Final Thoughts on the Giants’ Offseason

The Giants’ offseason has been discussed and scrutinized ad nauseum, and the consensus seems to be somewhere between frustration and disgust. A team with hopes of contending, a steady stream of revenue, and a dire need to improve its offense passed on Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, and Carlos Beltran. In fact, their only offensive additions consisted of Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, both of whom were acquired via trade, and both of whom are set to hit free agency after this season. Anyway, I figured I’d offer up some final thoughts on this offseason.

The left-handed relievers

First and foremost, the Giants decided to retain both Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez, and they paid a pretty penny in order to do so. This was arguably their biggest mistake of the offseason. Lopez got a two-year $8.5M contract; Affeldt, meanwhile, got $5M, as the Giants chose to exercise his option. Together, the two comprised the majority of the Giants’ free agent spending (although, yes, Affeldt technically wasn’t a free agent).

Lopez’s career numbers, especially his peripherals, aren’t particularly flashy. Spanning his career, he’s averaged 5.8 strikeouts per nine innings, and four walks per nine innings. He is, however, very good at preventing home runs, especially when you consider that he’s spent much of his career in hitter-friendly parks (Coors/Fenway). He’s allowed just 0.46 home runs per nine innings throughout his career, but since joining the Giants in August of 2010, he hasn’t allowed a homer (that’s zero in 72 innings). His specialty, of course, is getting left-handed hitters out, but even his splits against lefties aren’t all that impressive: 7.47 K/9, 3.86 BB/9, 0.39 HR/9, 3.42 FIP/3.63 xFIP.

While his career splits don’t stand out, he has put together two consecutive quality seasons, and at the rate he’s going, he’ll earn his contract. Baseball-Reference has Lopez at 2.8 wins above replacement over the past two years, which is worth something in the realm of $13M to $17M. So I can certainly see the justification, despite sub-par peripherals, for giving Lopez ~$9M through 2013. In fact, I like this signing, and I’m sure with Affeldt hypothetically out of the equation, many others would too.

But Affeldt isn’t “out of the equation.” Instead, he’ll be paid $5M to be the second lefty out of the Giants’ bullpen, which is quite excessive. Now, most will be quick to point out that Affeldt has been worth 0.4 WAR since 2010, which is only ever-so-slightly above replacement level. But it’s also worth noting that Affeldt has averaged 1 WAR per season since 2009 by Baseball-Reference’s implementation, and that’s pretty much what $5M production is. In 2011, Affeldt was worth 0.9 WAR, which — again — is $5M production.

What this essentially comes down to is an issue of absolute value versus relative value. In absolute terms, yes, one could make the case that Jeremy Affeldt is worth $5M, particularly when you take into account the paucity of decent left-handed relievers on the free agent market. I don’t personally think he’s worth that much, but his marginal value isn’t necessarily much lower than $5M. There’s a reason that he generated substantial interest on the trade market after the Giants exercised his option.

For reference, here’s what other left-handed relievers have commanded this offseason:

Darren Oliver – one year, $4M + team option; he’s coming off two very good seasons, and in fact, since 2008, he’s posted a 170 ERA+ across 242 appearances. That said, he’s 41 years old.

Dontrelle Willis – one year, $850K; Willis hasn’t been a quality pitcher since 2006, and though he’d probably make a useful lefty specialist, he really can’t be trusted to face right-handed hitters. They hit .305/.395/.433 against him in 2011, and they’ve hit .282/.358/.430 against him throughout his career.

George Sherrill – one year, $1.1M; I liked this signing for the Mariners, but Sherrill, like Willis, can’t be trusted at all against right-handed hitters. They absolutely destroy him.

J.C. Romero – one year, $750K; he has a 1.04 K/BB ratio over the last three seasons (117 appearances), and a 1.40 K/BB for his career. Baseball-Reference has him at 0.7 WAR since 2009. Fangraphs has him at -0.6 WAR since 2009.

