Daily Bits: Reds fans — please boo Molina

2014-04-02T13:11:00Z 2014-04-02T16:25:05Z Daily Bits: Reds fans — please boo MolinaBernie Miklasz bjmiklasz@post-dispatch.com stltoday.com

Good afternoon …

Here are your Daily Bits for Wednesday, April 2...

CINCINNATI – Yadier Molina will come to bat at the Great American Ball Park tonight, and he will be booed. It's been that way since Molina got into it with Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips here on Aug. 10 of 2010. I don't think I need to kick-start anyone's memory, but just in case

Anyway, I think the booing is funny. I also believe the actual malice is limited. I also believe Reds fans respect Molina but want to playfully give him a hard time because of the teams' rivalry and the infamous '10 scrape.

It's the same on the St. Louis side of these Reds-Cardinals encounters. Cards fans invariably boo Phillips at Busch Stadium, and he seems to enjoy it. Invites it, even. 

When Molina plays in Cincinnati, it's almost like a Wile E. Coyote vs. Road Runner thing.

Reds fans get on Molina. And Molina makes his getaway by doing something grand, leading the Cardinals to another victory. That's what happened on opening day. In addition to calling a great game over nine shutout innings and making two superb defensive plays to suppress a potential Cincinnati threat, Molina had two hits and accounted for the game's only run, homering for STL's 1-0 victory. 

Not that we would expect Molina to be bothered by the booing. It's not as if Reds fans can get in his head and distract him. And it would be a reach for me to conclude that Molina thrives on being booed at GABP; I just think he's a great player and competitor. So he's doing what comes naturally. 

In the past Molina has said he has no problem with the reception here in Cincinnati, and has described Reds fans as good fans.

But fact is, Yadi has put up great career numbers here.

In 250 career plate appearances at The Great American Ballpark, Molina is batting .332 with a .365 onbase percentage and a .526 slugging percentage. He has nine homers, 18 doubles, 34 RBIs and is batting .298 with runners in scoring position.

Since the dustup with Phillips, Molina has seven homers, seven doubles and 14 RBIs in 97 plate appearances. His slugging percentage over that time is a preposterously high .600.

Revenge? No.

Just Molina's relentless quality. 

But GABP is a good place for Molina. Among the road ballparks that Molina has competed in on a regular basis, only Dodger Stadium is a better yard for him. In 99 plate appearances there, Molina has batted .345 with a combined onbase+slugging percentage of .897. That's six points higher than his .891 OPS in Cincinnati.

Phillips has hit well at Busch Stadium, with 24 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and a .750 OPS in 255 plate appearances. And since the unpleasantries of 2010, Phillips hasn't hit for average or reached base at a healthy rate at Busch Stadium. But he has powered up, with 13 extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and a .464 slugging percentage in 118 PA.

I think it's fair to surmise that neither player is bugged by being booed at the rival's ballpark.

And given the way Molina hits here, if you're a Cardinals fans then you have to hope Reds fans continue to get on him at GABP. That's what you want. 

NEW PODCAST: MIKLASZ & GOOLD ON THE CARDS


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The Blues have a bonus asset in defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who delivered on another shootout scoring attempt in Tuesday's win over the Flyers. Shattenkirk has been the most accurate and reliable shootout specialist among NHL defensemen since his career began with the 2010-2011 season...over that time only one defenseman, Dan Boyle, has more shootout goals (6) than Shattenkirk (5.) But here's the stat that matters: among NHL defensemen that have at least three shootout attempts in the win since 2010-2011, Shattenkirk has the best scoring percentage. He's made 5 of 13 for 38.5 percent. That's better than Boyle, who is 6 for 19 or 31.6 percent... the shootout system began in the 2005-2006 season. Since then Shattenkirk's five shootout goals rank ninth among NHL defensemen, and you have to figure that he'll catch up and move to the top of the leaderboard …

Please allow me to join the chorus: Ryan Miller was fantastic in goal for the Blues last night. I'm in Cincinnati but I was able to watch live streaming of Flyers v. Blues on the NBC Sports Network site. (I could get it online because I'm a DirecTV subscriber.) I may have accidentally knocked an adult beverage off my hotel-room desk in reaction to an incredible Miller save...

All of that said, the Blues need have to score more goals. It's the thing I fret about. And once again Tuesday:  so, so many missed shots that don't hit or reach the net...

In my “Breakfast with Bernie” video Tuesday, I talked about Mike Matheny's decision to use RH reliever Pat Neshek to open the bottom of the eighth against Phillips, who bats right. I had no problem with the decision in this context: it made complete since to have LH reliever Kevin Siegrist to come in to face the Reds' consecutive LH hitters, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. In his short time in the majors, Siegrist has owned LH batters...

In the regular season LH batters are 8 for 70 against Siegrist (.114 average) with only one extra base hit. He's struck out 27 of the 81 LH batters faced _ a crazy-good strikeout rate of 33 percent. Obviously, Siegrist is who you'd want in that situation...

With Siegrist locked in (rightfully so) to take on Votto and Bruce to protect a 1-0 lead, I wouldn't have used Carlos Martinez against Phillips. Why burn Martinez by using him against one batter? He's more valuable than that. And I didn't have an issue with Neshek being the choice there; RH batters have hit only .182 against Neshek during his career. And with a .259 onbase percentage and .322 slugging percentage. Those are outstanding numbers against RH batters, and Neshek is on the team for a reason...

However … those who had a different thought – why not just have Siegrist pitch to Phillips – have a legitimate point. And Matheny could have easily done that if he wanted to. Siegrist has been brutal on RH batters as well. In the regular season they're 9 for 65 against him (.138) with a .233 OBP and .246 SLG. And he's struck out 31.5 percent of the RH bats he's faced. So for those who would argue on behalf of using Siegrist to pitch to Phillips – well, I certainly don't disagree with that. But I was OK there with Neshek, even though he walked Phillips...

Which offensive lineman do you like for the Rams at No. 2 overall? Here's the way I would categorize the choices: (1) Jake Matthews is starter-ready in the NFL from Day One; (2) Greg Robinson is the most talented and has the most potential but may need some work/developmental time; (3) of the three, Taylor Lewan has the kind of nasty-boy, berserk, mean-streak, competitiveness that head coach Jeff Fisher and O-line coach Paul Boudreau seem to favor. Tough call if the Rams go for an offensive tackle. Matthews is the surest thing, and he has the superb NFL O-lineman family bloodlines, so that's why I'd take him. But honestly, I don't think there's a bad or wrong choice among the three big fellows.

Finally... 

Here are the latest updated odds on winning the Stanley Cup, sent to us by our friends at Bovada.lv ... 

Boston 9-2

St. Louis 5-1

Chicago 13-2

Pittsburgh 7-1

San Jose 8-1

Anaheim 10-1

Los Angeles 12-1 

That's it for now. Busy day today. Looking forward to seeing Michael Wacha pitch tonight and writing about it.

Also, look for a new "Best Podcast in Baseball" with Miklasz and Derrick Goold on STLtoday.com 

Thanks for reading...

-Bernie

Watch "Breakfast with Bernie," each weekday, sponsored by Papa John's, where you get 50 percent off regular price menu items the day after a Blues victory in which they score 3 goals. Use promo code "BLUES3" at checkout. 10% of purchase price benefits Siteman Cancer Center.

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Bernie Miklasz

You've read Bernie Miklasz in the Post-Dispatch since 1989. Now check out a new video "Breakfast with Bernie" every weekday morning. You'll also see more "Bernie Bytes" around the clock as he posts quick-hit commentaries on a variety of topics.

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