It's not the Cliff Lee hunt, and John Mozeliak probably has to do this small-fry Winter Meetings dealing in a broom closet somewhere in a Days Inn by the conference hotel, but the St. Louis Cardinals are still involved in discussions as the Winter Meetings begin their penultimate day in Orlando. Derrick Goold reports they might rope themselves a genuine backup catcher as soon as this afternoon. Tops on their list and mine is Gregg Zaun, the Practically Perfect Backup Catcher, so good that he probably should have been starting most of his career. But catching in St. Louis is a family business, and Bengie Molina hasn't yet been counted out as an option behind younger brother Yadier.â†µ
For a catcher who started for two World Series teams Bengie Molina didn't have a great 2010. In 118 games between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers he hit just five home runs, his fewest since his last World Series trip in 2002, and without the power to balance out his awful on-base percentage he had one of the least effective offensive seasons of his career. Things weren't much better on defense; at 35 Bengie appears to have put on some significant weight, and his immobility has coincided with a long-term decline in the effectiveness of his throwing arm.
Molina would likely be better than late-period Jason LaRue—he did have a .727 OPS in 2009—and more importantly his reputation as a starter and a handler of pitchers might keep Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan from running his younger brother into the ground for a second season in a row. But the Cardinals would definitely be buying low.â†µ