Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Game Wrap 7/31/2013: Giants 9 Phillies 2

Maybe the coming and passing of the trade deadline made some players re-think their feelings about each other and  about the organization.  Maybe Brett Pill and Roger Kieschnick were the kids that finally breathed new life into the team.  Maybe they finally just hit rock bottom and had nothing to lose anymore.  Or maybe it was just the normal random luck of baseball.  Whatever the reason, the Giants unloaded on Kyle Kendrick and the Phillies for a runaway win.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 0 for 4, BB.  BA= .256.  Didn't Hunter Pence play CF once upon a time?

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 4.  BA= .274.  Pablo came out with a bruised heel, but said he felt fine after the game.  We'll see.

Brett Pill- 3 for 5, HR(2).  BA= .278.  Brandon Belt is taking a few games off to "clear his head" and taking some extra BP.  Word is that he will return to the lineup soon.  Really?  Where in the lineup?   I know we've seen Pill have hot streaks before, but it seems to me when you have a hand this hot, you have to keep playing it until it cools off!  I smell a first base controversy brewing.  Should make for fun times on certain other blogs and websites!

Roger Kieschnick- 2 for 5.  BA= .400.  Roger K finally makes his MBL debut and it's a successful one!  I am happy for him!

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 4.  HR(6).  BA= .274.  First dinger in something like 260 AB's but he's hit pretty well all season as the BA attests.

Chad Gaudin- 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 2.64.  Another strong start by Gaudin.  Somehow I don't think he's going to be the odd man out of the rotation when Vogie comes back.

Matt Cain goes against Cole Hamels tomorrow evening trying to win the series.


  1. There is no controversy, or shouldn't be, either Posey or Pill should be at first base every day.

    1. There are well known Giants oriented blogs and websites where that assertion would be hotly contested and even ridiculed.

  2. I know. But I cannot root for Belt. SAVE Poseys knees. Let Pill play the rest of the time. Belt is unwatchable. Let him move on to that wonderful place in the sky where other Giants that didn't pan out go. I call it bowkertorcatolindenminorville.

    1. Belt is no bowkertocatolindenminor. He is a good MLB hitter, he's been right around average for 1B the past two seasons, plus play good defense at 1B, he panned out really nicely.

      Just because you don't like watching him means that he's not a good player, his numbers support him.

  3. By all means, let's play the guy that's older, a worse defender and has put up weaker performances at every level.

    1. I don't believe the second part of your statement is necessarily true. Pill can pick it at 1B.

    2. As I noted below, Pill's fielding is recognized by advanced fielding metrics, Belt's has not.

      But to your point, if the decision is Belt vs. Pill, hands down, has to be Belt.

      But as also noted below, that does not have to be the decision, we could easily play Belt in LF and Pill at 1B, improve our defense as well as offense at the same time. Problem solved.

  4. If the Giants feel comfortable with the explanation of Guadin's strange behavior in that Vegas ER, they should try to lock him up for at least next year. They are going to have a minimum of one, maybe two, holes in the rotation and he is versatile.

    I know Roger K got a couple of knocks and RBI's but it's not like he was hitting the ball squarely and did K twice. Looked like a lot of the lines he has put up in the minors. Still early I know but remember how Bowker started out and then ended up. I do like Pill and think he is MLer either as a starter or reserve roll. If Fat Pablo keeps hurting himself he may end up being our third baseman by default.

    It's about time too that Crawford found his power stroke again. Remember when he was the team's HR leader for a good part of the time early in the season? It looked like he was going to end up with maybe 15 HRs. I think he still has that capability at some point in his career but not going to happen this year.

    1. I believe that all I said about Roger K is his debut was successful.

    2. Crawford jammed his fingers sliding into second in May and hasn't been the same since, though lately he's been showing signs that he's getting back to his happy place that he was in during April. The dinger is another sign of him getting there.

      I don't believe the law will have enough evidence to prove otherwise - whatever the truth of the situation is - and Gaudin has claimed it was because he was sick, so I've been expecting the Giants to resign him, as have most of the people who regularly post here under their handle. Right now, I assume the 2014 rotation is Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong, Gaudin, with Moscosco being the Gaudin/Vogelsong/Wellemeyer of 2014, batting Huston, Surkamp, Kickham, maybe even Escobar, for the final starting spot, and if the Giants do resign Lincecum, then Gaudin will be fighting with the others for the last spot.

      Yeah, DrB only noted his great debut, we all know about small samples. Happy for Roger as well and look forward to him grabbing more starts in LF.

  5. Belt is clearly the better prospect, better overall player than Pill and the long-term answer at first. That shouldn't be a debate among serious fans. That said, he's in a major funk right now and so far he hasn't shown the ability to work out of these long slumps. Even more importantly, he hasn't figured out how to consistently produce at the plate, stringing quality games together over an extended period of time. That's just as clear and obvious as my first statement.

    This team needed a spark, and Pill gave that to them two nights in a row, so you keep riding that hot hand until it cools off (and it will), then put Belt back in. Over the winter, you work with Belt to simplify his approach at the plate, get rid of the awkward twist he seems to have and the death-grip on the bat that everyone is talking about.

    1. Belt has had plenty of opportunity to prove out as the long-term answer at first. Right now he's closer to James Loney. He's got one more year of being cheap and then arb starts in, he has good enough WAR scores to make a case to be semi-expensive. Then you really have to take a harsh look at his full production: that includes the precious OBP, the defensive kick, and the power production. That power does get beat down by Pac Bell. Or does it...? For his career he hits 276/355/437 at home and 240/324/405 on the road.

