At this time last year, Buster Posey was heading for AAA. Everyone knew it. After Brian Sabean told reporters that the Giants weren’t going to re-sign Bengie Molina – "That ship has sailed, presumably with a cargo of lead, steel girders, and thousands of gallons of rum ripple. The ship is traveling at .002 knots per hour, and it was just doubled up." – the Giants re-signed Bengie Molina. The reasons for blocking Posey varied, and without some Nixon-style recordings to unearth, we’ll never know the true reason.
The given reason, as I can best paraphrase:
It’s tough to assume that a young catcher could hold up physically over a full season, and we didn’t want to pressure Posey right at the start of the year. Plus, sending him to Fresno for a little bit might make him cheaper in the long run, so we re-signed Molina for the short-term. If Posey’s ready by mid-season, we’ll just trade Molina.
If that’s what really happened – and it’s the official explanation – that is some beautifully Machiavellian stuff right there. It might not look great to prospective free agents looking to sign with the Giants in the future, but it sure worked out in the short term. Now, the Giants couldn’t just come out and say they were going to trade Molina mid-season, so the explanation they gave was that Posey wasn’t ready to catch Major League pitching just yet, nor was he ready to call a game, especially for a staff that features a bunch of hard-throwing strikeout artists.
Last year, I assumed that the Giants were either a) enamored of Molina’s irreplaceable RBI, or b) assuming that Molina’s pitcher-whispering wasn’t something the Giants could afford to lose. It was tragic and amusing, like a repo man towing away a ’65 Bug as eleven clowns cried on the side of the road. Stuff like that made my job easy.
Michael Richards gave an interview about his role on "Seinfeld," and he said the real epiphany came when he stopped playing Kramer as if he were a step behind everyone and started playing him as if he were a step ahead. That’s when the character transformed from a generic, wacky neighbor stereotype into something inspired and seminal. I think the Giants might have done the same thing to me. While I was busy making fun of their outdated thinking, they were concocting multi-tiered plans to limit Posey’s workload, keep the pitching staff comfortable during what could have been a jarring transition, and win the World Series.
I sat down to write a community projection post for Buster Posey, started to make fun of Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean for how they handled Posey and Molina, and then stopped.
I think I’ve been had.