SF Giants News

Free Brandon Belt… Again

By Ashley Varela

Brandon Belt lit up Spring Training. Brandon Belt has a hole in his swing. Brandon Belt would make a great first baseman! Brandon Belt would look great on the bench. Brandon Belt has potential, but not enough for 2012. Brandon Belt has enough potential for some of 2012.

Please, please make up your mind.

In a few hours, we’ll know whether the speculation that Belt has landed on the Opening Day lineup is true or not. With numerous sources pointing to his chances of opening the season, I’m not worried about seeing him in San Francisco this Friday.

What I am worried about is the crowd that calls his situation “day-to-day.”

Last week, Larry Baer insisted that there were “a thousand different scenarios being pushed around, with no clear answer” when it came to the 23-year-old. Beat writer Alex Pavlovic wrote that there was no clear “winner” between Belt and Aubrey Huff. From his blog:

"“Belt had a pretty good spring, hitting .379 with three homers. But Huff (.304, two homers) did all he needed to do and played pretty good defense at first base and pretty playable defense in left field.”"

Last night, Henry Schulman pointed out that there are plenty of options at Bochy’s disposal, which doesn’t make Belt’s position on the roster quite as secure as fans would like. In his words,

"“The $64,000 Question is how long a leash Belt will get if he struggles. It might be longer if not for Blanco. If Belt has some 0-fors, Bochy can always stick Huff at first base and Blanco in the outfield with Angel Pagan and Cabrera.”"

Even Bruce Bochy appears to favor Huff, calling him one of the “best bats” on the team. While it’s not unusual or surprising to see management and the media take a cautious approach with Belt, the hesitation to hand him a role feels a little too familiar. Yes, it is exciting that he might be given a chance to start in SF right out of the gate, but last year, Huff’s leash was long while Belt was shipped to Fresno 23 days after his major league debut.

So, where does this leave Brandon? With any luck, Huff will manage not to do this in the outfield, and Belt will pick up the majority of his starts at first base. He’s undoubtedly carved a place for himself on the Opening Day roster.

Beyond that, however, it’s anyone’s guess.