Brandon Belt is Free (and Other Satisfying Roster Moves)

The Giants announced their Opening Day roster today and, lo and behold, Brandon Belt has made it. That’s not entirely surprising, based on all the signs that had pointed to it, but it’s very exciting. I suppose it remains to be seen how much playing time he’ll actually receive, but it definitely looks like he’ll be getting a full season’s worth of plate appearances — which would be fantastic.

In other news, the Giants aren’t carrying three catchers, as predicted. That’s also good news, as three catchers — even considering Posey’s condition — is excessive. Instead of Chris Stewart taking on the backup catcher role, it will be Hector Sanchez — who turned 22 in November. I was hoping Sanchez would get some more time down in Fresno, where he posted a .655 OPS last season. He hit very well this offseason — both in spring and winter — but I’m still not convinced he’s entirely ready. My main concern, however, stemmed from the belief that he’d be used sparingly, as a late-inning pinch hitter. But the Giants are going with two catchers, meaning Hector will likely get a decent amount of playing time. And looking beyond the issue of Sanchez’s development, there’s no doubt that Sanchez possesses far more upside with the bat than Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart. Shouldn’t the primary concern be to do what puts the team in the best position to win?

Speaking of which, Chris Stewart is headed to New York. Ideally, he’d be the minor-league catching depth (as opposed to Eli Whiteside), but it’s not all that important of an issue. Coming over to San Francisco is George Kontos, a 26-year-old right-handed reliever who had pretty solid numbers in Triple-A last season: 2.62 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 2.6 BB/9 in 89 innings with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He’s not a particularly special arm, but he looks like he could be a decent middle reliever, and it’s a pretty good return for a 30-year-old catcher with a sub-.600 OPS.

Aside from the backup catcher spot, all of my roster predictions from last night turned out to be pretty spot-on (although, to be fair, most of them were pretty obvious). Gregor Blanco and Nate Schierholtz will be the backup outfielders; Brett Pill is the right-handed bat off the bench; and Ryan Theriot will be the backup middle infielder.

All things considered, I’m pleased with today’s roster moves, and I feel more optimistic about the 2012 Giants than at any other point this offseason. And hey, would you look at that — Opening Day is in a mere couple of days.

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