Bowker on the bench?

The Vegas line on Buster Posey making the team as some sort of unholy C/1B utilityman is dropping, mercifully. Only the Giants could even consider it. "Player X is already a fully formed Y, but he needs to work on Z if he wants to be a starter. Luckily, we’ve concocted a plan that makes sure he does Z as little as possible. I don’t see how it can fail."

Now John Bowker is no Posey, but they are similar in that a) both would probably improve the offense right away, and b) if the Giants decide not to start them, they should both be in Fresno, getting regular at-bats. It looks like the Giants are going to do the right thing with Posey. Bowker, though, looks like he’s going to be on the Giants’ bench to start the season. This, of course, because he hit well in spring training. Here’s the revised career of Matt Williams if he played under the Sabean regime and never had a good spring training:

Age 21: 245 AB, 8 HR, 68 SO, .188/.240/.339
Age 22: 122 AB, 5 HR, 38 SO, .200/.231/.389
Age 23: 90 AB, 6 HR, 21 SO, .202/.249/.442
Age 24: 60 AB, 8 HR,15 SO, .240/.310/.530 (lost job in spring to Ernie Riles)
Age 25: 203 AB, 14 HR, 30 SO, .265/.330/.549 (backup to trade acquisition Mike Pagliarulo)
Age 26: Lost on waivers to make room for Tommy Herr on the 40-man roster

No big loss, though. I don’t care what the minor league numbers meant -- Williams could not hit. I saw it with my own eyes in those limited at-bats. He was a joke who couldn’t hit breaking balls. The Giants didn’t have the time to be patient with a player like that.

So here’s what the short-term success of the franchise might ride on: the handful of scattered at-bats Bowker gets in the first two months of the season. I’ll guess he’ll get, oh, 100 at-bats in April and May. If he hits .300/.400/.500, he just might squeeze out some more at-bats in the second half. Heck, he could win himself a starting job in 2011. If he hits .200/.300/.400, he’ll shuttle back and forth to AAA. He might demolish the Pacific Coast League again, but, c’mon, those are funny stats. And when the Giants think about filling a corner outfield spot in the offseason, they’ll pass over Bowker. He’s just too much of a risk, they’d say. He’s an unknown.

The difference isn’t Bowker’s talent level, mind you. It’s how he does over 100 at-bats. So root for the broken-bat base hits. Hope that when Bruce Bochy kicks down a courtesy start, it isn’t against Dan Haren. If Bowker’s 2009 season represented a new, improved corner outfielder who could cheaply fill a lineup spot with power for the next six years, the only way we’ll know is if he hits well in a handful of bench at-bats over the next month or two. Humm baby.

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