Buster Posey was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list on Tuesday, following his beaning in Monday’s home opener. It’s a cautious move from an organization with plenty of concussion experience. The Giants don’t want to mess around, and I don’t blame them. “Don’t mess with brains” isn’t a saying that looks good on a t-shirt, but it’s a fine organizational philosophy. It’s an unfortunate, but prudent, move.
To take Posey’s place on the roster, the Giants promoted Tim Federowicz from Triple-A. Federowicz was a minor-league free agent, and he’s a veteran catcher who has hit for power in the minors, but struggled in brief major league trials.
The Giants knew they were going to rest Posey for at least the next couple of days, the new 7-day DL doesn’t tether them to a two-week commitment, and they didn’t want to get in one of those “Pedro Feliz: catcher” situations.
Right. All of this is normal so far.
However, to make room on the 40-man roster, the Giants designated Clayton Blackburn for assignment. This means there’s a non-zero chance that he’ll be on the Padres before next week and terrorize the Giants for years.
It’s a drastic step for a franchise that seemingly needed a solution for a week, really. While the Giants don’t have anything close to the top-rated farm system in baseball, they at least had some starting-pitching depth in the upper minors. Some of that depth is in jeopardy, it appears.
Blackburn is a 24-year-old right-hander who has spent each of the last three seasons in Triple-A, where he has nibbled his way to some success. He is a large, adult pitcher without a quick fastball, which has given him little margin for error in his minor-league career, but he was a reasonable option for the Giants this season, if needed.
Before reaching for my fanny pack of expletives, I should note that the Giants scout their own players well. They knew that Tim Alderson’s stuff wasn’t commensurate with his reputation around the league, which is why they felt they could deal him for Freddy Sanchez. They were right. This could be one of those situations, where they soured on Blackburn’s ability to be even a fifth starter in the league, and they figured this was the most painless way to ease a roster crunch. He was absolutely lit up in his Triple-A debut this year (3 IP, 5 ER), too.
However, he’s still a 24-year-old with four strikeouts for every walk in his career, and if he was going to nibble anywhere, AT&T Park seemed like a perfect fit. And while the Giants’ 40-man roster doesn’t have a lot of excess fat to trim, Albert Suarez looked like the next roster-crunch casualty. Or, as long as they’re adding a catcher to the 40-man, wouldn’t a better gamble be trying to slip Trevor Brown — an injured, replacement-level catcher — through waivers? Seems like more of a sure bet to squeak through, especially in the early part of the season, when every team is dealing with a roster crunch.
Regardless, the Giants are hoping they’ll get Blackburn back through waivers, like they did recently with Ray Black and Ian Gardeck. Considering the state of starting pitching around the league, and especially considering the number of bad teams without a lot to lose, it would surprise me a great deal.
EDIT: Because I’m so used to players sneaking through waivers, I forgot that teams can trade for Blackburn before he’s exposed to waivers. This is what the Giants are expecting.
This is a strange move, and it’s hard for me to believe that Blackburn was the 40th-most valuable player on that roster.
The more important news for both the short- and long-term fortunes of the franchise have to do with Posey, though, and hopefully this is just the Giants being proactive and cautious with their franchise player, not a reaction to unreported symptoms. Even if Posey comes back in a week, though, it’s possible that Taijuan Walker’s errant fastball might have cost the Giants a starting pitcher they weren’t expecting to lose.
UPDATE: Well, shoot.
Bobby Evans said Posey had concussion symptoms this morning. "There's no need to put him at further risk."— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 11, 2017