Sure, the Giants had the NL’s worst offense last year. Sure, they develop major league hitters at a rate of about two a decade. Sure, their hitting coach was one of the biggest prospect flops of the 1980s.
But when you have the chance to overhaul the swing of a top prospect hitting .380, you just gotta take it.
The Giants are considering sending Brandon Belt down to start the season in part because they don’t like his mechanics at the plate, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly reports.
“He’s way out in front of the batter’s box,” hitting coach Hensley Meulens said.“It works for him, but want to make sure he’s getting the bat head out on those pitches middle-in and not just trying to flare it to left-center. We’re on the back field using drills so he can create that feel. When his elbow goes out, the barrel actually flattens and it takes a longer time to get the bat out in front.
“He’s had success in this camp, but … the pitching is different here. We all know that. We see a lot of minor league guys pitching in these games. It’s not to take anything away from him, but there’s still some things that we’re trying to refine so he’ll have success at the big league level.”
My take: Meulens probably has a point. Belt doesn’t have an ideal swing, and I don’t really see him becoming a star in the majors. That said, it’s certainly worked for him so far. He didn’t excel as a rookie, but he did have a 101 OPS+ in his 187 at-bats last season, even though he was never given consistent starts. He’s also been one of the team’s best hitters with a 1.089 OPS this spring. He certainly appears to me to be a better bet than Aubrey Huff or Brett Pill for this year unless the Giants totally screw him up. Sending him down would be a bad, bad call.
Joe Longo, the agent of Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, said his client’s relationship with the Marlins is “irretrievably broken,” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He believes in the best interest of both Yelich and the Marlins to work out a trade before the start of spring training.
They have a plan. I respect that plan, but that plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career. He’s in the middle of the best years of his career, and having him be part of a 100-loss season is not really where [we] want to see him going.
The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.
He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He’s had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don’t see how it’s going to work.
This certainly comes as no surprise considering the offseason the Marlins have had after installing new ownership, going from Jeffrey Loria to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The club traded All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs last season, as well as Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. As Crasnick notes, Yelich isn’t the only player to express disappointment with the Marlins’ current direction — J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro have as well.
Yelich, 26, signed a seven-year, $49.57 million contract extension with the Marlins in March of 2015. Given his career performance, that’s a bargain of a contract, which is why more than a handful of teams have inquired with the Marlins about him this offseason. Yelich finished the past season with a .282/.369/.439 triple-slash line along with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances.