Buster Posey, Barry Zito Help Giants Even Series

Well, that went better than I’d expected. With Barry Zito going up against a tremendous offense, I wasn’t exactly confident about the Giants’ odds in this game. Zito got off to a good start earlier in the season, but he’s quietly lost a lot of steam, and entering today’s start, he had a career-worst 81 ERA+ (that is, if you don’t count last year’s 54 innings).

But as Zito is wont to do, just as I had lost almost every ounce of faith in his ability to give the Giants something better than replacement level pitching, he came out and pitched well — and he did so against the National League’s best offense. Nothing fancy, but 6.1 innings of two-run ball — the only damage having come off the bat of the absurdly powerful Allen Craig on a pair of solo shots. Perhaps the best part? Zero walks, something that you don’t often see out of Zito.

And on another promising note, a bullpen that has been disappointing of late managed to shut the Cards down. (Actually, to say they’ve disappointed recently is probably an understatement — this is a team that’s supposed to get top-notch pitching from their ‘pen, and instead they’ve been mostly run-of-the-mill).

Anyway, Buster Posey provided the Giants with all the run support they’d need, knocking a three-run blast in the first inning off of Lance Lynn. His scorching hot second half continues…

Notes:

  •  In order to clear room for the newest bullpen addition, Jose Mijares, the Giants placed Shane Loux on the DL with a neck strain. Not sure if it’s a phantom injury or not, and I’m not sure if it really matters anyway. The bullpen just got better.
  • According to Hank Schulman, the Giants have looked into signing Lyle Overbay. In terms of what we should expect over the rest of the season, there’s not much of a difference between Overbay and Aubrey Huff.
  • I neglected to mention this, but the Giants signed Xavier Nady to a minor-league contract a few days ago. I doubt Nady will play much of any role with the Giants this season, nor should he — he’s been all sorts of horrible this season: .157/.211/.275, 31 OPS+.
  • Angel Pagan continues to heat up. He reached base a couple more times today, and if it weren’t for a nice play by Jon Jay, Pagan could’ve added an extra-base hit. Even so, he’s raised his OPS a good 40 points in the past five days.

Giants Claim Jose Mijares Off Waivers

Earlier today, the Giants acquired left-handed reliever Jose Mijares from the Kansas City Royals via waivers. The Giants simply claimed him off waivers and didn’t have to give up anything in return, so they basically got him for free. Mijares, 27, doesn’t hit free agency until 2015, and he’s actually having a very good season: he’s tossed 38.2 innings across 51 appearances, posting a 163 ERA+ with fairly strong peripherals (8.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and 0.7 HR/9). His FIP currently sits at a solid 3.50. And he is, of course, especially tough on left-handed hitters. For his career, he’s held lefties to a .606 OPS, which is right in line with what he’s done this season (.601 OPS).

He’s a flyball-heavy pitcher, having induced one groundball for every two flyballs over his career. But he’s consistently managed to keep his home run rate in check, which — at least in part — appears to be a sustainable skill. It’s worth noting that 20% of his career flyballs have been infield flies, which is very good relative to the league average rate over that span (13%).

For reasons beyond my knowledge, more than 20 teams passed on the opportunity to grab Mijares. It’s peculiar, and I’m not the only one that thinks so. In any event, it worked out perfectly for the Giants, and you have to hand it to them for this acquisition. They just bolstered their bullpen at zero cost, and they’ll now have a cheap lefty specialist for the foreseeable future. Mijares is essentially insurance against future overspending on LOOGYs.

Now comes a pretty important question: who goes? The Giants will have to make room for Mijares in the bullpen, and there’s some sentiment that George Kontos (given his minor-league options) could be sent back down to Fresno. Kontos (2.42 ERA/2.99 FIP/3.28 xFIP) has been outstanding thus far, so needless to say, that would be foolish. Alex Pavlovic writes that Brad Penny and Shane Loux, not Kontos, are the most likely candidates to go — and hopefully that’s the case.

Buster Posey’s Having A Really Good Season

…and with that, I’ve fulfilled my obvious headline quota for the week. Buster Posey put up a strong first half, hitting .289/.362/.458 across 312 plate appearances. His performance was good enough to earn him his first career all-star nod. But Buster Posey has been on an absolute tear in the second half of the season. Among players with at least 30 at-bats since the all-star break, Posey’s 1.287 OPS leads the majors. After yesterday’s two-hit performance, Posey has now raised his season OPS by exactly 100 points; he currently boasts an overall line of .325/.391/.529, which is good for a 149 wRC+ and 161 OPS+. If the season ended today, that OPS+ would rank as the 11th highest single-season mark ever by a catcher. After missing most of 2011 following that devastating ankle injury — which, for all we know has had pretty substantial lingering effects, Posey is having a season of historically good proportions.

