Tag: Jose Molina

Grading the Tampa Bay Rays’ Moves So Far This Offseason

The Tampa Bay Rays have been relatively quiet, as usual, this offseason.

Some teams make big splashes in the offseason, signing expensive high-profile players, while others make ripples. The big splashes garner a lot of attention, are seen and heard from further distances and are projected to make a significant impact immediately.

Small ripples make less noise and attract a smaller national audience. Instead of a single large splash, multiple ripples need to be put together with the intent of building a sustained winner.

For small-market teams on a tight budget, like the Rays, ripples are the way business is conducted.

Grades for the offseason moves are based on the value received for the costs of the transaction. Average players who add depth who are signed to an average contract would be a good move compared to subpar performers signed to a long-term deal.

Here are the grades for the Rays’ offseason moves so far.


All statistics and salary numbers courtesy of baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Tampa Bay Rays: Jose Molina’s Hidden Value

When the Tampa Bay Rays signed veteran catcher Jose Molina to a two-year deal worth $3.3 million following the 2011 season, they actually got much more than what the 37-year-old’s numbers show.

If you look at Molina’s 2012 stats—81 wRC+, 0.8 WAR, 4 rSB and a -4.22 RPP—he doesn’t seem like a very valuable player on paper. His career stats aren’t much better.

However, where Molina’s value lies is in a part of catching that isn’t calculated: The art of framing pitches.

Although he may not be the superstar that his younger brother Yadier is, framing pitches is one thing that Jose does better than both of his brothers. In fact, he’s probably been the best in all of baseball over the past few years.

His pitch-framing wizardry has made a significant impact on the Rays, as well as other teams he’s played with throughout his 14-year career. Tampa had the best pitching staff in the MLB in 2012, ranking first in ERA, FIP, strikeouts and strike percentage. Molina, who caught 102 games for the Rays last year, more than likely had something to do with this historic success.

Here’s some examples of Molina’s special talent:

As you can see, frustrating opposing batters and making umpires look bad is something that Molina has a knack for.

Molina’s excellency in framing pitches does not only make him a valuable catcher, but it also can contribute to a pitcher’s success.

Fernando Rodney is one pitcher that comes to mind. With Molina behind the plate for over half the innings he pitched last season, Rodney’s called strike percentage went up 4.44 percent from the previous season (without Molina). There were obviously multiple factors that played a part in Rodney’s career year in 2012, but Molina was probably one of them.

Two more examples come from Molina’s time with the Yankees; Mariano Rivera and Mike Mussina’s success in 2008. Rivera had arguably the best season of his great career with Molina catching most of his innings. His CldStr percent increased 4.36 percent that year from 2007.

Molina was also behind the plate for all but 10 innings pitched by Mussina during his impressive 20-win season. Mussina, who was pitching the last year of his career at age 39, saw his CldStr percent go up 3.86% from his disappointing 2007 campaign.

Now in 2013, what I’ve observed is that Molina’s glovework is helping sinkerballers Alex Cobb and Roberto Hernandez. Both starters are dependent on throwing quality pitches low in the zone. With Molina catching, the strike zone widens a bit, which Joe Maddon has clearly taken into consideration.

Cobb is off to a great start to the season, while Hernandez—despite some ugly numbers—is having an encouraging start with some positive signs pointing to a turnaround year for him. Molina has caught most of the time for Cobb and Hernandez, while Jose Lobaton has received more playing time with David Price, Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson on the mound.

In conclusion, Jose Molina is living proof of how much a catcher can positively affect a pitching staff. He may not be good at blocking balls or throwing out baserunners (at this point in his career), but framing pitches is one asset he’ll likely never lose as long as he’s in the league.

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Toronto Blue Jays Acquire Miguel Olivo From Colorado Rockies

The Jays acquired catcher Miguel Olivo from the Colorado Rockies earlier today for the cliche “player to be named later or cash.”

The 32-year-old catcher batted .269 last season with 14 homers and 58 runs batted in.

This move, however, does not spell the possible end to John Buck in Toronto. The Rockies had until I believe have midnight to accept Olivo’s $2.5 million option, and if not, would have to pay him a $500,000 buyout. This move prevents the Rockies from doing either.

Olivo qualifies as a type B free agent catcher, so if he signs with another team, Toronto will again gain a compensatory draft pick sandwiched between the second and third rounds.

For John Buck fans, this move, like I said, does not spell the end of the catcher in Toronto. Also worth noting, this not spell the end of J.P. Arencibia’s shots at earning a roster spot either.

This move to me reeks of Alex Anthopolous’ genius. It’s another crafty way to acquire another prospect without really giving up anything of note, at least right now.

As the offseason continues to slowly move along, the Jays offseason plans are beginning to take shape. Will they sign Olivo and send Buck packing along with a position change possibly for Arencibia? That remains to be seen.

My hope is that Olivo leaves, and the Jays get that compensation pick. Not to mention the Rockies taking a prospect whom we have no interest in keeping. I’m keeping my fingers crossed its Lance Broadway.


EDIT: The Jays decided to cut Olivo not too long after in hopes of receiving a compensatory draft pick. So my prediction ended up being correct. John Buck Fans Rejoice!

