Friday, December 5, 2014

Catching, Buster, and Longevity

The only comp I can think of for Buster Posey is Joe Mauer. Every time I see Buster take another blow to the head I think "how long can that go on?" The Giants supposedly have no plans to move Buster to another position, but you have to think that will inevitably happen. After all, he is signed through 2021 at $20+M/yr. Head injuries, thankfully, are finally getting the attention they merit. This is near and dear to me as I suffered a concussion from a fall off my mountain bike in September of 2010. I was fortunate that I had no long-term effects, no cognitive issues, or anything other than a long, slow recovery. I was tired a lot, but regained my health in due time. There are still a few hours of my life that I cannot remember yet I was, according to reliable witnesses, walking and talking during that "blackout" phase. Scary, man. I don't want to whack my head ever again.

Here is a graph of Joe Mauer's "games caught" vs. "season." You can see the Twins finally stopped having him put on the gear. They have the DH option, of course. What do you guys think? Should the Giants have a plan for Posey? It seems like the obvious solution is to teach Brandon Belt to play left field! What would you do if you were Boch & Sabes?



obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I have been advocating Belt moving to LF since at least last year. I get the feeling the Giants were letting him be comfortable defensively so that he could focus on offense. They clearly thought he was ready last season, as they pursued Abreu for first base.

Belt should not be sitting to the extent that Posey needs at first. Why fight inevitable and move him now to LF? He at least would be adequate, maybe good there. Meanwhile, Ishi could play firstbase but then it is to sit him a lot for Posey. And he plays great at first.

Then I really would like to see Posey and Susac share starting duties at C and First in 2016. Susac looks like he is ready by then, so just give him one year honing skills in AAA. Then Posey could play as many or little games as he wishes at C without disrupting the lineup. Plus then Hector moves into more of a bat off the bench, which he has done well at, plus be a third catcher on the roster, a luxury for any team, and he would not have to catch much anymore, less balls off his caboggan.

That also means a plan is in place and yet is very fluid and flexible to needs.

Otherwise, no self respecting free agent is going to come here knowing that Posey will make him sit for 30-40 games. A platoon ideally LHB at fFirst is the best one can hope for then, which we currently have in Ishi. But a job sharing plan with Susac would solve a lot of problems, with the only hitch being how well Susac takes to playing First. I have the impression that he is not a heavy tortoise, so I have hopes he would be able to pull it off.

Brother Bob said...

I don't count on Hanchez ever being 100% again. Quiroz is still getting some consideration as an asset down the line. A bold experiment would be to see if Buster could handle the hot corner. Wasn't he a shortstop in his yute?

Ron said...

For me, it is very obvious that Belt needs to make way by moving to LF. The downside is that he is +++ 1B. The upsides, though, are that I think that Posey will be a ++ 1B, that Belt will be a + OF, that it keeps them both in the lineup & in SF longer.

nomisnala said...

The additional positives for moving Belt to left, are 1. he has a strong arm. 2. he has decent speed, and 3. he is tall which is good on any ball which might be just trying to get out of the park. One might think that if the giants were able to make Sandoval a good third baseman, they could do the same for Posey. Interestingly not only Posey used to play the infield, but so did Michael Morse. Could Morse, assuming the giants still had him, actually be better at third, than he is in left? Without the catcher problem, there was a time when the giants couldn't figure out who was going to play left, and who was going to play first. McCovey or Cepeda. Then they traded Cepeda for Sadecki. Lets not do that again.

JC Parsons said...

This is a super important topic. Excellent choice MOC.
Even during this crazy time of wheeling and dealing,this is a big decision that deserves immediate consideration.

I think I wrote many months ago that the time had come for teams to figure out just how costly playing catcher can be to an athletes career. The Giants are still living through this with Hanchez. We absolutely must protect Buster by moving him to first (maybe third but I doubt it) and I hope that happens during this next season. The fact that we have a couple decent choices in Sanchez and Susac ( one of which probably has to go if Buster stays at C ) makes it easier. Also keeping Travis gives us another 1B if we decide to try Belt in left. We need Belt's bat everyday (I think he is about to take off as a hitter) so I guess I'm pushing for him to be the eighth different starting LF in the last 8 years. I think I have that right. It is a frigging merry go round out there.
In another vein,
I have a feeling we are all in for Lester (which would be awesome) but he will go to the Sox, so then we MUST have Scherzer. So we overpay grossly, just to show we can and that we can't lose out three times in a row, and we end up with Max (which is probably even better than Lester). Sound good?

Ron said...

Breaking news: Giants sign African American (Justin Maxwell)! It's about time. Until the last few years, we've always had important African American players. Lately ... just a bunch of mostly red state white guys, along with Romo & our large contingent from Latin America. I am hoping that we bring in Lorenzo Cain & Andrew McCutchen, when they are eventually available.

