Thursday, January 21, 2010

Yadier Molina: St. Louis Golden Boy

Yadier Molina has three goals for this season.

“I’m looking to win a World Series, try to hit .300 and try to win another Gold Glove,” said Molina recently at the St. Louis Cardinals winter fan festival.

On a Red Bird team where Albert Pujols is “El Hombre,” many players tend to go unnoticed.

The young Molina should not.

In five seasons, he has won two Gold Gloves, caught one 20-game winner, caught one Cy Young award winner, and was elected to start in last year's All-Star Game at his own home turf.

"Yadi", as known in the Gateway Arch city, hit the home run shot that gave the Cardinals the lead in Game Seven of the 2006 National League Championship Series.

In the same game Molina was who called for Adam Wainwright to pitch the the change up to fellow Puerto Rican and Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, setting the stage for Adam Wainwright's curve ball for the final out and a trip to the World Series.

Last season, he was a key player in their National League Central Division championship.

In a few interviews during the winter, Molina said similar words about his goals but he emphasized on winning his third National League Gold Glove in a row.

Possibly nowadays some players do not give real importance to the Gold Glove Award, which is given annually for those who have shown a superb individual performance in their fielding position.

The award, presented by Rawlings, is given in both the National League and American League.

For Molina it is really important. He wants to prove that he is the best catcher today in baseball.

Not that he has anything against his older brothers, fellow major league catchers, Giants Bengie Molina, and Yankees Jose Molina.

He just wants to be the best.

Not an easy task when he wants to emulate his hero, future Hall-of-Famer Ivan Rodriguez.

Molina knows his baseball history and particularly that defensively, "Pudge" Rodriguez has won the most Gold Gloves as a catcher in Major League history with 13 career awards in the American League.

Molina also knows that since 1988 catchers from his native Puerto Rico have dominated the Gold Glove Award, except in the 1991 and 2005 seasons.

Those names are Rodriguez, brother Bengie, Benito Santiago, and Sandy Alomar Jr., and he wants to keep on the tradition.

Manager Tony La Russa has said publicly that he has a lot of confidence in Molina and expects him, once again, to have a great 2010 season.

As for Molina, he knows he is not Pujols, but he is the gold glove “hombre” behind the plate.

Latino Winners of the most Gold Gloves at his position:
Catcher-Ivan Rodriguez / 13

First Base- Vic Power / 7

Second Base- Roberto Alomar / 10

Third Base- Adrian Beltre / 2

Shortstop- Omar Vizquel / 11

Outfield- Roberto Clemente / 12

Pitcher- Joaquin Andujar; Johan Santana; Fernando Valenzuela / 1

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