It may be “wait till next year” for Buster Posey, but it doesn’t have to be for the Giants.
However, the worst thing Brian Sabean can do is fail to find an accomplished replacement for his best everyday player. One day after Posey got hurt, Sabean wisely brought up the organization’s top two prospects, first baseman-outfielder Brandon Belt and shortstop Brandon Crawford, to jump-start a sagging offense. Belt, 23, batted .337 in his month-long stay at Triple-A Fresno. Crawford, 24, is a career .270 minor-league hitter while averaging almost a strikeout per game.
The jury is still out on whether either rookie will be able to help the Giants this summer. Unfortunately, neither of the organization’s journeymen catchers — Eli Whiteside (.225 career average) or Chris Stewart (.176) — is a good enough hitter to come anywhere close to offsetting the loss of Posey.
A player on the Giants’ radar who can narrow that gap is the Washington Nationals’ Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. The 39-year-old former AL MVP recently lost his starting catching job to 23-year-old Wilson Ramos and is believed to be available for the taking. Although batting only .211 in 23 games with Washington this season, Pudge is still a threat at the plate (.266 with 18 doubles, 49 RBIs in 111 games in 2010) with strong defensive skills who reportedly would be very interested in playing in San Francisco.
Last season, lightning struck twice for Sabean with the signing of castoffs Pat Burrell and Cody Ross. Rodriguez, in the final season of a two-year, $6 million deal, is only 167 hits shy of 3,000, adding to the likelihood he would want to play in 2012, preferably as a backup to Posey.
Now, if the Giants really want to be bold they will make a run at three-time All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, who is almost certain to be playing his last season for the cash-strapped New York Mets. Currently on bereavement leave, the soon-to-be 28-year-old switch-hitter is batting .335 with 19 stolen bases in the final year of an $11-million per season contract.
Reyes is a dynamic leadoff hitter and fielder who could very well command a multiyear free-agent deal at upwards of $20 million per season. Rather than lose him in the offseason for just draft picks, the Mets may be inclined to pull the trigger now.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is reportedly looking for a package of prized young players in return. How about Belt, Crawford and 2009 first-round draft pick, right-hander Zack Wheeler? Last month, Sabean angrily denied reports that the Giants were internally discussing a possible trade for Reyes. Posey’s injury changes everything.
KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news. He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.