Monday, November 12, 2012

Thoughts on Brandon Belt

As I have said many times, and many of you readers too, one of the more satisfying subplots of the 2012 season was the establishment of two additional homegrown starters to the Giants roster, The Brandons.  We've already discussed the growth and contributions of Brandon Crawford, so it's time to turn our attention to the other Brandon, Brandon Belt.

Before doing that, though, let's just consider for a minute just how significant the successful graduation of these two talents is to the reputation of the Giants farm system and to their future.  Brandon Crawford was drafted in the 4'th round in 2008 while Brandon Belt was drafted in the 5'th round in 2009.  Now, ogc has correctly pointed out the relative futility of drafting later than the top 10 picks in the draft, let alone in the 4'th and 5'th rounds.  Many teams, including the Giants,  go a decade or more without having picks in that range get so much as a cup of coffee in the majors, let alone develop two starting players.  Being able to fill 2 of 8 offensive positions with homegrown players taken that late in the draft is an enormous competitive advantage for the organization going forward taking pressure off the draft and farm system as well as the FA budget.

Back to Brandon Belt.  Belt was drafted in the 5'th round in 2009 out of the University of Texas where he had a rather undistinguished college career.  The Giants had a scout who saw something and advocated strongly for Brandon in the draft room.  The Giants knew about his plate discipline and ability to hit for average, but the scout had seen him crush a ball to dead center and knew he also had the power potential.

Belt did not play pro ball in 2009, instead going to instructional league where the Giants got him to open up his batting stance and put some loft into his swing.  What followed in 2010 was one of the greatest breakout seasons by a prospect in the entire history of baseball!    Starting at high A ball in San Jose, Belt put up a batting line of .381/.491/.626 with 10 HR and 18 SB in 334 PA.  He moved up to AA Richmond, a place where hitting prospects go to die, and went .337/.413/.623 with 9 HR in 201 PA.  He then played the last 13 games of the season in Fresno  hitting just .229 but with an OBP of .393 and a SLG% of .563 with another 4 HR's in 61 PA.  In the fall, he moved on to the Arizona Fall League and hit .372/.427/.616 in 96 PA's.

Belt was the toast of the prospect watching world and expectations had become impossibly high.  He had a strong spring training to begin 2011.  The Giants debated whether to put him on the 25 man active roster from day one, and when Cody Ross came up with a calf strain in the last week, it sealed the deal.  The Giants even moved an obviously out of shape Aubrey Huff to the OF to make room.  That didn't work out so well as Belt struggled to a .196 BA in the first month of the season while Huff was a disaster in the OF.  A dejected Belt was sent down to Fresno to work on some things and the criticism of the Giants handling of the situation was loud with some saying Belt should not have been rushed and others saying he should not have been sent down and some saying both!

Belt was recalled at the end of May and appeared in 2 games before breaking his hand and missing the next 6 weeks on the DL and rehabbing in the minors.  He was called back in July and was better, hitting .263 in the month.  Overall, from the time he came back from the injury to the end of the season, he appeared in 42 games with 142 PA's putting up a slash line of .231/.300/.469 with 8 of his 9 HR's.

After some initial lineup juggling, Belt settled in as the starting 1B for the Giants in 2012.  The first 4 months of the season were a roller coaster with Brandon looking lost at the plate for stretches and occasionally earning a day of two off to pull himself back together.  The Giants stuck with him as the starting 1B, though, except for occasional days when Buster Posey slid down to first base to rest his legs but keep his bat in the lineup.

Belt seemed to finally find himself down the stretch batting .329/.390/.418 in August and September.  Something that went almost unnoticed down the stretch with everyone focusing on the exploits of Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Buster Posey was that the Brandons, along with Gregor Blanco, had become an offensive force at the bottom of the lineup.  It appeared to me just from eyeballing it while watching most of their games down the stretch, that the bottom of the lineup was producing about a run per game which was taking a lot of pressure off the top of the lineup.  Looking up the RC stats, it appears that indeed, over the last 2 months of the season those 3 batters created a total of 58 runs in the last 59 games and they did not all play together every day.

