I was wondering if this was a possibility with Molina injured and out so long, but all the signs pointed to No so I never noted it. Posey will probably not be starting today in Penny's first start, according to Schulman's blog, but one would think that he will be starting some games along the way, more if he starts hitting right off. Or, at worse, push Molina to start when he says he can, which he said is Thursday's game, or risk starting the Posey era now.
The big question for me is who did the Giants remove from the roster in order to put Posey and Runzler on the 40 man roster. There are no more players to put on the 60-day DL, so the Giants will have to start to waive players.
I would think that Bocock is one and Jesse English is the another, because almost everyone else is either on the MLB roster or on the 60 day DL. The only other 40 man roster players are Osiris Matos, Joe Martinez, Ryan Sadowski, Matt Downs, and Conor Gillaspie. Baggarly also mentioned that Sadowski was on a travel list, and while being called up is one possibility, being waived could be another. I would be OK with losing either, but both have regressed this season, so I don't expect any team to pick them up, though someone might take a flier on English.
Observations and Opinions on Buster Posey
Adam Foster of Prospect Project published his observations of Buster Posey the other day, and it was generally positive.
- I've had a chance to see Buster Posey play in Triple-A, High-A and Minor League Spring Training this year. I hadn't really seen him have a bad at-bat before last week.
- As expected, Posey wasn't controlling Triple-A at-bats nearly as well as he was able to in High-A.
- The key at-bat that I saw last week was when Posey faced Henry Alberto Rodriguez. Rodriguez was powering his fastball in the high-90s (96-99). Posey quickly adjusted to the flamethrower by shortening his leg kick. Posey ended up popping up, but he wasn't overmatched by one of the livest arms in the world. That's a pretty good sign.
- Posey also looks decent on defense. ... he hasn't made many defensive mistakes when I've seen him this year. He looks comfortable behind the plate. His arm is solid. And he moves fairly well.
- I don't expect Posey to be an above-average defender, but he should be average. Combine that defensive value with a bat that should be well-above-average for a catcher and you have a very elite prospect.
That is a pretty good review of where he thinks Posey is right now. Sounds like he could be ready for the majors by next season, with the key question being, to start the season starting in the MLB or wait until mid-season? I don't think that question is answered here, but nothing here says that it won't happen either.
Defensive DifferenceThe only thing I would note is that most evaluations of Posey have said that he is expected to be an above-average defender:
- In Minor League Baseball Analyst, Deric McKamey noted that Posey's defensive skills are graded as above average and his catcher pop time is above average at 1.85 seconds (1.95 is MLB average). He commented, "Above average defender with arm strength, receiving skills, and a quick release (1.85)."
- In Baseball Prospectus they commented, "Posey is interesting in that it's hard to see superstar in his tool set, but it's also nearly impossible not to see him becoming an above-average catcher both offensively and defensively in short order."
- Baseball Prospectus' prospect guru, Kevin Goldstein, wrote in his 2009 Top 100 list that "... Posey projects as an athletic .300-hitting catcher with average power and outstanding defense."
- Baseball America noted, "He profiles as a catcher in the mold of Joe Mauer. ... Arm strength isn't a problem ... He's agile and has soft hands, and he even runs well. ... Posey is still relatively new to catching and will need time to develop behind the plate, especially his game-calling skills."
- MiLB's Jonathan Mayo wrote in his 2009 Top 50 Prospect ranking, "Upside potential: Top all-around catcher who reaches the Majors quickly and stays for a long time."
- Baseball Intellect's Alex Eisenberg, in his examination of the Giants top 15 prospects for 2009, rated Posey using the scouting scale of 20-80 as 55 Now, 60 in the future, which is above average. After the draft, he noted, "Posey is more athletic than most catchers, possesses good footwork around the plate and projects to be an at least average defensive catcher with the potential to become plus. His arm is said to be about above average."
When Can He Start?
In a pre-season article on Posey, Brian Harper, the Giants' roving catching instructor noted that most proficient catchers need to play at least 200 to 300 games in the minors to get them ready for the majors.
