NL Central Notes: Molina, Cardinals, Marlins, Kelly, Pirates

With Yadier Molina and the Cardinals in talks about a coaching job for the longtime catcher, Molina discussed the situation in an interview with 550 KTRS radio (hat tip to Luis Nolla of KTRS for the partial transcript).  “I think there is something cooking with St. Louis,” Molina said, estimating “a 90 percent chance that it happens.”  After retiring following the 2022 season, Molina revealed that he had offers for some kind of coaching roles from both the Cardinals last year and from the Marlins.

In terms of his coaching future in general, Molina said “I see myself managing, coaching in the United States for a few years.  I like it.  I am a guy that is fascinated with baseball, and I am passionate about it.  To have an opportunity like that I cannot pass….St. Louis has given me the opportunity.  It is my second home.  There is always a good relationship and communication with them.  They are trying to guide me to that way, in the matter of being a coach.  They have their staff who have a good job with the team.  It would be an opportunity that it will be hard to say no to.  I love St. Louis.”

More from the NL Central…

  • In other Cardinals news, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covered a wide slate of questions related to the Cards in his recent chat with readers, including the possibility of Jordan Hicks and Phil Maton being free agents targets for the team this winter.  The Cardinals traded Hicks to the Blue Jays at the deadline, but with Hicks headed back to the open market, “there will be a conversation about a reunion” in St. Louis, Goold writes.  Maton could also be “a name to watch,” both due to his ability and perhaps due to some local ties, as Maton went to high school about 90 minutes away from St. Louis in Chatham, Illinois.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Cubs will retain Dustin Kelly as their chief hitting coach next season, according to Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic.  Chicago’s lineup made big improvements in 2023, Kelly’s first season on the staff, and his presence might help stop what has been a revolving door of Cubs hitting coaches over the last decade.  Sharma/Mooney provide some insight into how Kelly and his three assistant coaches were able to provide more specialized instruction to hitters, keeping communication strong while trying to marry a batter’s personal style to a broader approach.  “We come up with team principles that we want to execute.  But they still have to go up there and have their at-bat and stick to their strengths,” Kelly said back in September.
  • The Pirates are still planning to give Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis regular reps at catcher next season, though Davis barely saw any time behind the plate after making his MLB debut last season, instead playing mostly as a right fielder.  With some lack of clarity of how the playing time will be split up, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette opines that the Pirates should just keep Rodriguez at catcher and Davis in right field, as both players might benefit from a clear focus on one position.  Rodriguez spent some time as a first baseman, second baseman, and outfielder in the minors, while Davis’ right field defense was shaky enough that he’ll likely need more offseason work to make himself a passable option at the position.

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