Since Pablo Sandoval broke his left hand, the Giants have taken then necessary steps in order to fill the massive gap that is his bat.
First off, Brian Sabean and company brought up the only other pure third baseman in the organization, Conor Gillaspie, form Fresno. So far in the four games he has played in, Gillaspie hasn’t shown the Giants home crowd very much to look forward to.
With only three hits in 16 at-bats, along with two strikeouts and zero walks, Gillaspie had not been very effective in his first four starts.
It’s obvious the Milwaukee series might have gone a bit better if Sandoval was in the lineup instead of the 24-year-old kid fresh out of Fresno, but as KNBR pre- and post-game radio personality Martie Laurie always says: “that’s baseball.”
Should Giants fans be worried? Not at all.
There have been 28 Giants games so far this season. The Giants have won 14 games and lost 14 games, but are still in second place in the National League West – just four games behind the first place Dodgers. Those same Dodgers are going to be playing the Giants next series. How convenient?
That means the Giants have three games to move to within one game back of the Dodgers, or the Giants can fall back to seven games back from the Dodgers and likely behind the Arizona Diamondbacks as well.
Speaking of the Diamondbacks, the Giants will head to Arizona after they wrap up their series with Los Angeles, and as of right now the Giants only hold a half-game lead over the D-Backs in the standings.
The next couple weeks of baseball for the Giants are going to be crucial. Will the Giants fall apart without their spunky slugger Sandoval? Or will they band together with young, inexperienced prospects filling in the gaps in order to stay in contention?
After Sandoval’s injury, Melky Cabrera moved up into the third spot and I think will do a great job there until Sandoval comes back. He gets on base and has some decent speed. No doubt, a good move by bochy, but who fills in for the second spot?
I don’t see a guy like Nate Schierholtz filling in so close to the top of the order, as he is more of a 5 or 6 type of guy. Brandon Crawford and Manny Burriss just don’t have the ability to get balls past the infield, so they would be best in the 7 and 8 spots like they have been.
Buster Posey is still the biggest threat offensively for the Giants so it wouldn’t make sense to move him out of the fourth spot. Angel Pagan is on a 20-game hitting streak and is starting to resemble the lead-off hitter the Giants first thought they had traded for.
That leaves us with Belt.
Now, I know almost all Giants fans are in love with this kid. He is awkward, ironic and just another unorthodox baseball player on the Giants. You know, like the rest of the Giants team.
After a rough spot start schedule for Belt, he has brought up his average from a pitiful .200 to a respectful .278 (.294 before the series finally today).
Belt’s improved his batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS over a 12-game span. Sure his strikeout to walk ratio is a poor 2:1, but he shows signs of improvement and consistency.
Belt has mostly been placed in the sixth spot since he broke into the league last year, and has performed his best there. While hitting .294/.360/.508 in the sixth spot with an 136 OPS+, Belt also has a bit of speed he has yet to put on display. With only four steals (and two caught stolen), in his career, Belt’s speed will be utilized more if he is moved toward the top of the order.
All this talk of Belt maybe being moved to the second spot has it’s negatives, though – Belt has never played in the two spot for the Giants.
Personally, I don’t care if Belt has never bat second before. It would be an experiment for sure, but I feel like the next few weeks while Sandoval is resting his hand, Belt can step in at number two and perform exceptionally well.
Bochy, on the other hand, said this when asked if Belt could fill in at the two-spot:
“Yeah I have, we’ve talked about it more than once and that is a possibility and you could see that. I think he’d be a pretty good No. 2 hitter, on-base guy. But now we’re trying to stretch out the lineup, give it some depth so we get production throughout the order. That is something we have discussed.”
Bochy speaks another language, let me translate:
NO, no no no. Nope. Belt will never hit second, ever. Instead… I like Ryan Theriot to do a good job there. Verteran… (grumble) …grit. Swinging well.
>> My Own Mind
So that’s pretty much that. They have “discussed” Belt hitting in the two-hole like Sabean “kicks tires” every trade deadline.
Bochy has given rookie Gillaspie (who doesn’t have great offensive numbers even in the minors) a chance in the two-spot twice since Tuesday, while putting Pagan and Theriot once each.
I’m all for Gillaspie getting playing time, but slotting Belt in at number six while the substitute rookie gets more at-bats. That kind of logic does not make sense to me.
In the end, we would all love to see a line up like this in Sandoval’s absence:
1. Pagan – CF
2. Belt – 1B
3. Cabrera – LF
4. Posey – C
5. Schierholtz – RF
6. Gillaspie – 3B
7. Burriss – 2B
8. Crawford/Arias – SS
Will it happen? Maybe not anytime soon, but at least we know Bochy, Sabean and the rest of the “Brain Trust” are thinking about the notion of slotting Belt in the two-spot.
After witnessing some other very questionable decisions by the Giants front office, not letting Belt bat second is not something I should be worrying about.
So have faith Giants fans, even when our offense’s best bat (Sandoval) is inactive, we can still say Brandon Belt has started at first base in seven out of the ten games since Aubrey Huff was placed on the disabled list.
Silver lining, right?