On the Bengie Molina trade

As I think everyone knows by now, the Rangers and Giants have agreed to a deal that would send Chris Ray to the Giants, along with a player to be named later, in exchange for Bengie Molina and cash.  The Giants are paying the difference between Molina's salary and Ray's salary the rest of the year.

I'm okay with this deal, assuming that the PTBNL isn't Robbie Erlin or Robbie Ross or someone of significance. 

The Rangers have gotten by so far this year with the Matt Treanor/Max Ramirez combo behind the plate, but Treanor is 34 and has never appeared in more than 67 games in the majors, while Max is considered to be weak defensively, particularly in his game calling. 

Ken Rosenthal thinks this is a good deal for the Rangers, and thinks the Giants are taking a risk in giving up Molina, despite his obvious flaws:

Molina doesn’t get on base, doesn’t hit for power, can’t run. His offensive deficiencies will be less of an issue with the Rangers, the AL’s third-highest scoring club. The Giants are painfully slow, grounding into more double plays than any team in the NL by a wide margin.

The question is whether the Giants will gain enough offense to compensate for the loss of Molina’s defense. Manager Bruce Bochy, a former catcher, staunchly supported Molina, recognizing his value behind the plate.

Rosenthal says neither Treanor nor Ramirez can match Molina's ability to handle a staff, and as I've talked about before, that is a point of emphasis with the Rangers.  Catcher defense -- and in particular, the game calling and pitching staff handling aspects of it -- are just about impossible for us on the outside to evaluate well, and I am not sure how much of an impact it really has.

However, Oakland and Boston are also organizations that have, in recent years, put a lot of emphasis on that aspect of the catching game.  And when Billy Beane and Theo Epstein indicate that they think something is important, that gets my attention.

Of additional interest is Rosenthal saying that the Rangers are heavily in on Cliff Lee, whose expiring deal and relatively low salary makes him a more attractive trade target, if the ownership situation doesn't get resolved, than Roy Oswalt would be. 

One other note on Molina...this year, while he's been terrible overall with the bat, he's hit .385/.453/.473 against LHPs.  Last year, he hit .277/.315/.563.  If the Rangers start him against all the lefties they face, and use him sparingly against righthanders, he may actually help the lineup.

What shall be interesting to see is what the Rangers do with their roster.  With Ray out and Molina in, the Rangers are going to be at a 7 man bullpen.  The Rangers could send down Omar Beltre and bring up Doug Mathis or Guillermo Moscoso, if they want to go back to an 8 man pen, but they'd need another starter on Monday (unless they opted to go with Dustin Nippert there).

They could send Max Ramirez down and bring up Mathis or Moscoso or someone to fill out the bullpen.  I'd rather they not send Ramirez out, though...having Ramirez would give the Rangers more flexibility for pinch running for Molina late in games or hitting for Molina or Treanor, and Ramirez could spell Justin Smoak at first base.

That would mean cutting Joaquin Arias loose, of course, and the Rangers seem loathe to do that...but I think it would be the right move.

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