Replacing Buster Posey in the Giants’ lineup is a nearly impossible task. But San Francisco’s manager, Gabe Kapler, says the team is ready to take it on.
The Giants devoted Thursday to honoring Posey, who officially announced his retirement as an active player. He’s one of only six Giants to have performed exclusively for San Francisco while playing at least 10 years in the Major Leagues. (The others are right-hander Matt Cain; shortstop Brandon Crawford, who’s still active; infielder Jim Davenport; right-hander Scott Garrelts; and second baseman Robby Thompson.)
The Giants won’t necessarily devote the rest of the offseason to finding a successor to Posey, largely because few, if any, exist.
Posey was a top offensive performer who also excelled defensively. Moreover, he was a peerless team leader.
This could be interpreted as meaning the Giants will need three players to replace Posey. That, of course, is impractical.
”I don’t think it’s about replacing three guys. It’s about replacing a lot of impact,” Kapler said. “Impact from a number of different angles. We know we’re not going to do it with one person. We’re not going to bring somebody in and that person is going to mean everything that Buster Posey represented to the organization and the 2021 club. The only thing that we can do is look for ways to disperse that responsibility and spread it out a little bit.”
Most likely, Joey Bart, considered Posey’s heir apparent since San Francisco drafted him in the first round (second overall) in 2018, will receive every opportunity to become the ballclub’s starting catcher. Kapler indicated that Bart seemed significantly more mature during his taxi squad stints with the Giants this year.
“Most of the growth I saw from Joey — there’s no entitlement,” Kapler said. “He was in the space that he was supposed to be in, playing the supportive role for the two veteran catchers who were critical pieces of our roster.” Kapler surmised that Bart will go about his business “with more humility and with a little more appreciation.”
Speaking during a news conference at Oracle Park, Posey touched on the themes of family and friends and how baseball reinforces both.
Said Posey, “How do you thank a fan base? The Giants’ fan base is more than just fans. It’s a community. That sense of community is something we as players could feel in the ballpark.”
These zealots will have one less hero to worship with the retirement of Posey, at age 34. He observed that many people who rooted for him through his entire 12-year Major League career probably have passed from childhood to adulthood.
“To me, this is what encapsulates baseball — it’s a lot more than about winning and losing games,” he said. “It’s about the time spent with your family … and ultimately enjoying the people who you’re with along the way and making great memories together. I’m so very humbled to have played a part in some of those memories.”
Chris Haft is a freelance contributor to The Examiner.