Tagged: Scott Cousins

Cousins vs. Posey: Dirty play or not

The preliminary news is in on Buster Posey, and as we thought, it wasn’t good.

Posey has a broken bone in his lower leg. He underwent an MRI this morning to see if there is additional ligament damage. Until then, we won’t have a clear idea of how long Posey will be out. But Giants fans need to prepare themselves for news of a season-ending injury.

And while we await further news on Posey, the focus on Thursday morning focused on two points: Was the hit of the Marlins’ Scott Cousins on Posey a dirty play? Should there be some rule change to prevent future collisions and injuries at home plate.

We’ll tackle the first question first: Was it a dirty play?

The short answer is no. When Cousins decided to go and force a play at the plate, he knew that if Schierholtz’s throw was an accurate that he was going to be out unless he could dislodge the ball from Posey. Once he saw the ball come straight to Posey, Cousins made his line straight at Posey because he felt that was his best chance of scoring.

It’s a baseball play. It’s been an accepted play for a long while. All of the Giants players said as much. If any upset Giants fan thinks differently, just think back to another home plate collision involving the Marlins and Giants — the final play of the 2003 NL Divisional Series. Was J.T. Snow a dirty player when he crashed into Ivan Rodriguez? No, even though Snow was clearly going to be out, and his only hope was to plow Pudge.

The Giants' JT Snow collides with Marlins catcher Ivan Rodriguez on the final play of the 2003 NL Division Series.

That’s what Cousins was thinking, too. And here’s something interesting. When I was researching for this post, I found two photos of Scott Cousins sliding into home with the catcher in possession of the ball. He was out on both plays.

Cousins is hitting .158 this season for the Marlins, and he’s fighting to stay on the big league roster. In the situation, Cousins has to score, by any means available to him. So there’s no way he’s sliding home and getting tagged out.

Here’s what he had to say about the play:

The Marlins' Scott Cousins is tagged out at the plate by Braves catcher David Ross

“It’s a baseball play. It’s part of the risk of being a catcher. We’re trying to win the game also. I’m not going to concede the out by any means. I’m on this team to do the little things to help this team win and if that means going hard and forcing the issue because I have speed, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to concede an out.”

Cousins, who played college baseball at the University of San Francisco, said he left badly for Posey and left two messages for the Giants catcher. He also added that he didn’t sleep last night. Well, join the club.

We don’t fault Cousins for the play. We don’t think he’s a dirty player. He wasn’t trying to hurt Posey. He was trying to score.

Cousins is tagged out at home by the Rockies' Chris Iannetta

So that leads us to the second question: Should there be a rule change on plays at the plate?

I spent the morning looking over baseball rules. There’s a rule that states a catcher cannot block the plate if he is not in possesion of the ball. And there’s another rule that says a runner cannot intentionally come in contact with a thrown ball or cannot prevent a fielder from catching a thrown ball.

But apart from that, this play at the plate is sort of in a gray area.

As Mike Krukow said on Thursday’s pre-game show: “It’s anything goes (on a play at the plate) … and the catcher is at the mercy of the baseball gods.”

Peter Gammons tweeted Thursday about how Carlton Fisk changed his approach at plays at the plate after a collision in 1974, employing a sweep tag for the rest of his career.

The implication there is that Posey should not have been blocking the plate.

But he wasn’t.

Posey was out in front of the plate, but was caught by a short hop on Schierholtz’s throw, which caused him to back into the plate slightly. Still, there was a clear path between Cousins and the plate, and the collision occurred in front of the plate between the plate and the mound — not between the plate and third base.

That was the concern of manager Bruce Bochy, a former catcher. Should a runner be allowed to blow up a catcher who is not blocking the plate?

It’s a valid question, and it’s something Major League Baseball needs to look at.

It’s not about changing Major League Baseball into Little League Baseball. It’s about keeping baseball players on the field, and not on the trainer’s table.


Busted Buster: Giants catcher Posey is hurt and it’s ‘not good’

Now every San Francisco Giants fan is wishing that Aubrey Huff had struck out in the ninth.

An improbable ninth-inning comeback, capped by Huff’s two-out, two-run single, led to the most disturbing play Giants have have seen in a long while.

Florida Marlins' Scott Cousins, top, collides with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) on a fly ball from Emilio Bonifacio during the 12th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Cousins was safe for the go ahead run and Florida won 7-6. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Catcher Buster Posey suffered an ankle injury when his left ankle was bent back during a collision at home plate with the Marlins’ Scott Cousins as Cousins scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 12th in the Marlins’ 7-6 win over the Giants on Wednesday.