      Belt passed through his 2K pro at-bats. He needs to change something up, listen to professional instruction. The nonsense about mean Bruce Bochy that gets spewed on other websites and twitter is just that: nonsense. Everybody in the org wants Belt to succeed. I bet the equation changes when he starts costing money. Which will be in 2015.

      Don't see Belt as having a lot of trade value, he'll have a lot less if he costs moneys.

    2. Well said, especially the part about needing to change things up at the plate. For the year, he's striking out a rate nearing Angel Villalona-land and his numbers since the all-star game are embarrassing .200/.273/.200, no runs, 1 RBI. All that said, the potential is definitely there to be an impact bat...but as you said, the clock is ticking.

    3. 1. Neither Pill nor Belt can really be considered prospects at this point.

      2. Belt is a better overall player than Pill? He sure hasn't proven that!

      3. Belt is the long-term answer at first? How can a guy who, in your words, hasn't shown the ability to work out of slumps, hasn't figured out how to consistently produce at the plate or string quality games together be the long-term answer? Your two statements are going in opposite directions!

      So Belt needs to completely re-work his grip and swing? What makes you so sure he's going to be able to successfully do that at this point in his career?

      The one thing you said that I agree with is that you have to keep playing the hot hand until it cools off and I agree that it will cool off. I mean, he isn't going to keep getting 3 hits a game forever! On the other hand, Belt has never been able to get traction on his career and Pill would not be the first guy to finally figure it all out at this late stage of his career.

    4. At this point, the Giants don't have a long-term 1B option. Posey may be the closest thing! We're four months into the season, and Belt is can't put a .270 average up. He doesn't drive in runs, and you don't want your 1B hitting in the 8-hole like he has at times. I have absolutely no beef with Belt, but I'm not blind like some of his loyal supporters out there. He really has done very little this year to establish himself as an every-day player going forward. Yes, he has better plate discipline than Pill, but Pill was never supposed to be a .290-.300 hitter like Belt was called. Both players have major flaws, but Pill has earned some playing time. If anything, Pill is the one who's gotten the short end of the stick over the last few years. Belt has been given so many chances, yet when he sits out for even ONE GAME, people are enraged that he is in a platoon! Has everyone forgotten that a ML 1B is supposed to be a source of power and run production in a lineup?

      Right now, there is no reason for Pill to come out of the lineup.

    5. While it sounds like we both agree Belt is really good, I don't see him as the long-term answer at 1B. Either Sandoval, Posey, or Villalona will be starting for us at 1B in a couple years, and I like Belt, so I would put him in LF. It is not like any major advanced fielding metric shows Belt to be as good defensively as most people who watch him says he is, so moving him to LF might actually improve his defensive contributions because he has a great arm (former pitcher), some mobility and speed, and has played there before.

      Yes, he's in a major funk right now, but it's only been for roughly 10 days, 7 games, 6 starts, that's not really that long. He was in a similar one to start the season and then over the next 3 plus months, his batting line was .281/.356/.474/.830, which is very good for 1B. So he's been able to string quality hitting over an extended period of time, that's what is clear and obvious to me.

      Bochy is good about riding the hot hand. I expect to see Pill back in there today (Roger not so much since it is a lefty Hamels but I know he earned some starts with that nice debut, Bochy loves production, hence - side note - why Gaudin is not the odd man out when Vogelsong returns, Zito is).

    6. Shankbone, Belt is no Loney, though it is close enough that I can see why you bring him up.

      Loney has only shown power his two partial seasons. Once teams figured him out, he's never shown any power since. Belt has now done it in two of his first two seasons, after teams figured him out last season, he adjusted and was able to return to provide power this season.

      Also, Loney never really hit that well in the minors, he was actually pretty underwhelming, he only really hit well at a higher level one season, in AAA, the season he broke out. his major league career has reflected that mixed history. Belt was amazingly hot the whole time he was in the minors.

      Plus, he should be inexpensive even in his arb years if he continues to produce as he has in 2012 and 2013. has him at 2.8 WAR last season, 1.8 this season and prorating that for games played out to 162 games, that works out roughly to 2.8 as well. Current saber rule of thumb is $5M per WAR, so he's producing $14.0M for each of the past two seasons. He's not going to get a Pence level contract, and I expect the Giants to sign him to a team friendly covering the rest of his years after this season, similar to but lower than Sandoval's, so he should be comfortably producing - assuming he just continues what he has done - much added value above his contract costs during his pre-free agent years.

      So that means he also has plenty of trade value, I think Giants fans are too close to the situation to see how rare he really is. For all the talk about his lack of power, the average NL 1B has 183 ISO, average offensive position 160 ISO, and Belt currently has 170 ISO. And since Belt complaints seem to peak when he's having a down period, I would note that just 10 days ago, when he was going good, his ISO was 182. And over a 3 month plus period, his ISO was 193. So he's right up there, alongside other 1B, I believe.

      That said, if he can work out his problems, I think people would start comparing him to Votto and not wondering if he should even be on the team.

    7. I'll just end with this: Belt has proven, proven, himself to be a starter, with his hitting the past two seasons. Yes, he has problems, but a guy who produces nearly 3.0 WAR a season should not be as big a problem as Giants fans make him out to be.

