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Hector, Hector, The Buster Protector

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He's back. The Giants Thursday recalled Hector Sanchez to be Buster Posey's primary backup and designated Guillermo Quiroz for assignment. He immediately caught Tim Lincecum's gem of eight innings, one hit, but don't be deceived. Bringing up Sanchez is an offense-now move for a team dying for any kind of lineup upgrade, anywhere, anytime.

I've been a Hector basher on this blog, I admit. He doesn't have a good eye at the plate, he doesn't have much power, and his defense is shaky at best. Part of his recent woes were due to a bad throwing shoulder, which he says is feeling much better. (He made a very nice throw in today's game to lend his assertion some credence.)

But the bad shoulder can't explain away the pitch framing problems, which probably cost his pitchers at least a few strikes a game. I watched a few innings of the game today on my lunch break. I didn't see much improvement from the jerky, stabby glove movements that in the past have even elicited on-air comments from Mike Krukow, not one to normally throw his fellow Giant employees under the bus.

Remember, though, that Hector doesn't turn 24 until November. He has time to improve. It's easy to see him becoming in time an adequate backstop who makes modest contributions at the plate. But he'll get there faster playing every day in Triple A, not once or twice a week in the big leagues. I don't see much advantage bringing him up now and dumping Quiroz, when in 22 days rosters will expand, anyway.

He might have to improve quickly to keep a job with the Giants. That's because Andrew Susac, a high draft pick a couple years ago, is quietly having a very nice year with the bat in Double A. He's missed some time due to injury; 12 home runs in 262 at-bats is an excellent rate in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League. I'm not sure about his D, but if can at least match what Sanchez offers, he could be a call-up candidate next year.

Imagine this scenario: a backup catcher who can actually hit, which gives the Giants more reason to play Buster Posey at other positions. But also imagine Brandon Belt continues to improve; he's hitting better than last year, however you measure (OPS, wOBA, or wRC+), and a good finish to the year could put him well into the top-10 major league first basemen, and that's before you factor in his plus-defense. If Belt makes himself irremovable from the lineup, could we start to see Buster at the hot corner now and again in 2014 or 2015?

That, of course, leads to the question whether Pablo Sandoval will be there. If he continues his anemic pace -- .259 / .310 / .380, even worse than his disappointing 2010 -- the Giants might end up mistaking him for a backup catcher.


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