Looking into the What-If machine: Jose Molina

For one night, everything goes according to plan
ZOMG Yankee Stadium is teh cursed!!11!eleven!

Disclaimer: I do not actually believe the Yankees should do this. But I’m in a good mood after a solid win, and I feel like pulling out a hypothetical.

So Jose Molina’s been hitting the ball pretty well in his six games this season. It’s easy to get excited about that, especially at a time when the rest of the team has been struggling to produce runs. Plus, he’s a superb defensive catcher.

What I’m about to suggest is kind of crazy…okay, really crazy. Please, don’t take me seriously. I cannot stress this enough. But imagine if Molina is on the verge of one of those fluke years, where he hits like .320. Hey, it’s happened before.

Bear with me…imagine Molina is our starter. Jorge can then become the full-time first baseman. Would he be any good there? I can’t imagine him being worse than Shelley Duncan on defense. He looked fine last year when he started the game there in Colorado. At the least, it would give us offensive stability at the position.

Plus, he could be the backup catcher. So he catches twice a week and plays first base or DH for the rest, with a day off here and there. Giambi can slot in a couple of days a week, when Jorge catches, sits, or DHs.

This has the added bonus of curbing some wear and tear on Jorge. He’s signed through 2011, so we might as well keep him fresh as possible. With no viable starting catcher likely to emerge by next year, we’re going to need Jorge there (can’t count on another fluke year from Molina; what do you think I am, nuts?).

That also makes either Shelley or Ensberg obsolete. Not sure what to do on that front. But it’s nice to have a little flexibility.

Of course, that’s all completely predicated on the prayer that Molina somehow manages to hit .320. A man can dream, though. A man can dream.

We now return to your regularly scheduled, not-quite-batshit-insane programming.

For one night, everything goes according to plan
ZOMG Yankee Stadium is teh cursed!!11!eleven!
  • blah

    Wow, Miguel Dilone – that’s a name you don’t see very often. Speaking of flukes, that was the same year that Joe Charboneau won the AL ROY.

    If you move Jorge to 1B, maybe we can move Jeter to LF at the same time and hope that AGon has a flukey rookie year like Joe Charboneau.

  • tommy reynolds

    hum RAB,
    love your site. love everything you do on it, im a recent hardcore reader. at the age of 23, just ended my collegiate baseball career, I moved on to the coaching ranks and my Yankees rants. ok, Jose Molina is a Molina brother and defensively all Molinas are dirty. cant see him putting up a .320 batting average. I think hes better than Posada defensively but cant see him doing it offensively all year. Just watch his backfoot when he swings. Anyway, I think the Yanks should look at making a move like the Rangers did when they got Saltamacchia. Granted its tough cuz we are the Yanks and we dont look to get young guys when we trade but who knows? Posada is getting closer to 1st base and the farm dont look too swell at catcher. Maybe an early round draft pick might be in the works? the catcher from georgia tech? overall its going to be a sad day in the baseball world when Jeter got to move out of shortstop, we all grew up with him there, just like when Mariano got to call it a career and hand it over to Joba. Hopefully not too soon. Thanks for your time and would love to come party with you before a game.

    • jsbrendog

      joba will never be the closer.

  • Joe

    This is way too weird – I had basically the same thought earlier during the game. At least right now, Molina is hitting way too well to be sitting on the bench, and Jorge’s hurting anyway. Playing 1B (he did come us as a 2B) would be much less stressful on his throwing arm, too. The only thing that bothers me is potentially losing Giambi’s bat, but if he keeps hitting like he has so far I won’t really mind too much. Did someone flip some kind of switch for him after ST, or something?

    • GoYankees

      The switch was coming north after a warm humid spring in Tampa. Veteran muscle-bound athletes tighten up, can’t get loose and are injury prone. I just pray for early summer.

  • Stylez

    he wont hit .320 as a full time starter just as Kyle Farnsworth won’t post an era under 4.50.

    • Mike P

      Should come closer though!

    • RollignWave

      since the Farns actually did accomplish that feat quiet a few times , nothing is impossible ;)

  • Mike P

    Molina’s more likely to pitch 4.50 than Farnsworth with that arm of his.

  • Adam

    if alberto gonzalez can hit .320, we can just give jeter the year off so he’ll be fresh for the opening of the new stadium.

  • TurnTwo

    this doesnt seem crazy to me… even if Molina doesnt hit .320, and he only hits .280, wouldnt it be nice to have some reliable defense behind the plate? Jorge hasnt been awful, but Molina is really good back there…

    if you’re gonna get a little crazy, why not really get crazy… i read somewhere yesterday the idea of keeping Alberto on the field full time, too.

    along with Molina behind the plate, and Posada at 1B, you can shift Melky to LF, Jeter to CF, keep Alberto at SS, DH Matsui or Damon full time.

    you could have an everyday lineup with a better mix of speed and defense than you do currently, with a minimal loss of offense compared to what you are getting from the team now. you could cut Giambi loose, maybe even look to trade Matsui or Damon if they dont like the fact they’ve been relegated to part-time DH duties, or if you feel you can get back some useful parts in the process.

    now thats getting a little crazy.