I know that this post may sound a bit weird, but it's been a disturbing pattern that I have been noticing. Since Emmanuel Burriss & Randy Winn left several years ago ... nothing. Why? After a lull, there are now quite a few good African American players out there. They just never seem to play for the Giants.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I'm down with Scherzer. If the team has the money and they can get a guy like Lester or Scherzer that's fine by me. Sure, it would be a gross overpay, but only a guy like Bonds ever lived up to his cost. Eventually all big FA signings go bad. And the Giants won the World Series with Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito. So, no worries, mates.

Players should become free agents sooner so the money will move down the chain. But the Players association is, of course, biased toward the needs of veteran players. The big leagues should send more of the pie to the minors so guys in AA and whatnot can make a living and devote themselves to their profession. This would bring more talent on line sooner, and encourage more athletes to chose MLB over the NBA or NFL which have quicker paths to the big time.

Baseball should eliminate the amateur draft and should make the signing rules the same for all players in all countries. This will encourage teams to invest in communities and develop talent all over, not just in Latin America where the rules are less restrictive. Eventually places like the inner city, for example, will become part of the process as they will be the "Moneyball", i.e. under-valued and under-exploited pools of talent.

But that's stuff for another time.

My mom says that as long as the Giants keep getting those "nice, polite Southern boys" they'll keep winning.

M.C. O'Connor said...

BTW just watched a 1959 western with Robert Ryan, Burl Ives, and Tina Louise ("Ginger") which was filmed near Sisters in Oregon. Broken Top is prominently featured in multiple scenes. Very cool.

Ron said...

Broken Top is a very cool mountain, & its positioning next to the Three Sisters makes it even more dramatic.

Other than Peavy, our guys from the Southeast are great players &, as best as I can tell, terrific people. I just wish that we were a little more diverse. None of our top prospects are African American, either.

When is L. Cain a Free Agent?

Brother Bob said...

All during Bonds' last few years the Giants always had a couple of veteran African-American players on the roster, e.g. Joe Carter, Eric Davis, Shawon Dunston. I always thought they were there primarily to boost Barry's morale. In my mind I referred to them as his "stable ponies" but that sounds racist, probably.

JC Parsons said...

Oh yea, it definitely sounds racist.

Guess I'm a bit naïve, but it seems like all teams go through cycles in which key players reflect some racial identity to the entire squad. The Giants certainly had a period filled with great black outfielders. Right now it is a bunch of southern white boy pitchers. It just changes over time mostly. Sometimes organizations invest more in some communities ( like don't we have a Dominican complex? ) but I don't see a distinct pattern worthy of a special priority when selecting players.

Zo said...

In the absence of a notable Giants signing, the media and blogosphere are rushing to fill the vacuum with speculation.

Leaving race aside (and I think that if you were to look at the historical racial make-up of the Giants, the "trends" would tend to fall within a normal variation), the Belt to left field idea has been in play for awhile, and seems rather obvious. That is not the kind of move you want to make towards the end of the season, it is the kind of move you make now, so that a player can get used to it in winter ball and spring training. The fact that Ishikawa was signed bolsters that possibility, giving the Giants plenty of options. In any case, the left fielding need is much less important than pitching and third.

The Chronic today says, via a KNBR interview with Larry Krueger, that the Giants have the money for Jon Lester. Although, what about Francisco Liriano, or Brandon McCarthy? I am thinking that the signing of these guys, in fact, any starter, will wait for Lester, Scherzer and Price. Lirano (L) and McCarthy (R) seem pretty serviceable guys and wouldn't require a 7 or 8 year contract. And Vogie, I think the Giants should sign him, but they won't until they get past the first and second tier starters.

One more comment on racial make-up. Does anyone think that a baseball general manager could be successful without ignoring race? I mean, there are only so many pieces to the puzzle, ignoring a few of them seems like a good route to a lousy team. And the Giants are not that.

Ron said...

L. Cain is a Free Agent in 2018.
McCutchen is a Free Agent (after a very Team-friendly, Team-controlled option year) in 2018, too.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I love McCutcheon and Cain is a fine ballplayer but I hope to the gods the Giants have young talent that can step into the vast ATT greensward by 2018.

2018 is both Bumgarner's and Cain's option year, Pence's final year, Belt's last arb year, and BCraw's FA year.

I want to see lots of Susac and/or Hanchez this season.

Ron said...

Raising Matt & Lorenzo Cain?

M.C. O'Connor said...

@Ron: Nope. Not going there.

@Zo: What the fuck does Larry Krueger know? When Larry BAER says they have money and are going to spend it, I'll listen.

david sanchez said...

Posey's never moving from behind the plate.Susac's starts will increase a little over time.