Belt to Pick-up Slack(s)?

The San Francisco Giants are a confounding organization. The success of 20101 seemed to happen in spite of a great deal of the moves made by lightning rod GM Brian Sabean. No matter how many seemingly washed up fourth outfielders he acquired, the Giants managed to squeeze them into the lineup with positive results.

The pitching staff is never a concern in San Fran and Buster Posey is a star mixed with a hero. Brandon Belt is another young hitter poised to storm the defending champs everyday lineup.

As Parkes mentioned in his link dump this morning, Belt figures to start the year at AAA Fresno. Devious GM Brian Sabean paid a bit of lip service to Belt’s lack of experience, citing the mere 13 games spent above AA during his first pro season. Consider this load of baloney he fed the San Jose Mercury News:

“I personally would like to see him get more at-bats at Triple-A,” said Sabean, noting that Belt played just 13 games at Fresno at the end of last season, his first as a pro.

“He seemingly is a special talent, and you don’t want to kill somebody’s incentive or tell them they don’t have a chance. But he’d really have to force our hand, or bad luck — injuries and such — would have to befall us.”

What Sabean means to say is “we don’t want to start his arbitration clock any earlier than we have to.” Much like the smoke screen surrounding Buster Posey’s promotion last season, the Giants are in no hurry to face another Super Two early arbitration situation after the Tim Lincecum ugliness in years past.

Let there be no doubt: Brandon Belt is a stud. After re-signing Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff, one has to wonder where Belt fits. The scouts and results suggest the Giants move heaven and earth to get him in somewhere.

Keith Law offered a glowing scouting report of Belt during the Arizona Fall League, praising both the team’s decision to adjust his batting stance and the converted pitcher’s defence at first base.

Early spring training results —while effectively meaningless— could not be more positive. Belt had a monster day at the plate yesterday, shooting lasers from foul line to foul line while displaying a great two strike approach.

The projection systems love Brandon Belt as much as everyone else does. Though he shot all the way from rookie ball to triple A in his first pro season, the young first baseman didn’t hesitate at a single level. Belt amassed nearly 600 plate appearance at four minor league levels in 2010, never registering a wOBA below .400 the entire way. 24 home runs and impressive patience to boot. The projection system CAIRO has Belt with a .354 wOBA for the season, highest on the team.

Now that is a projection, not a prediction. For a young hitter to storm to the big leagues and start posting big numbers is far from a lock (hi Travis!) but Belt looks like the real deal. The Giants can move incumbent first baseman Aubrey Huff back to the outfield with Pat Burrell taking a seat on the bench or the couch at home. There is also talk of Belt taking some reps in the outfield. Whatever it takes, the Giants quest to defend their unlikely title is a lot more likely if Brandon Belt is contributing offensively.

1 – The San Francisco Giants won the World Series. This will eventually sink in, probably by mid-May.