Good news for those of us who own and love Buster Posey. Yesterday, he started his second game as a first baseman, inching him closer to first base eligibility and making him that much more valuable. Posey is swinging a hot stick in the early-going, entering Thursday's contest with a .382 batting average and three home runs. Any concerns that Posey's hitting would be negatively influenced by carryover from the gruesome season-ending injury that he suffered last season seem to be totally alleviated. The only question now is whether Posey can hold up over the long season after only playing two months last year. Remember, Posey has never actually played a full major league season. He was called up in late May of his remarkable 2010 rookie year.
As mentioned earlier, Posey donned the first baseman's mitt for the second time yesterday. Expect this to continue on a semi-regular basis, and look for Posey to become first base eligible within the next couple of weeks. Aside from concerns about his durability, Giants manager Bruce Bochy is going to try to get Posey more burn at first in an attempt to also get more at-bats for young catcher Hector Sanchez.
Sanchez wields an intriguing bat of his own. He's been dubbed Pablo Sandoval Lite after putting up an .815 OPS in the minor leagues, and also for having a similar batting stroke to our favorite Panda. The Giants will get him as many at-bats as they possibly can, because it seems like a complete waste to have a 22-year-old catcher with potential collecting dust on the bench. Since the Giants obviously can't bench Posey just to get Sanchez in the lineup, they're likely to give Posey a lot more starts at first base to make sure he continues to get regular at-bats. The obvious side benefit is that it also gets Posey out of the catcher's squat and just may help him hold up better as the season progresses.
Posey should blow through the first base eligibility threshold in no time. In some leagues, he's already eligible, while in most it'll probably take him 10-15 games played or a handful of starts (I think Yahoo! requires five starts and ten games played to attain position eligibility). The ability to move Posey back and forth between first and catcher will give him some nice added value.
Now, you ask, why do I need to worry about having another first base-eligible player? Most managers don't have one catcher who can hit, much less two. Why should I care? Well, because if you do have another decent backup, and your league allows for daily roster changes, you can shift Posey over when your regular catcher is out and then play matchups. Plus, if your regular first baseman gets hurt, Posey has a good enough bat to fill in for you for a long stretch. No, you don't ideally want Posey as your everyday first baseman, but he would offer a good contingency plan. The catcher position is also deep enough this year to where many managers have some kind of a quality backup.
After the jump, some more quick ramblings from this week in baseball.
--Kenley Jansen owners, start your salivating. Last night, Javy Guerra blew his second save, and earned his third loss. His early struggles have to provide hope to those owners who nabbed Jansen in the late rounds and who are now lying in the weeds waiting for Guerra to cough up the Dodger closer job. From the looks of it, Guerra is doing his best to do just that.
Even though Guerra leads the league and saves and has seen an uptick in his strikeout rate, he appears to be on thin ice. I've never been a fan of closers who don't feature overpowering stuff. The margin for error for these guys is simply too small. When Guerra came on last year and succeeded down the stretch as the Dodgers' ninth-inning guy, I kind of rolled my eyes, wondering how long it would last. From the looks of it, not too much longer. His save total is shiny early on, but that's simply a function of the Dodgers playing a bunch of close games in the season's first week. If Jansen is by some miracle still a free agent in your league, for the love of God, man, grab him.
--Perhaps you were like me yesterday and, when checking the box score of the Ranger-Yankee game last night, did a spit take at the sight of Neftali Feliz pitching in one irrelevant inning of relief. The first thought that crossed my mind was that he'd been demoted for some reason, that despite his early season success, the Ranger brass had just up and quit on the Feliz-as-starter experiment.
Of course, all panic was for naught. Feliz was simply getting some work in. All starting pitchers toss a bullpen session in between starts. Ron Washington was simply having Feliz do it in a live game situation, a move that is actually becoming a bit more commonplace (the Rays have done it with their starters every so often over the past few years). If you were like me and had him idling in your pitching rotation, though, you probably didn't appreciate the 9.00 ERA he stuck on you for the outing.
Feliz is going to have both of his next starts pushed back a bit, in more of an effort to protect his arm in the bullpen-to-rotation transition. This may affect owners who have him in leagues with weekly lineup changes, as he'll probably only manage one start per week in the near future.