The Giants’ fan base is slowing beginning to turn on the young Brandon Belt. The “Free Belt” or “Let Belt Play” campaigns seem far in the past, and unless he suddenly turns his season around, they will be a lost cause.
The positive thing is that he still has plenty of time to grow and develop. He took the fast track to the major leagues, barely spending two years in the minors. Most players generally don’t make it to the majors as quickly as Belt did, but he was just one of those rare exceptions. The lack of experience in the minors is starting to catch up to him now, though. And with the July 31st trade deadline looming, general manager, Brian Sabean has a big decision to make.
The Giants are doing something most teams wouldn’t even dare to attempt— at least contenders. They are simultaneously trying to let Belt develop while still trying win games. I guess you could say it’s working, as the Giants are 7-2 since the all-star break. But a deep postseason run with Belt at first base doesn’t seem like the winning formula with the way he’s been hitting of late. So a modest upgrade at the corner position seems like a logical move.
Yes, Sabean has specifically stated more than enough times that he will not be dealing Belt. This was weeks back, though and with Belt going a staggering 1-15 on the six game east coast road trip, thoughts have probably changed. If the right deal came along, Brian Sabean should at least consider dangling Belt.
Yet, there’s just something about Belt that makes everyone think he’s going to be the next great thing. He’s shown a few flashes of what type of hitter he can be, and at this point, that’s practically the only thing that’s forcing the Giants to hold on to him.
Belt practically carried San Francisco with his bat for a good portion of June. He caught fire and went on an 11-game hitting streak which included four home runs and a 441/.568/.882 batting line during that span. But since his streak was snapped on June 24th in Oakland, his numbers have plummeted. He’s hitting just .148/.221/.213, without a home run since.
Even with his struggles, there will undoubtedly be some teams who will at least inquire about the Texan should the Giants make him available. It’s not like he lacks upside or the tools to become a solid hitter, it’s just that he’s not in the right situation to foster his game. While that could change, the Giants are growing impatient by the day.
Keith Law, a senior writer for ESPN.Com was recently on a Toronto Blue Jays talk show. And right off the bat he suggested the Giants as a solid fit for the Jays’ Yunel Escobar. In return, Toronto would receive Belt. There would also have to be another piece or cash involved, as Escobar is making $5 million per year and Belt is making nothing, yet.
Statistically, Escobar is having the worst season of his career. He’s hitting a wavering .249/.294/.339 with an OPS of just .632. And if the season ended today, all three of those stats would be career lows for him. While he’s not even 30 yet, the Giants would have to wonder if he’s reached his peak as a hitter.
One might ask if Escobar’s line is really that much better then Brandon Crawford’s? Truthfully, he wouldn’t be much of an upgrade. For comparison, Crawford’s line is .239/.290/.348 with a .637 OPS. In english, there’s no difference between the two shortstops. Additionally, Escobar has been rumored to have attitude issues which was a main factor in the Atlanta Braves’ decision to trade him in 2010.
Would it be a good deal for the Giants? Considering Escobar’s struggles, Brian Sabean should set his goals higher if he decided to move Belt.
Until Sabean publicly comes out and says that Belt is on the block, this is all talk, though. But when Bruce Bochy was doing his post game conference with the media, Andrew Baggarly reported that Bochy received a text from Sabean right as they were about to ask him about the first base situation.
Coincidence or not, I’ll end on that and just imagine what that text said.