At this point, it wouldn’t really be all that surprising if the following quote from San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, in response to questions about Brandon Belt being the Opening Day first baseman, was given as a means of teasing an entire fan base.
He’s been getting most of the playing time there. We’ve said we’d put the bats out there that are swinging well.
Last year’s offensive struggles led to nearly mutinous behaviour from Giants supporters who, quite justifiably couldn’t understand why more at bats were being given to players like Jeff Keppinger down the stretch than one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball.
After last night’s exhibition victory over the Oakland A’s, Bochy went on to admit that instead of continuing to block Belt, the incumbent first baseman, Aubrey Huff, could play a “major role” in the team’s outfield. While I’ll remain optimistic that Huff has somehow turned back the clock to a time when he can actually make contact with pitches on the outside part of the strike zone, it’s far more likely that his is not only a bat best left on the bench, but also a glove best put somewhere else.
So, while it’s good news for Giants fans that Belt will get regular playing time at first base to start the season, instead of the yo-yo act he had to tolerate last year, one might feel a little bit concerned about Huff flopping around right field instead of Nate Schierholtz, who I’m not even sure is a worse option at the plate.
And for the record, the fact that Belt’s inclusion in the starting lineup of this team wasn’t a given is scary for a manager of Bochy’s reputation. A quick look at ZiPS projections for 2012 reveals that Belt should be the second best hitter on the team behind only Pablo Sandoval.
And The Rest
I got asked to participate in the National Post’s season preview as part of a panel breaking down the coming season. [National Post]
In today’s “No, seriously, this is the most OriLOLes thing ever:” The Baltimore Orioles lost an exhibition game to a junior college from Florida. [Getting Blanked]
The Washington Nationals would rather eat the $5 million they owe John Lannan than have him pitch in the big leagues over Ross Detwiler. [Nats Insider]
Tampa Bay Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth is heading to the Disabled List due to elbow tenderness. [DRaysBay]
They say that the greatest things to come out of America are jazz music and baseball. Combined, they would form a fantasy jazz baseball team. [CBC]
The Texas Rangers seem prepared to offer more money to Ian Kinsler as part of a six year contract extension than the Atlanta Braves gave Dan Uggla. However, the second baseman might be wait and see what the Yankees offer Robinson Cano before deciding. [Lone Star Ball]
Fittingly, we discussed the likelihood of the Rangers extending Josh Hamilton yesterday. [Getting Blanked]
Juan Pierre’s historic lack of power. [Crashburn Alley]
Ken Rosenthal thinks rather highly of Toronto Blue Jays youngster Brett Lawrie. [Drunk Jays Fans]
A baseball game was played in Texas last night despite what you see here, captured on video by Rangers catcher and then some Mike Napoli. [Twitvid]
Cleveland Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez isn’t going to take his five game suspension for throwing at Troy Tulowitzki lying down. [ESPN.com]
The bells and whistles at new Marlins Park offer the team a competitive advantage. [South Florida Sun Sentinel]
Jeffrey Loria remains spectacularly unlikable. [Deadspin]
Wrigley Field is going to get renovated … one of these days. [Chicago Tribune]
As you might remember, as part of the new collective bargaining agreement between players and owners, the use of chewing tobacco at the Major League level has to be more discreet. And if it isn’t being used discreetly, we can all narc on those players. Of course, it just so happens that the only players I’ve noticed using smokeless tobacco happen to be the best players on my most hated teams. [Tobacco Free Kids]
It’s nice to see the Los Angeles Dodgers investing in making Vin Scully look young. [Vin Scully Is My Homeboy]
A third team in New York? Why not? [Slate]
Colorado Rockies 49 year old starting pitcher Jamie Moyer was on The Today Show. [MSNBC]