Yadier Molina: He’s No Pujols

BREAKING NEWS: Yadier Molina is not Albert Pujols.  The catcher for the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals is entering the final year of his current contract, and, unless extended will become a free agent once the upcoming season ends.  And that’s about where the similarities between the redbirds’ catcher, and their former first baseman end.

Molina, 29, has garnered some attention recently, over some comments he made concerning his contract, and related discussions.  “I’m open to staying here.  I love the city.  I love the fans.  I love the ballpark.  But it’s out of my hands.”, Molina said.  Sentiments all too familiar to this fan base, who, by all rights is slow to trust anything that sounds remotely close to what Albert Pujols told them for so long.

Winner of the 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 Rawlings Gold Glove Award, and general all-around bad-ass, Yadier Molina
The reigning (since 2008) Gold Glove catcher, has earned the Rawlings award, and in the most recent three years, went ahead and added “All-Star” to go along with the honor.  Known for his defense, and picking opposing runners off first base like a sniper behind the plate, the “Legend of Yadi” expands well beyond the National League Central division.  Heck, there was a time not all that long ago when you couldn’t throw a dead cat in the Majors without hitting a catching Molina or two.Yadi’s stepped up his game on the other side of the ball, too.  With career highs in OPS+ (126), OPS (.814), and a .305 batting average to boot.  He also set a career high in total bases, with 221, representing an increase of more than 20% over his previous career high of 184, set a couple years ago.  That’s big, man.  20%.  That’s a guy who hit 50 bombs a couple years ago hitting 60 this year.  It’s a pitcher throwing 210 innings the year before last, then coming out and going more than 252 innings this year, or an 85-win team becoming a 102-win team–I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a big difference!  What it’s not, however, is enough to put him in elite company when talking about the greatest who ever played the game.

Yadi has skipped out on Winter Warm-up, and jilted fans who’d bought autograph tickets, not once, but twice.  In a row.

Bad taste in the fans’ mouth – 2
Catcher, Yadier Molina – 0

Then he bailed on the team for their visit to the White House.

Yadi Mo – 0

He showed up in Jupiter Florida a week early & “twenty pounds lighter”.  He said he’s open to negotiating throughout the season, and won’t put a deadline on negotiations.  Good for him.

Enough with the “keeping score” thing already.

Look, Yadi is a premier catcher in the league, and across baseball, people know this.  But, he’s not Albert Pujols, and whether they’ve got a true bromance or not, it’s unfair to act like this is “Albertageddon 2.0”.  Yadi, like Albert, seems open to staying in St. Louis for his next contract.  But, also like Albert (and 748 other guys out there), there’s more to their contract than that.  It’s about taking care of their family, it’s about charitable work, it’s about being respected/disrespected or feeling/not feeling wanted by an organization, or maybe just one person in that organization.  ‘course, if that one person is the general manager…

So, give Yadi a break, and be fair.  I’m not even saying you have to like him, or the process or the outcome or any of that.  I’m saying we should at least be fair to the man.  Sheesh, can we at least do that?   I’m saying if the fans take out their leftover emotions from the Albert situation, and pile on Yadi, that’s pretty crappy.  Am I saying I don’t want him back after 2012 season?  Of course not–I hope Yadi stays, and stays for a long time.

But I hoped the same about Mike Matheny when Yadi came on board, and we see how that turned out.

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