    • http://justinyates.wordpress.com Yankee Psycho-fan-t

      Wish we could trade away Giambi, Damon or Matsui but we have this awful habit of over paying our players. There isn’t a team in baseball that would take their salaries. As long as we’re giving them the big bucks and they are on our team they will be playing, and we will all be crossing our fingers that a hitting renaissance or miracle occurs.

  • Dylan

    Lets try crazy things like that if and when we’re up 15 games.

  • Rich

    Not to be Debbie Downer, but I hope Molina did bruise his thumb too badly when a pitch from Joba bounced off of the one on his glove hand during last night’s game.

  • http://knickerbockerchatter.blogspot.com/ Bruno

    Hey Joe, where’d you get this idea from???;)

  • Michael

    I had the same thought last night. Ride the hot player as long as possible. The pitching staff has been great with Molina back there (so far).

    Granted, a .320 average with no power or plate discipline is useless. First, get Posada healthy.

    • whozat

      “Granted, a .320 average with no power or plate discipline is useless.”

      He _does_ currently lead the team in doubles…

  • Ron

    I could definitely see doing it until Molina cools off. And if he doesn’t cool off all season, is that a problem?

  • Rob_in_CT

    In the short-term, sure, yeah. I liked what Girardi did last night. I think it’s a pretty good blueprint for use against LHP, and for the duration of Jorge’s shoulder issue.

    In the long term? As you said, it’s nuts. Molina will not hit .320, and even if he does it will be a fairly empty .320. He’s more likely to hit .260 with few walks and little power – not enough to overcome the defensive gain.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      The reason I pulled the number .320 out of my hat was because I figured that any average Molina puts up will be empty. He doesn’t take walks. So I was trying to figure out at what point he gets on base enough that he’s not a liability at the plate. His defense is plus, so it’s just a number that would put him just above average for his position.

      • Rob_in_CT

        Gotcha. Yeah, I guess .320 would be about what he’d have to hit for him to be an asset.

        I love the guy as a BUC. He’s definitely a cut above (damning with faint praise?).

  • http://mvn.com/milb-yankees EJ

    The problem: How do you know that Molina is going to hit .320 before it actually happens? By the time you realize that he’s hitting and make the switch, he could regress.

  • Armand Castro

    On a non-baseball note.. were you (Joseph P) alluding to Futurama with that one? quite ironic as well since the guy who invented the What-If Machine from that show is Professor Farnsworth… just a random thought..

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      Yes, I was. And every time Farnsworth comes into the game, either me or a friend always says “Good news, everybody!”

  • Cam

    Must’ve been feeling really good after the game to come up with this? It’s kind of like one of the (old) Joe Torre scenarios where he would pick the most unlikely person (i.e. Vizcaíno ’00 Series) and they just surprise everyone. I think we all just have to be thankful that we have Molina as a backup as opposed to what we’ve had before.

    Also, anyone else noticed that after years of averaging close 3 hours and 15 minutes for games, that they seem to be clocking in at a managable 2:50 on a consistent basis so far this year?

    • yankeemonkey

      The reason the games are shorter is because the offense is sucking and not making the opposing pitchers work. Six-pitch innings will keep the game moving right along. I’d rather the games were longer if that meant we were actually scoring :-)

      • Cam

        Yeah, that’s what I kind of chalk it up to. I’m sure when they start to actually hit and work the counts more it will get longer. I think in some respects it also has to do with our pitching being solid to this point. Still, nice that we’re not sitting around for 3 and half hours watching these games right now.

    • swo

      Not to worry. The Yankees-Red Sox series is sure to produce its fair share of 4 hour games.

  • usty

    I actually like the idea of Molina catching more games. He’s way more adept at framing pitches and stealing strikes for our pitchers than Jorge will ever be. As a former catcher, Jorge drives me mad by stabbing for certain pitches that when framed could possibly be called strikes.

  • Micky#7

    I like AG at SS he has better defensive skills than Jeter and is faster. What to do with Jeter? Out field? First base? Damon is not hitting much, would you replace him in Left with Jeter? Many ways to go with this team, but I think AG will go back down to AAA. The temp goes up, the bats get hot. 27/08.

  • http://RiverAve.Blues Joseph M

    At this point I don’t think Girardi would be willing to make a move like Joseph P is suggesting. I do think Molina is more Girardi’s kind of catcher so Posada ‘s behind the plate starts might go down a bit. Keep in mind, Molina is very slow, prone to hit into more than a few double plays and he may not stay at .320 or .280 as another poster suggested, but may bat between .230 and .250 and not provide much power. How would everyone feel then?

    • TurnTwo

      of course, if he hit .220, then this arguement is null and void… but you’d have to commit to the plan for a small period of time to allow him the opportunity to do so.

