Revisiting Buster Posey's Triple-A stay

Another friend writes (in response to this entry):

    I can't believe how often people are missing the point on Buster Posey.

    Everyone is judging from hindsight. And suggesting how smart they are based on results.


    * Posey had 117 TOTAL games as a professional catcher entering this season.

    * He was not ready to handle a pitching staff that the team has about $200 million committed to.

    * He had 35 games -- TOTAL -- of professional experience above A-ball. Thirty-five.

    I saw many of his 80 Class A games, and his footwork and throwing left much to be desired.

    He needed the time with Steve Decker to become a major-league catcher.

    Yes, the results suggest he might have been ready sooner. Then again, his tremendous success also suggests that the Giants might have done this perfectly correctly. They allowed him to skip AA, and to dominate at AAA for 65 games at catcher, 79 overall.

    On the other hand, if he'd come up and done a Chris Carter, 0-for-33, it might have set him back two years; instead, they waited two months and got more than they hoped for.

    Wow, there's just no winning, is there?

    As for Rookie of the Year or not, in my mind, there's no question. Just look at what San Francisco's pitching staff is doing in the heat of the pennant race. For a rookie catcher with the experience level he brought into the season, and the demands of the position vs. playing OF -- please.

    Now, I also acknowledge that (Jason) Heyward will win the award ... because he's in a five-team division that plays in the East, giving him six series of exposure to New York writers, six more to Philly writers, and plenty to the national writers headquartered in the East. But, that's just the way the coastal bias slices.

I don't believe that anyone's ever demonstrated any regional bias in awards voting. Shoot, just look at the past two years! Of the 12 major awards, only three went to players with teams located in the Eastern Time Zone: Dustin Pedroia and Evan Longoria in 2008, and Chris Coghlan in 2009. Shoot (yes, again), eight of the last 10 National League Cy Young Awards have gone to pitchers in the National League West. Twice, those were given to a San Francisco Giant named Tim Lincecum. In recent memory, three different Giants have accounted for seven Most Valuable Player Awards.

When Jason Heyward becomes Rookie of the Year, it will be mostly because he's posted incredible numbers this season. Buster Posey's been incredible, too. But when you miss the first two months of the season, you're going to win that award only if somebody isn't having a great season who's been up for nearly all of the season. And so this just isn't Posey's year.

Now, about your "facts" ... One of them isn't. Your contention that Posey "was not ready to handle" the Giant pitchers is an opinion. It's certainly reasonable and quite possibly valid, but it's hardly a fact. I do believe that Brian Sabean and quite possibly Bruce Bochy -- once a catcher himself, of course -- shared your opinion last winter and well into the spring, which at least partly explains why the Giants brought Bengie Molina back.

There are some funny things about this, though. Most obviously, if Molina was so brilliant a defensive catcher, why has the pitching been so good since he left and Posey took over? Is it possible that Posey, for all his limitations, would have been roughly as good behind the plate and (of course) significantly better at the plate?

Of course we'll never know. But yes, you're right: Hindsight is 20/20, plus all this will probably be moot in a week when the Giants are preparing for the playoffs. But my opinion is that on the 1st of May, knowing not what I know now but what I knew then, given a choice between Buster Posey and Bengie Molina I would have chosen the kid.