      I am a loyal supporter of Belt and I'm not blind. Yes, he has slumps. Most mere mortals in baseball has slumps. Yes, he has extended slumps, but overall has produced well for us, and when batting 6th or 7th, those slumps don't affect the offense as much. Even if he never figures out anything more, he is a good producer of value for a baseball team, he has done plenty to have earned a starting position somewhere on a baseball field, as I've outlined in these comments. .270 is actually a good batting average, and more importantly, his OPS is good as well. Why are people still putting .300 on his head and knocking him for it, instead of acknowledging that what he is producing is good, period? And his power has been good, just not awesome like many people think he should be doing, but again, as long as he's good, he's good, period.

      And it is not Belt vs. Pill. As I noted, we can put Belt in LF, Pill at 1B, where he is proven to be an excellent defender at 1B, Belt should not be any worse in the OF as at 1B, per advanced fielding metrics.

    8. I've supported Belt for a long time. And we've won a world series, where I predicted he'd throw plus defense and muddle along with the bat, which he did. I'm just going to a future place for a moment - Belt needs to improve on his play. He was thrown to the sharks early, and he's held his own. The Loney comp is a tad lazy, but its about a guy who was hyped, and then crashed. That was on John Barr's draft to boot. And is now a reclamation project with the savvy Tampa Rays. Hey Loney is putting up 316/363/463 with a 131 OPS+ = best season by far! Even more impressive he's played well against lefties. Loney had the 1st round draft pedigree expectations attached as well. Were the Bums silly to give up on him? He had the same sort of WAR scores as Belt...

      If Belt wants to hit 250 and be three true outcome, great - if he can bring the HRs to the battle. If he wants to be a 280 hitter with 20 HR pop and fearsome OBP, fine. But something needs to give somewhere, and he needs to tighten up on his consistency. I'm just forcasting that he won't be cheap forever. And I disagree that he has a lot of trade value, I think that's saber fans hand wringing silliness. The pressure to hit at 1B is pretty significant in MLB. We all want him to be an improved version of JT Snow. Ironically, the guy that gets bashed the most, Brian Sabean, most likely is the biggest fan of all of Belt. And he likes his defensive oriented 1B guys.

      I don't think any of this is Belt versus Pill. For me its just a mistake to read certain websites or twitter, where that is what it gets framed as.

    9. My take is I will worry about him being expensive whe he gets there. He has produced at $13M rate using WAR and $5M per WAR. My view is that as long as he produces more than he costs, he is relatively inexpensive. I do not really expect him to make $13M at any point until maybe his last arb season. That is not until 2017.

      As I stated below, he is still young. If he was kept in the minors instead to figure out his issues there, the conversation we would be having right now would be very different. Not every player comes up and has it figured out. Matt Williams took three seasons to figure it out. He was not even as accomplished as Belt was in those three seasons, he had horrible batting lines except for all the homers. As I stated below, why can't he get the same courtesy of time that lesser prospects whose potential looks like utility players seem to be getting?

      I do not recall stating that I thought he had a lot of trade value, but let's address that. I do recall being OK with trading him for Norris. I also recall that I said that I did not think much of what Norris has done so far in the majors. I am worried like others about the rotation. I also share the fear that his brain will continue to get in his way of his vast potential. So I was ok with the trade, sometimes you just need to take that risk to mitigate others. So I agree that he does not have much trade value, Norris has had very high ERAs over his career, but he will br relatively cheap, his k rate is high and maybe Tidrow can help.

      I think it is silly to put pressure on the firstbaseman to hit. I think it is more important that a team finds the hitters who can make a good lineup together, like they did last year, like they did earlier this season when we had everyone and was averaging 4.5-5.0 runs per game. Posey is equal to what anyone expects from a firstbaseman. More importantly, to me, he is the right clean up hitter. Power hitting firstbaseman are hard to find. They are very expensive if you buy them, hard to find period. As I noted in many comments,there are a handful of players who even qualify for your definition of the right firstbaseman. I would rather worry more about the pitching and getting that in playoff shape, than kissing a lot of frogs after you cast off Belt, looking for that elusive power hitting firstbaseman that fits your definition. I feel that is creating a problem to label positions, the CF who leads off always and play great defense, that was Dusty canard, putting poor Shinjo in a role he was not fit for.

      Just get a damn lineup that works. It was working earlier this season, same guys, no power hitting firstbaseman. And we had the best power hitter in Bonds and yet those lineups sucked at the end.

  6. It's always fun when a Giant gets a hit in his first At-Bat. Way to go Kieschnick! Not only a blow out, but a no drama no comeback blowout? What's the world coming to?

    If the Giants want to use Brett Pill to light a fire under Belt, so be it. He's grinded away in the minors, has nothing left to prove there. Saber snarkers going after his OBP or his age miss the point. Nothing wrong with a hacker at the bottom of the order if he can connect for some XBHs.

    Nice to see the Gints relaxed for one game.

    1. So there's nothing wrong with Pill being a bottom of the order hacker but the guy who has been one of the better hitters on the team the past couple seasons and has shown more power at every level needs a fire lit under him. I see. Feels like a fun double standard at play.

    2. He has been one of the better hitters on the team on a mediocre batting side, thats the reason why the Giants are last in the division when you have a guy with Belt's stats being the 2nd or 3rd best hitter on your team.

      Pill is more of a raw power type of hitter, Belt was expected to be more of a 20HR guy with a high batting avg. If the Giants can get .240-.250 25HR 40(2B) from Pill thats solid production from a bottom of the order hitter like Shankbone suggested.

