Posey & Molina: Different versions of same guy

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Posey & Molina: Different versions of same guy

There are a hundred ways to subdivide the National League Championship Series before it begins, and a hundred more once it does, but for the moment its a catchers world, and everyone else is working the fringes.

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals enter this series knowing too much about each other, all the way down to the ways in which they defied gravity just to reach this moment.

But more than anything else, they are about their two catchers, Yadier Benjamin Molina and Gerald Dempsey Posey. They share the same rarefied air at the same time in the games history, and their performances both as comparison points and as emanations that influence their teammates will determine in large part which team advances to the World Series.

Others may put up gaudier numbers in this series, which begins Sunday evening at The Thing On King; in a short series, numbers arent terribly helpful.

But Mike Matheny and Bruce Bochy are both catchers, and they appreciate the game as catchers do. They each have catchers who are MVP candidates, and they are most acutely aware that their catchers will determine in large part whose story gets written larger.

I've always been a big fan of Buster Posey, Matheny, the Cardinal manager, said. I was able to talk to him as he was a young player coming through the minor leagues in the Giants organization, and it didn't take too much foresight to realize that he was going to be special. You could see his makeup, leadership, natural leadership skills he has. And obviously he can swing the bat a little bit.

He's done a terrific job, especially as you look at the obstacles he's had with coming back from a tough, tough injury and still being able to get back behind the plate. I admire the fact when many of the conversations were going towards him moving to first base how adamant he was that he was a catcher. And I understand that mentality.

I will, however, stand behind the fact that Yadier Molina has impressed me more than any catcher I've ever witnessed. The things that he does that are intangible that you can only see by watching every day, and watching from a very critical eye. But he has everything that you would ask for from a catcher defensively. And then there are some things offensively people didn't think he would be able to do, and that was just enough motivation for him to figure out how to do it. I know Buster has to have a lot of consideration as the most valuable player, but from where I sit I don't know how Yadier Molina couldn't be in that conversation, as well.

I think you're talking about two of the best catchers in the game, Bochy, the Giants manager said. Two guys who catch well, throw well, handle the bat, hit for power . . . they have the whole game. And so it's a big reason why these two teams are here, because of the two catchers. So I'm sure there's going to be a lot of comparisons. But they're different players. I don't want to go into that. In their own way, they have their own styles.

Bochy was not more effusive because he doesnt do effusive in a room full of strangers. The closest he came to comparisong Posey and Molina was when he said, Well, they have a lot of thump in their whole lineup, as if to say Molinas importance isnt as readily noticeable at the plate.

But that isnt the point, ultimately. Their offensive numbers tell largely the same story, and though Molina is considered the better defensive catcher, Posey has handled a more disparate pitching staff.

They are, then, different versions of the same guy, and at the level they typically play, the series will revolve around them, because it must. Series gravitate toward great players, almost as an invisible ruler to settle arguments about who is better when thrown into the same pot of boiling water, and the still-nascent Posey-Molina debate is about to gain focus and clarity.

This wont happen because one should end up with a better reputation than the other, or because it will help shift MVP votes (those were already sealed at the end of the regular season). No, beyond the sheer matter of who scores more runs four times first, we will see how Posey changes who the Giants are, and how Molina changes who the Cardinals are. They are invaluable to their teams in that way, and that will be the story that will be told best in the next week or so.

Reports: Ex-A's catcher Suzuki agrees to deal with NL East team

Reports: Ex-A's catcher Suzuki agrees to deal with NL East team

Kurt Suzuki is headed back to the National League.

After three seasons in the American League with the Twins, the former A's backstop has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Braves.

News of the agreement was first reported by SB Nation.

Suzuki will reportedly make $1.5 million, according to Fox Sports. He has a chance to make an addition $2.5 million in incentives.

The 33-year-old Suzuki was drafted by the A's in the second round of 2004 MLB Draft. He made his debut with Oakland in 2007 and was the starting catcher until a 2012 trade to Washington. A year later, the Nationals traded Suzuki back to the A's for the final five weeks of the season.

Prior to the 2014 season, Suzuki signed with Twins. In three seasons with Minnesota, Suzuki hit .263/.316/.364 with 75 doubles, 16 home runs and 160 RBI.

