Tag: Brandon Belt

Mat Latos

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights


Braves 12, Marlins 2: I got home from dinner with the kids at about 7:30 last night and turned on the game figuring, heck, it’s probably just the second inning at best. I probably didn’t miss anything. As I turned the game on the top of the first was just ending and the Braves were up 7-0. This is why I always try to be on time for things. Mat Latos’ ERA is 94.50 on the year. But his FIP is much better, so let’s not go crazy, OK? The Braves got 14 hits and drew seven walks. Come June or so, I figure this will be a week’s worth of production. It’s fun now, however.

Orioles 6, Rays 5: Baltimore jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first and 6-0 after two and held on as the Rays tried to rally back. Steve Pearce homered for the second straight game, which is not all that good for people who bet the mortgage on “Steve Pearce will fall back to earth after a surprisingly great 2014 season.” Really, though, bookies shouldn’t take that action. It seems shockingly specific and somewhat mean spirited.

Diamondbacks 7, Giants 6: Jake Lamb and David Peralta each hit three-run homers for the snakes, and Lamb drove in another one on a groundout. He had three in the season’s first game. I don’t think that pace is sustainable, but it’s cool. The Giants have played two games and have had three key injuries. That’s not a ratio that’s all that sustainable itself. Here it was Brandon Belt, who strained his groin going after a foul ball.

Rangers 3, Athletics 1: Prince Fielder is back, hitting two RBI singles. Colby Lewis was effective, allowing one run over six. Jeff Banister picks up his first ever win as a manager and afterward was doused in a beer shower. Mmmm . . . beer shoooowwweer.

Angels 2, Mariners 0: A key for the Angels this year is to get one of their erstwhile aces to pitch something like they used to once again. C.J. Wilson is one of those two and in his 2015 debut he did, allowing two hits in eight shutout innings. David Freese being a threat once again is also pretty key for the Angels. He was that last night too, hitting a two-run homer for the game’s only runs. This one lasted a mere two hours and thirteen minutes, by the way. Staying in the box and between innings clocks may help some, but shutdown pitching is pretty key to improving the pace of play as well.

Padres 7, Dodgers 3: On Opening Day the Dodgers scored three late to break a tie and win the game. Last night, tied 3-3 heading into the ninth, the Padres were the ones who broke out, scoring four. One of the runs scored as a result of a bunt that catcher Yasmani Grandal overran while fielding and then threw directly into the back of the batter as he ran to first. That put runners on the corners and an RBI single by Wil Myers broke the tie, with the floodgates opening thereafter. Speaking of floods — or, at the very least, rain — this one was delayed 30 minutes by rain at the outset. Which doesn’t happen in Los Angeles all that much. But at this point I imagine California will endure hundreds of rain delays if they can get some drought relief from it. Speaking of that, go read this. It’s extremely enlightening about why California’s drought is not just California’s problem or fault and why us back east looking down our nose at Californians as somehow the architects of their own disaster is fundamentally wrong.

Rockies 5, Brewers 2: Rockies hitters have 12 doubles in the first two games of the season, tying a major league record that was set in 1912. Six on Opening Day, six last night. Meanwhile, Jordan Lyles allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.

Cardinals vs. Cubs: POSTPONED: Frank Lloyd Wright once had a client who phoned him to complain of rain leaking through the roof of the house onto the dining table. Wright’s response: “Move the table.”

Bruce Bochy hints that Brandon Belt could get some playing time in the outfield

Brandon Belt

Giants outfielder Angel Pagan hasn’t played in Cactus League exhibitions since last Saturday due to lower back problems. The 33-year-old had back surgery last September and came into spring training with no restrictions, but this latest setback has the Giants concerned.

How concerned? Manager Bruce Bochy is thinking about who could play in the outfield in Pagan’s absence, and one of the options that came up was current first baseman Brandon Belt. Via Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News:

When the spring began, Giants GM Brian Sabean made a declarative statement: Brandon Belt was a first baseman, period.

But with Hunter Pence’s arm in a cast and Angel Pagan receiving back injections again, it might be time to change the punctuation.

“I wouldn’t say period,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy on Friday, asked about using Belt to cover a suddenly thin outfield. “More of a comma. It’s currently being discussed. We’ve talked about Brandon. We’ve done it before.”

Belt has played in the outfield before, of course, but hasn’t logged significant time there since 2011. He accrued 27 1/3 defensive innings in left field in 2012, none in ’13, and exactly one inning in right field last year.

If Pagan would be out for any length of time, Gregor Blanco would likely take over in center field. With Hunter Pence out until late April or early May with a broken forearm, right field would be open to Matt Duffy, Adam Duvall, Gary Brown, Juan Perez, and Belt. Then, with first base open, Buster Posey could move out from behind the plate for a little while, which would help his durability over the course of the season.

2015 Preview: San Francisco Giants

Madison Bumgarner ,Buster Posey

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

The Big Question: Will they do it again?

The Giants came roaring out of the gate last season and looked like one of the best teams in the majors early on, but they stumbled through the middle of the year before playing better in August and September (and getting some help from the collapsing Brewers) to secure a Wild Card spot with 88 wins. Of course, we all know what happened after that. They beat the Pirates in the Wild Card game before upsetting the Nationals in the NLDS and the Cardinals in the NLCS. On the strength of one of the best individual postseason performances of all-time from Madison Bumgarner, the Giants beat the Royals for their third World Series title in the past five years.

