St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was placed on the disabled list due to a ligament tear in his right thumb. Molina is said to be out in the 8-12 week range after injuring his thumb while feet head first into third base. The tear came when he used his hand for balance while getting up, Wednesday against the Pittsburg Pirates. The loss of Yadier Molina for that long of a time period will put a knot in the stomach of any Cardinal fan, or any baseball fan for that matter.
Yadier Molina brings so much to the table for the St. Louis Cardinals. Molina is a true competitor and is one of the most exciting baseball players to watch in the game today. The guy literally does everything; on and off the field. Molina is a player that every organization would love to have. The loss of Yadier Molina definitely hurts the Cardinals playoff chances moving forward.
Yadier Molina is a great leader in the club house who makes everyone around him better. Molina also acts as an on-the-field assistant coach. He is able to take control of his team behind the plate and direct them on where to be and what to do. The Redbirds catcher has been one of the best defensive players at his position in the history of the game while becoming a leader over the years. Molina has such a good arm that he picks off base runners more often than most other catchers. He shuts down the running game and is essentially a brick wall when it comes to blocking pitches in the dirt.
With defense being the name of his game, Cardinal fans were delighted when Molina worked incredibly hard at improving his offensive skills. Molina went from being hitter with a lower batting average around .250-.260 early in his career, to a player who is expected to hit .300+. He has become a clutch, contact bat who is as tough of an out as they come. Molina has not only become a dependable middle of the order bat for St. Louis over the years, but a complete, all-around baseball player.
The loss of Yadier Molina raises a serious question mark for the St. Louis Cardinals: do they make a trade for a catcher or stay put with Tony Cruz? It will be a gruelling 8-12 weeks while Molina is out with his injury, but the Cardinals must continue to push forward for a National League Central title. According to ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield, the Cardinals difference in winning percentage with Molina versus without him will cost the team four and a half wins over the expected 60 days that Molina will be out. In a four team race for the pennant, four wins might be the difference between first and third in the division.
One possibility is going after A.J. Pierzynski in a trade, who was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox. He is a veteran catcher who is not what he used to be, but Pierzynski would offer experience to a team without their star player. The Cardinals definitely have the pieces to be able to acquire a catcher for the time being until All-Star Yadier Molina returns from his injury. The likes of minor leaguers, John Gast or Tyler Lyons might be enough to get a catcher that would provide better results than Tony Cruz. Gast and Lyons could be back of the rotation starters for a number of teams in the Major Leagues.
Give some credit to Cruz, however, as he has been a solid back up catcher. He does what is asked of him and somehow comes up with big hits in big situations. Cruz has done a fine job with the pitching staff when Molina has needed a day off too. One question remains though, is Cruz’s everyday production going to be enough for the Cardinals to reach the playoffs? The real question becomes, can the Cardinals, as a whole, fix their offensive struggles enough to reach the postseason?
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