Yadier Molina signed a five year extension with the Cardinals earlier this week. Molina will be the longest tenured Cardinal player, with Chris Carpenter, now that Pujols signed with the AL West contender Angels. Molina is not only the coach on the field, being the manager of the pitching staff while they are on the mound, but he is the rock that needs to become the newest team leader. His bat has been a work in progress but improving the past few years. His glove has earned him four straight gold gloves and a Rawlings Platinum glove that is given to the best defensive player of the year regardless of position. Obviously, he is the most well regarded defender in the game, and now he will be paid like it. Unlike Pujols, the Cardinals were willing to show Molina how important he was to the team earning, the second highest contract for a catcher, only behind the extraordinary Joe Mauer. What that tells everyone is that Molina, as a player and leader, is worth spending despite his age. It also shows the fan base that despite letting “El Hombre” (Pujols) leave, the Cardinals are not going to stand pat.
Molina is 29 years old, which for a catcher is the make or break point. If they can make it at this age then there is a good chance that they will be productive at an older age but this is the time that other catchers start to break down. The Cards are putting a lot of faith paying Molina $60 million from 2013 to 2017. He is the number seven hitter in a lineup, that is very productive and still should be, even with a new number three hitter. This deal is not, I repeat not, about loyalty. There is no such thing as loyalty in sports. It’s about what you can do for me now and whether you are worth the money that we are paying you. And the Cardinals obviously think that he is worth the money, even after showing fans and the team that they are not going to sign a bad contract, even if it means losing a sure fire hall of famer who is (sorry, was) the face of the franchise and the longest tenured redbird. It will remain to be seen whether Molina can overcome the age factor, health factor and keep his defense while still improving his bat. We won’t really know if this deal was a good one until the end of the 2017 season but I believe this signing was the right thing to do and like I said before it’s not just about on the field.
A week after everyone in St. Louis had the pleasure of seeing Pujols in a uniform that didn’t have the birds on the bat, for the first time in over a decade, the Cards made sure that they will have the the rights to keep Molina in the Cardinals uniform for another six years. This was just as important of a message to the fans as it was to Molina and the team. Obviously, they did not do the deal for the fans, but one of the after effects of this deal is that the fans have a renewed sense of reassurance that the Cardinals are still going to spend money, even if its a little tighter than say the Yanks and Red Sox. I know that after Albert left the Cards signed Carlos Beltran and that was supposed to be the guy that will come in and help, with the loss, and it was a good deal. But it still made people question whether or not money was more important. It lessened the blow that the Cardinals “offered” over 200 million to an aging player in a bad economy, like a deal that size would make people less offended in a good economy. But some fans, even if it was in the back of their minds were still questioning what was going to happen now that they showed that they were not going to skyrocket over the $100 million dollar mark. Well, we should be confident that they are going to make some risky but overall smart moves. I’m excited to see Molina probably spend the rest of his years in a Cardinal’s uniform but next up is Wainright and we now have to worry about what is going to happen to him.