Suzuki will likely serve as a back-up to catcher Tyler Flowers.

Colts fire GM Ryan Grigson after five seasons

Colts fire GM Ryan Grigson after five seasons

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ryan Grigson spent tens of millions in free agency, trying to turn the Indianapolis Colts into a Super Bowl contender.

When most of those big investments went belly up, the first-time general manager paid the price.

On Saturday, Colts owner Jim Irsay fired Grigson after five up-and-down years that ended with Indy missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1997-98.

"It was a tough decision, well thought out and in the end the right decision for the Colts," Irsay said.

Initially, Grigson looked like a genius.

He hit it big on his first four draft picks - quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen and receiver T.Y. Hilton - and used a series of shrewd, cost-effective moves to deliver one of the greatest turnarounds in league history.

But when Grigson's costly misfires like first-round bust Bjoern Werner in 2013, trading a first-round pick for Trent Richardson in 2014 or loading up on a group of aging, high-priced free agents to make a Super Bowl run in 2015 and an anxious fan base, Irsay had no choice.

The timing, almost three weeks after the season ended, was strange - and comes after many thought the delay meant Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano were both safe.

Each agreed to contracts last January that was supposed to keep them together through the 2019 season.

Thirteen months later, Grigson is gone and Pagano's fate may rest in the hands of a new GM.

Grigson, by trade, was a gambler who refused to play it safe.

"I think the guys that sit on their hands, they've got to live with themselves and look in the mirror and realize they didn't take any chances," he once said. "They've got to look at themselves and say, 'Did I even deserve this opportunity?' If you just sit on your hands and say, 'I'm going to play it safe all the time,' you might be middle of the pack. But if you don't take a swing, you're never going to hit it out of the park."

Irsay appreciated Grigson's unconventional style and penchant for taking chances.

What he didn't like was the underwhelming payout.

In five seasons, Grigson made 15 trades for players and only one, Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis, played in Indy's season finale. Grigson also drafted 38 players - 18 of whom finished the season with the Colts. Eleven were out of the NFL.

Then there was free agency, where Grigson signed dozens of expensive players. Only 11 were still on Indy's roster when the season ended, 18 others were out of the NFL.

With an estimated $60 million to spend in free agency this year and a chance to get the Colts righted for the prime years of Luck's career, Irsay couldn't afford to roll the dice again with Grigson so he made the change.

The 44-year-old Purdue graduate's blunt personality didn't always mesh with coach Chuck Pagano. Irsay even acknowledged last summer that the two men needed to resolve their differences before he gave them the extensions.

Players didn't always get along with him, either.

"Thank God. 'Unwarranted Arrogance' just ran into a brick wall called karma," Pro Bowl punter Pat McAfee posted on Twitter after word first leaked.

Grigson also drew the wrath of Patriots' fans by tipping off NFL officials that Tom Brady was using improperly inflated footballs during the 2015 AFC championship game. The Deflategate controversy eventually led to a four-game suspension for Brady as well as a fine and the loss draft picks for the Patriots.

And despite Irsay's repeated pleas to better protect Luck, Grigson, a former offensive lineman, never quite figured it out.

Luck missed 10 games because of injuries over the past two seasons and was sacked 41 times last season. The first real glimmer of hope appeared in December when the Colts held Minnesota and Oakland without a sack in back-to back games - the only times all season they didn't allow a sack.

When Grigson arrived, the Colts were coming off a 2-14 season and were about to release Peyton Manning and several other aging veterans in a salary cap purge.

So Grigson cleaned house.

He fired Jim Caldwell, hired Pagano and revamped the roster with low-budget free agents to work with the cornerstone of the future, Luck.

It worked. The man once dubbed by a previous boss as a "great" expansion team general manager, turned the Colts into a surprising 11-5 playoff-bound team.

Indy finished 11-5 each of the next two seasons, too, and advanced one step deeper in the playoffs each season.

The steady progression turned the Colts into a trendy Super Bowl pick in 2015, a trek that was derailed by a litany of injuries that forced the Colts to use five different quarterbacks just to finish 8-8.