San Francisco Giants history isn’t exactly rife with great catchers. There’s no Johnny Bench, or Carlton Fisk, or Yogi Berra. Instead, there’s Dick Dietz, Tom Haller, and Bob Brenly — that’s probably the big three. Then again, the Giants have been playing in San Francisco for more than fifty years now, and they’ve cycled through countless catchers in that time. In that context, Posey’s season is even more impressive. Through 96 games, Posey has tallied 4.1 rWAR. Even though there are still 55 games left to play, Posey is already within a fraction of a win of the best season ever by a San Francisco Giants catcher:

Rk Player WAR/pos Year Age G PA AB HR BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Dick Dietz 4.2 1970 28 148 612 493 22 .300 .426 .515 .941 *2
2 Buster Posey 4.1 2012 25 96 396 348 16 .325 .391 .529 .920 *23/D
3 Buster Posey 3.7 2010 23 108 443 406 18 .305 .357 .505 .862 *23
4 Tom Haller 3.7 1967 30 141 528 455 14 .251 .344 .415 .759 *2/9
5 Bob Brenly 3.5 1984 30 145 567 506 20 .291 .352 .464 .816 *23/97
6 Dick Dietz 3.5 1971 29 142 558 453 19 .252 .387 .419 .806 *2
7 Tom Haller 3.4 1962 25 99 332 272 18 .261 .384 .515 .899 *2
8 Tom Haller 3.2 1966 29 142 536 471 27 .240 .323 .461 .783 *2/3
9 Ed Bailey 3.2 1963 32 105 361 308 21 .263 .366 .494 .859 *2
10 Kirt Manwaring 3.0 1992 26 109 389 349 4 .244 .311 .335 .646 *2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/5/2012.

Reminder: this is Buster Posey’s first full season in the majors.

Maybe Coors Field Isn’t So Bad After All

After the way that homestand went, I was kind of dreading this Rockies series. Sure, the Rockies have been battling it out with the Astros for the title of “worst record in baseball” this season, but the last thing the Giants needed after losing seven of eight was some quality time at Coors Field. That’s like a classic setup for hitting rock bottom: you could just imagine one of those hellacious marathon games in which the Giants scratch and claw for twenty innings and eventually lose to a last place team.

Except the way these past two games have gone, I’m almost beginning to — gasp — like Coors Field. The Giants scored a grand total of 29 runs over that ten-game span at home. They’ve scored 27 after a couple of days in Colorado. No lead is ever safe here — I mean, was anybody really comfortable with that five-run lead when Brad Penny took the mound in the seventh inning? Still, in back-to-back games, the Giants have managed to avoid that meltdown, padding the score with enough runs here and there to keep the Rockies at bay.

And so an offense that looked so helpless just a few days ago has now scored 10+ runs for two days in a row; it’s been two years since that happened.

Notes:

The Importance of Gregor Blanco

Every spring, the Giants go out and sign a bunch of players to minor-league deals. It’s baseball’s bargain bin, and history would suggest the Giants are particularly adept at this dumpster diving. Most teams are happy to come across the occasional Joaquin Arias, a useful yet seriously flawed player that is capable of serving a functional purpose at the major-league level. In past years though, the Giants have struck gold: last year, it was Ryan Vogelsong, who now has a 2.50 ERA in 309.1 innings with San Francisco. In 2010, it was Santiago Casilla, who has pitched to a 160 ERA+ in 145.2 innings here. A couple years before, it was Andres Torres, who ended up playing an integral role in bringing the Giants their championship in 2010. This year’s hidden gem: Gregor Blanco.

Blanco has appeared in 91 games with the Giants, providing value in just about every possible way: at the plate, in the outfield, and on the basepaths. His season line currently stands at .238/.333/.352 (98 wRC+), and his defense has unquestionably saved many runs. Just the other day, he had another one of those otherworldly diving catches to rob Jordany Valdespin of an extra-base hit.