    3. Did the beats say that Pill is starting in order to light a fire under Belt? I just took it as Belt was in a bad slump, and as the Giants periodically does when he gets out of sync like that, is to let him have a few days off, work with him on his mechanics, then throw him back in there. I guess we'll see in a few days what's what.

      Belt and Pill are good 6-7 hitters, where there is not as much offense produced typically, so up and down performances are tolerable there. The fact is that the average 6-7 hitters only has a .305-.310 OBP, so Pill should fit right in there as his ISO should be higher than the average 130-150 ISO produced there. Average OPS is .700 between the two positions, I think Pill can beat that, no problem.

      I agree that Pill has nothing to prove in the minors now, now it is up to the Giants to figure out how to get him some regular playing time to see what he got. Unfortunately, that probably means either Belt or Kieschnick will get less starts, and I would rather have Belt starting over Roger, easily.

      And again, Belt is a good hitter, period, not just on the Giants, the problem is not with him, he was never expected to be our top hitter, that is just our hope. It was expected that Posey, Pence, and Pablo would be our top hitters, and Pablo has been very disappointing, Pence mildly so because he was our leading hitter for 3 months until recently.

  7. Belt needs to simplify his swing. Too many moving parts that has the potential to mess with his timing.

    Pill is not the long-term answer at first base, but it would have been nice if he had the chance to prove himself in The Show. He could have been the Giants' version of Mark Trumbo.

  8. Brett Pill's MLB stats over three seasons: .237/.276/.414, 200 PA.

    Brandon Belt's MLB stats over three seasons: .258/.339/.420, 1038 PA.

    In other words, we're comparing a twenty-nine year old future utility man who has put up dismal numbers while playing poor defense with a twenty-five year old potential middle of the order hitter who is already a MLB average first baseman, who has outhit Pill in all three slash statistics, has blown him away in OBP, and has played Gold Glove defense.

    1. Are you judging a guy with 200PA as a utility player?? Thats kind of insane and at the same unfair to Pill. Besides hes never had those 200PA consecutive, lots of up and downs between MLB and AAA as well as pinch hit PA.

      Belt has had 1 full season last year and already half of the season this year and hasnt proven anything yet not even an above regular, a very inconsistent hitter and to be saying that hes a future middle of the order hitter, right now thats far away from what Belt is. Am guessing the Giants are just hoping he can become a .270-.280 20hr type of hitter, the middle of the order thing is looking more like a pipe-dream.

      Belt has been in a terrible slump the last couple of weeks, hes had some awful memorable games (0-8 5K, 0-4 4K, the error game) and just looks totally out of it, like a guy who doesnt belong in the bigs.

      Fans just want to see Belt because hes was a very high-rated prospect, same as with Brown, when guys like Kieschnick, Perez and Peguero have deserved and earned that chance way more than Gary Brown. Pill is earning his chance right now, in 2 games I've seen him do what Belt has never done, have 2 good games in a row and spark the offense. There are so many guys in baseball who haven't been rated as top prospects and have had much better careers than those rated.

      On extra baggs a blog which is known to be a "Belt fanatics blog" someone said that Pill shouldn't even be in the bigs as hes had over 300 PA, I did some research and Allen Craig, the Cardinals 1B whos having a great year had over 2600 PA before becoming a regular for them, Kevin Youkilis had over 1400PA as well, 2 guys who became All Star players. Am not saying Pill is going to go the same road but just give the guy a fair chance.

    2. Joe,

      1. Pill's slash line has a higher IsoP, not by much, but it's higher.

      2. You are comparing a tiny sample size with a large one, in other words, you can't validly do it.

      3. Belt has played GG defense? I don't think so!

      4. Pill is actually a good defensive first baseman.

    3. If the invalid comparison of disparate sample sizes didn't do it, the 'poor defense' comment ruins your credibility Joe. Pill was the #1 rated defensive fist baseman in the organization until Belt showed up (an organization that had Travis Ishikawa in it at the time - career UZR/150 of 13.3). I do think Belt is slightly better overall, defensively, but not by much. And the deservedly much maligned UZR shows Pill to be far superior to Belt (19.9 vs. 3.0 uzr/150). So I wonder where your opinion on Pill's defense comes from?


      And FWIW, there's no need to make a case for Belt, he is the better player, but when you so bungle an attempt at statistical analysis, you undermine the obvious.

    4. The 4th point is one that gets to me a bit. Pill has always been a good 1B, BA named him as the best in the Giants system. He has played wherever asked so he can get a shot. He's a great teammate. He doesn't deserve any of the scorn heaped on him by know it all saber fans.

      He has shown steady improvement in his ability to hit, and he hasn't had much opportunity to stick, so he's made lemonade with the lemons. 2nd in OPS in the PCL. Yeah, a hitters league. That Pill completely dominates.

      My statement about hackers up above can be explained this simply: Pill is looking for the mistake pitches, and if he turns them into extra base hits, he is valuable. So far, in 1K PAs in the show, Belt really hasn't learned to jump on mistake pitches. All things equal, the OBP of Belt will be a big boost offensively. But if Pill does damage with his chances... And at this point Belt is in yet another of those miserable slumps with really bad contact problems he gets.

      I hope Belt can work these mental and technical issues out. I really do. We might have to face the fact that Belt is hitting 255/331/425 on the year... on a career line of 258/339/420. If he is what he is... NL 1B are slashing 264/338/427 this year. He's actually a few notches below in all 3 slashes.

