defacto ace. Every inning he goes tonight makes things much, much harder for the Dodgers once he’s gone as it means Milwaukee will be able to rely more and more on Hader and Jeffress, so the Dodgers had best get to him early.

Buehler has come up weak so far this postseason, having allowed nine runs in 12 innings, including surrendering four runs on six hits over seven innings in Milwaukee’s Game 3 victory. Still, it’s not hard to remember how dominating he was in the second half of the season. If that Buehler shows up and can keep things close, we’ll have a ballgame. If L.A. finds itself in an early hole once again, theirs will be the tallest of orders.