    • Kyle

      Well, Molina DID hit .318/.333/.439 last year in 66 at bats in this line-up. Once again, I know that is a small sample size, but if anything there is some sort of consistency.

  • Jt

    Im sorry but Posada at 1b is a terrible idea at this point. Have you ever seen Posada try to pick a ball out of the dirt…. Have you ever seen all the passed balls that Posada lets by that are attributed as errors to the pitcher…

    Posada may be able to turn and start the double play to second, but he cant pick a ball out of the dirt for the life of him.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      Not for nothing, but picking a ball at first is world different than picking a ball as a catcher.

    • http://justinyates.wordpress.com Yankee Psycho-fan-t

      Blocking a ball at home is a completely different skill than scooping a ball at first base. Posada would be more than capable of playing first. I have to believe that Girardi notices who is hot and who is not on the team, which is why we saw the lineup we saw last night. Girardi will ride the Molina wave as long as he can but, we have to keep in mind that we need both of them to be completely healthy and relying to heavily on Molina will put him at risk for injury. It will be tough to balance this situation but Girardi is a smart guy. He notices the trends, and even an old school baseball person would notice how well Molina is hitting the ball and keep him playing in games. Watching Molina hitting doubles is a lot more fun than watching Giambi look like a flailing idiot, keep switching Jorge and Molina at DH and Catcher respectively until somebody cools off.

  • YankCrank20

    i love this idea for our catching and offensive production. the only problem is jorge can’t be expected to just be thrown at 1b and play adequately. we don’t even know if he’ll be good, and jorge probably would not welcome the move.

  • pounder

    I believe nothing is going to stop the minor league kids progress.This organization has turned a corner and will promote,not trade ,as many youngsters down on the farm as possible.At least for a ‘look see’. What to do with the veterans? When Derek gets his 3,000 hit,that settles that.A nice office job perhaps.Hollywood anyone? Giambi,Matsui,and Damon,are easily tradable or releaseable.Mariano and Posada and Jeter are living legends,who,hopefully,unlike Bernie,know when to hang em up.

    • http://justinyates.wordpress.com Yankee Psycho-fan-t

      Giambi, Matsui and Damon are neither easily tradeable, nor are they releasable. They are each making over 10 million dollars and that’s way too much for another team to take on, and way too much for the Yankees to just pay off. Matsui might be the only movable piece if he keeps hitting. Possibly they could move Damon if his production drastically increases, but if they both keep hitting, why give them away? This is a difficult situation and I don’t foresee any of them finishing the 08 season on any other team than the Yankees.

      • TurnTwo

        too much money to just pay off? this is the mindset i think I, and other yankees fans, would like to see disappear.

        the money is down the drain if he continues to perform like this or if he sits and wastes on the bench or DL anyway.

        only difference is that right now he’s taking up a roster spot, and making your manager feel like you want the player to justify the contract by continually playing him to give him opportunity to earn his pay…

        dont put the onus on Girardi; Cashman should step up, take the hit for his manager, cut your losses and do whatever you have to do to get rid of his body on the active roster, and give that spot to someone who can actually help this team win games.

        • swo

          See: Snow, Garth; re: Yashin, Alexei

  • Joseph C.

    Anybody else heard about that construction worker who buried Sox gear in the new Yankee Stadium? What a prick.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos

    Nevermind .320 – if Molina can hit .280, that’s good enough for me.

    I don’t see this happening this year, but come 2009, when Giambi disappears, Posada should definitely spend the spring working on 1B for flexibility purposes (unless we add Texiera). In any event, by 2010 he’s clearly a fulltime 1B/DH.

    And if Molina can hit .280, with his defense, I’m perfectly fine with him being our starting catcher during the bridge period between when Jorge moves to 1B/DH and when one of the kids (Cervelli, Pilletere, Montero, Romine) is ready. It’ll be just like Girardi holding the fort down for Posada all those years ago…

  • Bart

    nothing far fetched – the Yankees should have had saving Jorge’s bat in mind when they gave him the contract — Molina can catch and if he can hit beeter than whoever WOULD be playing 1B or DH if not for Jorge in the slot then the Yanks are offense ahead. There are only a handful of catchers in history who have put up Posada’s number and had above average defense and game calling skills. He will not be easy to replace – but there is no reason to use him up either if you can protect his bast for the 3 years. If he gets enough turns away from C this year it may salvage a few more games down the road if one of the 1B free agents is too good to pass up and he has to spend more time at C and DH to stay in the lineup.

  • Count Zero

    Heh — this is crazy, but not all that crazy.

    As I said the other night in the AG thread when he was called up — anybody notice that we suddenly have very good defense up the middle? Molina, AG, Cano and Melky make for a very nice defensive anchor. Too bad only Cano can hit — oh, wait — he’s the only one NOT hitting right now. ;-)

    Too bad it’s unlikely to last…

  • LiveFromNewYork

    If we could rid ourselves of Farnsworth and Hawkins and bring Shelley back up, I’d be happy.