By now, everyone knows the gory details of what happened to Buster Posey last night. There’s no sense in going over the details, or arguing whether or not it was a clean play that took him out (I’ll leave that for Twitter). No matter how it happened, the Giants are going to be without their offensive centerpiece for months. That’s all that matters.
How do the Giants even begin to replace Posey? The short answer is they can’t. Posey’s bat, his defensive prowess behind the plate, the way he handles pitchers and the leadership he brings to the clubhouse are all things that can’t be replaced. The Giants haven’t faced a long-term injury to a player this important since Barry Bonds missed virtually all of 2005 (he was replaced by Pedro Feliz, and…yeah, that didn’t go too well).
So given that they can’t replace Posey, the Giants have to do their best to find ways to win without him. There are obvious fixes, like Aubrey Huff snapping out of his season-long funk, Pat Burrell playing more regularly, and Brandon Belt getting a run of uninterrupted starts so his bat can take hold in the middle of the lineup. They can start leaning more towards small ball: stealing bases, moving runners over, playing for one run instead of hoping for the big inning. It may not be the most exciting brand of baseball, but if they execute well enough it can be a winning brand for a team like the Giants.
They can even go out and find a stopgap catcher until Posey’s healthy again. I doubt the Giants will be comfortable with Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart behind the plate until that happens, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see them go out and get someone. Pudge Rodriguez makes the most sense, given the fact that the Nationals seem to be fazing him out and would likely move him at a reasonable cost. Other names like Ryan Doumit and Ronny Paulino are sure to come up, too. There are options out there; none of them are Posey, but they can provide more help than the current catchers on the roster.
While losing Posey is a huge blow, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a team built around offense. The Giants have the worst offense in baseball- it’ll likely get even worse without Posey, but stick with me for a second. The Giants live and die with pitching, while getting just enough offense to get by. Even without Posey, it’s very possible for them to stick with that formula and stay in contention. Their pitching is still top notch, and their lineup has enough bats in it (assuming they start to hit, of course) to keep them winning games.
However you look at it, it’s a lousy scenario for the Giants. There are no good solutions but only ways to slightly lessen the problems. It’s not the end of the world, even though it certainly feels like it. The Giants are still a good team, with their all-world pitching staff intact that can still win the NL West even with a weakened lineup. Posey’s absence hurts, but they can work through it and still be successful.
That’s what I’m trying to convince myself of, anyway.