The single irreplaceable component that links the San Francisco Giants of today with both of their recent world series victories is Buster Posey. Of all the eighteen current Giants who have played on one or both of the championship teams, the individual who packs the most wallop into his daily presence in the lineup is Posey. Therefore, the Giants’ brain-trust must formulate a plan to preserve Posey, if you will, for the time of year when he is most indispensable: the playoffs.
I have a proposal that I believe takes everyone’s best interest into consideration because it entails having the best of both worlds: Buster in the lineup almost every day, and still healthy enough to assume full control behind the dish when October arrives.
Buster needs to be catching during the playoffs because he has demonstrated-twice-that he rises to the occasions when it comes to calling effective games against offensive powerhouses in pressure situations.
Jun 29, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti (33) visits the mound with relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt (41) and catcher Buster Posey (28) during the ninth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Giants management provides Posey with extensive scouting reports from all of the contending teams and Buster, Dave Righetti and the coaching staff form a plan. They are very good at this and Buster is very good at what he does. Not only did the Giants sweep the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, they shut them out in the second and third games by identical 2-0 scores. This was, of course, two years after the Giants burst onto the playoff scene with a cast of “misfits and cast-offs” and defeated the Texas Rangers in five games.
What must happen for Posey to be available to the playoffs and yet, at the same time, be able to provide the most impact to the daily lineup? The answer is, he must be able to maintain his catcher’s skills and cranial data bank, but also be able to spend almost the same amount of time at first base.
What we’re talking about here is flexibility and the Giants have the ideal lineup for it all to take place. Both Michael Morse and Brandon Belt (when he returns) can play first base and left field, and with Posey able to divide time between catcher, first base and the occasional off-day, it would seem that the master of lineup shuffles, Bruce Bochy, could work it so that Buster spends close to half of his time at first base and half at catcher.
With Andrew Susac demonstrating that he plays the big iron quite well in clutch situations, and with him being a rook and all and not in a position to protest too much, it might seem that if Susac and Posey split time at catcher, and Posey and Belt shared time at first base, and Belt and Morse shared time in left field, then the Giants could have their champaign and drink it too.
Jul 5, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (right) is congratulated by catcher Buster Posey (28) after hitting a two run home run during the tenth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
It doesn’t work when big egos get in the way and players feel short-changed for playing time but that’s where chemistry comes into play.
It doesn’t work when big egos get in the way…but that’s where chemistry comes into play.
The Giants have the same basic team now that they had in 2012, they know how the whole thing works, the chemistry is alive and thriving and they want to win again.
What I am proposing allows the Giants and their fans to take advantage of Posey’s better offensive prowess as a first baseman, Morse’s need for less playing time and the fact that we have three such high-profile players who are not only talented enough to play two positions well, but who also possess egos which place the team first.
Buster can’t be expected to play first base all season and then snap back to catcher status when October arrives, so if he plays behind the plate at least once for each series and maybe twice against a team that is red-hot, then it allows him to keep his skills sharp and his bat more of a force during the season.
Even in this month of September, Buster could be spending much more time at first because Belt is not ready to come back yet, anyway. However, we’re talking about the franchise player here, a guy who is signed long-term and worth every penny.
Let’s make the best use of his expertise as possible and keep him primed for October.
Posey returning to the dugout after a force out on March 14, 2014. Photo by Denise Walos.