Sunday, December 06, 2009

Buster Posey: To Play or Not to Play

Brian Sabean recently noted to the press that the Giants are not sure that Posey can play 100+ games and thus they are looking for someone who would basically be the starter until the Giants think that Posey is ready to play. This was reported by Andy Baggarly at this great Extra Baggs blog, check it out.

Other news include:
  • Both Brad Penny and Juan Uribe turned down the Giants final offer, and thus one can expect that the Giants would not be signing either one. If they were a package, that's great by me, we would be overpaying for Uribe. I wouldn't have minded getting Penny back, but with Lincecum expecting to get $12-24M from the Giants next season, the Giants basically have to hold off signing anyone but a backup/starting catcher until they go through that process.
  • Apparently the Giants are interested in Howry re-signing, but he's not a priority. Appears that they are not sold that Waldis Joaquin will necessarily be ready, or perhaps they are signing him in order to free them to trade off a young reliever to get a player they need. Some people are up in arms, but his overall ERA was great for a reliever, and while I would not trust him with late inning leads, there are plenty of innings in the middle innings where things are still in doubt where he can get innings. I only ask that he gets much less than last year to do a lesser job.
  • Sounds like the Giants are thinking of going with Bumgarner as the #5 starter, assuming he proves to be ready in spring training (people forget about that detail and just think that they are rubber stamping him now). People are not understanding what ready means with regards for the majors. Based on what he did in limited time in the majors (plus last spring training), he looks like he can pitch effectively in the majors if they brought him up. He wouldn't dominate, but who would at his young age? I would bet that he could get guys out regularly. Is he at his peak yet? No, but I don't have a problem with them dangling the majors as a carrot to get him to bring his performances to another level. No shame if he doesn't, he goes to AAA and get to figure out things there.
  • The Giants have officially said that they won't sign any free agent who would cost them their first round draft pick. Even if that pick is not worth that much, ultimately, they apparently decided that the bad publicity that comes with that from the fan base is not worth it. Too bad, I would rather they do what they think is OK from a business risk basis than kowtow to the fan masses. After all, many of them wanted to trade Lincecum or Cain or Bumgarner at one time or another. Or maybe they decided that this draft is deep enough that they can actually pick up someone they like. Lots of different factors come into play, one can go dizzy thinking of them all. :^)
  • Sabean also explained why Molina was not offered arbitration. Makes sense, if they get robbed in the Lincecum arbitration process, they don't want to chance having to give Molina a big raise in the arbitration too, if the arbitrator happens to lean towards Molina. That could force them to have to trade a big salary when they were not prepared to.

Sabean noted that Posey was "whipped" after a full season. And that appears to be true, based on how he performed in the AFL. Not really new news though, we all knew already that he would start if he earned it in spring and would got AAA if he didn't, and that the backup would have to understand that his situation would be tenuous at best. Nice to get it confirmed though.

My Thoughts About Posey

People think it's a slam dunk that he's ready. I don't really know but I am willing to put him in and see what he can do. The Giants are going with their route. Don't konw what is best, just a matter of preference.

What I do know is that he is not a slam dunk to do well. Consider this other prospect:

Great catching prospect? Check!
Great hitting prospect? Check!
Great power prospect? Check!
No pressure situation? Double check!

First month in majors: 22 games, .234/.289/.390/.679, 2 HR in 77 AB, 6 BB, 19 K, 6 RBI
The 2009 season at 71 games: .264/.310/.368/.679, 5 HR in 258 AB, 17 BB, 62 K, 26 RBI
Full 2009 season, 96 games: .288/.340/.412/.752, 9 HR in 354 AB, 28 BB, 86 K, 43 RBI

This is Matt Wieters's stats for the 2009 season. And he's one season ahead of Posey in terms of professional experience and thus should be the more advanced hitting prospect one would think. And he was considered a better hitting prospect than Posey. And he hit better than Posey did in their first full season as a professional. And that is with Posey getting to play in hitter's league PCL while Weiters was in the pitcher's league Eastern League AA.

If it wasn't for his great September, his numbers were pretty poor overall, instead of looking OK for a catcher for his first full season. It was much below average until September when he figured out things in a hurry. He's set to become a star.

Let's take a look at Joe Mauer, another top catching prospect. When he was up for good, here is how he did in his first 27 days (only 27 more days left this season for Giants, and he would probably play this much if he hit like this; I wrote some of this in mid-September but updating for latest news):

20 games, 17 GS, .220/.299/.441/.739 in 59 AB, 3 HR in 59 AB, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 10 K.

Again, he didn't exactly shine as a hitter right off the bat.

Posey's MLE for his 2009 MiLB stats: .248/.312/.386/.698

And here is Posey's stats for his first few weeks in AAA: .235/.333/.314/.647, 0 HR in 51 AB.

Posey eventually sure, but young catchers, even the best hitting ones, can struggle initially when put in the big show. Putting him into the pressure of a playoff chase just adds to all that he will be dealing with, on top of being a major leaguer for the first time, and learning about all that. Are you going to improve the lineup with a catcher like that over Molina? I don't think so.

And thus he is not a slam dunk for starting and doing well in 2010 either.

People keep on forgetting that Bochy has done a good job with all the young pitchers in the pitching staff. They dumped vets like Russ Ortiz, Steve Kline, Brad Hennessey, Kevin Correia, Tyler Walker, Jack Taschner when they either had a young pitcher to replace them or a promising one they would rather keep.

In addition, they could have screwed with Lincecum's service time his first season, like other teams did this season, when he struggling, nobody would have blamed them for sending him back down for a while to get himself straightened out, and that could have reduced his service time enough so that would not have achieved Super-2 status and be arbitration eligible this season. And the way he was pitching poorly, nobody would have blamed them for doing that.

What To Do With Posey

Posey will not necessarily do well if he were to start. But he probably would reach his major league peak production sooner if they did, as I would do. But I understand leaving him back in AAA if he proves to not be ready, that would make him earn his way up, plus delay having to pay him big money until later, which they did not do with Lincecum and perhaps regret now. Plus, they now need to push back expenses as much as they can given that they are going to pay Lincecum huge money over the next four seasons.

It sucks when business concerns plays into player decisions, but that is life, you have to consider factors like that when looking at the Giants actions or any other professional sports team.

Happy Holidays!

4 comments:

  1. I have no problem with starting Posey off in the minors, if, for nothing else, to avoid Super Two status. I would also understand if they scrap those plans and bring in a veteran catcher to share time with him so that Posey only plays about 100 games in the season. Either scenario is OK with me.

    Bumgarner, on the other hand, should not be with the big club next year. Rushing him to the majors at this point might actually stunt his development and/or his market value. He would be better served dominating in the minors and working on developing a consistent third pitch. I've seen him pitch in person and there is a ton of upside there, but he is really not ready yet. He could pitch in the majors now and get batters out, but that would not be the wise thing to do from a long term development standpoint.

    ReplyDelete
  2. If anything, the fan base undervalues draft picks. They're unhappy with Sabean's decision to avoid Class A's.

    The more knowledgeable realize that there isn't a Class A free agent on the market that fits our needs enough to justify the dollars, let alone the pick.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not true. Holliday would be worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, but they've publicly stated they're not in on him.

    ReplyDelete

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