June 25, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (9) celebrates after scoring a run in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Now Belt will have to function as a cheerleader only while his thumb heals. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Brandon Belt’s thumb is broken, but the San Francisco Giants are not. Injuries play a significant role in the 162-game marathon, and all teams suffer them, but it’s how the teams cope with the injuries that separates the champions from the chaff. The Orange and Black have been hit hard but not hard enough to derail the train.
Of all the positions that could have been affected by injury (note that I alluded to positions rather than players to keep the whole discussion objective), first base seems to me to be the one best suited to take such a hit. We found out in 2011 which position could not take the hit, when Buster Posey went down and the team with him. That will not happen again.
The Giants have too much depth in the organization, both on the 25-man squad, and playing in Fresno, for this to have a lasting negative effect on the Giants. With both Posey and Hector Sanchez able to handle first, along with Joaquin Arias, who has filled in admirably there in the past, San Francisco has options. Additionally, Michael Morse has played at first in his career also, so that is one other route to consider.
If the Giants put Arias at first, that leaves them without an all-purpose infielder. Ehire Adrianza is a shortstop by trade and though he is athletic and fluid in the field, he simply does not have experience at the professional level in any area but shortstop. If the Giants move Morse in from the outfield, they could install Blanco in left and bring up Tyler Colvin from Fresno, but that leaves them powerless in left field again, and the Giants will not go that direction.
The most intriguing plan involves bringing Adam Duvall up from Fresno, where he has been dividing his playing time between third base and first base. The enticing element of the plan involves the fact that Duvall has already deposited eleven home runs into the seats at the triple-A level, so it just may be that he is ready to help out on the parent club. He made his presence felt in spring training this year so he is a familiar commodity.
It seems ill-advised to bring up Duvall if he is not going to play every day; a home run hitter cannot be expected to ply his trade on a part-time basis. If they do bring him up and install him at first, then management still has the same option to play Buster at first and switch Duvall to third to spell Pablo Sandoval. Who knows? Maybe that will light The Panda’s pilot light so he can get his season going.
The bottom line is that Belt will be missed; make no mistake about that. His bat has been a major force, but so has his defense not to mention his temperament. He keeps an even keel and he plays first base so well it conjures up images of J.T. Snow. That being said, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy will meet, after Bochy has obtained input from the rest of the coaching staff, and put a plan into effect that gives the team the best chance of taking the series with the Dodgers.
It’s as simple as that. The Giants will proceed in the direction that gives them the most immediate impact on the series in LA, and I’m not about to make any suggestions. There are too many factors and too many variables, for me to suggest the best course of action; I only know that the desired direction is up, as in the standings.
We are in first place now, two games ahead of the Colorado Rockies. Where will we be when Belt comes back? What do YOU think, both about who should replace Belt and where the Giants will be when he returns?