Yet another trade we didn't see coming, as the Giants send Bengie Molina and a cashier's check to the Rangers for reliever Chris Ray and an unnamed (and eventually forgotten) minor leaguer. Richard Durrett:
The move will give the Rangers a right-handed hitting veteran catcher with a career .275 batting average. Molina, who turns 36 in July, is batting .257 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 61 games (202 at-bats) for the Giants this season. He is making $4.5 million this season.
The Giants can afford to do the deal because they can slip rookie Buster Posey behind the plate as the starter.
Rangers catchers were hitting .212 coming into Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Angels, the lowest in the majors.
The position has been in flux since spring training, when Jarrod Saltalamacchia wasn't healthy to start the season. Matt Treanor is hitting .237 with five homers and 23 RBIs as the No. 1 catcher. Max Ramirez, his backup, is hitting .227 with two homers and eight RBIs.
You just never know in this game. I've mentioned this before, but not so long ago the Rangers were loaded with promising young catchers: Saltalamacchia, Ramirez, and let's not forget Taylor Teagarden, too. One or two of those young men were supposed to replace Gerald Laird, and with aplomb.
Instead the Rangers have been reduced to relying on veteran Matt Treanor first, and now super-veteran Bengie Molina, the Slowest Man in the Major Leagues.
As poorly as the Rangers' catchers have performed this season, Molina's probably an upgrade ... but how much, approximately? His .257/.312/.332 line this season isn't exactly Mauerian, and while Molina's probably better than that line, moving to the American League isn't likely to help him a great deal. Desperate times, I guess.
Meanwhile, Ray's essentially a throw-in, as the Giants have little need for a replacement-level reliever, their top six bullpen guys ranking among the better corps in the league. This move does probably (and finally) open the way for Posey to strap on the tools and get behind the plate, most days. Which in turn frees up first base for Aubrey Huff. All of which may work out nicely, especially if Pat Burrell keeps hitting.