    5. Good comment about Belt missing mistake pitches, Shankbone. This is the most maddening thing about watching Belt at the plate, i.e. the number of favorable count leverage mistake pitches he swings through.


    6. I'm not suggesting that Pill is the long term answer either. Belt is not a clutch player and I don't like watching him. Can any Giants fan honestly say that Belt is who you want up at the plate with two outs in the ninth inning? Pill has earned the chance to play when Posey isn't at first for the rest of this year.

    7. I think I answer most of the points made here in comments above, so I'll try to summarize some other points.

      Seems like the people who are relatively down on Belt either has high expectations for him and/or don't know what the offensive standards for 1B or 6th position are. And the bellyaching gets loudest when he's doing poorly, where was everyone when he was arguably our best hitter on the team over a 3.5 month period?

      I can understand getting tired of him needing to figure things out, and falling into these slumps. You know what? Most mere mortals in baseball do that. The good thing is that he has gotten out of the other ones fine, thank you, as there is no way you can put up a good overall seasonal batting line while having horrendous slumps without hitting really really well when you do figure it out. And sometimes it just takes a lot of time.

      It took Matty Williams three partial seasons to figure out his demons. That means most of the Belters would have thrown Matt under the bus in his third season at worse, because he still didn't figure it out that season either, his OPS+ was under 100 each of those seasons, whereas Belt has been above 100 each season, easily over the past two. I'm sure his wOBA+ is similarly good.

      Can both sides just let Belt be what he - a good MLB hitter - and accept that this might be all there is and not be so frustrated that he doesn't bring it to another level, as much as we all hope he does bring it. And if Pill can figure it out eventually, why can't Belt be given the same courtesy? Especially since his potential has been clearly better?

    8. Peter and jjwsfgiants: that is why Belt bats sixth and lower most times in the lineup. That's why he's not one of our 3, 4, 5 hitters normally. Most fans don't want to see their 6-7 hitter up at the plate when the game is on the line. Most 6-7 hitters swing through favorable count leverage mistake pitches. That's why they are batting that low.

      I don't see how that means that he should be dumped for an unproven 28 YO prospect.

    9. I'm a bit of s stickler for reading comprehension OGC - it also pains me to have clarify my position when someone addresses me and attributes an opinion to me that I never expressed, and assumes based on their own lack of comprehension that I need help in understanding something about this game. You'd do well to assume everyone you interact with knows at least as much about baseball as you do, until proven otherwise.

      No where did I advocate for Pill to play over Belt - let alone that Belt should be 'dumped'. My main contribution here was to correct Joe's assertion that Pill was a 'poor defender' - an assertion that is well beyond the pale, IMO. Further, I went so far as to state that Belt was the better player in the same post. So how you reach a conclusion that I want Pill over Belt is baffling. I also didn't express wonderment about the batting order - I simply expressed how I felt about Belt's ability to do something with count leverage and a mistake pitch - I don't hold it against him or think he is garbage. If he punished mistakes while retaining his other positive attributes, he'd be an MVP caliber player. I know why Belt is batting sixth, and I have no problems with how Bochy is handling him.

    10. ^ Forgot to add the sig anonymous @2:01


    11. That is why I should have separated my comments, sorry you were offended.

      That second comment was response to jjsfg comment about playing Pill over Belt. My apologies for not making it clearer.

  9. The comments about Pill's fielding are just plain wrong. His career minor league numbers all positions is .992
    His numbers in 47 games at 1st base with the Giants .993
    Nothg bad about those numbers.
    I purposely did not post Belt's ; do it yourself at Baesball Reference.
    Do your homework before spewing.
    That said I hope they both get to play with the big team for years.
    One thing I like about Pill over BB; is their facial expressions throughout the game.
    Pill is calm and cool, BB is squirming inside his pants. Maturity not there yet. IMHO

    Richard in Winnipeg

    1. Thank you. There is more to fielding than Fielding Average, but Pill is a good fielder by any measure. I think there is room for debate here, but if people are going to debate, at least do it using facts, and comparable ones at that.

  10. Well, I think this comment thread just proved my point about a first base controversy! Fun times!!

  11. Ah the Belt controversy has arrived! I'm not totally thrilled with Belt and his lack of progress but he is a decent MLB 1B....More than likely better all around than Pill will ever be...BUT, I think the Giants owe it to themselves and Pill to see if what Pill has done the last three years in the minors (averaging, say, .300/.350 25HR 110RBI, I know--FRESNO) is just a reflection of his ability to hit AAA-AAAA pitchers in a hitter's league of if he has truly has become a much better hitter at any level which would than make him a viable option to Belt....Just give him ABs against all pitchers to see...


    1. Its a pretty grating controversy that can ignite at any time. Brett Pill has 7 HRs in the show in the past 3 years in 202 PAs. Belt has 26 in 1038 PAs. How would that play out against MLB pitching? We just don't know. Pill has definitely had trouble with curveballs, as saber fans love to gif his biggest mistakes for their smug summaries. Alls I know is that Pill has nothing left to prove at Fresno. 344/379/627, 18 HRs in 298 PAs, 283 ISO. Pill has forced the issue a little, and Belt's poor play, yes - poor play - has given him a window. I want to see what he can do. Both hitters won't learn anything against AAA stuff, they have to see the best pitching in the world.

