Showing posts with label Brandon Belt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brandon Belt. Show all posts

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Much Better: Hall DFA'd, Burriss Sent Down

Okay, Pat Burrell was not released. Bill Hall was. And Brandon Belt was not sent to AAA. Emmanuel Burriss was. This is good news, because these moves are exactly what the Giants should have done. But that blatant error on the part of CSN made me write a rant post that now looks kind of dumb.

You can still read it here if you like.

A lot of it still applies. There's stuff about Beltran, and while Belt hasn't been sent down, we heard today that the Giants envision him in a role similar to that of Travis Ishikawa last season. In other words, Brandon Belt will mostly be a pinch hitter/defensive replacement. And Huff is still starting. Which is terrible. So that rant still applies. Also, ALEX HINSHAW?

I don't know about you but I haven't been this excited for a game since Opening Day. I'll say Carlos Beltran goes 2-for-4 with 2 singles and 9 RBIs. Oh and he'll also make the pitcher balk. That talented.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Too Much to Handle

What a freakin' rollercoaster. I don't like rollercoasters. They make me throw up. I can't know this because I've never been on a rollercoaster, but I'd like to think I'd throw up if I ever got on one. That's how I avoid them. And recent events are confirming my worries.

Let's start at the beginning.

The Giants acquired Carlos Beltran. You know that. What you may not know is how it all went down. The Giants traded Gary Brown. Damnit, I thought they could get him without giving up a top prospect. Wait, they're giving up Zack Wheeler. No! Wheeler's even better. They're trading Wheeler and Brown. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING SHITTING ME. Oops, they're just giving up Wheeler. Okay...I hate whoever put that rumor out there. It's very possible that the Giants are giving up Wheeler, Eric Surkamp, and Francisco Peguero for Beltran. Dead. Wait, the Giants may be getting more than just Beltran. OMG REYES?! Shutup, that isn't happening. In the end, they gave up top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler in the deal, a fairly steep price to pay, and a price I wasn't willing to pay up until today. But I trust the Giants in evaluating pitching prospects and the thought of Beltran in the lineup is jus too exciting, so I'm okay with the deal.

That's not to say this isn't a huge risk. Beltran has a pretty significant injury history and is likely a two month rental. If the Giants don't win the World Series or if Beltran gets injured and Wheeler goes on to be a star, yikes. But I've decided it's a risk worth taking. Okay.

It get's announced that Beltran will play RF, with a Schierholtz/Ross platoon in LF. Small quibble, but Schierholtz is a very good right fielder, not to mention the skill it takes to play that position at AT&T park. And why is Schierholtz getting platooned? It doesn't really make sense to give one of your better players LESS playing time, but that will be a common theme later in this post.

Matt Cain is Matt Cain. Getting shit done.

Now there's the business of clearing a 40-man and 25-man roster spot for Beltran, who will be arriving and starting tomorrow. What's this? Brandon Belt is optioned down to AAA AGAIN and Pat Burrell is released to make room on the 40-man roster. Whoa.

At first glance, the real baffling move is to send Brandon Belt back to AAA. The Giants have one of the worst players in baseball this year playing Belt's position right now. There's that whole not playing your best players theme already. And it's not like they can blame this demotion on Belt's struggles at the plate, which was at least a somewhat legitimate excuse after his first demotion. Belt has barely played, but when he has, he's hit pretty well (no hits against Clayton Kershaw, one of the best lefties in the game, so who cares). And, wait a minute, Emmanuel Burriss is still on the Major League roster? That guy as an OPS+ of 41. But he's FAST!! Give me a break. The Giants don't really need him for depth - Keppinger, Fontenot, and Crawford all play SS. The case can even be made that Crawford should be sent down before Belt. For all of his great defense, he can't hit, and isn't going to get much playing time going forward.

But the decision to release Burrell might be more mind-numbingly dumb. It wasn't necessarily that surprising because Aaron Rowand is owed too much money to be cut, of course. But Pat Burrell had the 3rd best OPS on the team this season. He really can still hit. The worst part is that he did NOT need to be released to make room on the 40-man roster. Steve Edlefsen. Clayton Tanner. Alex Hinshaw (What the hell is this love affair with Hinshaw, who is AWFUL?). Bill Hall. These guys are all not very good. Why keep them? It's so un-sabermetric, but clubhouse chemistry is very important and we have every reason to believe that Pat Burrell was a big part of that. I'd love to think a team won't grab him or maybe he can retire and stay around the team. But as I pointed out, he's too good, and a smart team will pick him up.