As for the future, Belt should start next season knowing he is the starting first baseman.  Although he looked lost again at times in the postseason, he showed an ability to make adjustments and correct his approach on the fly.  That, combined with his strong finish to the regular season should bode well for 2012.  Most likely we will still see struggles, but they should be for shorter periods of time with longer periods of success.  I would expect to see more power as he gets more confident and comfortable at the plate.  There is the potential for a huge breakout along the lines of what we saw in the minors, but more likely a solid progression from his 2012 performance.  All of which makes Brian Sabean's job a whole lot easier this offseason.


  1. Belt showed progress at the plate and his defense is really good; great footwork, soft hands. I still think he needs to continue to grow at the plate before I am ready to say he is the first baseman for the next ten years. He could blossom into a .300 hitter. He could also become JT Snow in his final year with the Giants: great d, but an offensive liability for the position. I would like to see HR numbers in the high teens at least and .280+ otherwise, we should keep our options open.

  2. I frequent the espn chats, and people ask Keith Law about Belt a lot, with him usually remarking that the Giants are messing with his swing and approach too much. What are your thoughts on that? Or should it be just taken as one man's (snarky) opinion?

    1. Law piled on a lot, saying the Giants were too dumb to know what they had. Then he said Belt would be great, just not on the Giants because they would trade him. Then he said that this wasn't the Belt he'd seen in 2009 (early in 2012), that one cracked me up, Law trying to distance himself from failure maybe? Then once the breakout happened... crickets.

      That tends to happen with the snarkers. Once they are proven wrong, they go on to something else. The Giants developed Belt in their manner, its not always pretty, but they stuck with it and they get all the credit.

    2. Wow, that's a corker, not the Belt he had seen in 2009 - that's a good thing, since it was the new and improved Belt, with Giants development and training, that got him to this point. Most people didn't think much of Belt - if anything, they were underwhelmed with the pick - when he was drafted, it was the Giants mucking around with his batting mechanics that made him equal in prospect stature to the very top picks of his draft, else he wouldn't have fallen to the fifth round where we picked him.

      And all that talk about trading Belt, it looks like he's just regurgitating what the Sabean Naysayers were feeding him via Twitter. That's the downside of social media for people like him, he's going to get a biased view of any situation based on the complainers speaking up. Looks like he succumbed to that type of bias, though, which makes for nice sound bites, but not for substantive dialog on a topic important to the future of the Giants.

      With a functioning Belt, the Giants have a great middle order to generate the runs that our pitchers need (especially now that we have Pence too, Belt could be batting 2nd at some point because of his good base-running and OBP) and, at the same time, be cheap but useful assets that balances against the money going into our rotation and bullpen.

    3. Sorry, my bad - I meant to say 2010, not 2009, when he was drafted. Yes, he was talking about the post-Giants modified batting stance and mechanics.

      Well, everybody loves a comedian, and there is some low hanging fruit to be grabbed at the greybeards expense and reputation. But that just does not tell the true story of what has been going on in the past 5 years with the Giants.

      I also feel that writers take potshots at the Gints because they don't have access, and they are frustrated by that. Monks of MLB baby!

    4. I totally agree with you Shankbone.

      I've seen BA openly complain about the lack of access and information (they obviously have never read a book about gaining competitive advantage) and I think BP has also complained about this, though my memory of that is foggier. And of course, there is BP's infamous "Fire Sabean" Giants chapter of their annual, ironically in their 2010 annual - I've never seen an apology for that or any sort of mea culpa.

      And for all the people who complain about the Pierzynski trade, very very few remember that BP endorsed that trade under the saber-theory that relievers like Nathan are fungible and because All-Star catchers like AJ are hard to find. They loved that trade, which is not something you see them advertising on the back of the covers of their book. BP is like a dog on a bone in finding any way of criticizing the Giants and Sabean, but they are not as likely to face up to their big mistakes.

    5. Wow! Thanks for all the great comments, everybody! Took the day off from work and took care of some family things. Then when I tried to log onto the site, got a blank page until I re-booted my computer.