John Grabow – minor-league deal; over the last couple seasons, he’s posted a 73 ERA+ across 88 innings, racking up -1.5 rWAR.

Hideki Okajima – minor-league deal; he threw all of eight innings in 2011, and he wasn’t very good in 2010 either (0.1 rWAR).

All of the above left-handed relievers got less money than Affeldt, but most of them are old, have major flaws, or both. Oliver at $4M would have been preferable to Affeldt at $5M, but it’s easy to see why the market dictates this kind of money for a guy like Affeldt.

On a team entirely devoid of any decent left-handed relief options, Affeldt has plenty of value, relatively speaking. On the other hand, on a team with Javier Lopez and Dan Runzler, Affeldt doesn’t have nearly as much value; over the course of a full season, the difference between Runzler and Affeldt as the second lefty out of the ‘pen is mostly negligible.

For his career, Runzler has posted a 3.19 FIP over 68.2 innings. Affeldt, over that same span (since 2009), has posted a 3.74 FIP over 174 innings. Affeldt rates better by xFIP (3.59 to 3.74), but it’s not a significant difference. Plus, at 26 years old, Runzler has the upper hand in terms of upside. Affeldt is probably the safer bet because he’s actually had extended success in recent seasons on a runs-allowed basis, but at an extra cost of $5M, it seems evident that the Giants would have been better off just sticking with Runzler.

Anyway, on an individual basis, the moves to retain Lopez and Affeldt aren’t all that bad. As a whole, however, especially as it pertains to the Giants’ needs and budgetary constraints, this was not terribly prudent allocation of money. The $5M that went to Affeldt would have been better spent on a dire need (i.e. a hitter).

Angel and Melky

Now the Giants did bring in a couple hitters in Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera. One looks like a pretty good acquisition; one doesn’t.

As I noted a few weeks ago, I really like the Pagan acquisition, even in spite of the fact that I wanted the Giants to retain Andres Torres. The Giants didn’t give up all that much, yet they got one year of a solid centerfielder with a reasonable price tag ($4.85M). He’s not going to single-handedly fix the Giants’ offensive struggles, but he’s consistently put up above-average numbers since 2009; let’s not forget that Giants centerfielders posted a collective .283 wOBA in 2011.

The Melky Cabrera acquisition, on the other hand, might be the worst move of the offseason. The Giants are paying Melky $6M, which is a bit more than I was expecting. Jonathan Sanchez, in comparison, is getting $5.6M. Basically, the Giants didn’t save any money in making this trade. In retrospect, they essentially had the choice between $6M and Melky Cabrera, and they chose the latter.

I imagine the justification for this move is as follows: they needed a centerfielder, and they didn’t see Andres Torres as a suitable option. They otherwise would have non-tendered Jonathan Sanchez, so this way, at least they filled a position of need by ridding themselves of a wild southpaw. The problem, however, is two-fold: firstly, Cabrera was not all that more appealing an option than Andres Torres, if at all, despite a much better 2011. Secondly, the move was rendered pointless when the Giants went out and got Angel Pagan to play centerfield. Now they’re stuck with a relatively expensive player who — either directly or indirectly — is blocking Brandon Belt. In hindsight, if the team didn’t see Torres as an acceptable option, they should have at least waited longer than early November; their outlook would be better if they had Pagan but no Melky Cabrera.

Now, Melky’s not a bad player. Before his 2011 season, he had been mediocre at the plate for quite some time, but: age is on his side; he’s coming off an excellent season; and he can play all three outfield positions (kind of). At this point, he’s probably a league-average player, give or take half a win. If relegated to a bench role, he becomes a really good fourth outfielder. But did Melky Cabrera constitute the best way to spend that $6M? Certainly not.

You see, despite coming off a season in which he put up some of the worst numbers ever by a San Francisco Giants first baseman, Aubrey Huff will be an everyday player in 2012. Maybe that’s where the Giants’ really big mistake lies. He’s making $10M+ in 2012, and for better or for worse*, the Giants are committed to playing him.

