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Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval

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In the aftermath of the 2008 draft, I argued that the presence of Pablo Sandoval, who had a ridiculously hot two months in A-ball, shouldn’t have affected how the Giants approached the draft. It would have been silly for them to say, "Well, we can’t take Posey because we have this Sandoval guy catching and hitting well in the Cal League." That seems obvious, but I’d maintain that even if Sandoval were tearing up the majors as a rookie catcher for all of 2008, it shouldn’t have made a difference with the Giants’ draft board. Imagine if the Giants had said, "You know, it looks like this McCovey guy is going to be around for a while at first. We don’t need this Cepeda fella." How would the Giants have obtained Ray Sadecki then? The draft isn’t the place to worry about organizational depth charts; it’s a place to worry about who the best prospect is.

Now Posey’s in the organization, and he’s obviously the catcher of the future. If there were a league above MLB – the Super Hallowed Ethereal League of Immortal Champions, or something – it’d surprise me if Posey couldn’t hit .300 with good plate discipline there. But Pablo Sandoval’s defense behind the plate is probably better than a lot of folks think. It’s almost certainly his best position.

With Bengie Molina around for another year, the Giants are shoehorning Sandoval in at third just to improve the lineup. While I’m fine with the Sandoval-at-third experiment, I’m a little upset that the Giants feel the experiment requires that Sandoval throw away his catcher’s gear. If the initial worry was, "What if Posey blocks Sandoval?" or vice versa, the canned response was, "Whatever. It’ll be a good problem to have."

The more I think about it, though, having two young catchers who can moonlight at different positions would be fantastic. If the best comparison for Posey is a young Jason Kendall, it’s worth wondering what Kendall’s career would have looked like if he only had to catch 100 games a year. If Posey’s bat will play at any position, an ideal situation would be to have him rest his legs frequently by playing him at another position. With Sandoval on the roster, the Giants could do that without losing any offense. They’d move Sandoval from third (or first, if the experiment flops) to catcher once or twice a week, and put Posey wherever they needed to. He played all nine positions in a Florida State game last year, and while that was certainly a stunt, he could probably handle ever y infield position, at least.

This idea doesn’t work, though, if Sandoval is now a permanent infielder. Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean haven’t completely closed the door on Sandoval catching in the future, but they have said that he won’t be catching at all this year. That’s understandable, for sure. Sandoval is learning a position that he hasn’t played full time since he was at Salem-Keizer, so maybe there’s some sense in having him focus on third base. I just wonder if Sandoval’s catching gear is in storage, or if it’s on eBay.

Of course, this doesn’t come up if Posey is more Steve Decker than Craig Biggio, but assume for the purposes of this discussion that Posey will be a legitimate major league catcher. How do you handle the impending Posey/Sandoval conundrum?