Andrew Susac will not start the season in the major leagues, barring an unexpected injury or Buster Posey-for-Clayton Kershaw trade. Susac will be in Sacramento, which is at least close to his hometown. He'll get to do the ol' Triple-A game during the day, chase the chickens around Fair Oaks at night routine. Seems like a dream summer to me, but what do I know?
The good news is that Susac will get regular at-bats and work behind the plate. The bad news is the Giants' bench probably isn't going to be as strong as it can be, and that about 20 percent of the time, the lineup and defense will be weaker, too. I, like most of you, figured the Giants were going to use Susac as an extra bat off the bench when needed, and as an overqualified backup catcher a fifth of the time. They are not. The Giants have their reasons, of course, which means it's time to figure out just what those reasons are!
We'll phrase it like this: What are the Giants planning to do with Andrew Susac?
The heir apparent
If you think you're sick of POSEY TO THIRD? POSEY TO THIRD? POSEY TO THIRD? now, just wait. You have no idea. The next time Posey gets dinged behind the plate, the next time the Giants are looking for a third baseman, the next time they're looking for a first baseman, even if only temporarily, the POSEY TO THIRD? will be louder. And it will get louder and louder and louder.
And louder and louder and louder and louder.
We have years of this.
However, Posey is 28. By my math, that means he's two years away from 30. This gets us closer to the age that Johnny Bench started to play more third base. It gets us closer to the age that Gary Carter was done as a hitter. Mickey Cochrane played one game as an outfielder instead of a catcher, rarely resting, and he never had a good year after turning 32. The POSEY TO THIRD? chatter is annoying as all heck, but there's a kernel of truth behind it. At some point in the next three years, the Giants will have to consider alternatives to 130 games of Buster Posey behind the plate.
Susac learning the finer points of catching and hitting in Triple-A, then, would help this path. It doesn't have to be coming now. But you can still prepare for three years down the road. It's not illegal.
The trade chip
As in, Susac putting up Pacific Coast League stats would do more for his trade value than the expected arrangement would have. If the Giants repeated their backup catcher usage from the last few years, Susac would have had about 150 at-bats by the trade deadline. You know what can happen in 150 at-bats?
All of a sudden, Susac isn't the key piece in a six-team deal that brings back David Price. He's that guy struggling in the Giants' lineup, even if that's a completely ridiculous label to put on anyone after 150 at-bats. Perception is nine-tenths of the law, though, which is totally a real saying.
If Susac is hitting for power and average in Triple-A, though, he would keep his status as the Giants' best prospect, and he would suddenly become the kind of prospect who could anchor the major deal of the deadline. The Giants might have an eye on the previous scenario, in which Susac succeeds for them in some capacity, but they also might know the easiest way for Susac to help the Giants would be with the player he nets in a trade.
There are no plans either way
As in, we don't know, let's figure this out on the fly. Let Susac determine what happens. Let the fates do what they will, and the Giants will use Susac however they need to whenever that day comes. Maybe he'll be the Giants' catcher. Maybe he'll be the one to switch positions. Maybe he'll be traded. Maybe he'll struggle in some capacity, and there won't be a decision that needs to be made for a while.
Until (x) happens, the Giants are convinced that Susac in Triple-A is the best baseball decision they have available to them. It could have to do with the time he missed this spring, or something they saw with his swing/defense/dunno that concerned them. They are pretty good at this, you know.
They are pretty good at this.
There's a poll for your guess, but I'll offer mine. It's the third one. For whatever reason, they're thinking Hector Sanchez is the best option for their 25-man roster right now. It could do with experience, with Tim Lincecum being comfortable, or it could do with switch-hitting. It could be one of several silly reasons, or it could be a very good reason that they can't exactly explain to the masses just yet.
When Susac (or Sanchez, or Posey ...) forces the issue, they'll reevaluate.
Unless this is done with a trade in mind. Or unless they're planning to move Posey to third by the All-Star break. Maybe that Kershaw deal really is close. Vote in the poll!