Feb. 22: Q of the Day
Are the Cardinals happy with Tony Cruz as a back-up catcher or do they have an upgrade in mind? Although he had a great year, a little more time off for Yadier Molina might result in an even better season for him.
— Bob K., Chicago
First off, unless injuries dictate him doing so, Molina is not going to be increasing his number of off days. He won’t allow it. The Cardinals wouldn’t want it. And no numbers would suggest that he need it. Over the final month of the season last year, Molina hit .275 with five homers and 14 RBIs (25 gams started). That batting average was below Molina’s season average, but it wasn’t drastically different enough to suggest that the Cardinals would have been better off playing someone in his place.
Molina has played in at least 136 games each of the last four seasons, making him the most heavily worked catcher in the Majors. Yet, he still remains also one of the most productive on offense.
As for Cruz, the Cardinals were pleased with the job he did as a backup. As long as Cruz works well with the pitching staff, the Cardinals aren’t that concerned about what he does offensively. It’s also hard to expect much more production from Cruz at the plate given how sporadic his playing time is.
Keep in mind, too, that had the Cardinals wanted to upgrade by signing another catcher this winter, they’d be attempting to sell a job that would offer only about 20-30 starts. Catchers who have options on where to play will often be drawn somewhere where there is more time available.
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