A Two-Pronged Brandon Belt Strategy

It's easy to have an opinion on Brandon Belt. Just pick which side of the aisle you're on, and start flinging insults the other way. Have you formed an intractable opinion based on his 18 at-bats this season? You're over there. Convinced that his minor-league stats portend success that will defeat the small-sample goblins? You're over there. Fight! Fight! Fight!

But while opinions are easy, suggestions are not. "Play Belt!" is too simplistic. If you think that's a realistic suggestion, you haven't watched Bruce Bochy manage before. He's not going to have an epiphany and start playing rookies he doesn't trust over veterans he does. As long as Aubrey Huff is healthy and hitting over .200, he'll play. Putting your fist in the air and organizing Free Belt rallies isn't going to change that. You might as well write a strongly worded letter to your cat not to eat crickets. He's still going to eat crickets. He's eating one right now.

It seems like both sides are ridiculously polarized, too. As if there's no room for nuance:

Belt Detractor: Name me one guy who started his career this poorly and made something out of himself. The guy keeps striking out!

Belt Supporter: Hundreds. Freddie Freeman started his 2011 season as bad as Belt did, and the Braves stuck with him. He was fine. Freeman's been miserable at the start of this year, but the Braves aren't jerking him around.

Belt Detractor: Name me one guy who started his career this poorly and made something out of himself. The guy keeps striking out!

Belt Supporter: If you're looking for a Giants-based comp, check out Matt Williams. When he was Belt's age, he had 181 strikeouts in 693 at-bats and a .198 batting average. The next season he made the All-Star team.

Belt Detractor: Name me one guy who started his career this poorly and made something out of himself. The guy keeps striking out!

Belt Supporter: He made the All-Star team, just like Belt will this year. And Belt will make the All-Star team for the next few years, electrifying the crowd as he chases Roger Maris' record.

Belt Detractor: Name me one guy who started his career this poorly and made something out of himself. The guy keeps striking out!

Belt Supporter: Bran-don Bran-don, they'll chant, as they throw flowers onto the field. Grown men will weep, with Belt reminding them of the baseball games their fathers took them to, and the games they'll one day see with their children. He his the Platonic idea of baseball, the very embodiment of the sport.

Belt Detractor: Hella strikeouts.

I'm clearly on the Belt Supporter side, but I think it's silly to guarantee success. The Giants are built to win now, and there's a very real chance that Belt doesn't help that. Yes, even when considering that the competition is Huff and Nate Schierholtz. I'd wager that's somewhat unlikely, but that doesn't mean that someone who prefers Huff or Schierholtz is automatically a doodyhead with stupid opinions and a stupid face.

There's no sense in writing a Belt-should-start article. Instead, I offer my two wishes for the near future:

Play him at least three days a week or send him down
This is a compromise, even, as I'm not sure that a part-time Belt is going to be good for the short- or long-term success of the team. But he's not going to get better by watching. I wish I could figure out a way to explain just how ridiculous it is to hope Belt gets better by not playing. Wish I had the talent to write something poignant about that mistaken logic.

Wait. Hold on. I'm going to get better at writing.


After watching that .gif 39 times, I'm pretty good at write now. So article improvement should be forthcoming in extremely best way.

Play Belt. Somewhere. If he has a hole, real or imaginary, let him make adjustments to it. Somewhere. San Francisco. Fresno. San Jose. Somewhere. Don't say he's not good enough to start, but too valuable to remove from the bench. One or the other, Giants.

Communicate with him
They probably are already. Honestly, I have no idea. There's only so much information that's going to trickle down from the clubhouse. But if the plan is that Belt will start against right-handers after a game in which either Huff or Schierholtz took and oh-fer, well, tell him that. If the plan is to look through tea leaves and see who has the hot bat, tell him that.

The Giants probably are. I think there's about a five-percent chance that there's no communication, and that Belt comes to the park every day not knowing what his status is. That would be a miserable way to destroy the spirits and confidence of an unsteady player. Bochy might be a veteran's manager, but he's not a monster. I hope.

That's it. Two simple requests. The first one is more important. Let him play somewhere. Let him swing a bat against real-live pitching. I really don't know what to think about Belt anymore, but that's probably because it's hard to watch a guy who doesn't play.

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