      Anyway, In answer to the original question at the top of this thread, I think many prospect watchers, like Keith Law, got a bit irrationally exuberant about Belt after his stupendous breakout year in 2010. While nobody is perfect, I think the Giants have done a good job of developing Belt. It's easier for a guy like Law to carp at the Giants for the way they have handled Belt than to admit they might have been a bit overly enthusiastic about his readiness.

      To be clear, I'm still very bullish on Belt. I just think it's taking a bit longer to get there than a lot of us were hoping for.

    6. Well, longer than we were hoping for giving how he was a bolt of lightening energizing our farm system in 2010, but I still think that too many people swept under the rug his problems with striking out in AAA in the last part of 2010. They were too enamored with his batting line to take that into account and then ignored the fact that he continued to strike out at a high rate while in the majors in 2011.

      Perhaps they were spoiled by Sandoval, Posey, Bumgarner coming into the majors almost without any problems (most people forget that Posey had an OPS below 700 when he was handed the starting job at catcher, or that Bumgarner has had issues starting out each season, trying to find his proper mechanics and form, during the regular season). And perhaps they might have forgotten that it took Matt Williams three partial seasons before he figured it all out and had a very good career.

      I've been bullish on Belt since AA, and I'm still bullish, I see no reason why he can't eventually be our version of Votto, though I would be OK with him being in LF, for long-term planning.

  3. I read somewhere (MLB Rumors site?) that a lot of teams are asking about Belt this off-season.

    Are they trying to buy low? Do they think they can get more out of him than the Giants have so far?

    1. I think that this is the corollary to the Law comment above, teams are listening to the complainers about how Giants management don't understand what they got in Belt - when it was the Giants who targeted him and develop him and, more importantly, keep working with him, as Shankbone noted - and think that they can hit up the Giants and trade for him in an attempt to steal him. Kind of like a baseball version of ambulance chasers, looking for the easy kill. And it happens (see Mets and Rays) so teams are going to try. If they really thought that they could get more out of him, he wouldn't have been passed over by baseball teams 4-5 times before the Giants drafted him.

      Just remember this: Sabean don't let go of prospects, generally, until he thinks that the prospect won't pan out. That is why there is a "Don't Trade" list that their scouts and executives maintain. Up to now, the biggest success of the prospects traded away by the Giants are, probably in this order, though doing top of mind: Vogelsong, Foulke, Liriano, Howry, Villanueva, Correia, Grilli, Aardsma, Hensley, with Wheeler and Joseph still yet to be determined (I feel like I'm missing someone...). And I would add that if Frandsen can continue to do well, I would add him to the list.

      Of course, Vogelsong 1) didn't achieve success until way beyond the team he was originally traded to by the Giants had control of him, 2) late bloomers like him don't happen very often if ever, so it just appears to be luck, and 3) his success happened with the Giants, so who cares about 1 or 2. :^)

      As badly as Belt has done, he had a very successful 2012, hitting above the average 1B in OPS while playing great defense and running well on the bases. Imagine what he can do knowing what he was doing - he admitted mid-season that he had no idea why he was successful previously, only just discovering why. And it was the Giants working with him that allowed him to learn that, not letting him go do whatever he wanted. That is not the profile of a prospect that the Giants are giving up on, it is one who they will keep.

      And look at how the Giants have treated their prospects. Belt, despite all the complaints, has been the starter for nearly 2 seasons at 1B. Niekro and Ellison hardly got much of a chance, Lewis got a longer look, so did Bowker, Schierholtz on and off for many seasons. And people forget that when the Giants gave Posey the starting job, his OPS was below 700 OPS and dropping. The Giants do modify how much rope they give each prospect, based on their potential, and they have been good, I think, in identifying who to give more rope to.

    2. Like everything in any human undertaking, nothing and no one is infallible and it's always a bit of learning to cope with the party on the other end - here, we are talking about master/disciple, teacher/student, manager/player relationship

      We can not say no missteps were taken by either side. But we are content with his progress so far.

