2011 San Francisco Giants: Can Team Recover from Loss of Buster Posey?

San Francisco Giants fans’ worst fears came true on May 25 when catcher Buster Posey was injured in a home plate collision with Florida Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins.

Posey broke a bone in his lower left leg and is out for the season after surgery on Sunday repaired three torn ligaments in his ankle.

The Giants have said that they are optimistic for his return on Opening Day 2012.

The “Collision Heard ‘Round the World” has received equal part criticism of Cousins, and equal part freak accident. Some were calling for a new rule change, and others, like Ray Fosse, who was injured in the infamous collision at home plate with Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game, said that there should be no rule change at all.

What is done, is done, however.

Posey is out for the season, and the main question now is how the Giants will cope without their best player and only consistent offensive threat.

Can we eliminate them from repeating as World Series Champions? Can we eliminate them from the NL West race?

Time will tell, but the Posey injury does not hurt the Giants’ line-up as much as it hurts the team mentally.

Dirty Play?

Cousins’ lowered shoulder caused some to jump to the conclusion that he was trying to hurt Posey, and that there should be an immediate rule change.

Catchers are allowed to block home plate, but they run the risk of getting run over by a physical specimen running at full-speed turning around third base and heading for home, whose only thought in his head is to touch home plate in any way possible.

In return, that physical specimen runs the risk of getting a pitch thrown at his head the following inning.

It goes both ways.

So, yes, Cousins had the right to do what he did, as anyone in his position would have done.

Cousins is batting .167 this season. That was his defining moment when he was rounding third base. It was a chance to make a name for himself and contribute to this team in one way or another. If he gets tagged out without giving Posey a good shellacking, odds are he gets sent down to the minors the following day.

I do not blame him.

Should the Giants Seek A Replacement For Posey?

Posey was batting .284 with 21 RBI’s in 2011 and was the only consistent hitter in that Giants line-up.

Despite Posey being a great hitter and his potential is through the roof, the Giants were not hitting with him in the line-up anyways.

San Francisco was averaging 3.6 runs per game, while giving up 3.7 runs per game.

The loss of Posey affects this team mentally more than it affects this team in the field.

Eli Whiteside is not going to hit the baseball very much, but he knows this pitching staff and they trust him.

That was the difference between Posey and all other catchers. He could hit the ball, as well as call a great game from behind the plate.

Whiteside cannot hit, which his .162 average is witness to, but he can still call a great game behind the plate that the Giants’ pitching staff trusts.

If the Giants went out and sought the services of Ivan Rodriguez from the Washington Nationals, San Francisco would be getting a player that is batting .211 on the year and does know the pitching staff.

Give Whiteside some consistent at-bats and he can give the team over a .200 average and save them some money. Reports are the Nationals have been dangling Rodriguez in front of San Francisco, hoping to get the 2010 World Series Champions to overpay for him.

Not worth it.

Posey’s Return

I am sure this last week has been torturous for the people of San Francisco.

Posey, the pride and joy of San Francisco, gets injured trying to block home plate.

The first report was that it was a broken leg and that he would be out 6-8 weeks, much like the Josh Hamilton injury earlier this season.

Then there was ligament damage and all hell broke loose in San Francisco.

The Giants lost Posey for the season, instantly.

It is, of course, too early to tell when Posey will return from an injury that may set-back his career a year or so.

His return is unknown, but the team is optimistic that he will be ready for Opening Day 2012.

“The fracture will be fine,” Giants trainer Dave Groeschner told ESPN. “The ankle injury is most concerning to us.”

That would be the left ankle that had three torn ligaments in it, and the one that Posey had surgery on this past Sunday, causing him to be out indefinitely.

More reports will come out in the next couple of months, but do not expect Posey on your television set anytime soon.

Team Expectations Now

It is funny how things change on a team like the Giants when one person gets injured.

After Posey was sent to the DL, the Giants immediately promoted Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford to the big leagues, something that they were going to hold off on doing for at least a few months.

Crawford was not even expected to be called up this season.

Some would suggest that this was panic by the Giants’ organization, when in reality this was San Francisco’s way of immediately changing the mind-set of both the fans and players by bringing up two of the best prospects the Giants have to offer in order to change the morale of this team.

It worked.

Crawford’s grand slam in Milwaukee was the turning point in life after Posey’s injury.

Do the Giants still have what it takes to win the NL West and contend for another World Series title?

As long as they have that same pitching staff, they do.

Madison Bumgarner is starting to throw well again, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are going to consistently give the team good outings, Jonathan Sanchez is what he is (3-3 3.47 ERA) and either Ryan Vogelsong or Barry Zito are going to give the Giants a better than normal fifth starter outing most of the time they take the mound.

The Giants will not miss Posey now, it is a long season, but they will miss his consistent bat when the playoff race heats up in September.

For now, continue getting used to pitching duels and one-run games.