Bruce Bochy is going to get a lot of credit for being a brilliant mind, managing the defending World Champion Giants is his current fame. However, after Buster Posey was lost for the remainder of the season, Bochy started off with a very stupid move. Sure, it is still early in the post-Posey era, but replacing Posey’s bat is very necessary, and it isn’t going to happen by just replacing him in the lineup with Eli Whiteside.
The Giants made several moves the same day they put Posey on the DL: INF Mike Fontenot was put on the DL and OF Darren Ford was put on the DL, while DFA INF Ryan Rohlinger. They followed that up by purchasing the contract of C Chris Stewart and recalling 1B/OF Brandon Belt from Triple-A Fresno, and reaching for SS Brandon Crawford from High-A San Jose. Stewart is a 29-year-old journeyman, clearly incapable of helping the team, but they needed the depth at catcher with Posey gone. The real issues come with the prospects, Belt and Crawford.
Crawford is 24 and he has spent the last two seasons going back and forth between High-A and Double-A. This season, he was playing in San Jose, High-A, playing in 14 games and hitting 3 HR with 15 RBI with a .322/.412/.593 slash-line. However, in the two seasons before this, he has hit just .264 with 17 HR and 71 RBI in 806 at bats. This has been done, mostly, in the California League, a notorious hitter’s league. He received his first start Friday night and promptly hit a grand slam, finishing 1 for 3 with 4 RBI. So, what’s the big deal? That he is starting and they can’t find room for the actual prospect.
Brandon Belt struggled in his taste of Major League action earlier this season, hitting just .192 in 52 at bats. However, his K/BB of 13/8 shows that he wasn’t totally lost, but they needed to do something with their lineup in San Francisco and cleared 1B for Aubrey Huff when Cody Ross returned from the DL on April 20th. Belt has nothing left to prove in the Minors, especially considering that the Giants starting outfield consists of one player who isn’t replaceable, and that is debatable, in Cody Ross. Andres Torres, Aaron Rowand, and Pat Burrell are hitting a combined .244 with 7 HR, 26 RBI in 348 at bats. Belt was hitting .337 with 4 HR and 21 RBI in his first 101 Triple-A at bats. This is after he rocketed through three levels in the Minors last year, finishing with a .352/.455/.620 slash-line, piling up 43 2B, 10 3B, 23 HR, 112 RBI, and 22 SB as a 22-year-old in 2010. If you team up the Giants lineup without Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval and with Rowand, Burrell, Torres, Miguel Tejada, and Aubrey Huff as offensive “weapons,” the Giants can’t afford to let Belt sit on the bench or be up to just come off of the bench when needed. They need him now.
Bruce Bochy was a genius who managed the Giants to the World Series because Brian Sabean drafted Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner, not because of moves that he made with a long list of veteran hitters in his lineup. If he doesn’t get on board with Belt, Giants fans will be ready to whip him with theirs.