When Considering Buster Posey's Best Plan, Use the Joe Mauer Model
It only seems like Buster Posey has become the center of the San Francisco Giants' universe.
No. No. Wait...
Given that Posey's the top prospect in the organization and that he's hitting the devil out of the ball in spring training, the Giants' universe is spinning around the guy.
Sycophants who remember the club's explanation for keeping Posey down on the farm last summer while the big league team often struggled to get two hits in an inning still insist that Posey and the organization are best served only if Posey is behind the plate every day—every single day.
So, naturally, the fact that the Giants gave Bengie Molina a one-year deal to catch enables the sycophants to ignore that Posey's tearing up the Cactus League. They insist he just has to start the season in Fresno so he can catch every day. That's what the brass told them last summer, and by golly, that's what they believe.
Why would the Giants need a hitter who appears to be capable of hitting big league pitching, you know?
Posey needed to catch every single day last summer, so by gosh...he has to catch every darn day in the minor leagues until Molina cashes his final paycheck and clears out his locker. (This time for real and forever.)
Some of us figure there's wisdom in keeping Posey in San Francisco this season to see if he's truly ready to hit big league pitching. There's nothing keeping Bruce Bochy from putting Posey in the lineup behind the plate two or three days a week—and at first base a couple more days.
It might even be a preferred way to handle Posey, the guy the Giants seem convinced will be their franchise player...their leader...their star.
Take a look at the quandary the Minnesota Twins find themselves in just days after signing their stud Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million contract. Mauer's the best catcher in baseball and on track to becoming one of the greatest hitting catchers in the game's history.
One small problem in Minnesota, though: Catchers take a hellacious beating every single day, and, well, the Twins sort of count on Mauer being able to stand on two healthy knees and hit .320 or .330 in the last couple years of that contract. So the Twins are trying to figure out how to extend the American League All-Star catcher's career.
Go ahead—guess what the Twins are trying to figure out.
They're trying to figure out where they can move Mauer to save him the beating a catcher takes. Get him out from the behind the dish healthy to keep his bat in the lineup. There's talk he can move to third base at some point and then over to first base. Perhaps the Twins can make him a left fielder in four or five years. Who knows?
Regardless, the last thing in the world that Minnesota officials and Twins fans want is to consider Mauer, who's 26 years old, catching more games than he absolutely has to catch.
If the Twins know they'll hurt the club with Mauer stuck behind the plate more than absolutely necessary, how is it best for the Giants organization for the 23-year-old Posey to be in Fresno catching meaningless innings while the Giants play musical chairs at first base and Molina grows older and slower before our eyes?
The fans who insist Posey can only become a great big league catcher by going to the minors to catch daily, rather than catching in the big leagues in between stints at first base, aren't exactly thinking outside the box.
The Twins' biggest problem is that they're going to have to find a position Mauer can handle to get him the maximum number of big league at-bats that he has in him. Posey, conversely, is a versatile athlete who became a serviceable first baseman simply by dropping his catcher's glove and putting a first baseman's glove on his left hand.
Plate appearances that the Giants get Posey now, assuming he's ready to hit in the big leagues, will help the big club. Every at-bat he gets without having to squat and become a target for foul tips and curve balls bounced in the dirt will give the Giants a healthy Posey at-bat six, seven, eight years from now.
Use the Mauer model and get Posey's bat in the big leagues the minute it's ready—and it's apparently ready for a big league test drive right now.
Just because the organization offered an explanation in 2009 doesn't mean the explanation remains true forever and for always.
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