      Pablo has been a big hole this year. Belt has too. The Giants need a better corner plan for next year. I don't blame them this year though, you'd think that Belt would step up to the next level and Pablo could be a professional and show up ready to play. Pagan's injury forces the LF platoon into full time and Pence is a streaky dude. Fun times all around the diamond.

    2. Belt has not been a big hole. Until 10 days ago, Belt got his batting line up to a good .267/.340/.449/.790. He has had a cold stretch lately, last 6 starts/7 games, very cold, .091/.200/.091/.291 with 8 K's in 22 AB, but that is not what I would term a big hole.

      Our big hole has been LF, and Belt has experience playing there and while Pill does too, I think Belt would field LF better than Pill can, while Pill was once named by JT Snow as the best 1B fielder in the system at one point. And, in fact, Pill's defense is recognized by the fielding metrics utilized by, whereas Belt's has not. Pill, in very small samples, has been so good that if he could continue that for a full season, his defense alone could add 2 wins to the team, plus whatever he could do offensively.

      On top of that, we all know Belt will eventually move off first, whether due to Sandoval moving there, Villalona making it there, or Posey moving there. So let him get used to playing LF, particularly since none of the major advanced fielding metrics have not shown him to be a plus fielder at 1B so far, only Fangraphs UZR showed him in a good light, and only this season, and you know how wacky up and down some of those metrics go. Also, I assumed the Giants were OK with Belt playing first this season even with Posey taking starts there because he was still trying to figure out things with MLB hitting, but I think this season shows that he knows enough to be starting every day, and that only happens in LF as long as Posey is our starting catcher.

      And I would add that Pill has shown some ability to make good contact in the majors, by not striking out too much (83% contact rate vs. 85%+ many good MLB hitters achieve) and by hitting for very good power (189 ISO, 24 AB/HR = roughly 20-25 HR seasonal rate). Lots of hitters have been made to look silly with one pitch or another, talk about the ultimate small sample!

      And at 28, he's not getting any younger plus he's proven himself in AAA, he needs to get his chance in the majors.

    3. I can't go looking for the NL Avg for 1B from 2 weeks ago, so we have the current comp that I listed, which is 264/338/427. So a couple weeks ago he was slightly above average and now he's dipped below. Baseball is a game of streaks, we'll just say he's at least in the middle of 1B, which is good. My main point is he won't be cheap forever, and we want him to advance along, not be James Loney-like. And my other point is reactionary to the twitter/saber crowd that likes to blame mean Bruce Bochy for Belt's shortcomings. At 1K MLB at-bats, its time to blame Belt for Belt's shortcomings.

      I always assume the Giants know best, and that they are a professional baseball organization just like the other 29 teams. For whatever reason interwebz Giant fans have decided the Greybeards are a bunch of dundering knuckleheads who just. can't. see. whatever these genius commentators can see. Now that doesn't mean I'm blind to certain eccentric behaviors, and the Giants do have a culture that is old school prove out, but on the whole, the Giants do things for a reason. And have had great success with these methods.

      Why haven't they played Belt in LF? The PR spin is that they want him to be comfortable in the field, not worry about it and concentrate on his hitting. Is there more to it than that? I bet he'd be an adequate but not great LF. Hey, its LF, who cares? The Giants appear to be paying a lot of undercover attention to defensive metrics. I think the Frenchie signing was more a desperate measure for lightning in a bottle than anything else, because they apparently were very reluctant to engage his defensive skills (schulman tip).

      Maybe that's how it plays out the last 2 months, Belt gets a shot in LF. Maybe the Giants need to think outside the box and look at Brian McCann next year, his price might get battered by his injury history. BTW Belt is at 73% contact rate for the year... And his BA is showing those effects.

    4. Big hole explanation: the way the Giants are set up, they are depending on Posey as the centerpiece, and then Panda/Belt/Pence to be 125 OPS+ or better hitters. Punt SS (Craw has surprised), CF/2B as the OBP tablesetters and LF as the big compromise. So they are expecting more from their corners. Eyeball, you have Belt at 119 OPS+, sounds good. But if you look closer, its a little empty suitish because his SLG is so low. I think a reasonable expectation for 1B is you want 850 OPS, give or take a little. But 1B production on a whole is off, offense is down all over the league.

      It all gets exposed some when the platoon plan in LF gets shot with the Pagan injury, Sandoval is a station to station singles hitter, and Belt is arguing with umps (still too young to do that BTW) about the strike zone. Pence? He's another issue. Can we really have two all out hackers like Pablo and Pence? And then Bochy plays them back to back all the time?

      Anyways, yeah, I think in the Giants progressive plan, Belt is a hole now. A little unfair? Well, you have to have some goals and expectations. Patting the guy on the back for a good eye at the plate and the ability to take a walk only goes so far, because the arbitration clock is ticking.

    5. Then I don't really understand your point Shankbone. Belt currently has a 119 OPS+, not far from what you want, and he's currently on his down side right now, you haven't given him a chance yet to come out of his slide, as he has done in the past. And he's normally batting 6th in the lineup, so his 425 SLG is higher than the 402 for 6th place hitters, his 170 ISO is better than the 156 ISO there as well.

      How is 850 OPS reasonable out of 1B? The average is .765, almost 100 points less. I go by the saber rule of thumb that even average players are actually pretty good players, though.

      And as I noted above, a 2.8 WAR production should be cheap all through a player's arbitration years.

