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The Defense Of Yadier Molina

Posted on August 29, 2012 at 6:50 AM
Filed Under: Heroes and Goats | Pittsburgh Pirates | St. Louis Cardinals
And to think, we almost made it through the season without an Incident.

You know, one of those moments where the national press and those that think the worst of the Cardinals get a chance to moralize or condemn the squad as "whiners".  Without Tony La Russa, we'd been relatively free of the drama that had surrounded this team in the last few years.

This time, though, we aren't talking about lights on the field or a blowup with a reporter.  We're talking the health and continued playability of Yadier Molina, something much more important (and much less deserving of the crybaby label that some love to put on this team).

You know by now that Josh Harrison plowed into Molina at the plate last night, throwing a forearm shiver at his head instead of trying for the hook slide or at least crashing into the body.  If you for some reason haven't seen it or want to refer to it, this is what it looked like.

 

Looking at the responses on Twitter, even Pirate fans were not pleased with what Harrison did.  As they pointed out, if he tries to hook slide, he's probably safe and the game goes on.  Instead, he wanted to be the football player and tried to take out Molina, which you have to know isn't happening.  I heard that in some versions, they replaced Gandalf with Molina for the famous "You shall not pass" scene because it made it more believable.

Folks, you know it's serious when Molina has to be helped off the field.  Molina is a rock in this lineup, already playing on a bad ankle because he wants to help the team.  To see him roll around on the field and have to leave the game, well, it's not surprising that it stirred up some passions in the clubhouse.

When you have a former catcher whose career ended due to concussions and a TLR-trained team that (for whatever your opinion of it) feel like they've been trained to play the game the "right way", a dirty play like that is not going to go unanswered.  (To be fair, I don't think Harrison intended to harm Molina, but ignorance isn't necessarily a defense.)  Sadly, one of the highlights of Jake Westbrook's night was his plunking of Harrison later on, to send a message that his sort of play wasn't tolerated.

Both sides were warned after that, of course, but Clint Hurdle came out to argue that ruling.  Apparently, that didn't set well with the keeper of the flame.  The Warrior was with the team in Pittsburgh and in fine form as well.  We heard earlier in the day that Chris Carpenter had thrown a bullpen session (more on that in a bit), but I'm pretty sure he was wanting to fire one past Hurdle right then.  If nothing else, sitting on the bench hasn't diluted Carp's fiery competitiveness.  I know I would never want to be on his bad side!

Thankfully, there doesn't seem to be any lasting injuries with Molina, who was diagnosed with multiple strains but no concussion or anything of the sort.  Molina is the player this team can probably least afford to lose for an extended period of time.  The Cardinals are covering just in case, sending down Brandon Dickson (who wouldn't be able to help more this week anyway and will possibly return when the rosters expand) and Ryan Jackson (who barely has gotten to play in his time in the bigs) so as to recall Trevor Rosenthal and Bryan Anderson.  If it's like the last time Anderson came up, he'll never get into a game, but it's good to have that insurance behind Tony Cruz.

At the time of the Incident, it was 1-0.  Sadly, it didn't stay that way but even if it had, it likely would have just added to the pile of one-run losses that the Cards have endured.  James McDonald has been able to get no one out since the All-Star Break except those wearing the birds on the bat.  McDonald now has a string of 14 scoreless innings against the club in the last two weeks, allowing only two hits over that span.  Pedro Alvarez continues to destroy Cardinal pitching, launching two home runs and going 4-5.  Nothing about last night went the Cardinals way. (Versus the Cards, Alvarez has four home runs in 49 at-bats and his hitting .347/.429/.633, well above his season totals of .240/.321/.462.)

Westbrook gets the Goat, throwing his second straight ugly start after signing the contract extension.  It got away from him in the fifth, where trailing by 3-0 he let it run up to 7-0 before he got an out.  Mike Matheny left him out there to save the pen, because it seemed unlikely the club was coming back anyway, and it gave him the chance to retaliate against Harrison.  Dickson was able to absorb the rest of the game, allowing just one earned run (two total) in his three innings and looking much better than what we saw from him in Cincinnati.

Tough to give a Hero to a team that only got five hits, so let's give it to Molina.  He had one of those and obviously gave his all for the team last night.

The better and more intriguing news of yesterday was the bullpen session of Carpenter and the resulting speculation that, just maybe, Carp's not done for 2012.  The club isn't completely ruling out that Carpenter could be a bullpen option down the stretch, which would make for an exciting option in September.  I don't expect it will happen, but those involved were being awfully noncommittal.  You'd have expected a more definite "no, he should be ready for spring but not going to push him before that" if that wasn't at least on the minds of those making decisions.  If nothing else, seeing Carpenter on a major league mound would put John Mozeliak's mind at ease when he goes into the offseason.

