Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Buster Posey: Come on Up!

This was originally a post about someone's positive observations on Posey (see below) but with the news about Buster Posey being called up, I had to write on this first. As announced on The Splash by Henry Schulman and Andy Baggarly on his blog, Buster Posey was called up today. Also, BTW, Dan Runzler, another AFL assigned prospect for the Giants, was called up too, to provide lefty support (probably because Hinshaw did so poorly).

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 Difference

The 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."
Just add his comments to the mix of other comments about Posey, as a note of caution regarding Posey's defensive potential.

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.

10 comments:

  1. I guess the future is now......couldn't be avoided any longer with Molina hurting.

    What I'm most intrigued to see if Posey's approach at the plate rubs off on some of the other Giants. One thing you can see from him is that he has a game plan at the plate, rather than the slop hacking guys that now populate the Giants roster. The Giants should make sure that they keep Shawon Dunston as far away from Posey as possible.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes and no, Boof. :^)

    See, that is what separated him from the other prospects when draft time came. And what separates the best hitters in baseball from the merely good or average hitters. Most hitters don't get it.

    That is why I love Ted Williams book on hitting. If I were the Giants owner, I would make the book mandatory reading for each and every hitter and pitcher. Hitters because it would help them hit better. Pitchers because it would help them get into the minds of the better hitters and see if they can devise a strategy to neutralize them.

    When Ted Williams became the manager of the Washington Senators, the team's hitting improved (unfortunately for his managerial career, he didn't apply such effort on the pitching staff).

    The year before, the team hit .224/.287/.336/.623 but in their first year with him, it was .251/.330/.378/.708; unfortunately, it was just a temporary bump up, second year, .238/.321/.358/.679, third year, .230/.307/.326/.634, last year, .217/.290/.290/.581.

    Part of the reason for that, I think, was because of the transition from older players to younger players. By 1972, he had 5 starters 25 and younger, and only one of them had an OPS+ over 100.

    In 1969, he had 3 players 30 and over, plus 3 27 YO (lastly one 26 and one 24). 6 of 8 had OPS+ of 109 or above, 2 in the high 170's.

    Comparing common players 1968 and 1969:

    (OPS+ before and after)
    Paul Casanova: 41; 54
    Mike Epstein: 117; 176
    Bernie Allen: 98; 109
    Ed Brinkman: 44; 89
    Ken McMullen: 117; 122
    Frank Howard: 170; 178
    Del Unser: 73; 110
    Hank Allen: 70; 88
    Lee Maye: 113; 132

    In addition, Maye had an OPS+ of 74 when the Senators acquired him, 132 for the rest of the season with the Senators.

    From 1968 to 1970:

    Paul Casanova: 41; 54; 69
    Mike Epstein: 117; 176; 129
    Ed Brinkman: 44; 89; 80
    Frank Howard: 170; 178; 170
    Del Unser: 73; 110; 83
    Lee Maye: 113; 132; 103

    Lee Maye was 35 though, and Frank Howard dropped the next year at age 34. By 71, only Casanova (52), Frank Howard (144), and Del Unser (98) were still around.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So right now, as a rookie, I doubt any of the players will be following what Posey is doing with the bat. However, as he becomes (hopefully) a key hitter on the team, I think the other hitters will take a cue from him and realize that they need to do some things to elevate their game.

    Again, I don't blame the hitters who can't do it. Some just can't. And for some, you can lead them there but you can't make them drink.

    That is why I like Frandsen so much, if there was a complaint about him, he worked hard to eliminate it. Taking walks was one, and he improved that from season to season. Another was his defense, and he worked hard enough to get his SS playing to be decent. Why did he have to open his mouth?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Some more Teddy-Ball:

    OBP change/SLG change

    Casanova: .210 to .254/.252 to .282
    Epstein: .338 to .414/.366 to .551
    B. Allen: .301 to .337/.343 to .389
    Brinkman: .259 to .328/.202 to .325
    McMullen: .326 to .349/.382 to .425
    Howard: .338 to .402/.552 to .574
    Unser: .282 to .349/.277 to .382
    Maye: .316 to .345/.378 to .466

    Clearly, Ted Williams had a great effect on all these hitters, good, average, and bad. Hopefully Posey will do a similar thing with his hitting for his teammates during his career.

