See You Soon: Buster Posey

I originally intended for this to be a post briefly updating the minor league performances of major league ready prospects but Marc Hulet went ahead and took the wind right out of my sails. Rather than repeating Marc’s words in my own muddled prose, I’ll take this opportunity to run a slightly longer profile on each individual player, starting with one Buster Posey.

Buster Posey: AAA Fresno Grizzlies (.343/.437/.536) – Honestly, there’s nothing left to say about Posey’s incarceration in Fresno that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. However, it’s impossible for me to talk about Posey without focusing on Brian Sabean’s delay tactics. His excuse machine is running on fumes at this point. Thanks to Sabean, we now know that:

-catcher’s defense is important
-AAA pitchers aren’t good
-the PCL is a hitters environment
-the Giants don’t have openings for high potential 1b/C types

To Sabean’s credit, the first three points are basically correct. The problem is, they don’t seem to be terribly relevant. From what I can gather (mostly from Kevin Goldstein’s scouting reports), Posey’s defense is adequate and he’s thrown out 44% of baserunners (12 CS in 27 attempts). And while the pitching might not be great and the hitting environment fantastic, one glance at Posey’s sweet stroke corroborates the gaudy triple slash. According to the THT Forecasts page, his current Major League Equivalent line is .282/.368/.410, good for a .348 wOBA. That’s in line with the .354 wOBA projected by Oliver.

That brings me to the last bullet, how do Bochy and staff find reps for Posey with Bengie Molina and Aubrey Huff standing in the way? It’s my personal opinion that the Giants are a good team. I don’t believe their roster is better than the Dodgers or the Rockies but it can certainly keep up. Nor do I think playing it safe with Bengie Molina (.323 wOBA) or Aubrey Huff (.350 wOBA) is a luxury the Giants can really afford. When a team’s innate talent isn’t better than its main competitors it seems like a good time to take a shot on the upside talent. Sure, Posey’s WAR projection is similar to that of Molina and Huff, but it’s a bit of a high variance projection. With Molina and Huff, we know they’re going to go on playing basically as well as they have been. There’s no upside to speak of but the downside risk is minimal. With Posey he could enter the league and scuffle like Matt Wieters. Or he could completely dominate in his first spin through the bigs the way Joe Mauer did in 2004. Or he could play to his projections.

I can only assume the Giants are aware of these potential outcomes. If indications that Posey isn’t nearing a call up are true, then it means the Giants think the risk outweighs the potential gains. Conversely, Sabean could be blowing a lot of smoke up our collective bungholes. He could just be asking Posey to force his way onto the roster. We should know soon. The Giants return home from a seven game road trip to host the Oakland Athletics on June 11, if they intend to end this charade that seems like the perfect time to do it.

Next Up: Sir Stephen Strasburg

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  1. Dave said...

    Maybe Sabean honestly thinks that Molina will keep up his torrid 7.7% BB-rate. I wonder if anyone else mentioned that Molina of the Bengie variety is one of the worst defensive catchers around.

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    I suppose I overlooked mentioning the seemingly hundreds of times Sabean’s commented on Molina’s superb handling of the staff, etc etc.

  3. Ken said...

    You can’t just dismiss Molina’s handling of the staff out of hand though. No matter how much Posey might hit, he’s not going to win a ton of games by himself with the bat. If the Giants’ staff also started to suffer (which we can’t predict would happen) they would have nothing at all going for them.

  4. Brad Johnson said...

    True enough, but the Giants have the chance to bring Posey along slowly by getting him plenty of starts at 1b while he gets used to the pitching staff. All reports I’ve seen (again mostly from Kevin Goldstein) suggest he’s a hard worker and bright enough to handle a staff.

  5. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    This is the first to acknowledge that Posey might fail, so I would have to say it’s the best I’ve seen so far.  But perhaps you read my comment on the Fangraphs article and thus accounted for that.

    Still, your point about his potential is true and an excellent point, we don’t know exactly what would happen if we brought Posey up.  And that is a very valid point, that we know basically what we got with Huff and Molina, but that Posey is a roll of the dice that could pay off big time.

    But isn’t that what a lot of fans complain about their management, that they don’t have a plan, that they are just doing desperate acts?  Pulling up Posey now would be such an act.

    In addition, the Giants have clearly stated that they think he can hit at the major league level now.  The question has been both a question of stamina and defense. 