We've never seen Carp in the pen.  Would he be able to get out of that starter mentality and go right at people?  Uh, yeah, probably.  The problem might be controlling that aggression!  The bigger issue would be if he could go on shorter rest, if he could warm up quickly, those things that are different about a starter than a reliever.  I'd definitely be willing to find out, though!

Big rubber game of the series tonight.  Cards need it to keep any sort of momentum going, Pirates need it to stay relevant in the wild-card hunt.  The Cardinals have to put last night behind them and, to their credit, we saw them do that in just the last series, getting blown out by Cincy and then coming back to take the last game.  Need a little repeating history here.

Joe Kelly gets back into the rotation and goes today.  He was solid against the Pirates in that extra-inning game, giving up one run in 5.2 innings.  Obviously, Pittsburgh hasn't seen him much, but he's gotten them out when he has faced them.
 
PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS IBB HBP GDP
Pedro Alvarez 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .333 .000 .333 1 0 0
Clint Barmes 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .333 .000 .333 0 1 0
Michael McKenry 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
Josh Harrison 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0
Garrett Jones 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 1.000 1.500 0 0 0
Andrew McCutchen 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
Jordy Mercer 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0
Gaby Sanchez 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0
Travis Snider 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
Jose Tabata 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0
James McDonald 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0
Total 24 20 5 1 0 0 0 3 4 .250 .375 .300 .675 1 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/29/2012.

He was able to handle Alvarez, which is huge. If he pitches like he has most of the year, the Cards should have a good chance to win.

Of course, they are going up against one of their nemeses in Wandy Rodriguez.  Rodriguez often handled the Cardinals in Houston and pitched the last two innings of the extra-inning affair, getting the win.   

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP missG
Yadier Molina 41 38 8 2 0 0 3 3 6 .211 .268 .263 .531 0 0 0 0 1
Matt Holliday 38 35 10 2 1 3 8 3 8 .286 .342 .657 .999 0 0 0 0 1
Skip Schumaker 25 25 6 0 0 0 1 0 3 .240 .240 .240 .480 0 0 0 0 1
Carlos Beltran 22 20 8 2 0 3 4 2 4 .400 .455 .950 1.405 0 0 0 0 0
Rafael Furcal 21 16 4 0 1 0 0 5 4 .250 .429 .375 .804 0 0 0 0 0
David Freese 15 14 2 1 0 0 1 1 3 .143 .200 .214 .414 0 0 0 0 3
Jon Jay 13 13 5 2 0 0 0 0 2 .385 .385 .538 .923 0 0 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 9 7 1 1 0 0 1 2 1 .143 .333 .286 .619 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Lohse 8 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .167 .167 .167 .333 2 0 0 0 0
Tony Cruz 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jaime Garcia 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Daniel Descalso 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 199 181 45 10 2 6 18 16 35 .249 .310 .425 .735 2 0 0 0 6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/29/2012.

Matt Holliday has done well against him and, if Carlos Beltran wasn't "lost" (his words), this might be a good matchup for him as well. The Cardinals are really going to have to battle tonight and show that they want this win. Here's hoping they get it! 

Housekeeping: Remember today is the last day to get your entry in for the Egraphs giveaway.  You've got up until tonight's UCB Radio Hour, which will be hosted by me as well.  Lots of entries so far but still pretty good odds so get your entry in!

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1 Comments

1 Comment | Leave a comment

I know I am going to be viewed as the bad guy here, but oh well.

The article was a good analysis of the situation and since I had not seen it the video helped. My question is "was the hit legal"?

If a rule was not broken then I am okay with the hit. I felt the same way after the big Buster Posey collision and when I first saw the Ray Fosse-Pete Rose collision. If players have a problem with the play then just don't play and buy a ticket where they would be safer.

Of course if there is a rule that was broken then that is different. If MLB wants to make a rule against the play then so be it. I won't complain, but as I understand it now the play was perfectly legal. Maybe not cool, but legal.

With that said, I am glad to hear the Molina is going to be okay. Just to be clear I am also totally okay if MLB wants to make a rule change to prevent these unfortunate incidents in the future.

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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
Yadier Molina (5)
Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Pete Kozma (3)
Shelby Miller (3)
Adam Wainwright (3)
Allen Craig (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Tyler Lyons (2)
Edward Mujica (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Goats
Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

2012
Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

2011
Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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