Belt, Crawford get attention

Tuesday, Nov. 29

SAN FRANCISCO — Contradicting their reputation for favoring veteran players, general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy sounded upbeat about first baseman-outfielder Brandon Belt and shortstop Brandon Crawford, who will enter Spring Training as candidates for the Opening Day lineup if they’re not shoved aside by free-agent or trade acquisitions.

Belt hit .300 in 28 games for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. The Giants wanted the 23-year-old to accumulate more at-bats after an injury-marred season in which he hit .225 in 63 games for the Giants when he wasn’t making one of his three round-trips back to the Minors.

Sabean was impressed with what he saw of Belt on telecasts and videos.<p/>

“I think he made a concerted effort to make some adjustments,” Sabean said during Tuesday’s conference call. “It’s not Major League pitching, but you still have to have an approach. All the reports that we got from Moises Alou, who’s the general manager there, were favorable. He was playable in the outfield. We know his best position is probably first base, but this was a nice step for him. I’m really happy and pleased that he accepted this challenge.”

Crawford, 24, hit .276 in 21 games for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League. His stint included a 16-game hitting streak during which he hit .338 (24-for-71). That helped Crawford make the AFL’s Top Prospects squad.

“We know what his glove brings, and he tried like hell to make [hitting] adjustments,” Sabean said. “He put the ball in play extremely well. He tried his damndest to stay off the high fastball, which was kind of his Kryptonite.”

Said Bochy of Crawford, “I think he’s a guy who can do some things to make a difference.”

*****

Bochy also praised catcher Hector Sanchez, who owned a .393 batting average in 32 games with La Guaira of the Venezuelan Winter League. All year, Bochy has monitored Sanchez’s improvement, which could result in a long look for the switch-hitting 22-year-old in Spring Training. Sanchez won’t unseat a healthy Buster Posey, but he could compete for a backup spot unless the Giants want him to gain more seasoning at Triple-A Fresno.

“I’m not going to be surprised to see him make a lot of noise this spring,” Bochy said.

*****

The hunch here is that the Giants will re-sign either Cody Ross or Andres Torres, but not both. Ross is a free agent; Torres is eligible for salary arbitration but probably will not be tendered a contract. That would save the Giants a million bucks or so if Torres, who would become a free agent after being non-tendered, opts to stay with the Giants.

Sabean lumped Torres along with other arbitration-eligibles, such as Jeff Keppinger and Mike Fontenot. “He’s certainly part of our discussions about what we’re going to try to do internally to go forward,” Sabean said. “He’s in a group of players who we still have time to make decisions on.”

Asked whether he thought Ross might return, Sabean said only, “Not sure.”

*****

Bobby Evans, the Giants’ vice president of baseball operations, said that third baseman Pablo Sandoval hasn’t decided whether to alter his plans for returning to Venezuela, where he had originally intended to participate in the winter league’s home run derby and play for a week to 10 days with Magallanes. Evans indicated that the kidnapping incident involving Washington catcher Wilson Ramos in Venezuela apparently isn’t a deterrent for Sandoval. But being in shape could be. He underwent laser eye surgery on Nov. 18, interrupting his training in Arizona.

Chris Haft

8 Comments

I’m NOT going to be one of “those” people who think that Bochy/Sabean messed with Belt’s development by yo-yo-ing him back and forth between the minors and the majors last season. What’s done is done. And what is more important, in the long run, is that he got consistent playing time regardless of what level rather than sitting on the bench for long stretches.

I will, however, say that I really, really hope that Bochy/Sabean give both Brandons a fair chance to make the team next year AND give them both lots of playing time to let them develop against major leaguers.

I would much rather see young, homegrown players like Belt and Crawford playing regular positions than some over-the-hill veteran on the wrong side of 30 whose skills will inevitably go down. At least these young guys have a CHANCE of improving! Plus, for a supposedly cash-strapped team unwilling to go after the big free agents out there… why do we keep paying these vets anywhere from $1 M to $10 M (or more!) per year when you can have guys being paid the league minimum. It’s ludicrous.

Save your free agent money for the DIFFERENCE MAKERS and fill the roster with young, up-and-coming players. Maybe then we won’t have a nearly-bottom-of-the-league offense for the last ten years in a row!

I completely agree that both Brandons need a shot to prove themselves.

Ha! Not yet. I have serious doubts “A-Gon” can help the Giants.

Not yet. Besides, I really doubt that “A-Gon” can help the Giants.

Hi Annabella! Yes, I think Pablo is going to be fine.

where are all the blacks in baseball none on the giants why

It’s baseball-wide. Each year fewer and fewer blacks play in the Majors. That’s why baseball is still pumping money into the RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City) program to try to stimulate participation among black youths. As for the Giants, they have one: infielder Emmanuel Burriss. Far cry from the days of Mays-McCovey-Hart-Bonds, huh?

You know what ‘they’ say: “Two Brandons in the lineup is better than one in the dugout.”

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