Welcome to “The Brandon Belt Chronicles”, an ongoing series of insightful and revealing commentaries about the San Francisco Giants’ number one minor league prospect, and the only debatable issue facing the San Francisco Giants this Spring. Sure, there are several pitched battles being fought for one or two open bullpen spots, but let’s get disturbingly real here and admit the only critical question in camp Giants is whether or not super prospect Brandon Belt goes north with the team or finds an apartment in Fresno this Spring.
Even though Giants General Manager Brian Sabean has all but declared that Belt would start the season as a member of the Triple A Fresno Grizzlies, speculation yet abounds Belt might just make the big team. I would say about 99.98% of that speculation can be found exclusively on local Bay Area sports talk radio. That’s not surprising since desperation for controversy, whether real or manufactured, is the fuel that allows sports talk radio broadcasters to remain fully conscious during a three hour shift full of callers wondering why the Giants don’t trade Aaron Rowand and Travis Ishikawa to St. Louis for Albert Pujols.
Conventional analysis states that Belt either joins the team on Opening Day, and hits the hell out of the ball, or plays in the minors for two or three months and then is brought up (and hits the hell out of the ball). Which is all well and fine, but let’s take a look at the dark underside of the Brandon Belt question and explore two unspeakable scenarios so frightening they make the upcoming release “Saw VIII: Now I’m Really Annoyed” look like a G-rated Disney feature from 1953.
Belt Scenario #1: It’s early July 2011 and the Giants are 54-26, fourteen and a half games ahead of the Colorado Rockies. Team chemistry is sweet, everyone is contributing, and everything smells like linen-scented Lysol spray. Oh, and Brandon Belt is leading the Pacific Coast League in every offensive category known to mankind, compelling the Fresno Grizzlies front office to place an over-sized easy chair in front of Belt’s bank of three adjoining lockers in the clubhouse. Sound familiar?
Do the Giants mess with baseball karma and bring their young phenom up?
Belt Scenario #2: It’s early July 2011 and the Giants are 26-54 and in fourth place only one and a half games ahead of the last place Arizona SnakeBacks. Top prospect Brandon Belt is hitting .211 at Triple A Fresno, and has already made 23 errors at first base to break the all time PCL record, held since 1944 by Heinie LaHood, who tragically lost both arms in 1938 during an unsupervised tug of war contest hosted by the Boy Scouts. (The scrappy LaHood found a spot on the Giants’ Triple A roster at first base due to the manpower shortage caused by World War II– more on the amazing story of Heinie LaHood in a future blog.)
Would this scenario cause the the Giants’ front office to still bring Brandon Belt up to the Bigs?
So, the message here is: don’t count your Brandon Belts before they hatch. And while I’m at it, remember to measure twice and cut once, even if it’s all gravy under the bridge.