Very quickly after Buster Posey was promoted, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the move made no difference to Bengie Molina. But of course it does. Most likely, it means an earlier end to Molina’s playing career, sometime in midseason.
Bochy’s response was understandable. He’s a players’ manager, very sympathetic to the feelings of his veteran players. In this case, he had to be unusually sympathetic because Molina’s feelings run about one-sixteenth of an inch beneath his skin. He was seriously upset at an ESPN spot that joked about his lack of speed. Good heavens.
Bochy doesn’t want to say or do anything until the moment when he absolutely has to. That moment will probably come very soon, because Molina’s play is declining. As a hitter, his lack of speed makes him a constant double-play candidate. His value is strictly as a home run hitter, and he’s not hitting those now.
Also, though Posey can certainly play first base or third, his future seems to be as a catcher. He needs to be working there as much as possible.
All you have to do to realize that Posey is a good hitter is watch him take a swing. He’s perfectly balanced and hits to all fields.
The question is how much power he’ll have. You can throw out his college stats, as scouts do, because college hitters use aluminum bats and seldom hit against anyone who will be a major league pitcher.
In the minors, he hit 13 homers in 291 at-bats at Class A San Jose last year and 11 homers in 303 at-bats in parts of two seasons for Triple-A Fresno in the Pacific Coast League, a notorious hitters’ league. That would figure out to perhaps 20 in a major league season, but it’s unlikely he’d reach that against better pitching.
Some good hitters develop more home run power as they get older and stronger, and know how to look for a pitch they can drive. The outstanding examples are probably Hank Aaron, who hit only 13 homers in his first season, and Willie Mays, who hit 20. But Aaron and Mays were both 20, remarkably young to be starting a big league career.
Posey is 23, still young, but more in the range of the age players usually come up to the majors. Unless they’re with the Giants, of course.
It’s more likely that Posey will develop into a 25-homer hitter, good but marginal for a first baseman. As a catcher, though, his numbers would be phenomenal because catching is a position where teams often sacrifice offense for defense. He’d have much more value to the Giants as a catcher.
Putting Posey behind the plate would also enable the Giants to return Aubrey Huff to first base. Huff was OK in left in the weekend games, but he had no difficult chances.
Left field can be a very difficult position at AT&T Park because of the sun level. It absolutely destroyed Fred Lewis last season, and Lewis had been regarded as a good outfielder.
The future of the Giants is with Posey as the catcher. If they are going to make the postseason, that future had better arrive this year.