*Probably for worse. As much as I’d like to believe Huff will rebound, I don’t. He’s 35 years old, coming off a season in which he OPS’d .676…maybe he’ll be a league-average hitter in 2012. But that’s not much production anyway from a first baseman.

This inevitably puts Brandon Belt in a tough situation because the outfield is now occupied: Nate Schierholtz in right field, Angel Pagan in center, and Melky Cabrera in left. Had the Giants never acquired Melky, there would be room for Belt. In fact, over a full season, Belt probably brings more value to the team than Melky. Few players on the roster have as much potential to improve the offense as he does*. So in effect, the Melky trade: cost the Giants $6M, did little or nothing to improve their team (as it pertains to how the players will likely be utilized), and blocked Brandon Belt, who was already yo-yoed between Fresno and the majors throughout 2011.

*At this point, I don’t think Belt has much of anything to gain from Triple-A. He’s had some struggles at the majors, but he hasn’t been afforded much of an opportunity to work through them. And despite this, he was ultimately average with the bat in 2011. Imagine what he could do with consistent playing time at the major-league level. There’s a reason ZiPS and are other projection systems are so high on him.

The arb-eligibles

For the most part, I like how the Giants have handled their arbitration-eligible players.

There are the one-year deals to solid players: Sergio Romo got $1.575M; Nate Schierholtz got $1.3M; Santiago Casilla got $2.2M. These are all perfectly reasonable, and expected.

Then there’s Eli Whiteside and Emmanuel Burriss; Whiteside was non-tendered, but the Giants brought him back on a minor-league (conditional) deal. As with all minor-league contracts, there’s nothing really to complain about here. Burriss got a cheap one-year major-league deal, whereas I expected him to be non-tendered. Ideally, the Giants would have a better bench player. Burriss, after all, is a career .250/.311/.281 hitter. But I suppose this is better than signing Willie Bloomquist (I’ll get to that one later…).

The Giants handed out a couple extensions to the likes of Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Vogelsong, both of which are solid contracts. Neither deal is much of a bargain, but the cost certainty that comes with these deals is nice.

In discussing the Sandoval contract (three years, $17.15M) with Matt Swartz, whose arbitration projections are generally spot-on, I’m convinced the Giants didn’t really save much money here. Swartz was kind enough to run some numbers through his arbitration projections, and if Sandoval repeats his 2011 performance across 600 plate appearances in 2012 and 2013, he’d project to earn $6.4M in 2013 and $8.5M in 2014. That’s basically in line with what his contract extension will pay him.

But Sandoval is an awesome player, and I’m perfectly content with this deal. This is a guy who, through his age-24 season, has a career line of .307/.356/.501 in nearly 2000 plate appearances. Additionally, he displayed excellent defense in 2011, and despite missing a quarter of the season, one could argue that he was among the top five position players in the National League. Ideally, the Giants would have bought out at least one of his free agent years, but there’s little reason to be unsatisfied with this.

Same goes for the Ryan Vogelsong contract. Even if he regresses some (as is inevitable), he’ll probably earn his money. And if he doesn’t regress so much? Well, the Giants potentially have a team-friendly deal on their hands.

The whole Mike Fontenot/Jeff Keppinger situation was laughable, but I was ultimately content with how it played out. The Giants presumably could have afforded to keep both of them, but the self-imposed budget prevented them from doing so.

That’s okay though, since I never wanted the Giants to tender Jeff Keppinger a contract anyway. I’ll be the first to admit I’m too harsh on Kepp. He rarely strikes out and he mashes lefties, so he has his uses. In fact, I liked the Keppinger acquisition. The fact of the matter is, however, he has some serious defensive limitations at second base that render him a mediocre overall player. His empty batting average, as decent as it is for a middle infielder, unfortunately doesn’t make up for that.

