The San Francisco Giants Seem Hell-Bent on Keeping Brandon Belt in Purgatory

Brian Sabean loves intangibles. He must love them, because tangibles often indicate what he’s doing is asinine. The present situation with Brandon Belt is not signing Barry Zito to a seven-year $126 million contract (when it was clear he was in decline) or offering Aaron Rowand $60 million (after a clear career year) bad, but it’s still stupid.

Belt, 23, is the Giants’ best young hitting prospect. The Giants keep concocting excuses not to play him. They stunted his development in 2011, shuttling him from AAA to the majors, from the starting lineup to the bench and from left field to first base. This year, they look poised to do so again, with speculation suggesting he will be dropped to the minors in favor of an Aubrey Huff/Brett Pill platoon.

Numbers suggest Belt would be significantly better than Huff now. Conservatively approximating the projections at FanGraphs for next year. Belt would hit .260/.350/.460 with 20HR. Huff would hit .260/.330/.420 with 15 HR. A team that ranked 29th in runs last year, should be desperate for any upgrade conceivable. Even if the players’ production was identical, at bats should go to the developing 23-year-old rather than the player with a year left on his contract turning 35 in June. That’s especially true when the 35-year-old hit .246/.306/.370 in 2011.

Are the Giants not convinced Belt is ready? Despite the constant shuffling, he hit .309/.448/.527 with 8 home runs in 160AB at AAA Fresno last season. What precisely will he learn hitting in the Pacific Coast League, where teams don’t keep their elite pitching prospects because of the hitters ballparks?

Considering this move only makes sense, if your organization vastly inflates veteran values and underrates elite prospects, which is stupid. You would think the club that won the World Series with elite young pitching while paying $42.5 million for 2.2 WAR combined from Zito, Rowand and Renteria would grasp that.

[Photo via Presswire]

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