With Hunter Pence now donning the orange and black, the other outfielders — specifically Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco — will likely see their roles diminished. My initial guess was that Pagan would remain the regular centerfielder, given that he’s the established major-leaguer. But Pagan has been struggling for months now, and he’s really burned through his leash. Yesterday, after another couple poor at-bats from Pagan in the six-spot of the batting order, Bochy subbed in Gregor Blanco in the fifth inning. Blanco himself hasn’t exactly been hitting well since his blistering hot May, but he’s still surpassed Pagan in terms of overall hitting production, and his defense has been much better.

As Pagan continues to get mowed down at the plate, Blanco becomes more important — and not just for the stretch run. I’m talking 2013 as well. Back when Pagan was raking and Gary Brown had hit a roadblock in his development, there was discussion of Pagan’s future role with the team. He’s precisely the kind of player that could sign a relatively cheap one-year committment in the offseason, and then make way for Brown when the time came. But in the wake of his extended struggles, this would no longer appear to be a desirable route.

Enter Gregor Blanco, who could very well seize the everyday job from Pagan in center. Blanco enters his first year of arbitration eligibility this offseason, and given that it’s his first go-around, he’ll come pretty cheap. Gary Brown has finally hit his stride in Richmond, and he’s boosted his numbers from “disappointing” to “respectable.” But it’s still highly possible — probable, even — that the Giants won’t feel he’s developmentally ready by the start of 2013. In this case, why not rely on Blanco to start in centerfield, then eventually hand the job to Brown and put Blanco back in the roaming fourth outfielder role? Given that the Giants will already be focused on investing in the corner outfield (welcome back, Melky?) and middle infield markets this offseason, it would make a lot of sense for them to go with Blanco as the short-term solution in center — assuming, of course, that he continues to perform well over the rest of the season — and just worry about the other stuff.

Giants Make Moves, Lose Ballgame

Following last night’s loss to the Mets, the San Francisco Giants made a few roster moves. Hector Sanchez, who was out with a left knee strain, was activated and caught Barry Zito‘s start today. In a corresponding move, the Giants optioned Eli Whiteside back to Triple-A Fresno. Additionally, Justin Christian was optioned to Fresno, with Shane Loux reinstated to take his spot on the roster. In other words, the Giants will go with a 13-man bullpen for now. Lastly, Emmanuel Burriss, as expected, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Fresno.

For the first time in what seemed like forever — it had actually been a monthBrandon Belt and Hector Sanchez were both in the starting lineup. The last time it happened, Barry Zito tossed seven scoreless innings and the Giants ended up defeating the Dodgers by a score of 8-0. Today’s game was like the polar opposite of that.

Zito’s first inning included three consecutive three-ball counts, followed by a David Murphy HBP and back-to-back hits from Jason “.157 average” Bay and Ronny Cedeno — although in all fairness to Zito, Cedeno’s double arguably should have been scored as an error on Melky Cabrera. Melky was able to get to the ball in time, but failed to snag it. Anyway, Zito miraculously pitched into the fifth, but ended up finishing today with the following line: 4.1 IP, 7 ER, 6 H, 1 K, 3 BB. He brought a shiny 3.89 ERA into this start, but it seems like that didn’t entirely reflect how bad he’s been. Before today, his ERA+ (90) was the second-worst mark he’s ever had over a full season, the worst being the 85 ERA+ he carried in 2008. And after today’s showing, which raised his ERA by 38 points, Zito’s ERA+ has assuredly dipped below 85.

The lone bright spot in today’s blowout was Melky Cabrera, who collected three of the Giants’ four hits. With a triple, an opposite-field ground-rule double, and a single, Melky fell a homer short of the cycle — which was refreshing to see, considering he’s been pretty quiet lately. Before today, Melky had gone 10 for 37 on this homestand without a walk or an extra-base hit.

But of course, it wasn’t nearly enough. And so the Giants finished this disheartening homestand 3-7, with those seven losses having come over their past eight games. The D’backs have quietly cut the Giants’ division lead to two games, and the Dodgers remain just half a game back. I wrote a week ago (over at Beyond the Box Score) that Arizona is still in the thick of the playoff hunt, and it’s pretty clear at this point that they pose a big threat to San Francisco. Both Arizona and Los Angeles have the day off, though.

