There comes a time when I have to fly free, unencumbered by the shackles of McCovey Chronicles groupthink. We're all sheep here, right? We all like the same music and movies, and we all totally agree on everything baseball-related. Yep. Every single one of us, right down to our distaste for the dropped-third-strike rule. It makes for a boring comments section that's usually just about food and dog pictures.
But I have a secret. It might not make me popular. It isn't going to win me friends. But when you're an iconoclast and possibly the greatest mind of your generation, hey, you gotta take risks, baby. Here goes:
I don't mind that the Giants are playing Buster Posey at first as often as they are.
Phew. Feels good to get that off my chest. There's a spectrum with Posey. At one end is the goal of keeping him healthy. At the other is the goal of having him play as much as possible because he's the Giants' best defensive catcher and also their best hitter. If you take the reductio ad absurdum path, the former end is keeping Posey in a padded cell, where he's released only -- I repeat, only -- for gentle embraces and whispered thank yous. The other end is where Posey plays 162 games behind the plate because even a gassed, sluggish Posey is better than Hector Sanchez.
Both of those are obviously absurd. So let's look at what the Giants have been doing:
Starts at catcher
Posey - 87
Sanchez - 35
Whiteside - 2
That puts Posey on pace to start 114 games at catcher over a full season. That's exactly how many games at catcher Carlos Ruiz started for the Phillies last year, and Brian McCann started 118 games at catcher, but both of them also had a two-week trip to the DL. Miguel Montero started 131 and Yadier Molina started 132, which seem to be close to the norm for a healthy, star catcher. Posey's special consideration -- that he's recovering from major surgery -- is taken into account. He's starting fewer games behind the plate than the typical catcher.
The bone of contention around these parts, then, has to do with the idea that Posey plays a lot of first base on his "day off", which makes it nothing like a day off. Playing first can tire a professional athlete, too. There's running and hitting and diving and all of the other things that make baseball players wish they were tax attorneys by the end of September. Posey has started 18 games at first this season, which puts him on pace for 24 starts this season at first.
That means that if everything stays the way it is, Posey will appear in about 138 games this season.
I don't know the conversion rate for "games caught" to "games at first base." I don't think that anyone does. I'd wager it's pretty substantial, though. Playing first base isn't a day off, but catching is brutal. There's constant squatting, nicks and thumps from foul balls, blocking balls in the dirt, and relentless mental engagement. Those 138 games aren't nearly as taxing as the 131 Montero played last year. The Giants are resting Posey more than the typical middle-of-the-order catcher, even if he's playing in six or seven more games over a full season.
There's ambiguity. Room for debate. An extra day off every two weeks -- a full day off -- might serve Buster well in September and (hopefully) October. I can get behind that. But my argument is that how the Giants are handling this isn't egregiously bad. It isn't a debacle. It's closer to one end of that spectrum, but it's still pretty much in the middle, where honest debates and agree-to-disagrees can be found.
The person who probably has the best idea is, wait for it, Buster Posey. And I don't see him being a reckless tough guy when it comes to admitting when he's tired or achy in an abnormal way. Maybe the Giants need to save Posey from himself. I doubt it, though.
A lineup without Posey is like a karaoke night without Iron Maiden songs. Sometimes you can't avoid it. The bar just doesn't have the songs. But it's better and clearly desirable with them in it. In this analogy, singing like Bruce Dickinson blows your vocal cords the hell out if you do it too much, which is certainly true. So take it easy. But don't get too weird.