Today, Bengie won the American League Gold glove at Catcher for the 2nd year in a row. He played 119 games there in 2003. Bengie is going to make $3 Million next year, so it may be time to get all wistful and sobby about Bengie, becuase it looks like Wheels Molina may be commencing his final season in Anaheim in '04.
To earn the raving respect of Mike Scioscia (as legendary a defensive Catcher as ever played the game) pretty much sums up Wheels. Here are his Baseball Reference career totals.
If they gave out a "Most Improved at the Plate" award, Bengie would win it. The occasional Double and Homerun have slowly evolved into the anticipated power smack when there are men on base. His best skill, in my estimation, is his contact hitting. Although this guarantees a few double plays (and he ain't called Wheels for nothing if not his lead feet), it also means RBI's.
I have two indelible images of Bengie. One is from the practice day in San Francisco during the 2002 World Series. He was freezing his ass off, bundled up in the dugout with a red Angle ski cap on. the thought at first was that So-cal jocks were weak, but then it looked like, hey, whaterv it takes, we're gonna do it.
The second image was when i got close up at Edison Field for pre-game warmups and he was walking near the bullpen. His arm was taped from his wrist to his elbow. It was taped so tightly that it looked like a girdle, his arm having a distinct hourglass figure. It was freakish. It looked like such a sacrifice. there was nothing in the paper about his arm hurting or anything. When you see the clowns barrel into himat home plate in an attempt to dislodge the ball, you just have to laugh. This is Mike Scioscia's man, taped up to endure.
My favorite Bengie Molina trivia note is that when he and Benji Gil were in the lineup together for the first time, it was a major league first: The first time in Major League History that two Bengie's were in a major league lineup for the same team.