"I saw Hamilton’s first pitch coming in and knew it was head high. But Tony didn’t start to react until the last fraction of a second. Instinctively he threw up his hands to protect his head, but not nearly in time. The ball crashed into the side of his face with a sharp crack that I swear could have been heard clearly all over that noisy ballpark. It sounded like the ball hit his helmet, so my immediate reaction was relief that the ball had struck plastic instead of flesh. But the sound was probably his cheekbone breaking." -Book excerpt from Rico Petrocelli's Tales from the Impossible Dream Red Sox
Buster Posey's devastating ankle injury effectively brought an end to the Giants' 2011 season. It also carried with it a certain "where-were-you-when" mentality.
Buster Posey is not JFK and obviously a baseball injury is no where near as important as a Presidential assassination. However, it does go to show how important Posey is to the Giants organization and its fan base.
I am fairly certain that general manager Brian Sabean would have Jack Ruby'ed Scott Cousins if given the opportunity. The more apt comparison would be Tony Conigliaro and his career-derailing shattered cheekbone.
Only time will tell if Posey's fate will be the same as Conigliaro
What NOT to Do
Bring back Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart.
Both Stewart and Whiteside filled in valiantly after Posey went down, but neither player is an everyday major league catcher and it showed. By season's end, both had worn down tremendously.
Whiteside, once praised for his strong defensive abilities and throwing arm was now being run on nearly every game. Stewart, while never considered a hitter, barely managed to hit .200, finishing the year with a stat line of: .204/.283/.309.
To be successful next year, the Giants will have to bring in a catcher who displays more ability both at the plate and behind it.
What Should Happen
Promote Hector Sanchez.
Damon Berryhill, Chad Kreuter and Johnny Gooch are all switch-hitting catchers whom I hope Hector Sanchez is better than.
Promoting Sanchez would give the Giants a viable bat whenever Posey takes a day off. Though extremely young (22), Sanchez has been in the Giants' system since he was 17.
Playing time will be thin behind Posey, but in this instance it may benefit Sanchez to mentor behind Posey.
What WILL Happen
A veteran backup will be on the roster behind Posey.
If there is one thing to count on with the Giants front office, it's that they will always side with the older player.
Buster Posey was sent to the minors at the start of the 2010 season to mature behind the plate. That maturation lasted a month. A month in which I am sure Posey unlocked a secret chest that contained a vial of Johnny Bench's blood, with a high concentration of catching platelets.
More correctly, the Giants were scared to make the commitment to Posey and forced a month-long awkward Bengie Molina stint on the team. Everyone knew Posey would eventually replace him—everyone except Bengie.
The situation with Hector Sanchez is not as dramatic. Sanchez will not be usurping Posey anytime soon.
But the Giants will be nervous about letting Sanchez handle the pitching staff. A pitching staff they treat as if it is a Lamborghini that no one could ever possibly drive.
They will use some excuse like, "We want Hector to get more consistent at-bats," when in truth the Giants' main concern is not upsetting the pitching staff. Meanwhile, fans will be treated to several brilliant pop-outs by Chris Stewart.
Hope for a healthy Buster Posey. Hope for a Giants team committed to youth. Hope that they realize you can't recapture the magic of 2010. You've got to create more.