      I agree that it is Belt's fault that he's not like Votto yet, but it is not his fault that people want more out of him than he's producing. And what he is producing is good, no matter how you want to slice it.

      And based on your structuring of the lineup, CF is the critical issue here, both Blanco has been a flop as the OBP tablesetter, .301 OBP, only Torres has done well there, .337 OBP.

    6. Simple: Belt's OPS is too much OBP based and not enough SLG based. The 850 ops (give or take remember) is what you want. My whole point is you can't just settle, you strive to that goal.

      Are we sure we're just in a down slide? He's hitting exactly his career average right now, all 3 slash numbers.

      And eventually we have to get around to the much mocked RBI stat. He's primarily a 6th hole hitter, he's light on the NL avg of 50 or so (758 from the 6th spot in the NL this year), he has 39. Last 28 games 1 HR 4 RBI. Now I'm as patient as anybody, rarely bash our players over anything... but that dog don't hunt. We need hits that score runs. And that's what the Giants have been calmly working towards the whole time while Giants fans twist and turn with various arguments/counterarguments about this guy. Sure we can say no big deal, its a 10 RBI spread, that could be anything. But our lying eyes tell us something different.

      Sure CF is one of the critical issues, lots of issues with the ol ballclub this year.

    7. Well put, Shank.

    8. I think I addressed that concern. Belt has been hitting well this season in RISP situations, ergo he has not been given enough RISP situations to get the RBIs that you seek from him. And I addressed the issue regarding his SLG.

      I do not really understand this position. Many here understands that it takes a prospects many years to figure things out in the minors before making it to the majors. Belt never got much chance to do this in the minors, he is doing his learning in the majors. He is only 25, still young for a major leaguer, still young for a prospect if he had been held in the minors instead.

      Still, he is holding his own in the majors. As I delineated somewhere here or on your blog, he is in the middle of the pack for firstbase, and was among top ten for his three month stretch, he only suffers in comparision to your requirements for firstbase and RBI, and as much as I like the RBI stat, he has been very much above average inRISP, so the fault is in the opportunities given him.

      Yes, he has had a bad month. Can we at least agree that in the last month nobody was really getting on base period, even Posey was ordinary, Pence was very bad, Sandoval was bad too, giving Belt very few chances to drive in anyone.

  12. Pill has always put up consistent numbers in his minor league career, including an important number to some of old timers - RBI's. Realizing he is older and may not be a better fielder than Belt - he deserves a consistent stretch of time in the Majors at first base to see what he can show - and Belt has now given him that opportunity. I say let him play first for the rest of the season, while giving Gerald an occasional day there, to see how he produces. APGiantsfan

  13. Pill turns 29 in the fall.
    5years forward = 2018
    Pill in 2018 = turning 34 at the end of the season.
    Old is a stretch.
    I will repeat Pill's fielding career to date all postions played .992
    47 major league games at 1st base .993
    For those who have not gone to baseball reference BB's numbers with the Giants at 1st .992
    So from a fielding perspective we give up nothing at 1st when Pill playing.
    We gain a player with tremendous maturity and character on filed and in the locer room.
    Yeah, so I see Belt and Pill covering 1st and left field next year!
    Why not?

  14. Even in an indirect way, Belt is still a very divisive topic. We're excited that Pill had a good game, and naturally it leads to the same two-year long discussion of Belt's fatal flaws. Ha ha.

    In no way am I a Belt defender (in fact, I was hoping he'd be used to land Norris from the 'Stros). However, he hasn't played as poorly as his detractors, nor as well as his supporters would argue. Still, he has a better OPS than Sandoval and Crawford and is much younger than Pill. I don't see where there's room for an argument...unless it's to play the lefty/righty matchups and/or get Belt some reps in LF so Pill can start more. Belt still needs to play, and in my opinion, he still has the rest of this season before judgement can be fairly laid upon him.


  15. We should celebrate the team's victory, not focusing negatively on one or two guys.

    As for 'kids that finally breathed new life into the team,' that's what they do and what we need - imagine what positive impact, spirit-wise, a frontline pitching prospect like Wheeler would have made, even if the initial production is just average (which - average production as they learn - we can probably hope for from the likely 2015 arrival of some of our low-minor pitchers). With humans, though the contribution is average, mentally we are energized because we can always hope for better-than-their-initial-debut results.

  16. Belt isn't the problem, and Pill isn't the answer. Pill's line isn't all that good, but it is a small sample. If you compare "apples to apples" (namely performance in the minors), Belt's numbers are better. But so what--if neither of them can perform in the big leagues, it doesn't matter who was better. Both of them are fine defensive candidates, too. So, there doesn't need to be a controversy--1b play isn't the issue.

    LF--nada, zip, zilch.
    RF--everybody is loving the preacher, but really? His BA is close to or lower than Belt's. Why is no one ripping him?
    Pitching--I can forgive Cain, and can accept Zito and Timmy, but Vogie was horrible until he got hurt. MadBum and Gaudin are the only bright spots. However, while Cain may come back, what are we going to do next year? Maybe Vogie is just tired so you pick up his optino. And maybe Gaudin's historical failure as a SP was really just a mirage and we're seeing the real guy. Any of you comfortable with that? We have two SP for next year, two HUGE IFs and no one else. Where does Timmy go when he accepts the qualifying offer (and should we be happy with a $13mm flame out?)
    RP--Largely stable. Yeah, Romo blew a few (so did Wilson). Guys hurt. One year wonders (Kontos) come back to earth while other guys (Dunning) step in. We have good depth, and good help in the minors, so not too worried.