    3. Not sure why other GM's would think the Giants would trade Belt. I guess it never hurts to ask. Yes, MLBTR reported a story that he has been asked about a lot so far this offseason and the Giants have responded by telling the askers they are not trading him.

  4. Belt has arrived with a WS ring to boot. I give him the next two to add and establish all his tools - defense, hands, glove, throwing, footwork, speed, stolen bases are all plus today and hitting for average and power are coming. His knowledge of the zone which yielded walks but little power (and lots of ump frustration) in 2012, should start to turnaround this year into productive use of the zone for pitch selective offensive hitting. I see solid, if halting, progress in 2013 and breakout in 2014.

    This is one position the Giants should relax and let the kid play into his game. I think Belt is here for the long haul.

  5. Scouts name is Doug Mapson. Jon Klima did an interview with him right after that 2009 draft - here's the link:

    Hopefully Brandon hits the ground running next year and cements 1B as his job, he should because he earned it fair and square. It wasn't easy, the Greybeards don't make it easy, they aren't going to just pop you in for 60 days straight if you're struggling. The Belt Wars, with some folks bagging on our talented young guy, some folks taking pot shots at Bochy and even Sabean... mano...

    For me the frustration of the whole thing is the Giants discovered and drafted Belt, not snarky bloggers, or snarky ESPN personalities. This should be their triumph, but they got a bit greedy early. You go back to March 2011, and look at Baggs for example, and you see Bochy licking his lips at the chance to get Belt in the lineup. He just wasn't ready. But instead of a few well placed "cup of coffee" expectations, there was not much thrown down to manage fans expectations. The PR game is not a strong suit of Bochy or Sabean. I think Sabean was drawing the brakes the whole time and Bochy was leading the charge. In any event, they stuck with him, he was on the roster, and he got his PAs.

    I said a few times, keep him in for the OBP, build his confidence, his baserunning and defense are plus. Turns out they might be plus plus. He is very amazing with the glove, has great baseball smarts, and has a great arm to put that ball on target. He goes home instinctively, with Posey catching, the accuracy is a big bonus. He had a great second half, and I look forward to him gaining confidence and getting those adjustments done quicker. Expect him to be the 1B for the next half dozen years if that all goes well. Every position that gets filled in with homegrown makes everything else easier, great point, and that is why its such a great time to be a giants fan.

    1. Having homegrown players does make things easier, affording money elsewhere where it's needed.

      But there is another aspect to that - the joy of looking at kids grow into MLB players through the process of draft previews (or reports on int'l signees), the draft, many baseball seasons in development. We are talking about years (most of the time) of anticipation and dreaming.

      This other aspect is more rewarding than the one about cold, hard numbers (money here, not baseball stats, though in both cases, human stories are alwlays more appealing) here.

    2. I think its hugely important. Human stories, home grown players, watching the players grow up.

    3. Yeah, I agree, I love learning about all our prospects, their human stories. Obviously the championship is great and is tops, but I would put up there among the joys of this season was learning about Brandon Crawford's background as a Giants fan growing up, those pictures were amazing in the Chron and I think Merc, showing him when he was a kid. I also loved the blogs that the two Brandon's shared plus Blanco's blog posts too, didn't realize that we now had a bunch of Venezuelan's contributing in key roles on our team. I love learning about the human aspects of our players.

  6. Great post, DrB! Totally agree on what you wrote about Belt and the benefits to the Giants and the competitive advantage. Plus, it shows how good Sabean and his scouts are.

    I think some people are missing the point about Belt (and Snow). People focus too much on one particular position and how inadequate they are to the assumed minimum that should be produced by that position. This bugged me when we had Snow, it bugs me now.

    When what really matter is how that player fits into the whole. Many teams need power, particularly HR power from 1B because they cannot get it elsewhere. However, on the Giants, we can get power from C, 3B, and RF, so there is not as much need to get HR power from Belt or, back then, Snow.

