Molina Needs a Trusted Advisor, but Would it Matter?

photo: Yadier Molina via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

A chronicle of Yadier Molina’s questionable social media posts in recent years, including his latest – an ill-advised and wildly off-target protest over the 2020 Gold Glove Award process and perceived racism in Major League Baseball – has been accurately presented by Ben Fredrickson of the Post-Dispatch. If you haven’t read Ben’s column, please do.

Ben suggests the long-time catching star should and will be re-signed to a new contract with the St. Louis Cardinals – but first, he should be talked to about his damaging Instagram forays.

I agree with all of that, with the caveat that his offer in money and years should be capped (the details of which are a different topic for a different day).

Where I am most skeptical, however, is that a stern talking-to is going to change Molina. After all, this is at least the third such example of him stepping out of line publicly, drawing (warranted) criticism to himself and his employer.

If it didn’t get fixed before, why now?

Yadier Molina

I get that Molina (like many athletes) use perceived snubs as motivation, but he needs to keep a lid on it.

But is the real issue that he shares his feelings publicly? What about the fact he is thinking these things in the first place?

That Molina doesn’t understand how the Gold Glove Awards are chosen is one thing. That he believes he is being conspired against and discriminated against is another.

That he has personal feelings about COVID is one thing, but that he posts photos socializing with unmasked teammates following a lockdown that shut down his team for days is another.

That he was frustrated by his manager is one thing, but going public with his concerns, knowing it will undermine the manager’s position is another.

The root problem appears to be deeper than Instagram.

It seems to me that Molina could really benefit from a father figure who sees the big picture – a person Molina can discuss matters with and perhaps become more enlightened in the process. It would have to be a person he respects and trusts.

But Molina is no longer a 22-year old rookie. At the age of 38, would he listen? Would he seek counsel before firing his missives?

Probably not or it would have happened by now.

I expect Molina will continue to be himself, including these unfortunate instances when he makes himself and others look bad in the process.

In fact, it may only get worse if Molina refuses to acknowledge that even he is aging and that he should actively help groom and support his catching successor, rather than to fight to play every day.

On the surface is his insistence that he is the best option to be in the lineup without exception, an assertion that even his manager admits he agrees with. Yet there is also the unspoken matter of his career legacy – that continuing to build his personal stats is significant to him.

What is going to happen when  – not if – these two factors are no longer in sync?

Maybe taking away his Instagram account would move these issues further into the background, but it wouldn’t address the core problems.

In fairness, nothing Molina had done – until his latest claims that the game is trying to protect Johnny Bench’s records at his expense while playing the race card in the process – seemed more than a local matter. But his most recent salvo has drawn much more negative attention nationally – not an ideal PR move by a desiring future first-ballot Cooperstown candidate.

I want to be clear that I hope the two sides can come to a new contract that makes sense for all and enable Molina to complete his illustrious career as a Cardinal. I just am not holding out hope that this is the end of his public outbursts.

P.S. I ask you to take these kinds of incidents to heart if you are among those in the camp who think Molina would make an ideal big-league manager upon his retirement. The skills that make him a future Hall of Fame catcher are not all the same that enable men to be an effective leader in all aspects of a very complex job.

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