Throughout the 2000's, the trio of Molina catchers thrilled fans of numerous teams with their cannon-like arms from behind the plate. St. Louis Cardinals fans still marvel at the youngest of the trio, Yadier Molina, as he has played his entire 11-year career with just the one team. Yadier will enter 2015 with a career 45% caught-stealing mark and .284 batting average. The oldest, Bengie Molina, retired after 2010 as a career .275 hitter with a 31% caught-stealing rate for four different teams in 13 years, most notably the Anaheim and Los Angeles Angels.
Now, Major League Baseball may see the end of the career for the middle brother, Jose. FOX Sports and MLB Network baseball analyst Jon Morosi has reported that Jose Molina will undergo knee surgery, which will keep him out of action "for a long, indefinite period."
Free agent catcher Jose Molina said he must undergo knee surgery and will be out for a "long, indefinite period."— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 6, 2015
Molina experienced soreness in his right knee toward the end of the 2014 season as a backup catcher with the Tampa Bay Rays. He never went on the disabled list, but as Adam Berry of MLB.com reports, Molina will need the surgery very soon. Neither Morosi nor Berry indicated exactly when the surgery will occur. Molina has had only one stint on the disabled list -- in 2009 due to a left quadriceps strain.
At age 40, that "long, indefinite period" could possibly mean the end of Molina's career. As good as he is defensively, a 40-year-old backup catcher recovering from knee surgery and carrying a .233 career batting average will find it very difficult for any team to give him another chance. The Rays released him in November to start rebuilding after their fourth-place finish in 2014. Molina is officially a free agent.
As tough as it is for any player to see his career possibly end due to injury, Molina can take solice in his 2002 World Series title with the then-Anaheim Angels -- one that he shares with his brother Bengie. He was Bengie's backup that season. Jose picked up a second ring as the backup catcher with the New York Yankees in 2009 behind Jorge Posada. Yadier has also won two World Series rings with the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011. Imagine how proud Mr. and Mrs. Molina must feel.
Perhaps Jose Molina can find that one team willing to give him one last chance if/when he recovers enough to play again. If not, then he, like many catchers, may make a fine coach and eventual manager.
Should Molina not return to an active roster, he will end his career with a line of .233/.282/.327, 39 HR, 223 RBI, 3.0 WAR, and a 37% caught-stealing rate from behind the plate. He began his Major League career with 10 games for the Chicago Cubs in 1999. In 2001, he made it to the Majors for good with the Angles for seven years, Yankees for three, Toronto Blue Jays for two, and Rays for three. He was mostly a backup catcher with his two highest totals of games played coming with the 2008 Yankees, 100, when Posada was injured and 102 for the 2012 Rays.