    People also don't realize that OBP is the more powerful offensive generator, unlike the chicken or the egg conundrum, baseball research clearly shows that OBP is the key offensive contribution to the team, not as much SLG. Just look at the lineup calculator, which uses regression stats for OBP and SLG by lineup position, OBP is usually more valuable than SLG and up to 3 times as valuable. Snow providing .400+ OBP batting 2nd was much more important than getting a lot more homers from him.

    To boot, Belt is great defensively at 1B. There are a lot of statues playing at 1B, his athleticism there has greatly helped out our pitchers with not allowing runners (back to the above about how important OBP is to generating runs). And his great arm, which he used as a pitcher previously, has gunned down runners. There is a lot more to his benefits at 1B than HR power.

    1. Law has more experience than I do in baseball, but judging from the reports I've seen regarding Belt, I disagree. I think he's being the snarky outsider who don't bother to read every report on Belt but just venture on the outskirts of this controversy and snipe with the quick quips. From that perspective, I understand his position. This is also why I always complain on other sights about the need for analysts to focus on a particular team to get true insights, the generalists miss a lot of details that people who follow one team closely know.

      Looking at Belt's game by game stats, tied with comments by Giants management and by him, I think that he's been mostly handled correctly. There clearly was something wrong with him in 2011 and 2012. He would hit then he would strike out way too many times. He would hit for power, then he wouldn't. He also appeared to be very passive in his hitting, much like Brian Bocock was, taking most pitches, which results in a large number of walks, but then pitchers would catch on and the walks disappear bu the ton of strikeouts continued.

      I think if the Giants didn't mess with him last season, he probably could have had a nice intermediate career as a three true outcomes hitter. Like a Mark Reynolds or Jack Cust, except with good fielding and good baserunning. I'm glad that they didn't settle for the easy for the pickings and worked hard with him to get him to actually learn how to HIT, not just to take pitches and swing and miss most times.

      I think he's getting very close. I think he's getting the hitting down, but slips up, as all developing players do. Still, his .785 OPS this season is above average for a 1B offensively. He's doing what I saw Schierholtz do in his rise up the farm system. Nate would first figure out how to hit well at his new level, then he was able to incorporate his power towards hitting for HR. Worked until the majors, and I still think that if he weren't injured so much, he can be a nice HR hitting RF for someone. If Belt can figure out hitting, I think the power will come, and with that package, he could be a Joey Votto-type for us: average, power, good plate discipline, good fielding, good baserunning.

      So, what would you prefer, a Mark Reynolds-type of hitter or someone who can approximate Joey Votto for us at 1B? I'm glad the Giants worked to get him better, he showed the ability in the lower levels of the minors, and shows it on and off in the majors. I'm hopeful that 2013 is the year he consolidates all his learning and learn to be consistent in hitting well and with power.

    2. I'm not convinced that OBP is the be-all, end-all of run production. My extreme example is a lineup of 9 hitters who each get a single and a walk in 5 PA's every game. Their slash lines would be .250/.400/.250. They wouldn't score a lot of runs.

      Belt's ability to get on base is an asset, don't get me wrong, but to become the most valuable player he can be, he probably needs to be swinging earlier in the count, staying out of 2 strike counts even at the expense of some of his OBP.

      Also, I think there is a place for both hackers and patient guys in a good lineup.

    3. I totally agree that OBP is not a be-all, end-all. That is why there is a significant run value assigned to both OBP and SLG in the regression equation. The key point I was trying to make is that getting on base is a lot more important to creating runs than in certain key lineup positions, like leadoff, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 8th. SLG tends to be more important in 4th, 6th, and sometimes 7th.

      It is also very important at the pitchers spot, and is the one thing that I really liked and missed about Livan. He enjoyed being a hitter and challenged his teammates with gambling games to get them to hit. I calculated that if the average Giants pitcher could have hit as poorly as Vizquel did in his final seasons with us, low 600 OPS, a .500 pitcher could boost himself to a .533 pitcher (which is roughly a 86-87 win season for a team vs. 81-81). So a pitcher who is normally 15-15 each season and 150-150 after 10 seasons, would be 160-140 after 10 seasons. Or in other words, a pitcher being able to hit like a replacement level hitter can add 1 WAR to his team. And if the rotation could do that, 5 WAR. Without being a better or even a good pitcher, your team goes from 81-81 to 86-76.