Mike Fontenot, in contrast, can hold his own at second base, shortstop, and third base. He doesn’t have any standout skills, but he can draw walks, he can hit for some power in spite of his small frame, and his left-handed bat complements Freddy Sanchez. Oh yeah, and his price tag ($1M) was a bit cheaper. The organization definitely made the right decision here.

The Giants and Tim Lincecum, meanwhile, have yet to settle on a contract. I think they’ll ultimately extend Matt Cain on a somewhat team-friendly deal, and just give Lincecum a two-year deal (eventually parting ways with him after the 2013 season). I’m fine with this.

Willie Bloomquist? Seriously?

It’s also about the moves the Giants didn’t make, though. There were rumors that they had expressed interest in Alex Gonzalez and Ryan Ludwick. While I don’t think either free agent was ever seriously pursued, the rumors were mildly irritating nonetheless.

But there was also something more substantial: the Giants offered Willie Bloomquist a two-year deal. Willie freakin’ Bloomquist. Bloomquist — the proverbial replacement level utility player. He’s worth nothing more than a minor-league contract, and he’s certainly not the kind of guy that warrants a two-year deal. He’s old and aside from his first couple seasons, he’s done nothing of value throughout his career.

I’m sure he brings some nice intangible qualities to the table; I’m also sure, especially after reading a quote like this from Brian Sabean, that his intangibles were part (or all?) of the reason that the Giants felt compelled to make him a two-year offer. But that’s a weak justification: his intangibles don’t negate the fact that he is not good at baseball. Thankfully, he rejected the Giants’ offer and signed with Arizona*.

*Arizona, by the way, hasn’t had a very productive offseason. Jason Kubel is getting $15M over two years to displace Gerardo Parra. John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist both got two-year deals from the DBacks. Joe Saunders got $6M. And what’s the difference between Trevor Cahill and Jarrod Parker over a full season?

Brandon Crawford

The Giants’ biggest positional need entering the offseason was shortstop, and they didn’t do anything to address that. Given that Marco Scutaro was just acquired by the Colorado Rockies for nothing of value, this is inherently frustrating. As slick as he is with the glove, Crawford just can’t hit. And he probably never will. This is a guy who’s considered Adam Everett lite — not a terribly flattering label.

At the same time though, I guess one can take solace in the fact that the Giants didn’t throw real money at an old, mediocre stopgap, as they’ve done in the past. With strong defense and some improvement at the plate, Crawford will be an upgrade over what the Giants got from their shortstops in 2011.

So that’s it?

Between Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, and Melky Cabrera (or Jonathan Sanchez, if you will), the San Francisco Giants had $15M to spend, and they could have done a better job spending it. They should have done a better job spending it. Had they squeezed in an extra win or two on that budget, it would have gone a long way toward improving their chances of making the playoffs in 2012. Herein lies the frustration of this offseason. But with the direction the team is heading in right now, they still look to contend in 2012 and beyond. Their offseason, while far from perfect, has kept them in this direction, and it’s not nearly the disaster it’s been made out to be.

Now…when do pitchers and catchers report?


17 thoughts on “Final Thoughts on the Giants’ Offseason

  1. I may be crazy and wrong for thinking this, but I feel Crawford could end up being a productive hitter. Not a ‘good’ hitter, but a decent OBP. I’m basing this on what I’ve seen of him having a good eye and sense at the plate, which can develop with more time and plate appearances. If you’re willing to accept “useful” hitting from your shortstop, I think Crawford can be OK.

    • He’s got good plate discipline, so there’s reason to be hopeful about that. Then again, he may have drawn more walks partly because he was placed toward the bottom of the order.

      But he hit .234/.291/.327 in 29 games at Triple-A Fresno. Admittedly a very small sample size, and he’s better than that would indicate, but one would hope that he could at least put up decent numbers in such a hitter-friendly environment.

      • Only thing I add to this discussion is that we should remember how quickly Crawford was thrust into the Bigs. His travels in 2011 included San Jose, AAA and the Majors. He had to fill some holes due to injury in the IF. We all probably saw great things coming when he bashed that Grand Slam, but it was not to be.