Notes:

  • The 13-man bullpen is excessive, but I think it makes sense for the Giants right now. They’re about to start a three-game series at Coors Field — and knowing how those games tend to go, it’ll be convenient to have an extra arm in the ‘pen. After the Colorado series, they’ll begin a four-game set at St. Louis, against an offense that has been historically good thus far – so again, it makes sense to have some extra help. Besides, Justin Christian had been utterly worthless during his brief major-league stint.
  • The only non-Melky to get a hit was Brandon Belt, who obliterated a ball into right field for a triple. He later deposited a ball into the bay, but it was foul (and he ended up striking out on a weak-looking hack).
  • For someone that hasn’t played third base since 2008 (when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays), Marco Scutaro has filled in pretty nicely there for Pablo Sandoval — he made a couple good picks there today. And this was just the first time since joining the Giants that Scutaro has failed to get a hit. It occurred to me that I never got a chance to write up my thoughts on the Marco Scutaro trade, so to quickly sum it up: I loved it. I don’t think the Giants gave up much of anything in Charlie Culberson, who couldn’t even muster a .700 OPS in the PCL; and in return, San Francisco got a decent and necessary contact bat that can play third, short, and second without looking silly.
  • Have we reached the point where Andres Torres is having a better season than Angel Pagan? Torres is hitting .238/.352/.323, 94 wRC+. Pagan is hitting .272/.317/.389, 94 wRC+. And there’s no question that Torres is the far superior defender.

Giants Acquire Hunter Pence

After days of rumors and speculation, the Giants have finally acquired outfielder Hunter Pence. Heading to Philadelphia are Nate Schierholtz and a pair of prospects — Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin. Hunter Pence, 29, is under team control through the end of 2013, but is set to make nearly $15M next season.

The Giants certainly improved today, but Pence isn’t some kind of big upgrade. He’s having somewhat of a down season, hitting .271/.336/.447 (111 wRC+), and yet that’s not much worse than what he’s done over his career: .290/.342/.481, 118 wRC+. The safe bet is that he’ll continue to perform as he has so far this season, providing good — not great — production at the plate. And that’s ignoring his defensive skills, which have rapidly faded. All of the defensive metrics (UZR, DRS, FRAA) seem to agree that he’s a mediocre fielder at this point (and with Angel Pagan patrolling center field, that’s cause for concern).

Even in spite of his recent struggles, Gregor Blanco has been average with the bat (101 wRC+) and spectacular with the glove this season. So it’s not as though Pence is filling a major void here. He’s an upgrade — make no mistake — but not a significant one.

Yesterday, I tweeted the following:

And that’s where the impact of this sort of deal can be felt. The one thing I was hoping the Giants would accomplish in trading for an outfielder: push Justin Christian off the roster. Even if Pence wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over Blanco, the Giants would have a markedly better bench with Blanco taking over Justin Christian’s spot. With Nate Schierholtz gone though, that unfortunately won’t be the case. Nate probably isn’t an everyday caliber player, but he’s a very good fourth outfielder: he’s held his own against righties and lefties throughout his career (94 wRC+ and 95 wRC+, respectively), he can handle right field at AT&T Park like so few others, and he’s a good late-inning pinch running option. So it’s easy to downplay what the Giants gave up in Schierholtz, especially considering that he’s still under team control for another couple years after this.

As for Tommy Joseph, the centerpiece of this trade, I’ve always been relatively low on him as a prospect; one of the main reasons I wasn’t too optimistic about Joseph was his defense, something that is of paramount importance when it comes to catchers. But he’s reportedly shown dramatic improvement in that regard. And, of course, that power-heavy bat is what makes him special: he’s put up league-average numbers in Double-A Richmond as a 21-year-old catcher — quite the promising sign. From the Giants’ standpoint, they can afford to give up catching depth with Buster Posey, Hector Sanchez, and Andrew Susac already in the organization, but as an advanced hitter at the most demanding position in baseball, Joseph is a pretty valuable piece. As John Sickels put it: “Joseph isn’t a sure thing by any means and catchers often have unusual development curves, but there aren’t that many potential regular catchers in the minors.”

The final piece headed to Philadelphia, Seth Rosin, could pan out as a solid middle reliever. The 23-year-old pitcher has put up strong peripherals in High-A this season, although he’s a little old for his level.

Ultimately, at the risk of this seeming like a cop-out, I’m neutral on the deal. The Giants acquired an above-average outfielder, and he’s not just a rental. But their starting lineup only got slightly better, and the deal comes at a considerable expense: the three players headed east, as well as the money owed to Pence throughout the next season and a half.

