News broke on Sunday that the Tampa Bay Rays traded left-handed-hitting catcher John Jaso for young Seattle Mariners bullpen prospect Josh Lueke. The surprising trade has suddenly shuffled the Rays catching totem pole, which had previously looked like Jaso's to lose.â†µ
And now, with the Rays supposedly in the final stages of acquiring veteran catching Jose Molina, does this mean Yadier's older bro is finally going to get his first starting gig in the majors?
Well, probably not.â†µ
As I detailed earlier, Molina is an absolutely special catcher. His defensive capabilities may be the greatest of the modern era, but limited data on the matter has kept his true value a secret for about a decade plus. Mike Fast exposed Molina's clandestine epicness, and the well-researched Rays were quick to respond it would appear.â†µ
Nonetheless, Molina will turn 37 next June and has never crested 300 plate appearances in a single season. So, the main catching duties likely will fall to Jose Lobaton -- he of the 56 career MLB plate appearances. Lobaton had a solid year with the bat in Durham (Triple-A) in 2011 and is reportedly a strong defensive catcher.â†µ
Also, at age 27, Lobaton ranks as more of a high-upside candidate than the bat-less Molina, who might as well be swinging a sub sandwich at the dish. Lobaton made the majors last year while Jaso struggled with ineffective hitting, bad defense, and injuries, but Lobaton quickly found himself also on the DL, finishing the season injured. Loby should be the starter, but he may get half-time duty as Maddon eases him into MLB action.â†µ
So, Molina will probably not have a full-time starting gig in 2012, but the Rays would not really be crazy to consider it -- assuming his body can handle it. Either way, it seems likely Rays fans will see at least a half-helping a crazy-good pitch framing and wildly terrible hitting.â†µ