His buddy Albert Pujols used to be the player synonymous with the franchise name. Now Yadier Molina, who yesterday signed a five-year/$75 million extension with a mutual option for a sixth season and has a no-trade clause to boot, has cemented himself in St. Louis. He is happy to be here and the Cardinals are happy to have him here. It is a very big win for each party in more ways than one.
Pujols’ departure left a feeling of a void in the franchise. Yes, the team was still going to be good. Yes, they had a player signed through 2016 already (Matt Holliday) who has the ability to become a bigger figure in Cardinal lore. But, they didn’t have the player who has the chance to be a lifer except for Adam Wainwright and Molina.
Wainwright’s spot on this team is indeed extremely important. But who knows what is going to happen with his arm. While he looks good so far this spring, one wrong move and everything could crumble quickly. Molina on the other hand is a workhorse. He is durable. He is the glue to the pitching staff. Each of the pitchers on this roster would point to Molina as the key to it all. Players in the field look to him as the general during games. Manager Mike Matheny, the coaching staff, general manager John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt Jr. point to Molina as a necessity. He is more than a player. He is the player the Cardinals are building around.
It is not because of this improvement at the plate. It is not because he is great behind the plate. It is because of everything he embodies when away from the plate. Hard working. Competitive. A winner. The Cardinals let a sure fire Hall of Famer walk in order to have the financial ability to keep the player they felt can rally a team, and more. The organization sees Molina as the man who puts a fire into others. He is someone young and old players should model themselves after.
After allowing Pujols to go on his way and follow the money, the Cardinals found that losing Molina would be devastating to their ability to win games and his loss would be a detriment to the clubhouse. This extension, while maybe longer than it should be in some eyes, shows the Cardinals are committed to keeping players who are more than great on the field. The Cardinals want players who are great everywhere else too. Yadier Molina, in the eyes of the St. Louis Cardinals is just that, the face of the franchise.
MATHENY GRANTS FRIDAY RELAXER
Matheny let his players know early on this week that if they worked hard there would be a prize coming their way. According to MLB.com reporter Jenifer Langosch, that award has been granted in the form of a shortened workout today. Players will have finished with a light workout by 10:00 AM this morning, which is typically the time the workouts begin. The spring is long and Matheny must feel confident that his players are on schedule and ready for Monday’s first spring training game.
INTRASQUAD GAME AND SPRING OPENER
There is word that Matheny may conduct an intrasquad game on Sunday ahead of the pre-season opener. The starting pitcher for the opener is set to be Kyle Lohse. Matheny has yet to establish or release the rest of the pitching schedule. He could do so as early as today.
- Scott Linebrink is feeling better today and was scheduled to throw batting practice tomorrow according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Former manager Tony La Russa is in the area and is expected to stop by camp over the weekend.
- Langosch notes that Chris Carpenter and Wainwright threw side sessions yesterday.