At first glance, Brandon Belt‘s broken left thumb looks like a devastating blow to the San Francisco Giants. Belt had a stellar first month of the season; he’s hit a home run in every city the Giants have visited, racking up nine total, ranking him third in the National League. To add insult to injury, San Francisco lacks a backup first baseman, forcing them to start players such as Michael Morse, Buster Posey, or even Joaquin Arias at first, all of whom are not natural first basemen.
Belt will be sidelined for about six weeks as surgery is required on his broken thumb, which he suffered over the weekend at Dodger Stadium against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not only does this take power out of the Giants’ lineup, but it also makes the Giants weaker defensively in the infield. This injury does, however, give other players a shot to contribute and make a name for themselves. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has stated that he is leaning towards giving most first base starts to veteran left fielder Morse (who has over 100 games of experience at first, but almost none over the past few seasons). This means the Giants must find a new everyday left fielder because the answer is not on the bench as both Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez have proven to be very inconsistent offensively. The answer may be in recently recalled veteran Tyler Colvin who, in his first start as a Giant, had a monster game driving in 3 runs with a home run and triple.
Colvin has struggled getting consistent playing time because of injuries, but when given the opportunity, he has provided. In 2012, he played in 136 games for the Colorado Rockies, hit .290, and drove in 72 runs. Many of his other seasons have been marred by injuries or inconsistent playing time, dropping his value. If he becomes the Giants’ every day starter in left field, Colvin could really help the Giants–who lead the majors in wins–compete for a division title.
If Colvin struggles and the Giants cannot afford to continue to give him starts, the Giants have another option. Although Posey has adamantly expressed his desire to stay behind the dish, I’m sure he would be willing to relinquish the catching duties and head over the first base, moving Morse back to left field. Backup catcher Hector Sanchez – who usually catches to give Posey a much needed day off – has sparked the Giants. Ever since Sanchez had a two homer game (including a game-winning grand slam) against Colorado, he has been very consistent with a bat in his hands. Although the Giants lose something defensively with Sanchez blocking balls, his offense more than makes up for his defensive deficiencies.
Moving Posey to first base also helps the Giants in the long term. It is a well-known fact that catchers simply wear out much quicker than any other position player (take Joe Mauer for example). The Giants have been discussing a potential position change for Posey who, when attending Florida State University, was the starting shortstop. Moving Posey to first base will not only get Sanchez’s bat in the Giants’ lineup, but will also stretch out the 2012 National League MVP’s career, a move that everyone in the Giants organization has to like.
This last month has been one of Belt’s most successful as a professional, yet I wouldn’t fret if I were the Giants, as they have plenty of options to make sure their early-season success continues for the rest of the season.
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~ Marc Grandi, @MarcGrandi