Today has felt like one of those days where four million individual things were happening with the Giants. Here’s a few key points.
1. Brandon Belt makes the roster
Probably one of the more surprising things about the final roster was that, well, Brandon Belt was on it. For now, it’s looking like the Giants are going to shift Aubrey Huff into left field to get Belt in the lineup at first. According to Daniel Brown on the Giants Extra Blog, the Giants are ‘leaning’ towards a first base platoon with Belt and Brett Pill. I’m not a huge fan of platooning Belt, but I think it’s something that could sort itself out pretty quickly. And, even if the Giants kept Belt in a super strict platoon — which they probably won’t — batters in the majors faced right-handed pitchers 73 percent of the time in 2011. Belt would probably see something around 450 plate appearances if the team only let him hit against RHP over a full season. You could dock that number 50-100 PAs depending on how much time Posey gets at first.
I keep coming back to this quote from Belt last week:
“My personal opinion? If you want to reach a certain level, you have to play at that level,” he said. “If I need to get better against big league pitching, I need to face big league pitching.”
After weeks of the Giants’ posturing on Belt’s readiness, the team made the right call.
2. Hector Sanchez beats out Whiteside and Stewart
This one was almost as equally as surprising as Brandon Belt making the final roster. For awhile the Giants were tinkering around with the idea that they might need to carry three catchers on their roster. Even with the team’s need to protect Buster Posey from the rigors of catching, in reality, it’s kind of a silly idea. Instead, the Giants shunned the veteran presence of Whiteside and Stewart and went with the 22-year-old, Hector Sanchez.
There’s no doubt that Sanchez is a talented youngster — he was #10 on our prospect list this year — but his development path has been a little wacky; in 2011, he had a solid 228 PAs in San Jose, he skipped Double-A Richmond entirely, and then had a meh-worthy 168 PAs in Triple-A Fresno before getting called up to the majors. The cold, scientific eye of ZiPS has Sanchez projected at a line of .246/.288/.365 (77 OPS+), but I’m a fan and I’ll take the over just because. Sanchez’s ceiling is miles higher than Whiteside or Stewart. It’s a somewhat risky move, but it’s one I’m glad the Giants are taking.
I’m a fan. Here’s what I had to say about Sanchez in our prospect rankings in January:
The Giants’ system seems to have stocked up on catching talent in a hurry. Sanchez is still quite young and he does a little bit of everything well (hitting, fielding, throwing). He might not have the upside of some other catching prospects in the system, but there is a good chance we’ll see him (again) in the majors in 2012.
3. Giants turn Chris Stewart into RHP George Kontos
As the Giants made their final roster moves, the roster sat at 26 men. Minutes later, the team had traded Chris Stewart to the Yankees for relief pitcher, George Kontos, to clear the final spot. Kontos, 27, pitched last year for the Yankees AAA affiliate, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Kontos’ career pitching totals: 529.2 innings pitched, 527 strikeouts, 177 walks, and a 3.33 ERA; that’s a 3.0 BB/9 and a 9.0 K/9. Looks like a perfectly useful arm to get for a defense-first (even if his defense was amazing) catcher. It’s a nice pickup for the Giants.
4. More K/BB porn
Dan Otero made the team as a reliever. Why is that important?
Year Age Lev ERA IP H BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB 2007 22 A- 1.21 22.1 12 0 15 0.537 0.0 6.0 2008 23 A+-A 2.00 54.0 56 7 49 1.167 1.2 8.2 7.00 2009 24 AA 1.15 39.0 40 10 31 1.282 2.3 7.2 3.10 2010 25 A+-Rk 2.25 24.0 18 2 18 0.833 0.8 6.8 9.00 2011 26 AA-AAA 2.31 74.0 72 11 76 1.122 1.3 9.2 6.91 5 Seasons 1.90 213.1 198 30 189 1.069 1.3 8.0 6.30
Would you look at that.
Overall, I think it’s been a pretty successful, and positive, day for the Giants. The team took some pretty big steps in getting its best players on the field. Any time you can do that, you’re starting off in the right direction.