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Erasers on Pencils, Not on the Basepaths

When acknowledging assumptions as mistaken, Bob Murphy philosophized, “That’s why they put erasers on pencils.” You can use the same device to erase all the 6-4-3’s you’d already scratched into your scorebooks for all the double plays Bengie Molina was going to hit into as the Met catcher this season. Scratch ’em out — Molina’s staying a Giant [1] for less money than the Mets were offering.

Gosh, what a shame.

I’m sure I was missing the upside of Bengie Molina the whole time he was deemed a done deal for this and possibly next season. I know he produced 20 home runs in 2009 and 95 RBI in 2008. I understand he’s renowned for his defensive prowess and that he caught a pretty good staff the last two years in San Francisco, including the reigning two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. I know at the moment we’re improvising with an extra-large pillow strapped to a barrel instead of a catcher, but I’m not upset that Molina joins Yorvit Torrealba in a Never Met [2] platoon at the backstop position.

I kept seeing the highlight package SNY kept showing in giving Molina updates and all I could think was, “This guy’s gonna kill one rally after another.” That’s a big assumption. It assumes the Mets were going to have rallies in progress, but I’m willing to go as far as to project a baserunner or two in 2010. What I couldn’t project was a 35-year-old (36 in July), plus-sized, righthanded hitting catcher slower than everybody on the field (and many in the stands) not grounding to shortstop with one on and one out. 6-4-3…6-4-3…I was already seeing it in my nightmares.

In a more optimistic would-be world, Bengie was going to whisper just the right calming advice to Mike Pelfrey, bark the perfect focusing command to Oliver Perez, figure out exactly how to keep Frankie Rodriguez from not giving up grand slams in ninth innings. We might miss all that. We might have to settle for the intermittently inspiring if mostly mediocre Omir Santos, wait impatiently for the development of young Josh Thole and spend more of a summer than we ever desired with Henry Blanco. Or maybe Chris Coste will earn his way onto the roster just so he can have a chance to chat with his beloved ex-Phillies teammates [3] when they come to bat. Who will emerge as our regular starting catcher? Perhaps we’ll have to pretend to pay extra close attention to Spring Training to find out. Perhaps we won’t know for a while after that. Look at this way: Mike Piazza didn’t become our regular starting catcher until the 1998 season was almost a third over.

Now that’s looking at things with rose-colored glasses from behind a catcher’s mask. Until roster lightning strikes, however, the future’s so murky behind the plate, it’s gotta wear a chest protector.