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Jose Molina Can Help the New York Yankees Save Their $80 Million Investment

The 35-year-old veteran backup catcher, Jose Molina, can be the difference maker for the New York Yankees, if general manager Brian Cashman thinks of going after him.

Baseball fans might wonder why anyone would want an aging backup catcher who hits in the low .200s.

First of all, he has won two World Series Championships with the 2002 Los Angeles Angels and the 2009 New York Yankees. He know what it’s like to win. It’s not something completely new to him that he’ll end up in the Minor Leagues during the middle of the season.

Molina also has a very strong arm behind the plate, better than current Yankees catcher Jorge Posada at least.

But most of all, he can save an $82.5 million debt for a player that can’t be risked to be released—Allan James Burnett.

Starting pitcher A.J. Burnett will enter his third year of his five-year contract next season.

Burnett had a record of 10-15 with an ERA of 5.26 this year and made the playoff roster as a reliever.

Everyone’s saying how he’ll be a bust for the rest of his career. But Jose Molina can save it.

In 2009, Molina caught Burnett for a total of 11 games, and Burnett had an ERA of 3.28.

When Jorge Posada was behind the plate, Burnett’s ERA was 4.98. This year, Burnett had even a higher ERA of 7.28 with Posada.

Another reason for Molina to come back is that he had one of his better offensive seasons last year, with six home runs and an average of .246 in 57 games.

Isn’t it obvious that Jose Molina should be brought in? He catches Burnett every five days, giving Posada a rest in between and saving maybe the biggest bust from the 2008 free agent market.

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Toronto Blue Jays GM: Alex Anthopoulos’s Bold Moves for Better Team

Change is in the air here in Toronto.  It seems that most of the city’s sports teams are in the midst of an overhaul.  The Raptors are transitioning into the new era without Chris Bosh.  Brian Burke continues his push with the Maple Leafs in hopes that they can make the playoffs, acquiring Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong this offseason. 

Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos also continues to put his impressive stamp on the Toronto Blue Jays.

When he was appointed the new general manager this past offseason, he quickly signed several veterans to help defensively and guide the young pitching staff.  He made a pledge to put a greater emphasis on scouting and player development. 

Anthopolous then proceeded to make good on his promise, increasing not only the staff, but the range covered by those scouts.

This concept might have all been in vain had the Jays organization not put up the cash to sign international prospects.  In past years, they have either not pursued the free agents or they continually lost bidding wars to the Yankees or Red Sox.

Surprisingly, the Jays have been very active in the pursuit, successfully signing some highly coveted young players. 

The Blue Jays beat out the Yankees earlier in the year to sign 21-year-old Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria to a four-year, $10 million contract.  Since it should be a few years before the prospect is ready for the big leagues, Anthopoulos traded veteran Alex Gonzalez to the Atlanta Braves for Yunel Escobar. 

At 27 years old, Escobar provides a better bridge to Hecheverria. He has a career .291 average and a .368 on-base percentage and he could provide an important small-ball component on a team of sluggers. 

Since the Jays are currently 27th overall in both batting average and hits, their one-dimensional offense needs the abilities of Escobar in the lineup.  Though Yunel Escobar has been struggling this year with Atlanta, he has already shown signs of breaking out of the slump on the Blue Jays.

The Jays GM continues to put his scouts to good use with the signing of two 16-year-old prospects from Venezuela.  Adonis Cardona is a 6’4″ 180lb. right-handed pitcher and Gabriel Cenas, a 6’1″ 175 lb. third baseman; both will begin their professional career playing in the Dominican Summer League for the Blue Jays. 

Anthopolous has already shown, in his short tenure with the Blue Jays, that he has a strong eye for talent and will take every opportunity to improve the team immediately and in the future.  His trade of Brandon League for Brandon Morrow has worked out immensely well so far for the Jays, adding to a young core of starters. 

The catching tandem of Jose Molina and John Buck that he signed have proved to be great advisers to that young pitching staff.  Plus, one of his biggest moves was a simple trade with the San Francisco Giants for Fred Lewis, what seemed like a depth move at first.

When the Jays started the season with Jose Bautista leading off, it was quite obvious that he wasn’t quite suited for the role, and he struggled trying to adapt his game to the leadoff position. 

So when Fred Lewis became available to the Jays, Anthopoulos saw the opportunity to acquire a player that could provide what the Jays lacked.  Of course, it is unlikely even the GM foresaw how well Lewis would slot into the lead-off position and earn a starter position with the Blue Jays.  Lewis now leads the team in two categories with a .281 average and 10 stolen bases, as well as second among the starters in OBP with .343. 

Not to mention that once Bautista was moved into a spot in the order where his style would be more effective, he began to put up career numbers.  Bautista currently leads the league with 25 home runs, and is the Blue Jays leader in RBI and runs, with 58 and 57 respectively.

With the MLB trade deadline coming up, it is quite possible that Anthopoulos will be working the phones once again.  With the competition always at the highest in the American League East, the Jays GM knows that he has to take every opportunity to improve his team if he wants to contend.


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