UPDATE: CSN, who reported this news, has failed. Pat Burrell is not eligible to come off the DL and can't be released yet. Still, the point stands and I wouldn't be surprised if he's released soon.

UPDATE #2: Holy hell, Brandon Belt isn't being sent down and this post is mostly worthless. What the hell happened at CSN today?

I don't know. I haven't processed everything. There's an argument to made that the biggest upgrade this team could make was replacing Huff with Belt, and that isn't happening. And a good player and great clubhouse presence is being dumped in favor of much worse players. I love having Beltran on this team, but the Giants are doing their best to screw it up.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lincecum dominates Rockies, Sabean faces roster decisions

It wasn't the most normal night in Colorado. Nate Schierholtz hit a Heraclean home run into the upper deck of Coors Field. Pablo Sandoval walked 3 times, seeing 17 pitches total and only swinging at 3 of them. What was somewhat normal was seeing Tim Lincecum pitch the way he did, beautifully summed up by Grant at McCoveyChronicles:

Lincecum’s ‘07 velocity + his ‘09 changeup + his ‘10 slider + a sprinkling of improved command = what you just watched.

It was a fun night for the Giants, beating the division leading Rockies. I'm not surprised by the number of people who have jumped on the "Rapril" (yes, that is what some Rockies fans are calling it) bandwagon, because it's natural, but one look at their schedule tells you a lot. Before last night's game, their opponent's combined winning percentage from the 2010 season was .440, and none of their opponents finished over .500 (the Giants 2011 opponents had a .495 winning percentage last year).

Cody Ross is rejoining the team, and any minute now we may know the fate of Brandon Belt. Surprisingly, I'm rather torn about this decision; Nothing about Belt's short time in the big leagues has me doubting his ability. He has shown that the two skills for which he is most lauded, patience at the plate and 1st base defense, are very real. Yet he hasn't been hitting the ball much at all. Some of this is bad luck (Aaron Rowand's great start is benefitting from the opposite kind of luck) but it is true that his power has disappeared since that impressive home run in Los Angeles. He also looks late on a lot of fastballs in the middle of the plate, and there have been quite a few groundouts to 2nd base. These are all things I believe Belt could fix up here. But just as we said he should be on the team because he could help them win, and it's only fair to apply that same urgency when he is struggling like this. What's most important for him (individually) is that he plays regularly.

The only possible players I see being sent down to make way for Ross are Ford or Belt. Rowand was the popular choice at the beginning of the season, and while it'd be foolish to believe he perform like this consistently, it's impossible to cut a player who is making that much money and hitting well to start the season. There's no way they send down Heracles after his home run yesterday. I'm not a big fan of Darren Ford at all, but he's a better bench player than Belt, not only because his skills (running, defense) are bench skills, but because there shouldn't be any concern about him getting consistent at bats as there is with Brandon Belt.

I'm not saying I want Belt sent down. Not at all. But I don't have the strong negative reaction towards it that might be expected. The service time advantage that the Giants could have by sending down Belt is also pretty attractive. All these factors tell me that sending Belt to AAA would not be a disaster. If Sabean and Bochy decide to stick with him and give him regular starts, I'd be ecstatic. It would be a great sign, for us and for him.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 Opening Day Impressions

Logic seems to say that it's wise not to think much of anything that happens on Opening Day. Here are just a few observations, without many conclusions, from today's loss against the Dodgers:

There were some disappointing moments in today's game, and only a few encouraging ones, but that will happen when you face Clayton Kershaw at his best. Remember this? Brandon Belt's placement on the big league roster was the big story yesterday, and in my mind he was the most impressive Giants position player today. We finally got to see him in a big league game of meaning, and he didn't look overwhelmed at all. He had some of the best at bats against an extremely difficult left handed pitcher. His first hit wasn't conventional, but he showed his characteristic patience at the plate, drawing a walk and making LA pitchers throw a total of 27 pitches, the most of an Giant (Andres Torres 2nd with 24, no one else above 17). I don't know what the ESPN guys were talking about in his final at bat. Something about a slow minor league bat? Huh? I agree with Dave Cameron that Orel Hershiser offered some good inside baseball knowledge, but there were strange moments during the broadcast. Why the announcers became obsessed with Andres Torres swinging on 2-0 is beyond me. Also, I saw more behind the backstop camera views in this game then I've ever seen, when it was completely unnecessary.

