How important is Yadier Molina to the St. Louis Cardinals this month? Well, how important is water to the human body? Without it, the overall function of the body goes down. Specialized units are damaged. The longevity of the operation is hindered. Imagine a car engine without oil. A pizza without cheese. A salad without dressing. A barbecue without charcoal.
The Cardinals need Molina in more ways than a baseball card can reveal. If a chef was looking at the 2015 Cardinals in a kitchen before the last big meal and saw no Yadi available, he would be lost. The status of Molina this week is the biggest story for a good reason. Yesterday, a hand specialist told Molina that the ligament in his right hand still wasn’t fully healed but that a splint could put on and the player could try and manage the pain.
The next 48-72 hours will be interesting. Can Yadi catch 100-125 pitches in a game? Can his hand handle the pain, especially when a guy like Jaime Garcia is throwing pitches every way but loose towards the plate? What will he be able to do with a bat in his hands? Will the cool chill blunt force of the bat meeting the baseball send a shockwave of pain down Yadier’s hand? Can he handle it? Well, he did just lead the Major Leagues in innings caught behind home plate and those knees have endured 1464 games in his career. I wouldn’t count him out. He’s just too valuable.
Remember last year’s NLCS against the Giants? Molina missed the last three games and the Cardinals were eliminated. You think there’s a connection there or we all still agreeing it was Randy Choate’s fault? The Yadier Effect is powerful ladies and gents.
Why did the Cardinals pitching staff keep it together this season? Molina. He is the captain, general, sheriff or whatever you want to call him on the field. Opposing managers lose sleep thinking about him behind the plate controlling the running game. Baserunners have to rethink their stealing abilities because Yadier has a good chance of gunning you down if you try to go. The Cardinals rotation ERA led the Majors without Adam Wainwright. The bullpen ERA was second in the league. You see a connection here? Yadier Molina is the constant in this successful operation. He is the scalpel. His catcher’s ERA of 2.79 led the majors as well. He also led the league in “Don’t Even Think About” staring contests.
Take that away and what are the Cardinals? Human. Beatable. The Cardinals will be a fragile human species in this playoff hunt if they don’t have Molina. There’s death, taxes and Yadier catching playoff games. He has the most playoff experience of any Cardinal on the roster. He doesn’t have a bad bat either, compiling a .290 batting average in 86 playoff games with 31 RBI and 17 doubles. He’s a smart hitter who can work a pitcher over without even swinging the bat. He’s valuable anywhere on a baseball field.
If you are a religious person, toss in a few Hail Mary’s for Yadier’s thumb this week. Don’t think. Just do it. Remember, back in the Great Depression, people gathered in a church and prayed for a boxer to score a huge win. This is not far fetched. If you are friendly with the big man upstairs, talk to him about Yadier.
If you want to see the Cardinals go deep into this postseason, they will need their general in tow. Sure, Yadier can be a fine cheerleader and mentor to Tony Cruz. Sure, Cruz has done fine in relief of Molina. As everybody and their four year son knows, however, there is only one Yadier Molina and he’s very good at his job.
He’s needed this month and maybe the first week of November as well. If the St. Louis Cardinals want to celebrate on Clark and Spruce this winter, they will need a little cowbell and Yadier Molina to get the job done. He’s been a part of the last two World Series titles and knows his way around a big game. He won’t be 100 percent, but then again who is this time of year?
Get well, Yadier. Cardinal Nation needs you to be ready Friday night.