Cozy with Posey?: Why Buster Posey Is Not Ready To Catch for the Giants
Well, his name isn't really Buster. His name is Gerald Demp Posey III. He was born in Leesburg, Georgia on March 27, 1987 and played college ball at Florida State. Now, at the tender age of 22, he is already married and has been dubbed the starting catcher for the Giants in 2010.
But is Buster Posey ready to handle a full season behind the plate?
Giants GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy have already given Posey their vote of confidence and have no issues with Posey starting Opening Day. Since the day he was drafted, the Giants have said Posey is on the "fast track," much like Tim Lincecum was when he breezed through the minors.
The Giants, in my opinion, are asking too much, too soon of the young catcher. I truly believe catching is the toughest job on the diamond, despite how easy Bengie Molina made it look for three years.
One aspect of catching that fans often forget is the art of catching itself. It goes beyond merely catching the baseball. The catcher and pitcher must agree upon a pitch, which does not always happen. They play the head-nodding game until a pitch is decided.
While doing this, the catcher must keep in mind several elements. What type of hitter is at the plate? Where does does he like his pitches? Is he a low-ball hitter or high-ball hitter? Will the umpire call that low, outside corner? If not, will the umpire give me that curveball? These are just a small handful of thoughts that go through a catcher's mind on a regular basis.
Also, catchers must become acquainted with the pitchers they catch. A catcher will have trouble with a pitcher they don't really know anything about. Posey, who has minimal experience with the Giant's pitching staff, will have to learn the hard way how to catch each pitcher. Although almost every catcher learns the hard way, Posey will have to learn in an environment where management and fans expect to win, leaving little room for error.
Catchers are also considered the defensive captains of the team during the game. This is another component of catching.
As catcher, Posey will have to take into account the batter's and pitcher's tendencies and tell the defense what to do. If a power-hitting, doubles-machine slugger is up to bat, it will be Posey's responsibilities to know the scouting reports and instruct the defense accordingly.
The Giants are a team that may be challenged defensively. For a team that will live and die by one-run games, Posey will need to quickly learn game calling and defense.
Posey, a converted shortstop in college, has minimal professional experience behind the dish. Oftentimes, it takes years to fully grasp catching.
Offensively speaking, I think don't think Posey will have too many problems adjusting to major league pitching, despite his quiet stint with the Giants in September.
Posey went 2 for 17 (.118) with the Giants, both singles. However, those numbers differ completely from his minor league stats.
In 291 at-bats with the San Jose Giants (single-A), Posey batted .326 with 13 big flies and 58 RBIs; including a .428 OBP and slugging .540. He skipped AA and was promoted to to AAA Fresno around mid-season.
Posey's Fresno stats show a small decline in these categories, but that's mainly because he had 160 less at-bats than San Jose. He endured slumps at the beginning of A and AAA, probably an indication of his adjustment to the pitching. This may also explain why Posey was less than exciting during his September call-up.
Fatigue may have also been a factor in Posey's MLB and Arizona Fall League performances, in which his line read .225/2 HR/12 RBIs. Bobby Evans, Giants VP of Baseball Operations, believes this is from the "wear and tear" of Posey's first full professional season.
Posey simply needs time to adjust to major league pitching and he will be fine. It's more the "art of catching" that I think Posey needs more seasoning in.
The Giants would be wise to sign a veteran catcher and platoon him with Posey. This will help keep Posey somewhat fresh when the Giants may need him down the stretch. Plus, Posey would receive the added benefit of a mentor who has been around the game for a while.
The Giants are known to be interested in signing free agent catcher, Yorvit Torrealba, who played for the Giants during the Barry Bonds era. Torrealba has already indicated he plans to meet with the Giants once he returns from the Venezuelan Winter League.
This would be the next-best route for the Giants as they do not want to overload their future star at an early stage in his career.
There is no doubt in my mind that Posey, if given the proper time to develop will flourish and eventually become one of the game's top catchers. In an ideal world, Posey would get another season of development in the minors. It looks like the Giants don't have a season to wait and a platoon role might have to do.
So is Gerald Demp Posey III ready for a full season?
In my opinion, no. But, only time will tell.
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