    I put BA’s description of Posey’s defensive liabilities on the Fangraph’s comment.  Most commenters blasting the Giants think it is all baloney but that is why I posted BA’s concerns about his defense, they cull and gather and observe, particularly the top prospects, so I would have to believe that their assessment is pretty solid.  Particularly since BA’s writer is also the SJ Mercury Giants beat writer and thus he is local and able to catch games live for games in the minors plus be able to talk with scouts and Giants personnel. 

    So for all the comments I see about how bad Molina’s defense is, none of them ever mention that the experts (BA) think that Posey is bad enough defensively to require additional work and experience, they only refer to the opinion that Posey will be a gold glover but don’t realize that the expectation is that he eventually will be that, not that he is that now.  Do you really think less than two months will give him enough experience?  The BA profile noted that the Giants think he needs another year behind the plate to be full ready defensively.

    And for all the defensive stats people have been using to show how good Posey has been defensively,  defensive stats for catchers are still in the 19th century and it has not really progressed much, besides the study I saw in the Fielding Bible II which rated Bengie Molina among the better in the majors during the mid-2000’s. 

    I don’t think we are anywhere close to using catcher’s defensive stats conclusively yet, there are obviously good things like throwing out basestealers and not letting passed balls, but as recent Giants articles noted, Molina is not responsible for the majority of the basestealing, they are stealing on the pitchers.

  6. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    In addition, stamina is the main concern the Giants had about Posey going into the season.  They were ready to start Posey in the majors, any concerns about offense and defense were things they were willing to work around, but they were looking to get a vet catcher to pair up with him because they didn’t think he would last a full season catching.

    Let’s say you’re right, he comes up and is the second coming of Mauer, and they trade Molina away as most people say the Giants should do after bringing Posey up. 

    However, if you would recall from last season, he hit the wall stamina-wise late in the season, hard to tell exactly when, but he was on fumes in the AFL for sure, and that is with him basically resting most of September on the bench.  So let’s say the Giants are right and he peters out at 100 starts, which would be right around the mid to end of August.  Then what do you do, start Whiteside?  Needless to say, you are not going to win a pennant with Whiteside starting.

    And I doubt even if you keep around Molina that he would be of any use to you at that time.  When you dissed him by starting Posey over him – he’s a big whiny prima donna in the press so you can only imagine in the clubhouse – he’s going to go into his “everyone hates me” shell and be useless to the team when you need him.

    How it’s probably going to work is to give Posey plenty of time in the minors, probably bring him up after the All-Star break, when the Giants go into an extended stretch where there are few days off (none in July, 3 in August), start him 2-3 times a week at catcher, and if he’s hitting, give him one start per week at 1B against LHP, as Huff is OK but not great against LHP. 

    Molina, before the season, said that he would be happy to mentor Posey this season in preparing him to be the starter for next season.  Having him run the show with Posey sitting in for half the season would be good for training Buster and preparing him for next season, as well as preparing the Giants pitchers for next season with Posey as starting catcher.

    This would allow both of them to stay stronger deeper into the season and therefore be able to contribute more each.  Posey is trained, Molina gets to stay stronger deeper into the season, the pitchers get use to another catcher.  That’s the win-win-win that the Giants were hoping for when they got Molina.

    But first, they have to be satisfied that Posey is ready to catch, there is no reason to bring him up when we have MLB quality catchers already, may as well give him all the time he needs in the minors. 

    The offense was actually working fine in April, but Sandoval monthlong slide followed by Molina’s recent slide, plus Rowand’s and Uribe’s slides, have hurt the offense, and Renteria being out.  If they all were hitting what they are projected to hit, or on average with some up and some down, the offense should be fine.  The problem was that all of them was having problems, on and off, in May.

  7. Brad Johnson said...

    fwiw I envision 2 starts a week behind the plate and 3-4 at 1b.  That’s how I’d break him in personally, and it should help keep him a little fresher. Bengie shouldn’t get pissed by that although Huff might be a little annoyed. I know they talked about moving Huff to LF but that sounds like a disaster.

    If Bengie’s going to get pissy that’s really a failure on management’s part to give him realistic expectations. He should never have been signed without being made aware that he might be split starts with Posey or backing him up if he was struggling.

  8. Brad Johnson said...

    Guess who got called up…

    Now let’s hope they don’t do what they did last september…he’s supposed to play about 5 days a week.

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