It seems like an annual Astros’ Spring Training rite: Determining who the starting catcher will be. This year, and for the foreseeable future, you can blame Ed Wade and the gang for assuming that they’d locked the question up. Jason Castro was going to be given the reins of the team. That much, then, was settled.
Until it wasn’t.
Castro’s season came to a screeching halt when he tore the ACL in his right knee, leaving the Astros once again fielding the question: Who will start at catcher?
Defensive stalwart Humberto Quintero is an option, if not a great one on the offensive side of the plate; former top prospect J.R. Towles is also lingering around, after a few unsuccessful major league stints.
There are a few options that may be available via trade, but in my opinion, a rebuilding team like the Astros would be foolish to give away any piece of merit for what amounts to being – at best – a one-year stopgap behind the plate.
Then there’s Bengie Molina.
Molina, a thirteen-year veteran with the Angels, Blue Jays, Giants, and Rangers, is leaning towards retirement, but has said that he would be open to signing with a team where he could get full-time employment.
He would certainly become the number one option behind the plate, probably with Quintero filling in from the bench. He would no doubt be available at a reasonable price, similar to the Ivan Rodriguez deal.
Though last year was not a good one for Molina, it was the first time since 2003 that he slugged below .400. The last time the Astros had a catcher with over 150 plate appearances who slugged .400 or better, the year was 2001 and the catcher’s name was Tony Eusebio. Molina also brings a veteran presence to a team that seems to get younger by the minute.