As the right-hander in a platoon situation and a power bat off the bench, Brett Pill is a nice, cheap addition to the Giants’ roster. Last night, Brett Pill went 1-4 with a double off of Cliff Lee. He did not embarrass himself in the field as he did in Colorado. His Twitter handle is @PillzRGood (Millenials: click here to learn the source of this reference). He’s sporting a 157 OPS+ in his really, really, ridiculously brief MLB career (65 PA). His facial expression never changes:
He did not come to Spring Training out of shape. He did not refuse the coaching staff’s suggestions regarding his swing. He did not rank as one of the worst hitters in the entire league in 2011. He did not refuse a beer and cry when told he’d made the big league club.
I can find nothing wrong with Brett Pill.
Whether or not you’re Team Belt, whether or not you’re Team Gritty Veteran Status Rules All, you should agree with me that we can all be Team Pill (which is really just a borough of Team Giants). This is a guy who will – with luck – be nothing more and nothing less than exactly what we expect him to be. As a comparison, it is probable that Emmanuel Burriss will be much worse than we expect him to be.
Brett Pill is the Giant’s middle child. He’s the kid we don’t have to worry about… or the one that we’re just too tired to check in on and, so, we cross our fingers and hope like hell for the best. Brandon Belt is the oldest: the one with all the expectations, pressing, stressed over proving himself to his parents and always coming up short. Aubrey Huff is the youngest: spoiled, brash, charming, and manipulative.
You could also flip Belt and Huff and say that Huff’s the one who gets all the attention and all the help from the parents while the other kids are ignored, but if you looked at it that way then you’d have to ignore birth order science. SCIENCE.
Brandon Belt is more like the oldest child than you realize. They’ve invested more in him than Aubrey Huff – a high draft pick, coaching his swing, sending him to the winter league, talking him up in the press, moving him up levels quickly when it became clear he was something special – and he’s been given more of the team’s direct resources and attention than Pill who simply lives off what the Giants already have.
Pill gets the hand-me-down clothes, Huff gets the money, and Belt gets high expectations and hair-trigger judgments based on, like, 11 ABs.
It’s clear that Aubrey Huff is the Giants’ favorite child at first base – "Aww, he popped up a fastball right down the middle with runners in scoring position how adorable!" – and there is certainly a litany of reasons we could discuss that might make it clear why this is their preference. But if we stick to birth order science and apply what we know about human nature, the matter can be boiled down to an idiom: "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."
Aubrey Huff makes a lot of money. Aubrey Huff was one of the first "faces" to emerge in the 2010 season. I think his inside-the-park home run was sort of the first really big moment he had, one that propelled him to the top of the Giants’ popularity chart (alongside Lincecum, of course) until Buster Posey and Pat Burrell came along. He became synonymous with the Giants’ success and the World Series win. He has a quirky personality – rally thong! – and he drinks beer and smokes cigarettes. Aubrey Huff makes a lot of money, too.
If Showtime’s The Franchise had been scripted – say, Aaron Sorkin wanted to craft a series about a band of misfits winning the World Series – then the scene where Aubrey Huff tells the camera crew about the prank his teammates pulled takes on a totally different meaning then just a guy being a little sad about getting picked on.
Not only is this guy taking my job, he’s making fun of me.
There’s no doubt that Bruce Bochy watched that. A major league manager, by default, sticks up for and stands by his veterans, even long after their "expiration dates." It’s entirely possible that Bochy is going so far out of his way to show Huff that he’s an important part of the team that he is willing to punish Belt as much as he possibly can (within reason). Statements to the press that run contrary to his actions, pulling him after 11 ABs, double-switching him in and out of the lineup… Bruce Bochy knows what’s up where Brandon Belt is involved, knows that fans are clamoring for the kid to play more, that the organization has high hopes for him, that he’s hit well wherever he’s been, but Aubrey Huff is the veteran and if he doesn’t stick up for the guy he risks upsetting him. Alienating a veteran is the fastest way for a manager to lose his clubhouse, and that relationship is something he cannot risk.
Maybe Aubrey Huff doesn’t give a hoot about the prank or the possibility of losing his starting job to Brandon Belt, but he still makes a lot of money and he is one of the faces of the team and he is a veteran clubhouse presence, therefore, Bruce Bochy is compelled to play favorites and go with Huff.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. I believe the Giants can break the chains of birth order behavior.
**WARNING: I WILL NOW MIX METAPHORS**
I am a fatty who is fat. I am so fat that my face fat obstructs my breathing at night causing me to snore like a fatty. I have been banished to the couch until I get my weight down. Sometimes we see test it out and I try sleeping in bed to see if I’ve lost enough weight to stop snoring through the night. I’ll have good nights and bad nights with this type of experimentation, so it’s pretty clear that I’m still fat it’s just that sometimes we get lucky. And that’s how the Giants should treat Aubrey Huff’s playing time: sometimes they’ll get lucky and he’ll be not terrible. The rest of the time he should be banished to the couch.
I am also extremely hairy. My eyebrows connect to my sideburns which connect to my beard which connects to my chest hair which goes all the way down (I just found a toe-tip hair the other day). I don’t shave every day. That’s usually not a problem. I don’t look too bad with a couple days of growth. Sometimes, I don’t shave for a week or longer. That usually solicits a double-take or at least a question as to when I might shave again, but that’s the end of it. When I *do* shave, I am usually complimented for how great I look clean-shaven. And that’s how the Giants should treat Brandon Belt’s playing time: sometimes he’ll look not so great but they won’t say anything. Sometimes he’ll look terrible and they might remark on how terrible he looked but that’s the end of it. And sometimes he’ll look fantastic and they will say so.
I also love to pop zits, but I don’t always have zits to pop. And sometimes, I might get one but it’s not ready to pop. And then, when it’s ready to pop, I might not pop it right and it will just look nasty. But, Brother, sometimes I pop a zit just right and it is sublime. And that’s how the Giants should treat Brett Pill’s playing time.