      And I totally agree that he needs to swing more often, we need him to be a high SLG hitter for us, my main point is that he is providing a lot of value right now the way he is, and thus is very valuable and should be a starter. Then, of course, I want him to further improve and get that power going, along with the rest of his hitting. Votto or bust! :^)

  7. OT: MLBTR says Affeldt 3 years, $18M, I'll take that!

    1. I thought it'd be a 2/12MM and an option. Maybe League's deal, or Affeldt's comments are moving this to the 3/18MM. Sounds like a slightly below market deal that will work out for both sides. Below market for Affeldt in terms of absolute money, and a stretch for the Giants comfort zone on years. Win-win. Better than having to root against him with Coletti checkbook attached.

    2. The complaints are already beginning. I see one Giants site using the saber rationale that relievers are pretty much fungible, particularly with a potential replacement available in Mijares.

      I was going to comment there that this is where sabers just don't understand humans very well. Just because the numbers are similar does not mean that they are going to perform similarly. Experience counts, big time. Particularly for relievers with very small sample sizes, I think this is still an area that scouts have an advantage over sabers.

      I could start with how well Affeldt did in the playoffs compared to Mijares, do they really think Mijares could have done what Affeldt did? Particularly pitching full innings like Affedlt did, Mijares is a true Loogy, but Affeldt is a better overall pitcher who can handle both RHB as well as LHB, that is why Fangraphs Cameron wrote that Affeldt was a huge bargain when the Giants first signed him, because he had closer-like stats but you are paying set-up reliever prices.

      He also focused on the wrong thing, stating that the Giants value stability, when it is more that they value consistently good performances. If stability was the key, they would be keeping Hensley and just put Runzler in there last season when they picked up Mijares off the waiver wires. The stability that they like is having a shutdown bullpen.

      Tom Tippett's study for the Diamond Mind game showed how important it was having a bullpen that was good in winning pennants and championships. He put it on par with being good at hitting and starting pitching. That is the stability Sabean seeks, a good bullpen year in, year out, and that has been his long-term preference, he's always had good bullpens, but now he's paired with Bochy who is probably even more of a bullpen believer than Sabean ever was.

      I think that is partly the driver for why the Giants picked up so many reliever types in this year's draft, our core groups of relievers are getting older and these drafted relievers would be ready to contribute in the 2014-16 time frame, on the cheap, because we won't be able to pay big money to everybody by that point, we will start to have to make painful choices as to who to keep and who to let go.

      Sabers seem to think that finding good relievers are easy, whether via trades or internally. Giants fans should know better after the post-Nen years, particularly during the Benitez era. Just because there are reliever out there does not mean that the other team is willing to deal that player to you. You are at the whims of the market at that point, which is what happened to the Giants during the post-Kent era of "Lets win it for Barry (and us)".

      Sabers do not appear to understand the value of having the player you need often outweighs the operational efficiencies that the Giants get knocked for. I'd rather pay more than to be without. I like that the Giants often overpay to get the guy they want. The bird in the hand in the MLB is worth way more than the two or three that may be in the bush.

    3. Looks like Heyman is on the trail and has said its done pending physical. Nothing from the Beats yet.

      I hope there is something to our drafting arm after arm, and I think you're right, they are trolling for high velocity with the head for pitching - location, keeping your cool, all the intangibles. The Cardinals are very successful at getting arm after arm that can throw 95. Its amazing. But I think the Gints can counter that pretty well. Better velocity is always a good thing, as long as the control is there.

      Definitely agree, those post Nen years were miserable, but also the guys in front of Nen might have been overrated by us at the time.

    4. Good move by the Giants keeping Affeldt for the reasons listed on this thread.. He's a quality lefthanded reliever that many teams coveted..

      I'm wondering what the Giants will do to improve their pen from the right side.. Do they bring in a right handed closer or setup man? It would probably depend on how they feel about Romo as closer for the whole year.. What a job he did in the playoffs! Do they offer the Beard a contract? Isn't Casilla arb elgible. Should the Giants pay him his raise?


