Brian vs. Bruce: Battle of the Belt

The decision on Brandon Belt will go down to the final day.

It’s been hard trying to read between the lines or interpret lineups to see if the Giants might tip their hand on which way they will go with this.

And after a couple of days, MoreSplashHits is now convinced.

The Giants have no idea of what they’re going to do.
That’s not entirely true. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has an idea. GM Brian Sabean has an idea. It’s just that they may not have the same idea.

After reading comments from Bochy and Sabean, MoreSplashHits thinks the two men of the Giants braintrust are on opposites side of this decision.

We believe Bochy wants Belt on the roster. Sabean would rather send him to Fresno.

Bochy said before Monday’s series opener against the A’s that nothing Belt did against Oakland would impact the decision to keep him on the roster. So then why start Belt as a DH if you wanted to play Mark DeRosa at 1B on Tuesday?

MoreSplashHits interpretation: Bochy doesn’t need to see more of Belt. But he wants Sabean to see more of Belt.

Consider. Bochy was asked if starting a rookie in every game so close to opening day generally mean the rookie has made the team.

Bochy’s response: “Could be.”

Sabean countered by listing all the factors in this decision.

“Has (Belt) earned his way on the club?”

MoreSpalshHits’ take: Bochy answers yes; Sabean is not so sure. If you don’t agree, consider Sabean’s next question.

“If (Cody) Ross were on the club, would we be considering him?”

MoreSplashHits’ take: Sabean is saying that Bochy doesn’t like the alternatives. And with good reason. Aaron Rowand had a bad spring and has looked particularly ugly in recent games. Schierholtz has looked a little better, but not good enough to make Bochy forget Belt. Sabean believes that such a huge roster decision shouldn’t be made because of any offensive shortcomings that may only last a week or two.

“If we start the year with him, we’re pretty much committing to him the whole year.”

MoreSplashHits’ take: Sabean is saying this is a decision for the entire season, not just the first week or two. Also, it would mean sending Pat Burrell to the bench. And Burrell has looked good in recent games.

“If you keep him, you lose somebody else from the roster.”

MoreSpalshHits’ take: That’s Travis Ishikawa. Not a huge loss. Ishikawa’s stock has dropped as Belt has grown.

“When Ross comes back, you’ll lose somebody else.”

MoreSplashHits’ take: As we’ve been saying all spring, the Giants were going to lose Ishikawa or Schierholtz at the end of spring. But the idea of losing both doesn’t sit well with Sabean.

The fact that Bochy and Sabean may not agree on this issue is no great shock.

They disagree because they are both doing their jobs.

Bochy’s job is to take one game at a time and all that. He wants to put the best team on the field that he can. And that may very well be with Belt at first base.

Sabean’s job is to look at what’s best for the team in 2011, 2012, 2013 and beyond.

Putting Belt on the big club to start 2011 could get his arbitration clock started sooner. It could move his free-agency date up sooner. If all goes as the Giants hope, that could be very costly for the Giants in 2014 and 2017.

Sabean and Bochy were set to meet after Tuesday’s game and again Wednesday morning. An announcement on a final decision won’t come until after Wednesday’s afternoon game.

Wednesday’s lineup may provide clues, as we would expect that anyone who will be in Thursday’s starting lineup won’t be in Wednesday’s lineup.

But no matter what the final decision is, it will be the right one, and it will be the wrong one — no matter whom you ask.



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