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Free Buster! Wait, what?

YHB has not been baseball blogging much these last few years, because, honestly, what’s the point? I mean. We freaking stink. We have a pitcher who is beginning his career in the most startling and awe-inspiring fashion ever (argue it if you want), and a starting rotation that is as good as any fan could hope for, and we are wasting it away with a crappy team. It’s depressing if you care about it, and if you don’t care about it, then why would you want to read about it on this Tohu Bohu?

But look—let me start a ways back, will you? Just stay with me on this. Our organization (that’s the team, the minor leagues that feed in to the team, and the management and coaching) has very obvious strengths and very obvious weaknesses. Our strength is in pitching. Over the last decade or more, we have been a superior team in all aspects of pitching. We have identified amateur pitchers and drafted well, we have brought people up through the system well, we have identified pitchers on other teams that we would like to acquire, we have incorporated them into our system well, we have handled pitchers well once they are on the team, we have kept pitchers healthy, and we have done a good job of keeping pitchers who are useful and dumping ones who are not. Over the years there have of course been some disasters, but on the whole, this has been a team with consistently above-average pitching. In the thirteen years of the Brian Sabean era, we have been in the top five in the league in pitching five or six times (depending on how you count), and in the bottom five only two or three times. I give full credit to Brian Sabean for heading up an organization that has very good pitching, on the whole.

Now hitting is another story. In the last five years, we have been consistently hanging around the bottom third of the league in almost any measure you care to use. Across the board, terrible. Before that, well, before that there was Barry Bonds, who distorts the field. Since then, stinkage. And just like we were good at all aspects of pitching, we stink at all aspects of hitting: identifying talent, either amateur or professional, coaching, training, anything. What has been conspicuously bad for a very long time, however, was our inability to draft or and bring up young position players through our minor leagues. We haven’t had regular starting position player brought up out of our system since Bill Mueller left in 2000. OK, you can count Fred Lewis starting 108 games in 2008, if you want to, but that’s just exactly two games out of three.

But, you say, we did have, of all things, two great young catchers coming up through the system: Pablo Sandoval, signed in 2003, and Buster Posey, just signed in 2008. Now, a good-hitting catcher, that’s something special. Of course, prospects often turn out to be less sparkly up close than at a distance, but still: two young catchers who can hit. That is something for an organization to be proud of.

And I may have mentioned this, but our starting catcher last year was Benjie Molina, who was one of the worst hitters in all of baseball. And our starting catcher this year is Benjie Molina, who is by at least some measures hitting worse this year than last year. OK, by other measures he is hitting somewhat better, but still, a very bad hitter indeed. And a lousy defender this year as well, dropping pitches and throwing out 5 of 34 stolen base attempts. On a lousy hitting team, there are three guys who really have stood out as stinking up a lot of plate appearances: Benjie Molina, the injured Mark DeRosa, and centerfielder Aaron Rowand.

What should an organization do? I mean, here’s your team, here are your strengths, here are your weaknesses, here are your two young fellows who can play a tough position behind the plate.

What the Giants are doing today is bringing Buster Posey up to the majors and starting him at first base. Let me say that again: first base. With Pablo Sandoval playing third base, as he has been for them since he came up.

Did you notice that neither Benjie Molina nor Aaron Rowand play first base? But one of them plays catcher. I think it’s Benjie Molina.

Now, it’s very easy for baseball fans to criticize what their organizations do. I know that. I do. I know that they have access to lots of information I do not. I am aware that even if I did have that information, I wouldn’t have the experience they do, or the tools they have. I even at least dimly realize that if I were General Manager of the Giants, we would stink even more than we do.

But this is just fucked. Two young good-hitting catchers turned into two young corner infielders, and more at-bats for Benjie Molina. It’s just fucked.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,