    5. Good point about the Giants needing to upgrade their bullpen from the right side. I think Casilla has to stay. I think the Giants offer Wilson a contract but after they non-tender him out of the arbitration process. I wouldn't be shocked to see Hembree in the pen out of spring training. Giants got a good look at the line of hard throwers coming out of the Cardinals pen and Hembree would be the start of their version. They might have to go outside the organization for one reliever, but it will probably be a minor league deal type.

    6. I'm not sure what space there is to upgrade in. Romo, Affeldt, Lopez, Casilla, Kontos, Mijares is already 6 relievers. Wilson is going to be battling for the final 7th spot, so I doubt many established relievers will join us without some sort of guarantee of some sort. I assume Runzler will be battling Mijares for his spot too, but it just seems to me that Mijares is pretty much in unless he screws up in spring. And Hembree will probably be the main competitor for Wilson's spot (assuming he is ready, he says he is), and Otero I think will be throwing down as well.

      So DrB's suggestion that it would be a minor league deal type, like the one that snagged us Casilla (if I remember right), sounds like the most likely way this hard-throwing RHP can happen.

      I don't see why we don't pay Casilla, he did a good job for us. And I like Kontos a lot, he could be the guy to move in a setup role as another RHP, along side Casilla.

  8. Hopefully this puts to bed all of the Belt to LF and Panda and/or Posey to 1B 'bation for awhile. Enough, I declare, that Belt is the Giants 1B of today and for the next 6+ years.

    1. Personally, I would just move Belt to LF for 2013 and find a LHB to platoon with Posey at 1B (because a full-time player won't be happy playing part-time).

      First, I'm OK with Blanco in CF. Second, Belt was a corner OF in HS and in his part time play there, has done well defenisvely. Third, Pablo is not staying at 3B forever, you know he's going to 1B, and I want him to do that with us. Fourth, his timing to 1B is roughly the same time table for moving Posey off the catcher's position, so at that point, we move Posey to starting 3B. Fifth, we need Posey in the lineup most games and him starting at 1B is the accepted way of doing that, but if Belt is hitting, I don't want him sitting and if he plays 1B, he'll just end up in LF anyway, so we may as well just play him there full-time and let him get acquainted with playing that position full-time. Sixth, tied in with Posey to 3B, we'll need a starting C to replace him and right now it's Hector Sanchez and he's not going to get better and develop sitting on the bench, so Posey will see a lot of time at 1B over the next few years to give Hector more starts, pushing Belt out.

      Of course, if we sign Pagan, then that won't work out so well since then Blanco won't have a spot to start at if Belt is in LF. Hence I lean towards not signing Pagan as a better route to the future, though I like what he added to our team. Though, we could then just do the "move Belt to LF, and rest an OF" angle if Pagan is signed, then the above still works except that Blanco would sit more with Belt taking his starts in LF when Posey is playing 1B, and that ultimately is OK with me because Blanco's value is tied more to his cheapness and OBP and fielding than his overall abilities. He is not a great hitter at the moment, though I have hopes.

    2. Hey! Didn't we just declare an end to the move Belt off of 1B! Great defense is hard to find, and might just be underrated to boot! If Belt can split the difference between Keith Hernandez and JT Snow I would be ecstatic.

    3. OGC, do yourself a favor and keep Belt at first, it will keep your prose shorter.

      1. Belt at first is his best position.
      2. Posey at catcher is his best position.
      3. Sanchez is NOT near full time ready and all catchers, even Posey, should only play 140 games max.
      4. The Panda ain't moving off of 3B anytime soon and if he gets/keeps in better shape, he can stick there for a long time.

      Yes, the Giants have a need for a power hitting LF, but that will come. And to think they won the WS w/o one.

