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Does Yadi want to be a Cardinal?Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2012, at 9:48 AM
As many of you read this, I know you will likely be sharpening your pitchforks, but it needs to be said. I know it's a sensitive subject at the moment, so I could be gentle. No promises, though.
An interview with longtime Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina by the St. Louis Post Dispatch Sunday really struck a chord with me. In the interview, Molina was being asked about the status of contract negotiations between him and the team.
In the interview he said that negotiations have stopped for the time being. That's not a big deal. In fact, it's pretty common at the beginning of Spring Training when players are trying to find their groove.
Also in the interview, Molina is quoted as saying he would not entertain a "hometown discount." That is also fine. Frankly, I don't think we should keep expecting that from players. I don't agree with the idea that we should expect a player to take less money simply because we "like having him here." I won't argue with a small amount, but be realistic.
In the interview, Yadi said that if the money was there he would stay, if not he would go. I can respect that. Generally, that is what free agency is all about: money.
My problem is not with what Yadi said, but with how some of the things were said.
After watching the video interview, also from the stltoday.com, he said it all very matter of factly. For instance, he made it clear what happens if the money is not there. "If not, I go away."
One other comment that really bothered me was when he almost went the route of Latrell Sprewell when he mentioned having to think about his family. I totally agree that he does need to care for his family. I'm not arguing that. But when you follow that sentence with "if I make good money," well, that bothers me.
This is not the time in the world to be discussing how it's harder to feed your children on $8 million than $10 million. I'm not at all against players making the big bucks, because men much richer are making billions off of them. Which is also fine.
I just feel like if you read through the lines, it gives me the impression maybe he's ready for some change. Truthfully, none of his brothers have shown any entire career allegiance to a team and we shouldn't expect him to. Like he said, it's a business.
Before you all call me a Yadi-hater, I want you to know that I appreciate what he has done for this team as much as anyone. He lends a real coolness to pitchers, throws bullets to second and can even hit the ball.
I also want to be very clear that he said negotiations had stopped "for now, I think." He added that he hoped they would resume by opening day. I would like to see them work something out, but as we learned last year, it never hurts to be prepared for the possibility.
What I'm getting at is that if we have any intention of signing Molina, we need to be working it out now. If it's clear this is not going to happen, then it's time to look at our options.
As far as our minor league system goes, I don't feel like we have a viable replacement. Guys like Tony Cruz and Bryan Anderson might be fine as backup catchers, but they're not going to be the next Molina or Matheny.
There are a number of catchers that could be available in free agency during the next offseason. I hope it doesn't come to that, but if it does, that's baseball.
The other possibility is that you trade him before the July 31 deadline. At the very least you would want to kick the tires on some potential deals and see what's out there. If it's not worth it, don't go there but if he leaves in free agency the only thing we will have to show for it is another sandwich draft pick that won't be of any use in the immediate future which is when we would be needing the help.
My hope is that the team continues negotiations with the Gold Glove catcher's agent until they reach a reasonable agreement that benefits all involved. I would offer 4 years maximum, but maybe leave a team option for the fifth. As far as annual salary I would want him between $8 and $9 million. If he goes for $11 or $12 million, then I think we see him "go away" as he suggested.
If reasonable isn't a possibility, then we'll likely be trying something new.
I look forward to the season and am anxious to see how the year and negotiations turn out.
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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