The Brandon Belt Chronicles: Redemption in Fresno

brandonbelt-3The first stage of the San Francisco Giants 2011 season is skidding sideways in a puddle of errors, an epidemic of hitting slumps, and embarrassing slapdowns by a series of mediocre opposition starters. Not helping are the snickering references to the stale “Giants baseball– torture” soundbite from 2010, which is totally out of touch with what’s going on with this team. The only current “torture” comes from the local radio sportstalk dudes and Comcast broadcasters who use that tired phrase as punchline after every loss.

And lately there’s been plently of opportunity to drag that dead horse out of the barn.

While the local nine try to find their various MLB mojos, San Francisco Giants rookie Brandon Belt is roaming free in Central California having his way with Triple A pitching and taking no prisoners. After making the starting team out of Spring Training, Belt was sent to the minors with a .192 BA after 17 big league games to work on a hitting issue. That issue was adjusting his swing to properly “square up” on fastballs; so far Belt is punishing fast balls, curve balls and whatever else they’re throwing to him in the Pacific Coast League.

Through 9 games Fresno Grizzlies’ left fielder Brandon Belt is batting .517:

Games   9                   TB 25
ABs 29 BB   8
H 15 SO   8
R   8 SB-CS 3-0
2B   4 OBP .622
HR   2 OPS 1.484
RBI 10 E 0

When Brandon Belt is called back up to the San Francisco Giants in the next several weeks, he will take over as the everyday left fielder. And it’s irresistible not to imagine Belt being this year’s Buster Posey– firing up the offense, improving the defense, and bringing new energy to the team. A tall order and a boatload of expectations to put on a young player; the question is, does he have the tools and mental make-up to take on that role? The answer: absolutely.

The Giants front office faces a difficult task in determining exactly when to bring Belt up from Fresno. The Giants are going through a very bad stretch of baseball right now and the pressure is on to do something/anything to jump-start this team.

How bad of a stretch? In losing 3 of 4 to the Nationals this past weekend, the Giants were shut out twice and scored 4 runs in the four games. Since beating Colorado on April 19th, the Giants have gone 3-8. Virtually the entire line-up is slumping and the loss of Pablo Sandoval’s bat has just begun to further impact the faltering offense.

The loss of Sandoval’s glove at third has already impacted the defense, as replacement Miguel Tejada continues to play as if he is just about to announce his retirement from baseball. Tejada started the season looking lost at the plate and slow in the field and has continued to regress to the point where the Giants may be forced to also deal with finding an everyday replacement at short.

Tough times. But the promise of Brandon Belt is a positive that will impact this team and, hopefully, the entire National League. 

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