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Scouting Notebook: Giants catcher Buster Posey's injury has long-term ramifications

May 31, 2011 | 12:32 pm


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It will be hard to get anybody in baseball to say this for the record, but the worst part of Giants catcher Buster Posey’s injury is that he set his feet incorrectly before the throw arrived prior to the horrendous collision that ended his season. He did not properly plant his leg into position to achieve stability before blocking off the plate. He was hit by a freight train before he had his shoes on and he paid the price, suffering a broken bone and torn ligaments.
 
As quickly as Posey developed as a solid major league defender, his catching inexperience showed up on a quickly developing and complicated play, where he instinctively handled home plate like an infielder holding a base more than a catcher covering the plate.
 
Posey was caught up in a complex play -- ball coming from one direction, runner coming from the other -- and he simply hadn't caught enough to instinctively know how to set his feet quickly enough to block the plate and then shift his weight to take the throw from one side and the hit from the other. The guy is a gamer and nobody takes that from him and it's a sad commentary to have to make. It’s one of the risks of bringing up players so quickly through the draft and development process.

He lacked the pro catching innings to protect himself, and there's really no one to blame except the system -- how much prospects are paid and how quickly they need to pay off. Baseball sacrifices return on investment over experience on an industrywide basis. Sometimes the early rewards make it easy to forget the risks.
 
When Posey returns he will face questions: Will he catch again? Will that be the best move? A former shortstop, Posey’s arm is strong enough for third base and his actions and footwork will lend to the corner. Most importantly, his power profiles for third, so the Giants will need to make a careful and calculated decision that will require them to look deep into the future. Where does he profile now and where will he will profile then? Can his legs take the abuse of catching, regardless of how he responds to rehabilitation, or would their club be better served by moving his bat to third and leaving him alone? It’s hard to walk away from offense at a premium position, but the Giants need to be careful not to place a rarity over an individual, because chances are that what works best for the player is what will work best for the club.

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-- John Klima

John Klima is a product of the Major League Baseball Scout Development Program and the founder of BaseballBeginnings.com. Catch his scouting take every Monday at latimes.com.

Photo: Florida Marlins' Scott Cousins, top, collides with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

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