There are baseball things that I absolutely feel comfortable about criticizing. Free-agent signings, trades, bunting a runner over to second with no one out in a 3-0 game ... I might not know the whole story, the ins and outs of all the people and personalities involved, but I figure I have a pretty good handle on that sort of stuff.
When it comes to Brandon Belt and winter ball, though, I have to plead complete and total ignorance. It sure seems like when Brandon Belt says he's tired, it might be a good idea to let him rest a bit. But it also seems like a good idea to have him playing more baseball, letting him work on the things that bedeviled him in the regular season. Can't tell, and I really don't know anything about this sort of stuff.
But I feel for him, and it was hard to read what he wrote about the decision.
But right now I’m just worn out. The last few weeks, I’ve been sore after games and then sore the next day – which kind of took energy away from the game that day. My mind was always still in it, but my body just felt like it was dead.
He really did have a crappy year. He was given a job before it was yanked away, he suffered an injury that kept him out a month, and he was stapled to the bench by Bruce Bochy, even on the days after he hit a home run. Belt, not Bochy. Even Bochy got to start after his home runs.
Belt is tired, and I don't blame him. This is my first full season as a full-time writer, and I sort of want to file a restraining order against baseball. It's been exhausting, and I don't have traveling and not-sitting to deal with, so I'm just being a bit of a weenie to boot. But when I think of this ...
Rob Neyer: Hey, nice work this year. Except for all of the crappy work, I mean. You could be really good some day. It's too bad you aren't right now.
Neyer: We want you to write some slideshows for Bleacher Report in the offseason so you can work on your dependent clauses. You were screwing those up all year. But we'll see you next March. I mean, there's no guarantee you'll have a job.
Neyer: Wait, sorry, not Bleacher Report. "Estadio Informe." You should probably see which players in the Mexican League have the hottest wives.
... it makes me twitch. My job isn't analogous in the slightest, but I know what tired is. And Belt has clearly expressed that he's tired. So tired. So, so tired. And I feel bad for him.
At the same time, though, I can't figure out if the Giants are doing the right thing by letting him play. There were whispers that Pablo Sandoval was tired at the end of 2010 after a couple of seasons of year-round baseball. At least, that was the popular scapegoat after his weight. So I can see the argument for Belt staying home and clearing his head.
But Belt was legitimately all over the place as a hitter this season. He had problems with breaking balls, high and outside fastballs, and front-door sinkers. He didn't spring from a pool of clear and silvery water, fully formed, as Buster Posey did. Dude needs work. Work is what he'll get. And he'll still get a couple of months off.
So I don't know if I like or dislike the move to sent Belt to winter ball. What I do know is that I feel bad for him. There were some crazy expectations for a rookie who made the Opening-Day lineup on a team defending a championship. They weren't unrealistic, but they were some weighty expectations. And I hope he can find what it is he lost, and get some rest where he can find it.