How fitting is it that nearly all candidates to take home the top pitcher of the year award have the Molina boys to thank in some way. CC has Jose and last year’s winner, Tim Linecum, plays catch with Bengie. While it is easy to put Carp and Wainer on a pedestal, enough isn’t said about the man behind the plate, and Yadier has only to look down the first base line to see the other Cardinal player with as much job security.
With no clear up and comer in the system, St. Louis is set for years at catcher and that is where the look back at 2009 begins. Most forget how young (27) he still is, and that makes the scrutiny Molina faces all the more head-scratching (looking at you Al). His offense will always take a back seat to what has to be considered the best defensive skills in the game, but Yadi shouldn’t be hitting above seventh anyway.
TLR defends his backstop more than anyone I can remember, and that tends to get old at times (say, yet another double play). But one thing is for certain in my opinion. There is nobody else in the Major Leagues I would rather have for the next five years catching my pitching staff. He calls a marvelous game and knows exactly when to shake things up with each individual hurler. The extra dynamic brought to the table with possibly the best arm ever makes every it an adventure for any and all base runners.
But where does Molina and the rest of the crew grade out for the past campaign? I am taking the first crack at nailing the mark, and Nick gets his shot tomorrow. We want your opinion as well by posting your views below or sending us an essay if so desired. I have my handy new e-mail to try out and all comments are welcome at email@example.com.
Yadier Molina — I wrestled with how to break down his overall score but think I found just the right mix. His defense gets a solid A. I am leaving a sliver of room for it to get a + in the next year or two. As much as his batting is improved, a B+ is as high as I could dish out on offense due to the lack of speed on the base paths. Whether or not the manager was authorizing the jogging, I do hope that is something that disappears sooner rather than later. Overall I give #4 an A- with a nod to the front office for the team friendly contract.
Jason LaRue — As back-up catchers go, it is hard to not want him back except for the cost angle. Molina played seemingly everyday no matter what amount of pain he was in, so LaRue was left with little work. The former first round draft pick appeared in ten fewer Cardinal games than his first season with 60 less at-bats. With that in mind, his .240 average was the highest since 2005 and garners a B- for not hurting the NL Central champs. Always known for his work calling a game, I do remember ‘cowboy’ settling down a young bullpen on more than one occasion and that gets him a B+ with a solid B grade overall.
St. Louis may have lost points when Bryan Anderson wasn’t healthy enough to get his shot in September, but it was fun to hear the radio call of David Freese giving his all in extra innings. By far this is the one position that no one worries about when looking at the Cardinals, and they score a B+ for the year. Make sure to join Nick and I tonight for UCB Radio at 9:30 CST and have your grade sheet ready for inspection.