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Buster Posey and MLB Players Who Would Benefit from an Immediate Position Change

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 22:  Buster Posey #28 of the San Francisco Giants singles to left field against the Oakland A's  in the third inning at AT&T Park on May 22, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  The Giants won 5-4 in 11 innings.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Losing a player to injury is never a good thing, but when that player is the face of your franchise and has a huge bearing on the success of the team, it makes things even worse.

That was exactly what happened to the Giants last season when catcher Buster Posey attempted to block the plate on a play at home and had his left ankle broken in the ensuing collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins.

Posey is back in camp this spring and should be ready for Opening Day, and as a precaution, manager Bruce Bochy recently came out and announced that he has asked Posey not to block the plate anymore.

This is simply a matter of the Giants protecting their greatest offensive asset, and it could simply be a precursor to a full-time move out from behind the plate.

A shortstop during his freshman year at Florida State, Posey is athletic enough to handle a move to a corner infield or outfield spot, and with Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval locking up the infield spots for the foreseeable future, his future could be in the outfield.

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The Giants don't really have another option behind the dish at this point, so he will spend the bulk of his time behind the plate this coming season, but the team could look to move him permanently in the near future.

He is not the only player who would benefit from a position change, though, as a number of players could either prolong their careers or find at-bats they otherwise wouldn't get by changing positions. Here is a look at a few guys who would gain the most from a defensive switch.

Brett Wallace

Taken in the first round of the 2008 draft by the Cardinals, Wallace was sent to the Athletics in the Matt Holliday trade, then to the Blue Jays for another prospect and finally to the Astros for prospect Anthony Gose.

HOUSTON - APRIL 26:  Brett Wallace #29 of the Houston Astros singles to left field in the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park on April 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

It was with the Astros that he got his first shot at everyday at-bats, as he opened the year as the everyday first baseman last year. He hit .259 BA, 5 HR, 29 RBI over 336 at-bats before being sent down as Carlos Lee was shifted to first base.

Lee will again be manning first in the final year of his contract, meaning Wallace will need to look elsewhere for at-bats, and that could be third base.

Wallace was drafted as a third baseman, and the Astros have already announced that he's in the running for the job. He's been unable to find success at the big-league level so far, but he has tremendous potential, and a move to third base could be the next step in his progression.

Mark Trumbo

The Angels have already announced their intentions to move Trumbo to third base, but he will need to prove that he is capable of handling an unfamiliar position and that his bat is worth putting up with the inevitable defensive struggles.

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 09:  Mark Trumbo #44 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim plays against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 9, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Trumbo got a shot at regular at-bats at first base as a rookie last season, stepping in when Kendrys Morales suffered setbacks in his recovery from an ankle injury and hitting .254 BA, 29 HR, 87 RBI to finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

The team was already expected to have Morales and Trumbo competing for at-bats once Morales returned from injury, but they then signed Albert Pujols and pushed both of those players to a bench role for the time being.

How quickly Trumbo takes to the position this spring will determine how many games he gets to play there, and the Angels would love nothing more than for him to take the everyday job from Albert Callaspo, who puts up middle infielder numbers at a premium offensive position.

Alex Rodriguez

Rodriguez has already changed positions once in his career, as he broke into the major leagues as a shortstop but moved to the hot corner when he came to the Yankees in 2004, as shortstop was already occupied by Derek Jeter.

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 04:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees fields the ball at third base during Game Four of the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on October 4, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gre
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After continuing to put up dominant numbers following the move, A-Rod has run into some injury problems of late, as he was held to just 99 games last season with right knee and left shoulder problems.

He underwent an experimental procedure on the knee this offseason on the recommendation of Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and while that could help keep him on the field more in 2012, there is no denying A-Rod has lost a step, and he will be 36 this coming season.

A move away from defense altogether could be the next step to keeping his still potent bat in the lineup, and while the team signed Raul Ibanez to be the starting DH, A-Rod will see at least some time there to get a break this season, and a full-time move to DH could be right around the corner.

Allen Craig

Regardless of where the team has him slated to get at-bats, Craig will miss at least the first few months of the season after undergoing knee surgery this offseason.

DENVER, CO - MAY 27:  Second baseman Allen Craig #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals plays defense against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on May 27, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

However, once he's back, the Cardinals will likely do everything they can to get his bat in the lineup after he hit .315 BA, 11 HR, 40 RBI last season in just 200 at-bats.

He built on that with a great postseason, launching three home runs and driving in five runs in the World Series. Despite that, the team signed Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal this winter and occupied the starting right field spot Craig likely would have slid into.

One interesting option for getting his bat in the lineup would be to put him at second base. He has played nine games there in his career to this point, and he would be a significant offensive upgrade over Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene. 

Joe Mauer

Much like Posey, Mauer is a premier offensive catcher who has run into some injury problems, and with an eight-year, $184 million contract, the Twins will likely do whatever it takes to protect their investment.

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 13:  Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins bats against the Cleveland Indians during the sixth inning of their game on August 13, 2011 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Cleveland Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins 3-1.
David Maxwell/Getty Images

Limited to just 82 games last season, Mauer was already seeing time at other positions before he got injured with 18 starts at first base, 14 at DH and one in right field.

He is just two seasons removed from an MVP year in which he hit .365 BA, 28 HR, 96 RBI, and if he can find a way to stay healthy, there is no reason the 28-year-old Mauer can't return to that dominant form.

Expect him to see plenty of time at DH this season after the team signed former Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit, and if Justin Morneau is once again plagued by injuries, he could settle in as the everyday first baseman as well.

Starlin Castro

Castro is a budding superstar who will be just 22 this coming season, and he already has two full big-league seasons under his belt in which he has enjoyed solid success.

Last season, he hit .307 BA, 10 HR, 66 RBI, 22 SB and led the National League with 207 hits as he made the first of what will likely be many All-Star appearances.

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Starlin Castro #13 of the Chicago Cubs fields the ball and throws to first base for the out during the first inning of the game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on September 26, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo
Kent Horner/Getty Images

However, his defense remains a cause of concern, as he has the range to make phenomenal plays but seems to lack the play-to-play focus to consistently make the routine plays. The end result was a 29-error season for a .961 fielding percentage.

The team will likely give him at least a few more seasons to try to figure things out, but a move to center field could wind up being what counters Castro's poor defense.

There is plenty of precedent there, as Rays center fielder B.J. Upton was drafted as a shortstop but failed to improve defensively at the position throughout his minor-league career before settling in as the team's everyday center fielder.

Looking more historically, Brewers great Robin Yount put up huge error totals throughout the first 11 seasons of his career before moving to center field, where he would play the final nine seasons of his career. 

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