    So, in an nut shell, our starting positions have been HORRIBLE. Across the board. Stop taking it out on Belt just because Pill has a couple of good games.

    I'd like to see if Roger is for real. We get Pagan back. That will help. I'm actually not overly animated by Pence coming back, and part of me hopes we get the sandwich pick. Of course, we need to see what else people can do (Pegs, Hembree, Surkamp and Escobar in particular)?


    1. That's a sensible post.

      We used to have 3 to 4 aces or semi-aces who take their offseason seriously to not exhaust themselves with international contests.

    2. OK, a comment I can get behind! Great first sentence, wish I had thought of it. And great paragraph.

      Good point, CF is actually a bigger problem. Torres is only hitting .244/.314/.333/.647 there (only 52 PA though), but Blanco has been worse, .225/.302/.294/.595 in 179 PA. That is one killer spot in the lineup, yet Belt gets bashed for being an above average 6th place hitter.

      Starting Pitching I agree is a big question mark at the moment, but hopefully get some answers in rest of season. Vogelsong has stamina issues, it has shown up in 2011 and 2012, and the short off-season plus WBC seems to have exposed it this season. As long as he recovers from his broken bones fine, I think he'll be fine next season. And in any case, he was so good before that even a decline to Cain's level this season would be doable I think.

      I'm also hoping we can retain Lincecum for 2014 on a one-year deal. But to your point, our rotation is not rock solid. However, most teams don't have rock solid rotations top to bottom. They are lucky to cobble together 3 of them, let alone 4. And the 5th guy is usually a revolving door, that is why Zito has been more valuable to us than what people think of him.

      While Gaudin's historical failure is true, can we agree that the Giants have proven to the the Pitcher Whisperer nonpareil in the majors up to now? I can also throw up Casilla's and Vogelsong's long historical failures as well.

      Plus, he actually put up some good numbers as a reliever last season, yes, horrible ERA, but solid K/9, solid K/BB, good HR/9, just BABIPed a bit, so if you line up his 2013 vs. his 2012 numbers, they are remarkably the same, only huge difference in ERA. Let's call 2013 his regress to mean vs. 2012, and combine both seasons, and you get a 3.52 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 2.29 K/BB, 8.1 H/9, 1.265 WHIP, which are all solid numbers. And as a back of rotation starter, anything under 4.50 ERA is a win for us. So yes, I'm comfortable with that.

      I think Timmy can be a great super-reliever should he flame out. I think that he has had problems pitching when he has to think too much, like when runners are on base. It happens, who can explain why a 2B can't throw to 1B, or a catcher thrown the ball back to the pitcher suddenly? If that is true, I think coming in cold as a reliever plays up to that, he'll thrown 5-10 pitches, charge into the game, and just start pitching. And he has the rubber arm capable of being our long reliever, middle guy, set-up, and closer on occasion.

      The main issue is who do we have in the middle of our rotation. Bumgarner and Cain are great up top for us. Gaudin and Vogelsong should be great for us at the bottom of the rotation. It is our middle that is the big question.

      Vogelsong has pitched well enough to be that middle, solving the problem, but to your point, what if he's not back, what if it is something that is the start of his decline.

      I think Gaudin this season has pitched well enough to be that middle, as well. So we have three potential options for that middle rotation pitcher among Lincecum, Vogelsong and Gaudin. So I think we are mostly covered for the middle rotation problem, only we don't know who will be filling that hole until spring training.

      So that creates a whole at the back of the rotation. There we have a number of potential solutions, starting with Moscosco, and including Kickham, Surkamp, Huston, and maybe Escobar. And again, this is a problem for most teams, even contenders.

      So yes, we do have a number of HUGE IFs plus a hole in the rotation, but I think we are reasonably covered for most situations, depending on how things play out, even if there are a lot of questions marks. A lot of things will have to go wrong for this scenario to fail, i think.

    3. Lastly, Kontos is no one year wonder. We just have to remember that relievers are strongly subject to small samples. But look at his K/9 and K/BB, 8.4 K/9 and 2.69 K/BB, both very good this season. I see 2013 as more a regress to true mean than coming back to Earth. He has a career 8.7 K/9 in the majors, 3.00 K/BB, both excellent numbers. His career 3.75 ERA is more in line with his talent level, and given those peripherals, he can probably get that down into the low 3's for his career, I think, those are excellent peripherals to have in the bullpen.

  17. Belt is a bonehead. There, I said it. He's got all the tools, but the guy is a goober. He's much better defensively matched with Pablo, digging balls out of the dirt, but he never got rid of the college baseball, jumping off the bag habit, and it shows a lack of MLB maturity all around.

    Other than that, I'm pretty sure Pill can do what Belt's done thus far, and if it's just a hot streak, cool...we still have Belt, who has played LF in the past.

    It shouldn't be a controversy, but some bored housewives on a certain blog have made Belt watch their entire existence. As long as Belt plays, they don't care if we win. I'll take it a step farther and say, as long as they get to argue about Belt, they don't even care if Belt progresses. They don't even like Belt that much.

  18. Belt has Fred Lewis all written over him. Untapped and frustrating potential that will never get unlocked.

  19. The problem Belt is not talent. It's attitude. It
    s not bad. But it's also not confident, decisive or Major League. This affects/infects all that he does on the field.