When Brandon Belt was sent down to Fresno weeks ago, one of the arguments I saw repeated over and over again was that he needed to prove he could hit Triple-A pitching before the Giants brought him back up again. Since he’d basically skipped Triple-A, the argument went, he was overmatched in the big leagues and needed to get his confidence back in the minors.
Well, Belt’s played 18 games for Fresno so far and has accumulated 55 at bats. His stat line looks like this:
.400/.521/.600, 22 H, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 16 BB, 3 SB, 33 TB
Confidence back? Check. Can hit minor league pitching? Check.
I believe the Giants mishandled Belt from the start. If they weren’t going to stick with him through his inevitable big league struggles, they shouldn’t have had him start the season with the big club in the first place. One of the reasons he did start in the big leagues out of spring, though, is because there was nothing left for him to prove in the minor leagues. That was true when Spring Training ended, and it’s true now. Belt is simply too good of a hitter for minor league pitching to stand a chance against him.
Whether or not the Giants handled Belt correctly is irrelevant now. They sent him down to get his swing back, and he’s done that in spades. He’s destroying Triple-A pitching, just like he destroyed Single-A and Double-A pitching the year before.
Meanwhile, the Giants’ offense is struggling to the point where Mike Fontenot was starting to look like a viable 3rd-place hitter. Darren Ford is taking up a roster spot based on the fact that he can pinch run late in the game, and it’s likely he’ll never see an at bat unless he’s inserted as a defensive replacement. With guys like Buster Posey and Aubrey Huff struggling, the Giants could use an impact bat in the middle of their lineup.
They happen to have one of those sitting in Fresno. How long can they wait before they finally bring Belt back to the Majors?
I’m not sure. I’ll have to contemplate that the next time Ford comes in to run for Pat Burrell in the 8th inning.