How much longer will ‘Yadi! Yadi! Yadi!’ chants be heard at Busch Stadium? Is it smart to pay a catcher into his thirties?
The St. Louis Cardinals made a perilous decision to let Albert Pujols walk. They have another one looming with All Star catcher Yadier Molina, whose contract is up after the 2012 season.
The Cardinals were reluctant to extend Pujols’ contract when they had years of exclusive negotiating rights. If this winter proves anything, it’s a murky situation for All-Star catcher Yadier Molina.
The Cardinals seem OK with letting him test free agency. I am skeptical they are going to sign him. If the Cardinals have plans on retaining him, why would they wait until he becomes a free agent?
There is a lot of speculation that Molina will follow his buddy and sign with the Angels. Yadi will certainly take the highest offer on the table. If the Angles happen to make that offer then so be it, but he won’t take any sort of pay cut to play alongside El Hombre.
After the Cardinals historic 2011 World Series victory, Yadi was asked on the field about the possibility of Albert leaving. The first words out of his mouth: “It’s a business.” That’s very telling for anyone listening. Plus, it will be his first chance at free agency and probably his last big time contract.
Molina on field after Game 7 regarding Pujols:
Yadi turns 30 in July. He has logged close to 9,000 innings behind the plate. Outside of “Pudge” Ivan Rodriguez, it is rare to see a productive catcher in their mid to late 30’s.
That being said, Yadi had a career year at the plate in 2011. He was 2nd among catchers in AVG (.305), 6th in OBP (.349), 5th in SLG (.465) and 5th in OPS (.814). He also had a career high in home runs with 14.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch says that Yadi reported early to Spring Training and looks leaner than ever before. Yadi knows what’s at stake.
Molina is more valuable now to the Cardinals than ever before. With Dave Duncan gone, the pitching staff, essentially, is his. Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter wouldn’t want to throw to anybody else. Also, he is instrumental towards developing the talented, yet skittish, Jaime Garcia. The luxury of Yadier behind the plate is unmeasurable for a pitcher.
The front office claimed they could not (financially) put a winning team around Albert if they paid him what he asked. If they fail to sign Yadi, they have some serious explaining to do.
Hopefully, Cardinal fans get to see more of these for years to come.