Giants Beat Padres 7-1, Improve to 54-42

The Giants tagged Clayton Richard for four runs in the first inning of tonight’s game and it was cruise control the rest of the way, as Ryan Vogelsong held the Padres to one run over seven innings, and Buster Posey added a three-run blast in the fifth inning for good measure. Pretty much everything went right — or at least, everything that needed to go right. The Giants’ 2-3-4 hitters each went three for four, and Clay Hensley and George Kontos combined for two perfect innings of relief. And now the Giants sit at 54-42, still 1.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Notes…

Ryan Vogelsong

Ryan Vogelsong: 7 IP, 6 K, 3 BB, 4 H, 1 R.

Here’s what I wrote about Ryan Vogelsong’s first half, a couple weeks ago:

To say he’s exceeded expectations would be an understatement. Through 16 starts (110.2 innings), Vogelsong has actually managed to post a lower ERA (2.36) than he had in 2011 (his FIP, 3.72, while less incredible, is still good). The term “consistent” is often bandied about meaninglessly when discussing baseball players, but I can’t seem to avoid it in writing about Vogelsong. He’s epitomized consistency this season. Here are his innings pitched by start this season: 6.1, 7, 6, 7, 7.1, 7, 7, 6.1, 7, 7, 7.2, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7. Fifteen of those were quality starts.

And it continues…In his first start of the second half, he allowed one run across six innings in Atlanta. Tonight — his second start of the half, he made his fifteenth consecutive quality start. That puts him in company with Gaylord Perry, Tim Lincecum, and Juan Marichal. His ERA now stands at 2.26; he’s unbelievable.

Buster Posey

After today, Buster Posey has collected 3+ hits in five of his last eight games (seven extra-base hits over that span), and is now hitting .317/.383/.506 (142 wRC+) through 355 plate appearances on the season. In other words, he’s more productive than he’s ever been, which is typical for a 25-year-old star. But he missed most of last season with an ankle injury, and his health was a giant question mark coming into this year. It’s easy to take this stuff for granted. Man, is it wonderful to have him healthy and contributing like this.

And that home run he hit — ’twas no cheapie. It’s rare to see a right-handed hitter go opposite field for a homer at AT&T Park. Speaking of which, according to Baseball-Reference, the Giants had one opposite-field home run before tonight’s game. Guess who hit it?

Brandon Belt

I’m kind of sick of talking about Brandon Belt at this point, but Belt’s a pretty important topic right now, so I feel obligated to address this — especially since I’ve been one of his more ardent supporters. After Sunday’s ugly game — in which Belt went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, I’ve moved past the “it’s just a slump” stage. I’m convinced there’s a deeper underlying problem with Belt, and I have no idea what it is. I’m clueless when it comes to hitting mechanics and the like, so I won’t bother speculating on that front. But I know a few things:

  • Brandon Belt needs to play every day
  • The Giants need production out of their first basemen
  • The Giants’ in-house options are not acceptable

I think the best option right now is just to keep playing Belt until things get really bad.

Chris Perez

With the trade deadline fast approaching, rumor season has arrived. Via Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi (FOX Sports) comes word that the Giants are interested in Indians reliever Chris Perez:

The San Francisco Giants, seeking late-inning help, are interested in Perez, according to major-league sources. The Indians could entertain moving Perez for two reasons – they are deep in relievers, and Perez likely will earn about $7 million next season in his second year of arbitration.

The Giants definitely stand to benefit from some relief help, but I’m not sure Chris Perez is the answer. He’s a “two-time all-star” and he’s under control through 2014, so he’ll inevitably get expensive over the next few years. The extra years of team control also mean he’s got relatively high trade value. He’s a pretty good reliever (150 ERA+ over the past three seasons), and he’s improved his peripherals this season (2.08 FIP constitutes a career-low — his previous best being 3.54), but the Giants would probably be wise to hold on to whatever trade chips it would take to acquire Perez.

Splash Hits: The Giants Are 51-41

Welp, the Giants blew their chance at a sixth consecutive win, falling 3-2 to the Braves today. Madison Bumgarner pitched very well (7 IP, 8 K, 0 BB, 3 H, 2 ER), but two of the three hits he allowed left the yard — and that was the difference in the game. But who can complain about a series win on the road in Atlanta? The Giants are now 5-1 in the second half; I’ll take it.

