With another down year offensively, is it time for the San Francisco Giants to consider moving on from guys like Joe Panik and Brandon Belt?
The San Francisco Giants offense has had a rough year. They expected players like Brandon Belt and Joe Panik to be their usual selves as they attempted to come back from one of the most disappointing seasons in team history.
While Belt and Panik have shown flashes of their All-Star capabilities this year, a familiar culprit threw a wrench in both of their seasons.
Think back to the first two games of the season — a long time ago, I know. But remember how Joe Panik hit a solo home run in back to back games, providing all the offense the Giants would need against the Dodgers in both contests? Ah, good times.
Well, if you had to guess, you’d probably have said Joe was about to have himself a year. His true breakout year in which he’d announce himself as one of the National League’s premier second basemen. That is, of course, if he could stay on the field.
Wouldn’t you know it, at the end of April he underwent thumb surgery. He hasn’t been the same player since. After hitting three home runs in the first week of the season, he’s only hit one since. It’s a familiar story as Panik has had injury troubles for basically his entire career.
Now, what about Brandon Belt? While early excitement over Panik may have been mostly overreaction, Belt was putting together a career year for a good chunk of the first half of the season. Then the injuries hit and his production on offense has dropped like an anchor.
It would be totally unfair to blame Panik and Belt for their injuries. Many of their injuries (appendix removal) were just kind of freak things that weren’t their fault. It’s not like they were going out to the bar after games and slipping on ice cubes or, you know, punching something after a blown save. In that case, we may have a problem.
These are just two good ballplayers who go about their business trying to play as many games as they can in a long season. Guys are bound to get dinged up, no one is 100 percent at this point in the year.
But Belt and Panik being on the field so infrequently beg the question: is it time to move on? I think San Francisco Giants management and fans alike have been opposed to getting rid of either player not only because they were key parts of championship runs but because they figure that if they stayed healthy (at least relatively so) for a whole season then they would be supremely valuable on both offense and defense.
Neither of them are geezers (Panik is 27, Belt is 30) but one could make the argument that now is the time to trade them to get some decent prospects while they’re still valuable. To be honest, I don’t know what the Giants should do.
I don’t really want to see either of them go, but I also know that the Giants really need to rethink their offensive strategy if they want to get better. My heart says they should stay, but my head says it might be time for them to go.