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The Great Backup Catcher Debate of '12

Disclaimer: probably not going to happen. Eli Whiteside is protected from up on high by the Prince of Backup Catchers. And you know what? Fine. The greatest backup catcher in Giants history is Eli Whiteside. World Series rings: more than everyone else. Fights started with Shane Victorino: more than everyone else. The rise of WAR has shown us that the difference between backup catchers is almost completely negligible from the standpoint of wins and losses, so championships and Victorino-hating is probably the best available metric.

And yet that shan't stop this chronic rosterbator. Because Buster Posey isn't going to play162 games. He might catch 100 games. Maybe more, maybe fewer. That'll leave about 50 games of backup-catcher goodness at the bottom of the Giants' lineup. The Giants' lineup was bad last year. After Posey was injured, the catchers were the worst part. Well, tied with the shortstops. Alright, the shortstops were probably worse. But the catchers were bad, even by Giants standards.

For about a third of the games this season -- again, just a guess -- the Giants will have Whiteside behind the plate and in the lineup. Or it might be Chris Stewart, who I'd pick between the two, but it probably doesn't matter which one it is.

But the name that interests me the most is Hector Sanchez. Let's see what ZiPS has to say about Sanchez this year.

Hector Sanchez: .246/.288/.365

Oh, come on, science. First you ruin the whole lead-into-gold thing, then you take a whiz on cold fusion, and now you're telling us that Sanchez probably isn't a better hitter next year than either Whiteside or Stewart. Tangible evidence is just the worst.

That's why I like ignoring it when it suits my needs. Sanchez fascinates me for some reason. It's a melange of everything -- the Venezuelan League dominance, the meaningless Rookie League walk rates, the surprising ascension to the majors last year, and the amazing .435/.400/.870 line this spring (before his two hits today). But I think he'll be a good player. I think he could be a good player as soon as this year. Nothing goofy, but I'm thinking .270/.300/.400, or something like that. My reasoning? Ha ha ha, this is the Internet. I don't have to explain myself to you.

Okay, fine. I don't know why this interests me. Can't back it up with enough evidence to appease the rational-thought monkeys around here. I like the swing. This is as close as I'll get to a leap of faith. And as for Sanchez's development, I'm fine with him getting 40 or 50 starts and a bunch of pinch-hitting appearances. Pablo Sandoval can be a Pedro Feliz-like catcher in a glass case if something were to happen after the extra catcher is burned as a pinch-hitter, but that's probably thinking too far ahead.

This is all mostly pointless. If Sanchez really isn't ready for the majors, as his ZiPS would suggest, there's only a downside to keeping Sanchez on the roster. His development might not be irreparably harmed by not going to AAA, but it probably wouldn't be helped by sitting for two thirds of the games. And in the meantime, there wouldn't be a difference between him and the incumbent backups.

But if he could hit -- even just a little bit -- I want him as the second-string catcher. Every non-wretched hitter will help in the push to get Matt Cain over .500 for his career, and I have a funny feeling that Sanchez will be anything but wretched. Note: the funny feeling is probably gas. But it could be something more!