Tuesday, January 25, 2005


2004 97 337 93 13 0 10 35 18 0 1 276 313 404 86 .244 26(11)
Car. 97 337 90 15 0 10 31 15 0 1 267 302 385 79 .232 37
Pro. 108 375 99 17 0 10 35 16 0 1 264 294 385 79

2004 73 203 53 10 2 3 52 10 4 1 261 296 375 74 .231 49(1)
Car. 73 181 45 9 1 1 43 8 2 1 251 287 341 62 .217
Pro. 53 134 32 6 1 1 33 6 2 1 240 271 328 58
I think one of the undercovered stories for the Angels in 2004 was the defensive dissolution of Bengie Molina. You can see above that he was much worse than normal in throwing out baserunners, but that's not all. Look at his passed balls per nine innings:

2002:  .044

2003: .038
2004: .071
Now, I'm going to say something here. You should all sit down, and make sure there is no liquid in your mouth that you don't want sprayed on your keyboard. Okay?

You ready?

Bengie Molina is fat and slow.

Take a minute to get your head around that one, so we can continue.

Catchers, as a breed, are slow. But what they have to be is quick. Throwing out runners depends at least as much on footwork as on arm strength, so to be a good catcher you have to be quick and agile with your feet. You have to be able to jump up in a split-second. Otherwise you don't block balls in the dirt and you don't throw out baserunners.

I believe Bengie Molina has reached critical mass here, folks. He's just not as quick and agile behind the plate as he was two years ago. Yes, he's older. He's more injury prone. And there's more weight for him to try to quickly shift to catch the Carl Crawfords of the world.

Jose, in comparison to his brother, is lithe and agile. He went crazy throwing out runners last year, and allowed .051 PB/9 IP. Jose had a great, great year with the glove, and I think his being in relative good shape was a factor in that.

The problem, of course, is that Jose can't really hit. I mean, he did do well by his standards last year, but I don't know that we can count on him doing that again. He seems to be a hard worker, so maybe it is. If he really is in the same neighborhood as Bengie as a hitter, and Bengie's defensive shortcomings continue to grow and his longcomings continue to shrink, there's not much point to keeping Bengie around past 2005.

Both these guys are placeholders, anyway, while we wait for Jeff Mathis. Jeff Mathis, who hit a horrific 223/308/392 in his first extended bout with AA, last season.

Depending on how Mathis bounces back, catcher could be a problem for the Lads in 2006. But, for 2005, Los Dos Molinas should continue to provide their blend of somewhat acceptable offense (for a catcher) and high-upside defense to the Angels. The position shouldn't be a sore on the Angels' 2005, but barring a resurgence in health and defense for Bengie it won't be a source of great strength, either.

Sure, Benjie is slow. And it's possible he's lost some quickness. But I'm not convinced his decline is his fault necessarily, for the same reason I was skeptical that the A's addition of Damien Miller would make a substantial difference in the CS rate; the received wisdom is that pitchers are the ones stolen against, though the catcher absorbs all the blame. There's been a lot of changes in the Angels' starting rotation; mightn't that have something to do with it?
If it's just the pitchers, why did Jose outperform Bengie so?

Well, it is true that Kelvim is pretty bad against baserunners, and that Colon is pretty good, so Jose's job as The Mango's caddy may have something to do with it.

It would be interesting to break it down by how each catcher fared with each pitcher on the mound. I'll have to look into that ...
Good points about Bengie. I thought he was increasingly brutal last year, especially with trying to backhand bouncing sliders. I shudder to imagine how many games this year are going to be squandered because he can't handle K-Rod's wicked one-hoppers....
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