It looks like he's going to be short. He has played in 125 games in the minors thus far and should get into at least 6 more games or so, with Fresno having 7 games left in the season, for a total of 131. He played in 19 games in the Hawaiian Winter League last season. That puts him at 150. In the AFL, he could be getting into at least 20 games as a catcher (Frandsen got into 32 in 2008 and Schierholtz got into 23 in 2007; but the top catcher for the Giants team in 2007 got into only 15 games, in 2008 just 18 games, for their team, though Matt Weiters, an equivalent prospect to Posey, got into 20 games). That puts him at 170, which is short on the rule of thumb. FYI, had he signed early, he would have reached 200 already, as he probably would have put in enough time to reach 200 games.
That suggests that the Giants might follow Matt Weiters path, where he stayed in the minors and the team signed a free agent catcher (Greg Zaun should be free again for that duty; so is Jose Molina) who understood that he started initially but would be the backup once the star prospect catcher is ready to come up to the majors. At roughly 30 games, that would put him around the mid-May to early June timeframe to come up, which is about when Weiters joined the Orioles.
Go with Posey in 2010
Personally, as much as I like Molina, I would rather the Giants just start Posey in 2010 and sign an experienced backup just in case. He would stay up for good, but basically learn on the job as well as he can. He would also learn from the experienced backup, I would make them roommates on the road. The vet would start more often if Posey struggles, but my expectation is that struggles will be minimal in terms of being so bad that he needs to be sent back down. While I would not think he will hit the ground running, I think his season will be like Sandoval's this season in that he would struggle initially but then the light will go on and he'll start hitting and fielding well.
I don't expect that to happen because the Giants, based on past behavior, tend to not want to risk starting a young player when they are contenders, and after this season, they should expect to be contenders next season. And they will already be dealing with two young starting OF, most probably Schierholtz in RF (but maybe Bowker too) and Velez/Lewis/Bowker in LF, plus Garko at 1B (and perhaps Ishikawa too).
Still, the team has won even though Molina has not hit that well (low 700 OPS) in a key position in the lineup (clean up), so if they bat Sandoval clean up and put Posey down lower in the lineup, say 7th, that could work just as well as this season has, if not better. It could be Velez/Lewis leadoff, Franchez, Schierholtz/Bowker, Sandoval, Garko/Ishikawa, Rowand, Posey, Renteria, pitcher.
Posey should handle batting 7th fine at the start of his first MLB season. The average 7th place hitter hit .254/.318/.402/.720 and hit around 15 HR in a season. Posey should be able to match that if not beat it easily if he's as good as advertised. And his MLE for his play in Fresno works out to .274/.331/.415/.746 and roughly 15+ HR in a season.
And if he starts hitting like he projects, he could move up to batting 3rd or 5th for us, since he would be hitting almost as well as Sandoval, only better OBP and lesser SLG. If it's Bochy, then he's probably hitting 3rd, like Sandoval did this season (another pain point for me, if he trusts Sandoval enough to bat 3rd, why didn't he just bat him 5th, where his hitting would generate more runs than batting 3rd? Aggravated me.). But the 3rd hitter gets more situations where there are 2 outs and/or less runners on base, and you want your better hitter to bat in better circumstances, like 4th or 5th. If Posey hits as advertised, then it is probably better to bat Posey 4th and Sandoval 5th.
Whole New Ballgame
However, with this call up, it's a whole new ballgame. Given this message from the Giants to Molina with this move, I have to think that the Giants must be seriously thinking about starting Posey in 2010. Plus, we will get a sense for how strongly the Giants feel about Posey's offensive abilities by how they use him if/when they start him this month. And, we will get to see how he hits in pressure situations.
This is great. I wanted this to happen but thought that was out the door based on all the news about Posey possibly being on Team USA and other news. I think it is time to kick the tires on Posey and see how good he is. Hopefully he will be able to make some starts this month, seems to be a waste to bring him up if he does not get any starts, but you never know. At minimum, I wanted him here to soak in the playoff atmosphere and get used to such an environment, and just get used to being in the majors, period.
Any production we get out of him would be a bonus. Of course, I'm hoping to get a bonus. :^) The bigger, the better. And I think that if they put him to start in any games, he would produce, though perhaps not initially, but eventually with more ABs. I think this will be a good thing for the Giants, if only for the excitement it will bring to the team and the fans.