(US Press Wire)
I have had my fair share of disagreements with giant’s manager Bruce Bochy in previous years, and I’m sure many other disgruntled Giants fans feel the same way. Bochy is known to start the scrappy “old” veteran who oncce was good over ten years ago when steriods wasn’t labeled “cheating”.
We watched Miguel Tejada, Aubrey Huff, Edgar Renteria, Pat Burrell, Rich Aurillia and Bengie Molina fill up starting positions like nobody’s business. All of these guys were/are on the wrong side of 30-years-old and they all blocked young, cheap talented prospects from playing time.
Molina blocked Buster Posey big time, almost costing him the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2010, and now Aubrey Huff is taking away the precious starts from young phenom, Brandon Belt.
Belt has played less than a season after being written down for a roster spot at the beginning of the 2011 season. He cried with joy and cherished every moment in the big leagues. Too bad he was treated about as well as any other minor leaguer.
Belt, 23, has a short pro-ball career as he has only played in 189 minor league games from 2010 to 2011. In the quick span from single-A to triple-A, Belt posted a .343 batting average with a 1.052 OPS. He hit 31 home runs with over 140 RBI while posting a 1.05 BB:K ratio.
As I said before, Belt was chosen to be on the Giants roster opening day following their first World Series championship in over 50 years. After a cool start to the season, Belt had posted a .192/.300/.269 slash line with just one home run and four RBI.
In those 17 games in April he had a .569 OPS, he was then demoted back to triple-A Fresno to “work on his swing”. Fast forward over a month later, he makes two appearances in late-May with Bochy granting him with seven at-bats three days apart. He went 2-5 with a couple of strikeouts and a couple of walks.
He was demoted again to AAA Fresno until July 19, at this point, Belt has played in only 19 of the Giants 54 games, with a total of 57 at-bats. Harsh.
From then on, he played 44 of the Giants last 65 games of the season, and posted a decent .765 OPS along with eight home runs. He played terrific defense all season long, far better than the aging Huff.
Huff had a terrible year, he looked slow, out of shape, and just not like what he looked like in 2010 – he looked tired. While he was looking oh-so fatigued, Bochy still started him at first base for most of the season. Both of them were about even in terms of errors per nine innings at first base, but Belt has a much larger range and a slicker glove.
Huff looked lost in the outfield sometimes, and just couldn’t make any big catches without hurting himself in the process. last year was the epitome of mishandling a young up-and-coming prospect. Bochy forced Huff to block Belt from playing a sufficient amount of games.
This is where next season’s outfield set-up comes in. Belt needs to play, he is projected the third highest offensive WAR player on the team according to Bill James Projections (behind Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval). Huff is unfortunately still under contract and is projected horrible numbers for next year.
Huff will, without a doubt start at first base thanks to our good friend Bochy. Belt, on the other hand, will be shoved aside until we get desperate.
I, however, need to see him start everyday in order to base my opinion on how well of a player he is going to be. So far, the mere 60-something games in the big leagues have no indication of what kind of a player is.
I would like to see (a) Brandon Belt start most of the games whether in the outfield or not (b) Angel Pagan in center field and (c) Melky Cabrera playing left field.
Pagan is quick and has pretty decent range in center field. He will start without a doubt and he will do a fine job. Cabrera is a bit different.
Cabrera is not a defensive-minded player, but he still defense as well as any other average outfielder. He can hit pretty well like he did all of last season, so that earns him the starting job in left field.
That leaves the tricky right field of AT&T Park wide open between Belt, Nate Schierlholtz and Huff (depending on who Bochy starts at first). I would personally like to see Belt fill that void.
Schierholtz is a great defender with a very strong arm. Great, put him on the bench and then sub him in for the late innings as a defensive upgrade to help secure a lead. Other than that, I believe Brandon Belt can contribute heavily to the Giants weak offense.
So there are my thoughts on the outfield. Will I get everything I want? Realistically? No, but I would not mind a few surprises from Bochy along the way.View This Poll
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