        I feel his development was rushed, partially due to that fantastic defense…..dare I say, some of the best we’ve seen in SF since the Great Vizquel departed. His hitting never caught up (bottoming out at .190 before being shipped off). .234 isn’t anything great, but I feel if he was given time to improve, we’ll see solid hitting from this young man. I don’t expect a .275 hitter, but maybe a .255+? That would make him more than worth it. We were never expecting him to carry our lineup; collecting walks and playing smart ball to go along with that stellar glove is what we want. I’m pulling for this kid. He got quick-started, and the AFL will hopefully give him the experience he needs, along with ST.

        I may be holding my breath on this one, but hey, it’s my breath. 😀

  2. Excellent analysis, Julian, particularly the aspect of having gotten into a situation where Brandon Belt is probably going to be blocked from playing as long as Huff, Pagan, Cabrera and Shierholtz don’t completely stink.

  3. Great Post. Since Pac Bell favors gap hitters with speed, I’m not horrified that the Giants didn’t go after Beltran, Pujols, Fielder, et al. However, counting on Crawford as the everyday SS is a huge mistake, he’s just not ready offensively. What do you think of Emilio Bonifacio of the Marlins? He hit .300 with 40 SB over a full season and is slated to be a backup SS, I’d be happy with him leading off or batting in the 8 hole. The Marlins have three SS (Reyes, Ramirez, Bonifacio) though Ramirez will reluctantly play 3B.

    He’s going to arbitration at $2M, why not trade Affeldt (we still have Lopez and Runzler) for him and a Marlin’s prospect? Or package Burriss and a lower level SF prospect (maybe a Catcher, we have a surplus) for Bonifacio?? Then we’d have a fast lineup that could play small ball: CF Pagan; 2B Sanchez/Fontenot; C Posey/?; 3B Sandoval; LF Cabrera/Belt; Huff/Pill; RF Schierholz; SS Bonifacio/Crawford. Bonifacio could leadoff if Pagan falters (and Belt might force his way into the lineup), and you can bring Crawford in for late defense.

    I’m sure SF is hoping that by 2013 Brown, Panik, and a few others are ready to join Posey, Sandoval, Belt, Schierholz, & Crawford in the lineup. Maybe Cabrera or Pagan will be worth keeping; Hembree might supplant Wilson – and shedding the Rowand, Zito, Huff contracts may free up the $ to sign a power hitting left fielder.

    Giants will have Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and Vogelsong thru 2013 so they’ll need to either develop a fifth starter (or pick one up for 2013, earlier if Zito can’t pass muster at that level). Your thoughts?

    • Thanks!

      Emilio Bonifacio is looking like he’s going to be the Marlins’ starting centerfielder in 2012. Certainly an intriguing option, though he’s only really had one good season (prior to 2011, career 65 OPS+). Anyway, I don’t know whether he’d be on the trade market. I highly doubt the Marlins would want to give up three years of him for a year of a slightly expensive Affeldt.

      I’m still hopeful that Eric Surkamp will develop into a quality back-end starter for the Giants.

  4. Your last sentence sums up a fair evaluation of the offseason. I can think of moves that would have made me more excited about it too, but it’s not nearly as bad as a lot of people are making it out to be.

    I’m actually excited to see what Crawford does with the SS position. He was one of the top 6 fielding SS’s with more than 500 innings played last year by UZR. Small sample, yes, but he also passes the “eye test” on defense. If he hits for his projections, which are quite modest, he’ll have positive value by WAR. If he can hit as high as .250, which I agree is almost wishful thinking but I don’t think impossible, he could get his WAR up into the 2.5-3 range which is quite good. Of course he could hit .189 and make this all look like a pipedream too, but almost any player can go bust on you.