Lincecum wasn't his fully dominant self, but he was quite strong, and fell victim to bloop singles and poor defense. Burrell and Huff at the corner outfield spots is...interesting. Tejada looked okay on some routine plays, and then tried to do too much, something that shouldn't happen. Just make the easy plays. We warned you about Tejada. But we'll revisit that in a month or so if the shortstop position shows itself to actually be a problem. I hope it works out. Posey and Sandoval also tried to do too much, and it led to the first run of the game. This game may have been very different if the Giants had been smarter in that inning. But I also don't mind the aggressiveness and will to make a play.

For a moment I was sad that Lincecum got a loss, that he was 0-1 after tonight, and then I realized I was thinking about wins and losses.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brandon Belt Makes the Cut

I'll admit that I was pretty apathetic about the whole "Will Belt start the season in AAA or in the big leagues" thing. If he made the team, great. If he was sent back to AAA, fine, a little minor league seasoning wouldn't hurt and the Giants would probably be fine for a month or two without him. Well, today Belt made the cut, and I am very, very excited. If nothing else, there's always a lot of anticipation involved with a top prospect making their debut and thinking about that prospect carrying your favorite team for years to come. It's also pretty refreshing to see a team ignore all the arbitration clock crap. Don't get me wrong, that stuff is important, but it shouldn't affect putting your best team out on the field. The Giants thought Belt was ready, they wanted him on the team now, and they aren't worrying about how much more money he'll make in a few years.

Of course, as the Giants set their 25-man roster today, there were other roster moves made. To make room for Belt, the Giants designated Travis Ishikawa for assignment. That was no surprise as Ishikawa becomes sort of redundant and inferior with Belt on the roster. The interesting thing to see will happen in a few weeks when Cody Ross comes off the disabled list. If the Giants are rolling, Ross is probably staying on the bench, at least initially. But if Burrell struggles or maybe even Torres starts slowly, they might be the ones losing their starting spot. And who gets cut? Every Giants fan and their mother wants Rowand and his $24 million slary cut, but it could be Nate Schierholtz.

The last bullpen spot was given to Dan Runzler. I'm not sure what that means for his attempted transition into a starting pitcher, but it does mean that Ryan Vogelsong and Marc Kroon, both longshots to make the roster, are headed for the minors. Guillermo Mota was also given a bullpen spot, and one of he and Runzler is likely gone once Brian Wilson comes off the DL.

Here's what the final roster looks like:

Starting Lineup

F. Sanchez



Starting Rotation

J. Sanchez



I also wanted to do a small division preview type of thing. We have been absolutely terrible offseason bloggers, and we really have no excuse. But by tomorrow night we will be doing recaps for every game and hopefully featuring more content in general. I think the regular season and watching actual games motivates us to write. Anyway, even though this should've been done in a different, more comprehensive post, here are my thoughts on the division.

I have the Giants finishing in first place, and if I get anyone telling me a homer, I might kill myself. The Giants are simply the most complete team in a pretty weak division. But as we've outlined before, they do need a lot of things to go right, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if the Rockies or even the Dodgers *shudder* came out on top. The Rockies usually hit a lot, but I really only see 2 dangerous hitters in their lineup, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. Their rotation is pretty solid, but nothing spectacular. I have them in second place. The Dodgers finish third, mostly because their offense could struggle to score runs and their staff is deep, but also not spectacular. The Padres don't have much going for them, but the Diamondbacks are terrible, so they'll finish in fourth place. The Diamondbacks are terrible. Fifth place. I'm not going to make any kind of World Series prediction because I don't want to pick against the Giants but I don't want to pick them either. There's my beautiful season preview.

Tomorrow is opening day. Opening day would be exciting enough, but it's Opening Day with the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants facing the enemy LA Dodgers. And Brandon Belt is making his debut. It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Brandon Belt: 2010 and 2011

Most Giants fans know who Brandon Belt is by now. Tons and tons of articles have been written on him. This is a very basic scouting report: good hitter, patient, above average defensively, profiles to hit 20-25 HRs and lots and lots of doubles at the major league level. He's a candidate for Minor League Player of the Year, maybe one of the most surprising prospects in baseball, gone through 3 minor league levels in one year, etc. We hadn't written about him yet because it seemed like a lot of sites were and we figured we'd wait a while, maybe give him some time to struggle, but that never happened. Seeing as he was promoted to AAA yesterday and had a home run and two walks in his first game, now seemed like as good a time as any to write about him.

