By Mike Silva ~ May 31st, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, Outside the Apple.
I am not surprised that I received some negative feedback from Giants loyalist after I said the injury to Buster Posey doesn’t deserve a rules change regarding home plate collisions. One area that has been glazed over is the fact that San Francisco has apparently instructed Posey to not block home plate since his promotion to the big leagues. Not only did this not accomplish its objective – keeping Posey healthy- but possibly led to poor fundamentals when it comes to plays at the plate.
Posey is a phenomenal talent both offensively and defensively. He can certainly hit, has a bullet for an arm (career 37% caught stealing), and I have read the pitchers like his game calling. He hasn’t, however, mastered all the fundamentals of catching. Kevin Kennedy and Jim Duquette were speaking about this as well on MLB Home Plate
The Giants anemic offense is largely reliant on Posey. A great comparison is how the late nineties/turn of the century Mets were with Mike Piazza. They had Alfonzo, Ventura, Olerud, and Zeile during their playoff runs, but the core of their offense was Piazza. Fortunately, he never went down or was lost for a significant amount of time when it mattered. When Piazza was injured, it was during the 2003 season and was due to a torn muscle. By that time the Mets were a last place team going nowhere. Ironically, they did find a way to win without him in the playoffs, as he missed a majority of the ’99 NLDS against Arizona due to injury. This was the same series that was won when his backup, Todd Pratt, homered off Matt Mantei to clinch it in Game 4.
I never saw the Mets invoke special rules for Piazza. Although not known for his defense, blocking the plate was one of his strengths. If the Giants are that concerned about their star hitter, then they should pave the way for him at first base. Instructing him to not block home plate is the equivalent of never driving that new car because you are afraid of denting it in an accident. Usually what happens is a tree falls on it in your driveway. That tree found Buster Posey.
The real debate shouldn’t be about collisions at home plate, but rather what the heck were the Giants doing not teaching their star catcher all the fundamentals necessary to excel with the tools of ignorance. Why should the league make special exceptions for one player when other offensive catchers, far greater than Posey, never needed the same courtesy.