Valentine’s Day is upon us, and as such we have to deal with all the commercialism, the bajillions of different chocolate varieties (because nothing says “I love you” more than a box full of diabetes-inducing fat bombs for your honey), the Hallmark cards full of saccharin sappiness, and reservations at your local White Castle. For us Cubs fans, Valentine’s Day also represents a bit of unrequited love for all the Cubs legends that could’ve been, the ones that we just missed out on. Anno suggested doing a blog series on our choices for current baseball players whom we wish were actually Cubs. My choice is Buster Posey.
I could have chosen any number of other current players. I have a fondness for Albert Pujols, I would have been thrilled to have David Price in pinstripes, and it would have been nice to have been able to lure another dozen or so guys into Chicago. But it’s no secret that the Cubs’ catching situation has been murky at best and the North Side could use a consistent backstop to handle the pitching staff and knock some balls onto Waveland here and there. We can start with a look at the Cub that might have been, Geovany Soto. Now Geo is one of Ivy’s favorite players EVAR. And for a while we really did think he was the real deal. In his Rookie of the Year season, when he was elected to the All Star Game, Geo hit for average, got on base, and hit for mad power. He regressed a ton the next year and was overshadowed a bit by former Cubs legend Koyie Hill while batting a bad case of the munchies and some injuries, but bounced back in 2010 with a similar slash line as in the ROY season. Unfortunately for Geo, he couldn’t sustain this production for whatever reason and was traded to Texas last season, and that was that. But seriously, for a while we all really thought that we had the Cubs catcher of the next decade.
The thing with Geo though was that it took him several years to become the Cubs’ everyday catcher, and his true rookie season was at age 25. With Buster Posey, though, the star was supernova hot. Posey was one of the best prospects in the 2008 draft (a draft where the Cubs selected Andrew Cashner in the first round). The fifth overall pick that year, Buster blasted through the minors and made his full-time debut two seasons later in 2010, when he won the Rookie of the Year award, helped lead the Giants to the World Series championship, and reminded us of what we might have seen from Geo if he hadn’t suddenly crapped out.
More of the same was expected the following season, but then Buster’s season was cut short when he was plowed over at the plate by Scott Cousins and seriously injured his ankle. He came back in a huge way the following season as the linchpin of the Giants’ offense, earning the Comeback Player of the Year award as well as the MVP. And he also helped the Giants to their second championship in three seasons. Not bad for a 25-year-old.
The Cubs would be fortunate to find another spectacular catcher like Buster Posey. One who can not only defend his position well and handle the pitching staff, but who can also put a major charge in the baseball (in a pitchers’ park, no less), get on base at a high clip, and be mentioned in the conversation for best player in the game. The scary thing is that Buster isn’t even at his prime yet, and there’s still some room for growth and improvement. That is a type of player to watch and to love.
How I pine for another catcher to come along for the Cubs and excite us fans like Geo did, and like Buster does now. Welington Castillo may have a shot at being that catcher, but I seriously doubt it. There’s a reason why so few catchers end up in the Hall of Fame, because their offensive production really isn’t that good relative to their peers. But their primary job isn’t to hit the ball all over the place, it’s to call a good game. However, when a good one like a Johnny Bench or a Buster Posey shows up, people notice. I certainly noticed. And I love it. Too bad he’s not a Cub.