Three Catchers and Zero Brandon Belts
I’ll try not to comment too much on last night’s game, because quite frankly even thinking about it is exhausting. All I can say is that I’m not at all surprised as well as supremely grateful that I wasn’t watching innings 7-12, because frankly I can only take so much. Setting that aside, the big news today was the call-up of catcher Hector Sanchez, who’s split time between A and AAA-ball this season. The move was made as Pat Burrell was sent to the DL, hamstringing the bench in terms of late-inning power options.
The move itself was curious as it leaves the Giants with three catchers, two of which can’t hit, while the third has less than 100 AB’s above A-ball. What was most perplexing about everything though is that this leaves Brandon Belt down in AAA. Andrew Baggarly insists that the club doesn’t feel as though he’s “ready” and that he needs more at-bats in Fresno. If Belt’s .348/.378/.560 line isn’t considered “Major League ready,” by that logic Hector Sanchez is even less prepared to face big league pitching. This in turn leads me to believe in some sort of subtext here that we’re not seeing.
This move could mean any number of things, so let’s examine. Firstly, it could signal a trade for another outfielder is in the works and that one catcher will be the odd man out. Secondly, it could simply mean that Brandon Belt isn’t quite over his wrist injury and that he needs more rehab time in Fresno to work out the kinks. Thirdly, we come to Occam’s Razor: our front office could actually be under the delusion that three catchers and Manny Burriss as our back-up outfielder is a completely logical solution to the Giants’ offensive woes.
On a team in desperate need of offensive help, there’s a chance, however small, that Sanchez could give something of an offensive boost at catcher and that Chris Stewart and his .172/.273/.241 line may be short for the Majors. It’s difficult to tell unless you’re a fly on the wall behind closed doors, but unless Belt needs more time to rehab or this is a precursor to a trade, the move doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
The most infuriating reasoning comes from Bruce Bochy himself, as per Baggs, “Sanchez’s ability to catch would allow Bochy to do more double-switching or hit more often in the late innings for Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart.” Frankly, double-switching the catcher in the late-innings seems like something that should be low on the list of this team’s priorities, right behind “Find someone who can hit at or above league average at just about every position except for third base and right field.”
UPDATE: Andrew Baggarly has further explanation for us. According to Bochy, “We don’t want to bring (Belt) up unless we can get him consistent playing time. We just feel Belt needs to stay down there and keep playing until we have a place where he can get consistent at-bats.” A good way to get Belt consistent at-bats? Put him at first and let Aubrey Huff think some things over on the bench.