    Fully half of the top 100 OPS’s in MLB last year were from LH batters or switch hitters. Most switch hitters hit better from the left side because that is where most of their AB’s come from. Only 25% of the top 100 ERA’s were from LHP’s. You need LHP’s to face those LH batters in late inning, high leverage situations and they also need to be able to face switch hitters who bat RH. That’s why a guy like Sherrill is not an acceptable replacement at any price. Runzler has potential but is not consistent enough, especially against the switch hitters. I have no problem with the investment in the LH relievers.

    I’m not wild about Belt being blocked but I like the potential OF defense that a lineup of Pagan in CF with Cabrera and Nate at the corners gives them. I think Belt will start out in Fresno and just destroy the place. There is a high probability he will be called up to replace somebody who gets injured or underperforms. If not, the Giants have shown they are willing to trade a vet when a prospect is banging down the door.

    The best part of the offseason is there were not hamstringing contracts. Pablo’s 3 years was the longest and there is a high probability of the Giants getting excess production out of that one.

    Overall, I’ll give the offseason grade a B mostly because it maintained future financial flexibility.

  5. The offseason to me is still incomplete. The success lies in a Matt Cain extension, which depending on the rumor you sniff is either around the corner or not happening.

    Also incomplete are possible backup moves to the obvious falter points in the Giants lineup: Crawford and Zito. For me one is positive and the other is negative.

    On Crawford: while he faltered in Fresno after he was sent down, he came back up and hit better, and then hit as expected in the AFL. Yes stats should be squinted at from the AFL, but he did hit, so that’s good. He’s worked on the Ks, and has a good approach to go with his not-fast bat. He will continue to be placed at the very bottom of the order, so he may get a little bump from “pitcher protection”. Let’s just remember he’s around for his glove and his defensive range, any bat is gravy.

    So the Braintrust tried to get Bloomquist, Barmes and Gonzalez to be his caddy. First off, I agree entirely with your Bloomquist screed, even if it’s the 25th man on the roster, anything over the minimum is just bad. So right now they have… Manny Burriss. For a little over the minimum. From a defense range/baserunning aspect this is OK. But he can’t hit. There is still time to grab somebody else, the obvious being Ryan Theriot. Not as good range as Burriss, but he can hit some, steal a base and actually mashes lefties. If/When Freddy Sanchez goes down, or Crawford is so miserable with the bat they can’t hack it that could be pretty useful paired with the Hobbit in a platoon. So I’m negative on that one, the trust Manny Burriss theory.

    Zito – nobody knows. He needs 3-4 MPH back on his velocity or he’s toast. Underwhelmed by the guys they’ve signed so far, but its not too late. The Giants won’t tolerate slop for long, so it’ll get switched out one way or the other. They missed a golden opp with Maholm, the Cubs got him cheap. The Phils got Piniero on a minor league contract. I don’t like the starting pitching depth right now, but they’ll do something on this front. I do hope the PR games stop this year if Zito is found lacking, and they bite the bullet and send him packing. Positive overall due to track record with pitchers.

    I really like the OF pickups. Younger and more athletic, switch hitting, 1-year deals. They cleared out some logjam as well. If Belt hits, they’ll make room for him. They didn’t sign up any of the Oakland A’s OF, who looked like expensive mediocrities, for too much money and too many years. I’ve been a fan of Pagan for a while, I think he’ll be a solid edition. Melky, we’ll see what we get. Having 5 guys for 4 spots is better than the logjam when Don Carlos came over. We’ll miss his bat, but we won’t miss holding our breath with him digging for third or coming in on a soft liner. It’s a trade off.

    Lots of questions and not many answers yet. Sabey Sabes has maintained financial wiggle room, and the Giants aren’t going to spend like the Phillies. I think the hard budget of 130MM is a PR disaster, and a little more dough could yield some better backups, but it is what it is, so lets see how it shakes out. The Giants are showing more faith in their farm system than I thought possible.