As I mentioned above, Belt has gone through 3 minor league levels this year and has dominated at every single one so far. He's 22 and was drafted out of college, so moving that fast through the system isn't unheard of, but it's very rare. Now, the reason for his immediate success can be attributed to a mechanical flaw in his stance that the Giants fixed. Yeah the Giants fixing and developing a hitter, sounds weird huh? Well, Belt's stance was opened up, allowing room for more power and leaving him less vulnerable to inside pitches. Whatever the Giants did worked really well, and Belt, who was considered by many to be an overdraft in the 5th round, immediately dominated minor league pitching. He started in single-A, hitting .383/.492/.628/1.121. After 77 games, and having nothing left to prove in San Jose, the Giants promoted him to Double-A Richmond. Richmond plays in the Eastern League, a pitching-dominated league where many top prospects have struggled, but not Belt. He continued his hot streak, hitting .331/.409/.616/1.025 in 45 games before being promoted yesterday. All of a sudden, maybe Belt wasn't on a hot streak and maybe he was a legitimate prospect.

There has been a lot of talk about Brandon Belt being a September call-up this year. While I think it's likely, don't expect much out of him in 2010. First of all, I think the reason Belt was promoted so quickly from AA to AAA is because AA is not even close to the playoffs and AAA is. The Giants probably want him to participate in the playoffs for Fresno and I think that's probably a good idea. There's really no point in rushing him and he can get more experience on more advanced pitchers. I don't care what Sabean says, AAA pitching is still challenging. I think Belt will be called up, but not until Fresno's season is over. Also, the Giants are in a playoff race, they aren't going to give many at-bats to a rookie, no matter how good he was in the minors. After all, Buster Posey, one of the top prospects in all of baseball last year, could only get 17 ABs as a September call-up. So instead of looking forward to seeing Belt produce this year, we should look forward to next year.

I've come to think that it might not be too optimistic to think that Brandon Belt could be in the Giants lineup at the beginning of 2011. I've gone over different lineup possibilities for next year and many times the best lineup I come up with has Belt in it. I see a couple of things supporting the notion that he could be a starter next year. Belt has already been promoted to AAA, so he doesn't have too far to go. Top prospects in the Cal League usually don't stay there for long because it's a great hitters league and if they play well, they don't have much else to prove. Assuming Belt plays well, and c'mon it's impossible for him to NOT play well, he'll be close to being ready to play in the big leagues. Second of all, it is very significant that Belt dominated in AA. At the beginning of the year when he was tearing up Single-A, many scouts still didn't think too much of him. But when he continued his domination in AA, people became convinced that he was a very good prospect. It is often said that besides the jump from AAA to the majors, the biggest jump in terms of adjustment is from A to AA. Belt played well right away in AA, whereas many top prospects like Domonic Brown, Jesus Montero and Mike Stanton struggled to adjust.

Obviously, Belt being in the lineup next year depends on how he does with AAA over the next couple of weeks and how he does in Spring Training. And if Belt is in the lineup, it doesn't have to come at the expense of Aubrey Huff. Huff can always play the outfield and I actually want him back, for the right deal of course. But Brandon Belt has given Giants fans a reason to be excited and has shown that he doesn't have much left to prove. Come 2011, you could be seeing a lot of him.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CIN 12, SF 11: The (Almost) Best Game of the Year

Wow. I was at the ballpark today, and that was a crazy game. The game had three stages: Extreme Boredom, Overwhelming Jubilation, and Mild Disappointment. I'm going to break down all 3 stages and it means a lot coming from me, because I was there. Live. This is first-hand experience, people. So, listen up!

Stage 1: Extreme Boredom

Madison Bumgarner was terrible today. Absolutely terrible. As a result, the Reds went all Giants on the Giants. I hope that makes sense. Right off the bat, the Reds scored 4 runs in the 1st inning. Then they scored 4 more in the 3rd. At that point it was 8-1 and Bumgarner was out of the game. Then it was 10-1. The Reds were just piling it on. It must've been the same way Reds fans had felt for the past 2 games. Awful. It was complete boredom. The combination of terrible pitching, a lackluster offense, and the hot sun made me want to take a nap. Luckily, I don't do that at baseball games. The Giants would cut it down to 10-5, but still I had pretty much conceded this game to Cincinnati. Stage 1 lasted until the 7th inning.

