And So It Continues
Just a week ago, things were looking up. The Giants had just acquired Carlos Beltran as they rolled into Philadelphia and won two of three against the team with the best record in baseball. Then we got swept by the Reds, followed by a loss to the Diamondbacks. In case you blinked, the Giants’ NL West lead is down to one game now. The long and short of it is that the Diamondbacks aren’t going away any time soon. They have a bevy of young hitters with funny names like Goldschmidt and Cowgill, as well as a sneaky good pitching staff.
That’s not to say that the Giants aren’t equipped to win either though. The middle of the lineup featuring Beltran and Sandoval is formidable, and if Belt ever gets to play again he’ll be a welcomed addition. But the Belt saga continued last night, as Aubrey Huff homered while his younger counterpart struck out in one at-bat. Remember when Eugenio Velez got regular playing time for a month because of a fifteen or so good at-bats? This is what concerns me. Belt will continue to get pinch-hit at-bats and occasionally spot start, while Huff will get playing time based on a few good at-bats every four or five games. Now if Huff really does start hitting, more power to him. It just doesn’t seem likely at this juncture.
I’ve harped on this in just about every post dating back to last week, but it deserves repeating. Belt is not being given the proper means by which to prove himself at the big-league level. In the Major Leagues this season, pinch-hitters have a collective batting average of .217. Sitting on the bench for 7-8 innings and then being given one at-bat is tough, and that’s the duty that Brandon Belt has been relegated to. He’s statistically unlikely to both learn Major League pitching and succeed at this level getting sporadic at-bats–this is how a prospect goes from “promising” to a bust.
Tonight the Giants run Tim Lincecum out there as the stopper. The Giants absolutely cannot afford to lose a fifth game in a row and risk coming out of this series in second place, so this game is just a little important in the grander scheme of the season.
Of course if the middle infield combo of Jeff Keppinger and Orlando Cabrera continue to not know where the ball is, things might get ugly. In the Diamondbacks’ five-run inning, three balls were hit to either shortstop or second base that should be have been routine plays yet somehow found the outfield for RBI singles. Before that, I was watching on MLB Gameday and saw the words “[player] singles on pop-up to shortstop.” And all this comes on the heels of hearing that Freddy Sanchez and all of his defensive brilliance will be out for the rest of the season, so unless Keppinger stops Magellan-ing his way to ground balls to his left, we might have to deal with more of the same.