    Oh, one more thing – if they’re expecting Eli or Chris Stewart to start 50 games, that won’t end well. Hector Sanchez is a big wild card, and I fully expect him to rake in spring training and force the issue. We need a bat at catcher, can’t afford a 7-8-9 in the lineup like last year.

    • Crawford: great points, though from what I’ve read, it seems that Crawford didn’t really make any adjustments in the AFL that would indicate he’ll be better going forward.
      Zito: I’m quite apprehensive about the prospect of having him at the back of the rotation, but I’m hoping he can recapture his 2010 mediocrity (which is much better than what he did in 2011), and that Surkamp can be ready to go in the very near future. When Surkamp is ML-ready, I think he’ll be a nice back-end starter; hopefully that’s really soon.
      Catcher: I’m actually really excited to see what Hector Sanchez can do. Of course, fingers crossed regarding Posey and his recovery.

  6. I feel there is {wishful thinking}something big going to happen in a way of a trade on the horizon. We are still the same old “Great Pitching”- No Hit Team”
    There is no longer “Flash” on this team….”Very Dull” comes to mind.

    Texas Rangers knew what to do upon winning and that was to not sit on their thumbs, un-like our Giants and their leadership money grabbers.

  7. Wait I’m confused; I was under the impression that the Cabrera deal turned Schierholtz into the 4th outfielder not Belt. Belt in left, Pagan in center, and Cabrera in right with Schierholtz as the fourth. This seems like the most logical choice as Schierholtz is an ideal fourth outfielder and would probably still get significant playing time being the only line of defense between decency and Justin Christian; seeing as of now there isn’t really a 5th outfielder Schierholtz should have his hands full, especially when the inevitable injuries (or just miserable gutter-lining performances) show up. All this talk about Belt being the one on the bench or even in AAA is really freaking me out; he’s got the talent to be the best hitter on a team that can’t hit their way out a 2-1 lead, WE NEED HIM to be as good as he can be! Doesn’t the front office know this? Aren’t they giving him every chance and comfortable position possible to make his 2012 breakout party as likely as possible? 2012 rests with Belt, as did 2011 and if they screw it up like they did 2011 than so help me God…

    • Where have you heard or read anyone in Giants management say or even imply that Belt will be starting over Nate Schierholtz? Sabes declared in his season ending presser that Nate is the starting RF next year. I have not heard or ready any indication of that changing.

      I’m not saying things won’t change in spring training, but as of right now, I’m pretty sure the starting OF is Melky in LF, Pagan in CF and Nate in RF with Belt going to Fresno unless Huff shows up out of shape again which doesn’t seem too likely from everything I’ve read.

      • Agree that Schierholtz has essentially been named as the RF incumbent….of course, subject to change at Sabe’s whim or for a poor ST performance. It’s due time for Nate to have his shot and run with it.

        Concerning Belt: I, as most of you out there, believe that he is being mishandled and pushed aside, due to contracts or veterans. It is what it is, and I will make better decisions when I own my own team……hmm. However, I believe he will make the opening day roster. He may not start, if Huff pulls his weight, but may be there nonetheless. As has been mentioned, AAA holds little for Belt, short of a rehab assignment.

        Look at it this way: 5 Starting pitchers, 1 Closer and 8 Starting position players puts us at 14. Right now the bullpen sits at 11 total, though I expect 12 or 13, so for the sake of argument let’s go with 13. This means 7 relievers, bringing our total to 21.

        Four on the bench. You have to figure Fontenot and one of the catchers (Whiteside/H. Sanchez/Stewart), so two spots left. You need one more IF, perhaps (Burris?), and one more OF. Belt is the guy, due to the fact that he is the lefty for matchups, can play the OF and 1B as well.

        Perhaps my reasoning is flawed and my brain is rotten, but I see it this way. I can’t recall if the Giants were carrying 12 or 13 in the bullpen, so that bench number could swing an extra one. Either way, I really don’t think that Belt needs to be in AAA anymore. He corrected his swing effectively, only to come back and get hit and hurt. Given his fair share of time, he will be fine.

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