“Will they do it again?” is the operative question for any defending World Series champion. The Giants have looked like a mess in spring training, but I’m not going to dismiss them outright because 2015 is an odd-numbered year. It’s cute to joke about it, but there’s no such thing as an odd-year jinx because jinxes aren’t real. We’re all adults here. We can admit it, right? However, I will say that the path back to October has its share of challenges.

After fan favorite Pablo Sandoval signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox, many wondered if the Giants would use the cost savings to make a big splash in free agency. It didn’t happen. They re-signed Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong, and Sergio Romo while adding Nori Aoki to their outfield, but that was about it. Chase Headley was briefly mentioned as a possible alternative to Sandoval, but the Giants ultimately acquired Casey McGehee from the Marlins. Not the most exciting offseason, but Brian Sabean has a knack for keeping the band together and winning the offseason isn’t everything.

I can spend a lot time talking about the greatness of Bumgarner and Buster Posey here — and man, are they are great — but what the Giants get from some key rebound candidates will likely tell the tale about where this team goes. Matt Cain didn’t pitch after July 9 last season due to an elbow injury which eventually required surgery. He also had ankle surgery in September. The 30-year-old owns a 4.06 ERA over his last 45 starts dating back to the start of 2013? Can he revert to his old form? Angel Pagan was a key to the team’s World Series run in 2012, but he has been limited to just 167 games over the past two seasons and is coming off back surgery. He’s currently shut down with more back discomfort. Can the Giants count on him at this point? Brandon Belt might be a better bet than those first two. The 26-year-old had some tough luck on the injury front last year, as a fractured thumb and concussion issues limited him to just 61 games, but he has looked great this spring and should produce if healthy. His best baseball is likely still ahead of him. The Giants don’t have a lot of pop, so it would be helpful if 2015 is that year.

What else is going on?

  • The rotation has a bunch of questions even beyond Cain. The workload for Bumgarner last year (270 innings between the regular season and playoffs) can’t be ignored altogether. Tim Hudson is 39 and is coming off surgery in January to remove bone spurs from his right ankle. Peavy has avoided arm problems for the past three years and should benefit with a full year in a pitcher-friendly ballpark in the NL, but he’s going into his age-34 season and has a major injury in his past. Tim Lincecum is getting another shot in the starting rotation despite a 4.76 ERA (73 ERA+) over the past three seasons.
  • If things don’t work out with Lincecum (and it’s hard to believe it will, as fun as a sudden revival would be), Yusmeiro Petit is someone to keep an eye on. With his lights-out curveball, the 30-year-old compiled a 3.69 ERA with an excellent 133/22 K/BB ratio in 117 innings across 12 starts and 27 relief appearances last season. He’ll likely begin 2015 in Bruce Bochy’s consistently-excellent bullpen along with the likes of Vogelsong, Jean Machi, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Romo, and Santiago Casilla, but he deserves a long look in that rotation. I’m guessing he’ll get it one way or the other.
  • Hunter Pence has been one of the game’s most durable players since entering the league, but he suffered a freak injury earlier this month when he was hit by a pitch and suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left forearm. He’s likely to miss most or all of April. We should see a lot of Gregor Blanco in the meantime and potentially guys like Travis Ishikawa, Justin Maxwell, and Juan Perez too, especially if Pagan’s back keeps acting up. It’s only a month, but Pence’s production will be missed in this lineup.
  • Hey, remember when the Giants had Dan Uggla play a handful of games at second base last season? That was fun. Fortunately, rookie Joe Panik eventually emerged and proved to be a solid contributor down the stretch and had some big moments during the postseason. What does the 24-year-old have in store for his first full season in the majors? There’s still some question about how much he’ll hit, but between him and Brandon Crawford, it looks like the Giants might not have to worry about their middle infield for a while.

Prediction: There are definitely ways I can see this working out, but I have too many doubts about the rotation and I don’t think there’s enough power in this lineup. It’s going to be close with the Padres and the numerous other teams in the Wild Card race, but I’m going with…Third place, NL West.

Bruce Bochy leaning towards batting Brandon Belt third

Brandon Belt

Per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Giants manager Bruce Bochy gave an idea of how he’ll construct his lineup going into the 2015 season. It includes Brandon Belt batting third, as well as newcomers Casey McGehee and Norichika Aoki batting sixth and seventh.

Belt, 27 in April, hit fifth or lower in the Giants’ lineup in 34 of the 61 games in which he appeared during the 2014 season. Despite limited playing time due to a fractured thumb and concussion issues, Belt was among the more productive hitters for the Giants, finishing with a .243/.306/.449 slash line along with 12 home runs and 27 RBI in 235 plate appearances.

Hunter Pence, who finished with an on-base percentage 25 points higher than Belt last season, hits fifth. One wonders if it may be more logical to bat Pence third and Belt fifth.

The Giants and Brandon Belt avoid arbitration

brandon belt giants getty
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Jon Heyman reports that the Giants and Brandon Belt avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.6 million contract. Belt had asked for $4.5 million and was offered $3 million from the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged.

Belt’s 2014 was derailed by injuries, causing him to appear in just 61 games last season. He hit .243/.306/.449 with 12 homers. Which explains why the settlement number was a lot closer to the Giants’ submission than his own.

Belt has two more trips through arbitration in his future and can become a free agent following the 2017 season.