OK, deep breath.
Chances are that Brett Pill isn’t, or will he ever be, a good major league baseball player. I’m using good somewhat subjectively here, but I think it’s a fine word for what Pill won’t be; good. However, that doesn’t mean that Brett Pill doesn’t necessarily have some sort of utility for the Giants.
First, the stone cold facts: Brett Pill is a 27-year-old first baseman with a career minor league batting slash of .279/.328/.445 — not overly impressive, and I don’t really think anyone believes his rise to the majors has been one of legend. He showed up last year, hit a couple of dingers, and collected a few rib-eyes. Bam! You’re Brett Pill. It happens. Continuing with the facts … Pill has been an above average hitter in two of his six minor league seasons. He’s also right-handed. Pill’s handedness is key.
Here’s a list of left-handed hitters (switch-hitters not included) currently on the Giants’ Opening Day Probably roster: Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Mike Fontenot, and Nate Schierholtz.
Pill’s likely role will be that of a bench player, occasional pinch-hitter, and occasional starter against LHP. He’ll be a 25th man, a player that rounds out a bench. I think the biggest problem with Pill is that despite his near non-upside, he’s constantly linked with Brandon Belt, a player with significant upside, in a one-or-the-other approach. That’s probably unfair to both players. My position on Belt is well known, but if you’re new to the site, I’m a fan. I think Belt’s play in 2012 will be one of the biggest factors that will determine success or failure for the team.
However, the Giants seem uneasy with having Belt on the Opening Day roster:
Belt has already said that if it comes down to it, he would prefer to get consistent at-bats in Fresno rather than ride the pine in the majors. In that regard, I think Brett Pill and Brandon Belt will fulfill different roles. Pill will be the bench player; Belt will be the starter (hopefully) once he’s back. At this point, sticking Belt in a bench role seems like it could hurt his development.
I think the real issue is Aubrey Huff. I know watching Huff play the OF is a horrible, horrible experience, but I’m of the opinion that largely anyone with legs can play left field (LOL FRED LEWIS) and to me, the optimum arrangement for this team would be LF Huff, CF Pagan, RF Melky, and 1B Belt. It gives you the best arrangement of hitting on the current roster. It would get Belt’s (high upside) bat in the lineup while letting him play his natural position. Schierholtz has been dinged up all spring and while I love his defense in RF, I don’t think there is much of a difference — if any — between him and Melky at the position. Melky’s bat will probably play a little better, too.
So, circling back, Brett Pill. He’s kind of unfairly linked with Brandon Belt. (I honestly don’t believe that anyone inside the Giants’ front office believes that Pill is better than Belt. And this front office has done some goofy shit in its time.) If Pill’s role is truly one of a bench-player, then that’s OK. His right-handedness will give the Giants someone to throw out there as a pinch-hitter or spot-starter when the time calls. He probably won’t be very good, but once Huff flames out, or an injury strikes, or whatever, we’ll get Brandon Belt. I don’t think it’s crazy to prefer that Belt gets regular playing time some place rather than sporadic bench-time in the majors.
I’ve made my peace with Brett Pill. I hope you can do the same.