    4. I didn't know that at this site anyone wanted OGC to keep his prose shorter. When people are using blog space for vacuous venting of the hurrah or ugh sort (doesn't matter), or for blowing smoke about their badly supported positions, then their comments are too long, no matter how short they may be. OGC, in my experience with his comments over the past few years, almost always has something serious and thoughtful and well-reasoned to say; and since serious, thoughtful, well-reasoned commentary is the reason, the only reason besides new information, that I read Giants blogs in the first place, I am happy to have OGC write at as much length as he thinks he needs.

      That said, I do believe that talk of moving Belt to LF in 2013 is premature. The Giants need to find out if Sandoval will take care of himself enough to continue at 3B and, I hope, to develop more plate discipline. They need to find out whether Posey can play 3B well, if Sandoval can't keep his weight down and his hacking under control; and to do that, they need to have a reliable catcher to replace Posey, a role that Hector Sanchez can't yet fill.

    5. I'm in the Belt should stay at 1B camp. If he progresses as much next season as I think he might, it will create a problem of what to do with Buster on the days when he needs a rest from behind the plate, but they want to keep him in the lineup. I guess that's a good problem to have but yeah, it will be interesting to see how they handle it.

    6. Thank you for the support campanari! Your response was what I had always hoped to see on MCC, particularly from the guy who always asked for my opinion, much appreciated.

      Monterey, I do get your point, but here are some comments to your points, perhaps I was not clear enough.

      1) We don't know if 1B is his best position. He certainly plays there best because that's been his position for a number of years now, but he played OF previously and said that he was comfortable out there. Ultimately, what is most important is finding the best rostering for overall defensive and offensive goodness.

      2) Posey is very good at what he does, yes, and I don't want to move him off if we don't have to, but we have to acknowledge that he's one of our key hitters as well as players and catchers have a shorter shelf life than other positions. That's a fact. For the good of the long-term health of the franchise, we need to plan for the day he moves off C to another starting position. Most just say 1B because that is where the Giants have been throwing him, but he once played all nine positions before, given his dedication to his craft, I have no doubt that whatever position we put him in, he'll be very good at it defensively (well, assuming we don't throw him at SS or CF).

      3) I didn't say that Hector should be playing full-time. You seem to be reacting like I said Posey was moving to 3B in 2013, so perhaps I was confusing. I was talking when both Posey and Sandoval reach the point where they cannot handle their positions anymore. For Big Boi's like Panda, that typically comes as he nears 30, like Miguel Cabrera moving to 1B, so in a few years. But Hector won't be ready in a few years playing the normal backup role, we would need it to be similar to 2012 where he was getting 1-2 starts per week, and that means Posey playing a lot of 1B, shifting Belt back and forth a lot as well.

      All I was asking was that people keep their mind open to Belt just moving to LF permanently, in advance of the actual need, as that would allow him one position to learn and not move from ever, plus that would open us up to finding a 1B on the free agent market instead of just an OF (LF or CF), should Pagan sign elsewhere (a likelihood at the moment). I love Belt's defense at 1B. But the reality is that Posey looks to be imposing a lot of time there, around 40-60 games a season, unless the Giants decide to try Belt out as starting LF instead. So Belt could be seeing significant time in LF with the Posey/Sanchez dance. Why not let him get comfortable at one position?

      4) Again, I was talking in the future, but if you think that he's not eventually moving to 1B, you have more faith and belief than I do. And it really don't even have to do with him learning to stay in good shape, guys just get bigger as they get older, especially guys built like him.

      Lastly, my point is not to get a power hitting LF. My point was that I wanted people open to starting Belt in LF permanently, given that it appears very likely that Belt will be splitting significant time between 1B and LF anyway, he might be more comfortable just starting in LF and concentrating more on his hitting there. Also, that gives us more options in the free agent market if he might become the starting LF.

      I think he has already progressed enough to create a problem at 1B, unless he regresses in the spring. Hence why I voiced my opinion. I love him at 1B and in a vacuum would keep him there, but pragmatic concerns intercede and the reality is that LF is most likely his future position, assuming he is part of your long-term plans (and he is for me, as well as Posey and Panda).

    7. Would Youklis be a good fit in this scenario? He could play primarily at first and back up at third. We know he can get on base...has some power, too.