San Francisco Giants: Jon Lester would mean no Buster Posey at catcher
By Mark ONeill
The news that Bruce Bochy is in Atlanta to try and convince Jon Lester to join the San Francisco Giants, is a sure sign that the Giants are determined to upgrade their team, even if Pablo Sandoval was allowed to get away. Realistically though, if the Giants actually land Lester there will be nothing left in the coffers for additions to the roster, especially in light of the fact that there are still several arbitration situations to resolve.
If the Giants were then forced to work within the already-existing parameters, they would still be in pretty good shape for the shape they’re in because although they lost Pablo, they have regained Angel Pagan and Matt Cain from the disabled list. What would need to happen though is a follow-through on the talk of getting Buster Posey out from behind the plate.
That is a move that has steadfastly resisted any appeal, simply because Posey has orchestrated three world championships from his vantage point behind the dish, and no one wants to see that end. That being said however, all fans have to do is think about those foul tips and how they almost ended Hector Sanchez’ career last season. Posey is not impervious to a foul ball creating a lot of havoc; why take the chance?
One obstacle is that Buster himself, as all catchers are want to do, resists the idea of giving up his station.
Buster Posey: Have bat, will travel
The Giants must convince him to do so for the betterment of the team, but they might opt to ask him if he has a preference for one position over another: third or first. Any discussion about Buster in the outfield must be tempered by the reminder that Posey does not have the speed to make the outfield an option.
Say he chose first base. With Andrew Susac behind the dish and Sanchez to back him up, that would mean putting Brandon Belt in left and leaving third base open to competition from any of the following: Joaquin Arias, Chris Dominguez, Adam Duvall, Matt Duffy, or possibly Maikel Franco if Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. decides to jettison him for prospects.
Sep 2, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac (34) celebrates with third base coach Tim Flannery (1) after hitting a two run home run in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
In the event Posey chose third, all the better, because Belt would still be available to assume duties in left, with the same candidates available to compete for the first base job. Better still, give Gary Brown the chance to compete in left and should he succeed in capturing the job, leave Belt at first. Whereas players generally come up through the system being groomed for a specific position, baseball is filled with guys who have adjusted to another spot. At the major league level, the talent is such that athleticism beats out unfamiliarity 99% of the time and players adapt, leaving the manager with options.
Conventional wisdom dictates that championship teams must upgrade in order to be able maintain success, but when you consider the Orange and Black got it done without Pagan or Cain, the addition of Lester would mean that two-fifths of the starting rotation wold be upgraded. Belt to the outfield upgrades the left field, while Buster anywhere works just fine, leaving the fact that losing Pablo just simply hurts.
There is no way to get around that fact but it serves no point to snivel about it. A lineup featuring a corps of Hunter Pence, Posey, Belt, Pagan, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, Susac and a player to be determined, will stack up against the lineup in the just-completed season quite well.
Give Bochy a comparable starting lineup to that of last year and a seriously upgraded starting rotation, should Jon Lester come on board, and San Francisco is ready for action-ready for danger.
Ready to take on the L.A. Dodgers and isn’t that what it is all about?