In a moderately shocking move, the San Francisco Giants rewarded prospect Brandon Belt for his great 2010 minor league season and strong spring by naming him their new starting first baseman.

This is a surprising move for a whole host of reasons. Not only do teams often chose to hold their prospects in the minor leagues to avoid Super 2 status (as we’ve discussed many times on Getting Blanked before), they tend not to sign aging players like Aubry Huff to multi-year contracts only to give their job to a young stud making the minimum.

Which isn’t to suggest bringing Belt north with the big club was part of the plan all along. An injury to starting outfielder Cody Ross helps create space for the young slugger as it forces the aforementioned Huff into outfield duty.

Belt posted gaudy numbers in his lone minor league season (at three levels!) and continued to rake during spring training, hitting three home runs while drawing six walks in more than 75 plate appearances. I covered Belt’s credentials early this spring, the only difference being the injury to Ross.

The bigger issue is what this means for the Giants – namely a total shift in ideology. I know I’ve been critical of Sabean many times in the past but if he thinks a) Belt can cut it and b) Super 2′s are headed the way of Hotmail than I encourage him to go nuts.

From what I’ve read around baseball this pre-season, most people do not expect the Giants to defend their World Series title. This Giants team could win 90 games and I would not bat an eyelash. Consider the Opening Day lineup a year ago:

2010 2011
Aaron Rowand – CF Andres Torres – CF
Edgar Renteria – SS Freddy Sanchez – 2B
Pablo Sandoval – 3B Aubrey Huff – LF
Aubrey Huff – 1B Buster Posey – C
Mark DeRosa – LF Miguel Tejada – SS
Bengie Molina – C Brandon Belt – 1B
John Bowker – RF Pablo Sandoval – 3B
Juan Uribe – 2B Cody Ross – RF
Timmy! Timmy (again)!

The World Series championship team which hit its stride mid-summer looks an awful lot like the one ready to take the field on Opening Day – with the addition of a healthy Mark DeRosa. There are no Rowands or Molinas in sight. There are question marks and regression candidates like any team – just don’t let the low win total in 2010 throw you: this is one of baseball’s best teams.

Comments (8)

  1. Not to be too annoying – but do the Giants “head North” from there Spring Training location?

    Any idea what this guy looks might be worth for fantasy purposes?

    • Yes, northern California is north of Arizona. Even if they travel to LA for their opener, it is still – technically – north.

      Fantasy? Not sure. He might not be up for the full season.

  2. :”Any idea what this guy looks might be worth for fantasy purposes?” Keep it to yourself, buddy. :p

    Drew, is it even worth comparing opening day lineups? IIRC, the Giants had lots of roster changes over the season.

    • I think that was my point. Pre-season pundits point to the Giants relatively low win total as reason they might not contend again in 2011. I believe they changed their team so much for the better that counting them out is unwise.

  3. Yes, the Giants had many roster changes. Going through April/May 2010 box scores brings back bad memories.
    I guess Sabean isn’t going to wait until June to pull in Belt like he did last year with Posey.

  4. Can we please see that album cover photoshopped? Brian Sabean and Brandon Belt together in the Freewheelin’ Brian Sabean.

  5. As good as the Giants are, it’s going to be their pitching, not their offense, that gets them into the postseason (in fact, much the same as the Phillies- obscene pitching, questionable offense). They still have to be the favourites in the NL West, though, if only by default.

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