The San Francisco Giants sent Buster Posey to the minor leagues insisting that the youngster needed to be behind the plate every day in order to continue his growth as a catcher.
After a nice spring training with the bat, few who know the hitting-deprived big league club questioned the wisdom of Posey being ready to hit the big leagues.
Still, with the talk about him needing to catch every day combined with a bunch of malarkey about his arbitration clock starting (or making sure it doesn't start), most seemed fine with Posey catching for the Class AAA Fresno Grizzlies.
Well, Posey started at first base for the Grizzlies on Sunday in a 5-2 win over Reno. He went 2-for-5 with a solo home run and three runs scored. The guy's batting .500, 9-for-18, in four Class AAA games.
Posey's slugging percentage is 1.100. He has a .591 OBP and an OPS of 1.369. OK?
Unless Steve Holm needed time behind the plate, it appears that the 23-year-old Posey played first base on Sunday because the organization wanted him to play first base. Posey didn't need a rest after three games or to be ready for the heat of the Pacific Coast League pennant race.
The hunch is that Posey's going to be in San Francisco well before June, perhaps even this week.
Perhaps the Giants saw that the Atlanta Braves aren't working on the cheap with 20-year-old right fielder Jason Heyward. He hit the bejeebers out of the ball in the weekend games at AT&T Park.
Using the Posey model, Heyward would be cooling his jets in Class AAA if he were a member of the Giants organization. Top prospect, sure, but he has an arbitration clock, too, right?
The Braves aren't harping about Heyward's arbitration clock and how using him in 2010 will cost them a year at a much higher salary down the road. So, Giants fans would be foolish to buy further into the line of thinking regarding Posey.
The Braves are putting their best big league lineup together, and obviously, that means Heyward needs to be in Atlanta—arbitration clock be damned.
The Giants need Posey to play first base and give Aubrey Huff a break against tough left-handers. Or maybe Posey enables the club to put Huff in right field, where John Bowker's hitting .250. (Yeah, Bowker just needs time. Or give Nate Schierholtz two to three weeks playing right field. What about Eugenio Velez? We all know the drill.)
Eli Whiteside has batted four times with runners in scoring position and failed, miserably, in each instance. No surprise, obviously, because no one ever thought he was a big league hitter. The club's fast start just means that it can't justify him chewing up a big league roster spot simply to caddie for Bengie Molina. Whiteside is value-less.
Molina's not the same player he was the last few seasons either. The pitching staff clearly doesn't need the veteran back there calling pitches. They've done well with Whiteside.
Poor Molina's the poster boy for a slough-footed attack that has hit into far too many double plays—and can't really hit and run with such a glaring lack of speed up and down the order. A club needs hit-and-run speed and guys who know how to hit when their teammate runs. (Whiteside failed on a hit and run that resulted in a caught stealing the other day too.)
The Giants are hot. The Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers haven't gotten their footing yet. The absurd logic involved in keeping Posey in the minor leagues now makes absolutely no sense. His presence in the big leagues now means even more than it did before the Giants jumped out in the NL West.
The Giants can actually put a little distance between themselves and the Rockies and Dodgers, as they fend off a hot Arizona ball club, if they treat every roster spot just so.
Posey played first base in Fresno on Sunday night.
He ought to be playing first base and catching for the Giants later this week.
Ted Sillanpaa is a San Francisco Bay Area sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at: email@example.com
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