Links:

The Hall of Nearly Great

The Hall of Nearly Great is an ebook meant to celebrate the careers of those who are not celebrated. It’s not a book meant to reopen arguments about who does and does not deserve Hall of Fame enshrinement. Rather, it remembers those who, failing entrance into Cooperstown, may unfairly be lost to history. It’s for the players we grew up rooting for, the ones whose best years led to flags and memories that will fly together forever. Players like David Cone, Will Clark, Dwight Evans, Norm Cash, Kenny Lofton, Brad Radke, and many others.

I cannot recommend this book enough. I got an early copy a week ago, and I’ve worked about halfway through it so far. It’s just a fantastic collection of essays on a fantastic group of players by a fantastic crew of writers. (At full disclosure, I’m part of the affiliate program for the Hall of Nearly Great, so the added benefit is that I’ll receive a few bucks for every purchase that comes through this link; that’ll help go toward keeping this site up and running, so any support is appreciated — I’ll have to renew domain registration/hosting within a couple weeks.)

Will Clark Saved The Giants, And I Missed It
An excerpt from the Hall of Nearly Great, and a wonderful one at that: McCovey Chronicles’ Grant Brisbee on Will Clark.

An Inner Circle for the Hall of Fame | Baseball: Past and Present
A list of the best of the best: the top 50 players in the Hall of Fame. A certain Say Hey Kid received more votes than any other player.

Game Day Six-Pack: “Buster Posey Is The Perfect Human.”
In which I answered a Phillies blogger’s questions to preview the upcoming Giants/Phillies series.

Giants’ Schierholtz not happy – SFGate

Schierholtz said neither he nor his agent, Damon Lapa, specifically asked the Giants for a trade, but when asked if he would welcome a deal, Schierholtz said, “I think whatever the best fit for the team and me is would be ideal. I can’t really make those decisions. It’s all up to them. Whether I’m here or not I’m going to give my best effort every day and bust my tail.”

Lefty Malo – In Appreciation of Barry Zito
Here’s to Barry Zito.

Hector Sanchez to the DL, Eli Whiteside Called Up

Earlier today, the San Francisco Giants placed Hector Sanchez on the 15-day DL with a left knee strain, with Eli Whiteside coming up from Triple-A Fresno to replace him. Sanchez’s injury isn’t supposed to be all that serious — it won’t require surgery, and he should be fine within a week, but according to Baggs, with Sanchez likely out for a week, the Giants felt it made more sense to just DL him and go with Whiteside as the backup for the time being.

Most are likely bemoaning the return of Whiteside, and understandably so. He’s spent the entirety of 2012 in the minors, in a hitter-friendly environment, and all he has is a .292 wOBA to show for it. That said, the dropoff in backup catcher production from Whiteside to Sanchez won’t be all that significant over the course of a couple weeks. And for what it’s worth, Whiteside is easily the more advanced defender — and that difference is perhaps understated. Earlier this year, Max Marchi published an article at Baseball Prospectus quantifying the cumulative effect of catchers’ defensive skills, and he found that Eli Whiteside had saved +35 runs from 2008 to 2011 (5146 PAs) — largely because of his game-calling. By this measure, he’s one of the better defensive catchers in baseball.

Not that any of this really matters — again, the difference between Whiteside and Sanchez over a few games is minimal at best. The bigger implication of this injury is how it affects Brandon Belt. Just yesterday, Bruce Bochy was asked if he believed Sanchez’s bat is preferable to Belt’s. His answer?

“Yeah, I think that’s fair to say. Wouldn’t you?”

It’s difficult to infer exactly what Bochy means by that statement, but it is quite telling. Hector has been receiving steady playing time at the expense of Belt, and frankly, at the expense of the team. When Hector catches and Posey plays first, the Giants are worse off both defensively and offensively. Belt (110 wRC+), by all accounts, is a better hitter than Sanchez (78 wRC+). Posey needs his rest obviously, but it’s gotten to the point where Hector is starting nearly as many games as Belt. In July, Hector has started five games; Belt has started six. If it’s merely for the sake of giving Posey rest, why not give him actual rest by letting him sit on the bench? And if it’s not merely that — if it’s to get Sanchez’s bat in the lineup more often — then why?

So the silver lining here is that Hector’s injury opens the door for Belt to get consistent playing time at first base the next couple weeks. He’s been scuffling lately, but this might give him ample opportunity to seize back an everyday role — a role which he really shouldn’t have to fight for. The good news is that there’s just no way Whiteside will get the kind of playing time Hector has been getting. These next couple weeks could prove to be very important, though. There’s already talk of the Giants trading for a first baseman, or Belt himself being traded with the deadline approaching.