Stage 2: Overwhelming Jubilation

Stage 2 had maybe the most 8th Inning Weirdness we've seen all year. But it was good Weirdness. At this point the score was still 10-5. Jose Guillen singled to start the inning. Pablo Sandoval followed by also hitting a single. The next batter, Juan Uribe, hit a 3-run homer right over the wall. Unbelievable. Uribe has fallen pretty far over the course of the season (his OBP is below .320), but he has had a few very important home runs. If nothing else, his power is very valuable in the 7th spot of the order. The Giants were now down just 10-8 and there were still 0 outs. Then a pair of new Giants, Cody Ross and Mike Fontenot, each singled. Up came Andres Torres, who roped a double down the left field line. Seeing Fontenot rounding third to score the tying run was amazing. Four innings ago, no one would've thought the Giants would be in a position to take a lead in this game. And you know what else? Still. 0. Outs. So, Andres Torres was on 2nd and Buster Posey came up. Buster was the only Giant without a hit today, but in his most important at-bat of the game, he came through with a sacrifice fly to move Torres over to 3rd. One out. Next up was Aubrey Huff. Huff hit a fly ball not too deep to right field, but it was good enough for Torres. 11-10 Giants. Un. Freakin. Believable. Onto the next stage.

Stage 3: Mild Disappointment

In the top 9th, the Reds tied the game at 11-11, and it was pretty much all Pablo Sandoval's fault. On a sharp ground ball to 3rd base, Sandoval rushed the throw to 1st and it went over Huff's head. Drew Stubbs advanced to 2nd on the throw, and there was just 1 out. A single from Paul Janish would bring Stubbs home to tie the game. It would've been great if the Giants could shut down the Reds after such a great comeback, but it didn't happen. Sandoval's error was 1 of 5 Giants errors in the game.

The 10th and 11th innings were quiet, but because the Giants have been carrying just 11 pitchers, Barry Zito had to come out and pitch the 12th. Zito wasn't too sharp, giving up a double and then an RBI single to give the Reds the lead. The Giants weren't able to score in the bottom of the inning and the game was over.

The disappointment was just mild because the Giants showed resiliency. They came back from a 9 run deficit, not giving up after falling behind so early in the game. It was certainly good to see and at least I didn't have to sit through a completely boring game.

Brandon Belt was promoted to AAA today. This is his first year in the minors and he's jumped from A to AAA. I love him. Keep an eye out for a post on him tomorrow.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Don't Try Calling Brian Sabean Because He Won't Call You Back

Yeah, that's right, according to Buster Olney of ESPN (Insider), who did a survey of MLB GMs, Brian Sabean is the most difficult GM to deal with simply because he doesn't answer the phone. Sabean says it is absolutely untrue and that not enough GMs were polled, but still, at least several GMs have claimed that Sabean doesn't return their calls. When you think about it, it kind of makes you laugh. I can imagine Sabean hearing the phone ring and seeing that it's a rival GM and thinking, "You know, if I don't answer the phone...maybe they'll think I'm playing hard to get so they'll want to talk to me even more and I still won't answer the phone and then to get me to answer the phone they offer me a player who hits over .300! Genius! No wonder I'm the longest tenured GM in the game..." And when I think about it some more, it makes me angry because it is absolutely ridiculous. If this is true, Brian Sabean is essentially not doing his job. His job is too converse back and forth with general managers in order to find the best ways to improve the Giants. But he just refuses to answer the phone? Why? Is he busy meeting with Bochy to discuss their plan to ruin the Giants before they are both eventually fired? That must be it. By not listening to other teams he's just limiting his options. It just makes no sense, and the notion that a Major League Baseball GM wouldn't answer phone calls from other teams is just...unbelievable.

Here are a few other notes from the last couple of days:

A little while ago in this post, Reza outlined the Giants' possible interest in David DeJesus. Here, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs explains why he's the perfect fit for the Giants.

Apparently, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy believe some of their struggles can be attributed to the team being too right-handed. The article says they'll begin using more platoons against right-handed pitchers to get more lefties in the lineup. I'm not so sure Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz will make much of a difference.

It was assumed that with Molina gone, Posey would become the everyday catcher. Not so fast. The Giants want to ease him into being the everyday guy, so at least for now, Whiteside will get a lot of starts at catcher. I guess it makes some sense, but it's still a little disappointing.

Brandon Belt has been promoted to Double-A Richmond. Belt was absolutely dominating in San Jose with a line of .380/.488/.624 with a 1.112 OPS. Time to see how he does in the much tougher Eastern League.