    Williams taught a whole bunch of rules, some that we now associate with Moneyball. He taught the value of the walk, or rather how it's better to take the walk than strike out. He taught the value of homeruns and how to adjust your swing to maximize for it. He taught that the first batter of the game should take some pitches, so that he and his teammates will be able to get a sense of the stuff of the pitcher for that day, and see the speeds he is capable of throwing that day. He wasn't baseball's greatest hitter for nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Actually, there is plenty of blame to lay out there for Giants' hitters not uinderstanding that there should be an approach to follow and that lies squarely with the organization itself. A wee-run organization has all of its coaches teaching the team's philosophy up and down the organization, from the lowest minor league levels to the majors.

    One of the big reasons why the Giants have not been able to develop good hitters over the last 10+ years or so is that appears to be a complete lack of plate discipline being taught throughout their organization. That is a huge failing of the Giants and the blame for this lays squarely on the top man for not imposing an organizational approach to this area.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The 40 man roster moves have been announced: Jesse English and Ryan Sadowski were both designated for assignment.

    I guess Bocock is still valuable for his fielding? Certainly not his hitting thus far. He did show good discipline when he was first brought up, though, which I liked, so I guess they feel that he might improve his bat speed enough to use that discipline for good effect.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Need to get an edit feature on this comment board......Yikes.

    I meant to say "well-run organization" above.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You and I will agree there, Boof. Hopefully the Giants Way will start to change that.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Really great stuff man. I'm gonna bring this up on my page. If you haven't checked it out, you should. Let's crosslink these pages. I've got you on mine.

    www.dodgerhater.blogspot.com

    I think more than anything Buster just needs to get his feet wet and figure out exactly what he needs to work on.

    DP

    ReplyDelete
  10. Boof, I couldn't agree more, plus other things would be nice, but that's how it goes when they provide free stuff, you put up with it. :^)

    DP, I have added you, good luck.

    Yeah, Buster should do that plus, you know, hit .400/.500/.600/1.100 while he's at it. :^D

    But seriously, I think that this experience will go long towards preparing him for when he makes the majors for good.

    And, the way Whiteside is handling the pitching, maybe he should be Posey's backup next year, save us some free agent money, as I was very impressed with his comment about how he researched Penny and determined that he used too many fastballs in his last start, so he got him to mix in more curves and splitters. Night and Day in terms of results. (I got that from Baggarly: http://www.mercurynews.com/giants/ci_13256772?source=rss)

    He has a 3.10 ERA with the pitchers this year in 26 starts (35 games in all). Molina, in 102 starts, has a 3.65 ERA. I won't mention Sandoval and Holm because they only got in a few games.

    He has also thrown out 41% of baserunners, while Molina only got 24%.

    ReplyDelete

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Santiago Casilla (8) Scott McClain (2) Scott Shuman (1) Scouting (1) Sergio Romo (13) SF Giants (2) Shilo McCall (1) Shooter (1) shutouts (1) Signature Song (1) signing (12) Silly-Ball (3) South Atlantic League (1) South Bay Rights (1) Spring Training (15) standings (1) starting lineup (14) starting pitching (54) statistics (2) STATS (1) Steroids (5) Steve Edlefsen (4) Steve Johnson (3) Steve Okert (1) Sue Burns (1) sunk costs (1) superstition (1) Team Speed (1) Team Support (1) Thank You (1) The Giants Way (1) The Hey Series (15) Thomas Joseph (3) Thomas Neal (9) Tigers (4) Tim Alderson (17) Tim Hudson (24) Tim Lincecum (167) Todd Linden (3) Todd Wellemeyer (6) Tommy Joseph (3) top prospect list (4) Trade (9) Trade Analysis (15) Trade Idea (7) Trade PTBNL (2) Trade Rumors (28) trading (1) training staff (2) Training Tool (1) Travis Blackley (1) Travis Ishikawa (44) turning point (1) Ty Blach (2) Tyler Beede (2) Tyler Horan (1) Tyler Rogers (1) Tyler Walker (2) umpire mistake (3) Umpires (3) USA Today (1) Voros McCracken (1) Waldis Joaquin (5) walks (1) WAR (1) Warrior Spirit (1) Wendell Fairley (10) What-If Scenario (3) wild card (1) wild card race (1) Will Clark (1) Willie Mac Award (1) Willie Mays (1) Winter League (1) World Series (23) World Series Champions (10) WS Ring Bling (1) Yusmeiro Petit (26) Zack Wheeler (9)