The loss was the first one-run loss for the Giants at home this season — like anyone cares about that.

What’s on everyone’s mind is the sight of Posey writhing in pain at home plate, then being aided off the field by two trainers while putting no weight on his left ankle.

Posey had X-rays on the ankle at the stadium Wednesday night. The Giants gave no results of those X-rays, only adding that he’ll undergo an MRI on Thursday.

But this quote from the blog of the San Jose Mercury News’ Andrew Baggarly is very distrubing.

Florida Marlins' Scott Cousins, top, collides with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) on a fly ball from Emilio Bonifacio during the 12th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Cousins was safe for the go ahead run and Florida won 7-6. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Giants official: “Not good.”

Baggarly: “Broken?”

Giants official: “Not good.”

Not good is right.

So while we wait for further news on Posey, it’s time to consider all options for the Giants. But before we do, let’s set one thing straight.

Cousins’ hit on Posey was completely clean. The Giants said so. The Marlins said so. Anyone who knows anything about baseball, whose vision is not obscured by a little (or a lot) black-and-orange passion, will say so.

With one out in the 12th, Cousins was on third when Emilio Bonafacio hit a fly ball to shallow right center. Nate Schierholtz caught the ball, and Cousins decided to force the Giants to make a play.

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) is carried off the field after a collision with Florida Marlins' Scott Cousins during the 12th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Cousins scored the go-ahead run on the play as Florida won 7-6. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Schierholtz’s throw was on target and clearly beat Cousins to the plate, and Cousins knew it. His only option, as he saw it, was to hit Posey, who was blocking the plate, and hope to dislodge the ball. However, Posey didn’t not field the throw cleanly and had no time to recover the deflected ball when the collision occurred.

As Cousins hit Posey — Cousins’ shoulder into Posey’s chest — Posey fell backward, twisting his left ankle underneath him.

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez had it right when he said: “It was a tough play at home. Posey was doing his job blocking the plate and the runner was doing his job. He was trying to get to home plate.”

So then as we wait for the biggest question to be answered (how badly is Posey hurt), we are left to consider the next question: What do the Giants do next?

While we try to keep positive thoughts in our heads and hearts, it’s really hard seeing any scenario in which Posey doesn’t make a trip to the disabled list. So, it’s time to consider all options.

Start Eli Whiteside and call up a catcher from the minors to serve as his backup or in a platoon. It’s not a particularly comforting option, considering that Whiteside is hitting .200 this season with nine strikeouts in 25 at-bats. The Giants are 4-3 in games started by Whiteside this season. In two of those games (both wins), Posey started at 1B. Last season, the Giants were  18-14 in games started by Whiteside. Also, the catchers down in Fresno have not been very impressive. Chris Stewart is hitting .221 with 0 HRs and 10 RBI in 33 games for the Grizzlies. Jackson Williams is hitting .220 with 0 HR and 7 RBI in 22 games for Fresno. It’s doubtful the Giants would reach to Double-A to find a catcher, but Johnny Monell is hitting .221 with 6 HRs and 20 RBI in 40 games for the Richmond Squirrels.

Sign a free agent to backup or platoon with Whiteside. Bengie Molina’s name has been thrown about a possibility. But the last we heard from Molina was back in spring training when the catcher admitted he was focused on spending time with his family and not a return to baseball. In March, Molina told Newsday: “I wish I could be playing right now, but I’ve got other priorities right now. It could be how Pedro (Martinez) did it halfway through (2009), something like that. It’s not like I’m planning on doing that. If it comes up, and I’m ready to go, I’ll do it.” So even if Molina considered a comeback, this would hardly be an immediate fix. He hasn’t even been thinking about baseball. He’d have to get back into playing shape. Even if he started now, the Giants would be lucky to see him in uniform by the All-Star Break.

A trade. There are catchers out there who could be acquired. If the Nationals decide they want to commit to young catchers like Wilson Ramos or Jesus Flores, they might be willing to trade Ivan Rodriguez. Rodriguez is chasing 3,000 career hits and recently said he’s like to play three more seasons. Wishful thinking, maybe. But he’s in the second year of a two-year $6 million contract. Maybe the Nationals would be willing to part with that contract. They’re in need of a first baseman with Adam LaRoche hurt, and the Giants have Travis Ishikawa and Brett Pill down at Fresno. Perhaps one of them, and a young arm, could entice the Nats. The Mets’ Ronny Paulino ($1.3 million contract) is another option.

The eventual solution may be a combination of any or all of these. But if ends up being a long-term solution, then the bottom line is: Not good.