Monday, May 16, 2011

San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey Will Be Changing Positions Sooner or Later

An article written for ESPN caught my attention this past week. The article was by David Schoenfield entitled "Mauer Position Change Becoming Inevitable."

Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins is batting .235 with 4 RBI's in just nine games this season. He has been hampered by a knee injury that has kept him on the DL since April 15, after being rushed back from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee during the offseason.

There is no current timetable for his return.

In the article, Schoenfield points that while Mauer's value at catcher may be high, his value on the DL is zero. Mauer will have to move away from catcher at some point in his career, and that point seems to be approaching ever closer these days.

Schoenfield goes into detail about how the Twins have Mauer signed until he is 35-years-old, and that first baseman Justin Morneau is signed through 2013, which hurts because first base would be the obvious position to play Mauer other than catcher.

DH seems to be the only option for the Twins since Mauer is not equipped to play any other position other than catcher and first base.

But this article strikes close to home, as Eric Byrnes addressed on KNBR last week.

Here, in the Bay Area, we have our own version of Joe Mauer in Buster Posey. A solid catcher who can produce at the plate as well as any other hitter in the league, as Mauer was before his injuries.

Using Mauer as the prime example, it is inevitable that Posey will be changing positions within the next five years.

If the San Francisco Giants want his bat for his entire career, as I'm sure is quite high on their priority list, they will switch Posey to a different position.

Honestly, this will not be as big a shock in the coming years as it is right now.

Posey played shortstop for Florida State his freshman year in college, batting .346 in that season. His move to catcher was only to guarantee him a roster position in Major League Baseball by making him unique as a catcher that could hit, instead of a shortstop that could hit.

So Posey can play the field with no problem, or at least with less problem than, say, a Joe Mauer.

Here is where it gets tricky if you are the San Francisco Giants.

Looking down the road a few years, the Giants' infield will consist of Pablo Sandoval at third base and Brandon Belt at first base. These are guarantees in the field that hurt Posey because those would be the two positions that would come most naturally to him.

For those saying to put him back at shortstop, that is no longer an option. As Byrnes put it, his legs are like "tree trunks" now. He will not be able to cover that much ground, as he will need to do.

That does not rule out an outfield spot for him, though.

Sure, center field and right field may not be options, especially at AT&T Park, but I'm sure Posey could do just as good a job in left field as Pat Burrell does right now.

More realistically, Posey will be playing second base for the Giants sooner or later.

As Schoenfield pointed out, former Houston Astros' catcher Craig Biggio did it. In fact, he is the only catcher to move to second base from catcher, and play on a regular basis, in baseball history.

Well, make some room, Biggio.

Given the Giants' roster situation in a few years, the ballpark they play in, and the seemingly constant reminder of the clock ticking on Posey's legs, as being currently proven by Joe Mauer, the Giants will inevitably have to move Posey from catcher to second base in the coming years.

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