With the Playoffs All But Gone, It Should Be Buster Posey Time in San Francisco

Danny PenzaSenior Writer ISeptember 21, 2009

The aftermath of the crucial nine-game stretch for the San Francisco Giants against two division rivals, has come and gone with the results many expected two weeks ago.

The combination of the Giants' second consecutive crushing loss to the Dodgers, and the Rockies racking up yet another come-from-behind victory against the Diamondbacks, means the deficit in the National League Wild Card race is now four-and-a-half games.

If it was the beginning of September, it wouldn't be a huge deal; but with the Giants only having 13 games left, the chances of the Giants making the playoffs are slim to none.

As a result, that means giving the youngsters who have basically been sitting on the bench the entire month of September, a genuine chance to play. The team has clear holes and big decisions to make in the winter, so giving the kids a opportunity in the final two weeks of the season only makes sense.

And the main player who should receive a solid chunk of playing time is catcher Buster Posey.

We all know what he did in the minors this season and what kind of talent the 2008 Golden Spikes Award winner brings to the table. But with Bruce Bochy doing what he does best and sticking with his beloved veterans down the stretch in a playoff chase, playing time for not only Posey, but any other September call-up not named Dan Runzler, has been non-existent.

Because impending free-agent Bengie Molina has been Bochy's No. 1 choice to get at-bats, Posey hasn't come close to seeing the kind of playing time that many people had hoped for. Like it or not, that's what Bochy has decided to do and we all know how much he loves his veterans—especially in September.

But if the Giants want to see what they have in Posey, they have to give playing time. It's not that hard to figure out.

Much like John Shea points out in Monday's San Francisco Chronicle, with the Giants basically falling out of the race with two weeks to go, the Giants should give their most-heralded position prospect since Will Clark, a legit shot at showing what he has to offer right now.

Since his promotion from Fresno on Sept. 2, Posey's main task hasn't been catching pitchers on the field, but in the bullpen. Not exactly something you see other top catching prospects doing when they get their first call to the bigs.

And that's the thing, Posey hasn't gotten a chance to play when the game actually matters. You can judge a guy when he's in there, but how much experience can a young guy get when the game is totally out of reach and he's facing some scrub reliever in the ninth inning?

It's some playing time, yes, but it's not like it's a tie game going into the seventh inning.

Once the Giants' season ends, he's off to the Arizona Fall League where regular playing time is pretty much a lock. But no offense to the AFL, the same kind of experience he will gain there, doesn't match up for a 22-year-old getting some starts in the final two weeks with the kind of pitching staff the orange and black have.

Now with the playoffs basically out of reach, is there any danger with throwing Posey out there? What's the harm with giving the guy you gave $6.2 million to when he signed last August some starts?

There's only one way to see what the kid has and that's to let him play. Not only would playing allow him to learn the tricks of the trade behind the plate, but it will give him a chance to shake off the rust at the plate and get some much-deserved at-bats.

With every game played, he will feel more comfortable and the nerves will almost be non-existent, if he knows he's going to have more than two innings to prove he's the guy everybody thinks he can be.

The decision that the Giants have to make is a big one.

Molina wants a multi-year contract and the Giants aren't likely to give him that because they have Posey waiting in the wings.

If the Giants expect to evaluate the situation for next season based on Posey playing less than five innings behind the dish and three total at-bats, they are definitely mistaken. They know what they are going to get out of the 35-year-old Molina; they have yet to tap into what Posey can offer.

Going by his minor league numbers and scouting projections, Posey is going to be a player that has a much more professional offensive approach—drawing walks while also hitting for power. When comparing it to Molina, Posey's high on-base percentage is something that the Giants lineup desperately need.

Again, there's only one way to find that out. And that evaluation process needs to start sooner rather than later.

With every game that goes by, the chances of the Giants making a miraculous comeback in the standings gets slimmer and slimmer.

It's not like every pitch thrown to him is going to result in a passed ball. Posey caught Lincecum last Friday in the Dodger Stadium bullpen and now it's time to see that happen in an actual game.

One inning of a Posey-Madison-Bumgarner battery isn't going to cut it going into the offseason.