Is it time for Giants to ship Belt to the minors?


Is it time for Giants to ship Belt to the minors?

PHILADELPHIA Brandon Belt walked to the plate in the 12thinning and locked eyes with third base coach Tim Flannery. Brandon Crawford hadjust hit a leadoff double, and Belt was expecting the bunt sign.

Once he gave me the hit sign, I was a little pumped upabout it, Belt said. I wanted to go up and make something happen.

And I couldnt get it done.

It made the result that much more frustrating as Beltdressed for a five-hour flight home. Belt struck out, so did pinch hitterEmmanuel Burriss, and right there the Giants weaknesses were exposed in a 4-3loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday.

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The Giants need more threats on their bench. They certainlyrequire more production out of their first basemen. They arent getting it fromBelt, who was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts to finish a rotten, 1-for-20 roadtrip. Hes in a 2-for-27 slide since the All-Star break that has the Giantspondering anything and everything.

Asked if he would discuss his options at first base with GMBrian Sabean, Giants manager Bruce Bochy glanced at his phone: Getting a textright now.

So there you go. Could the Giants swap Belt with Brett Pillat Triple-A Fresno? Could they unearth a first baseman on the trade market? Orcould they move Pablo Sandoval to first base and try to acquire a thirdbaseman?

Is all of this going through Belts mind?

Thats part of the problem, Belt said. Some of that stuffcreeps into your mind. The battle is to keep those thoughts out of your headand play baseball.

Hes not fighting a winning battle at the moment. A dayearlier, Belt stranded the bases loaded twice. His average is down to .231 andhis .341 on-base percentage doesnt appear to be much of a saving grace when hesonly got a .370 slugging percentage to pair with it.

He looks completely, utterly, totally lost at the plate.

Its just more mental than anything, probably, Belt said. Itsnot fun. Ive been through it before. You just have to see the light at the endof the tunnel and believe youll come out of it. You start guessing too muchinstead of seeing it and hitting it.

Can he figure it out against major league pitching?

Yeah, pretty much because Ive moved up levels andstruggled before, Belt said. Its always been a confidence issue. Its alwaysbeen a mental thing for me. Once I get that mindset right, it sorts everythingout. That helps, knowing Ive done it before and I can do it again.

One thing hes never done: Put down a sacrifice bunt. Inhis professional career, majors and minors, Belt doesnt own one sac hit.

Thats one of the reasons Bochy didnt order Belt to bunt Crawfordto third base.

I know hes struggling, but youve got to think hell getit done, Bochy said. Im not really big on bunting a guy over when youre notin the heart of your order. We just had two tough at-bats there, he andBurriss. Those little things come back to get you, and they got us today.

The Giants dont have many options on their roster. IfHector Sanchez were still healthy and active, itd be a no-brainer to have himstart Monday against Padres left-hander Clayton Richard and put Buster Posey atfirst base. But now the backup catcher is Eli Whiteside, whose bat is nowherenear as welcome a sight.

The Giants could move Sandoval to first base and startJoaquin Arias at third, but that would mean giving Crawford astart against a left-hander.

Or they could replace Belt with Pill, who was hitting .282with four home runs, 14 doubles and 27 RBIs in 36 games for Fresno.

Bochy let Belt swing away in the 12th. But thosesigns of faith are not without their limits.

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

MiLB/Sacramento River Cats

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

Every time the Journey song “Lights” plays throughout AT&T Park, the lyrics When the lights go down in the City ring too true for the Giants’ offense. There’s a power outage in San Francisco. 

The savior to this issue can soon be prospect Chris Shaw, who turns 24 years old on Oct. 20. Shaw, along with five other Giants prospects, is continuing his 2017 season among a multitude of baseball’s best young up-and-comers in the Arizona Fall League. As he takes the field for the Scottsdale Scorpions, Shaw’s bat is far from the top focus for the Giants. 

After playing right and left field at Boston College, the Giants turned Shaw into a first baseman once they selected the 6-foot-4, 235-pound lefty in 2015. This year, the Giants’ front office decided to make a change. As the big league team continued to look for their own answers, Shaw saw himself in left field in 94 of the 125 games he played between Double-A and Triple-A this season. 

“I saw improvements through the course of the year,” Brian Sabean said about Shaw’s outfield defense on The Giants Insider Podcast. “The problem is playing left field in our left field isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do.” 

The AFL is all about reps in left field for Shaw as the Giants have already said he will get a long look in spring training. He earned that right after a breakout year at the plate.

One week into the AFL though, Shaw’s bat is way behind. Through four games, Shaw is batting a pedestrian .133 (2-for-15), both hits being singles. But even in such a slow start there are positives. 

Shaw has walked three times to only two strikeouts. His only downfall at the plate once he reached Triple-A Sacramento was his on-base percentage fell from .390 in Double-A to .328 at the higher level. With the River Cats, Shaw struck out 106 times, leading the team, while taking his base 20 times.

One week in the desert, Shaw is showing more patience and putting the ball into play more often. The ball simply isn’t finding grass.

In the outfield, every ball Shaw sees -- practice or game -- during the AFL is a step in the right direction for he and the Giants. He is yet to make an error in his short time at the AFL. The big lefty will never be a guy to make the spectacular play, but if he improves his instincts with the glove and improves his eye at the plate, the Giants can finally have their left fielder of the future. 

Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster


Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster

LOS ANGELES — Shortstop Corey Seager has been left off the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster for the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers announced Seager's surprise omission due to a back injury on Saturday, several hours before Game 1 at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles also dropped reliever Pedro Baez from its roster. Infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson were added.

Chicago made only one change from the last playoff round, adding reliever Hector Rondon and removing reliever Justin Wilson.

Seager complained of back soreness during the Dodgers' NL Division Series clincher in Arizona on Monday, and 2016 NL Rookie of the Year didn't participate in team workouts this week. Still, manager Dave Roberts said Friday that he was very optimistic that Seager would play in the NLCS.

Seager was an All-Star selection this season while batting .295 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs as a key part of the top of the Dodgers' lineup.

Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Culberson all worked out at shortstop Friday for the Dodgers. The versatile Taylor was the Dodgers' center fielder during the NLDS, but he made 96 appearances in the outfield this season and 44 in the infield, including 14 games at shortstop.

Pederson is batting .071 with no homers since July, but the Dodgers could need him in center field if Taylor plays shortstop.

Culberson famously homered to clinch the Dodgers' NL West title in announcer Vin Scully's final home game last season, but the infielder spent most of this season at Triple-A, appearing in only 14 games for the Dodgers.

Rondon was the Cubs' closer in 2014 and 2015, but moved to a setup role last season after Aroldis Chapman's arrival. He appeared in 61 regular-season games this year, going 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA in an up-and-down campaign.

Chicago acquired Wilson in a trade with Detroit on July 31, adding a veteran left-handed reliever who had 13 saves for the Tigers this season. The Southern California native wasn't great in his two months with the Cubs, posting a 5.09 ERA with 19 walks in 23 appearances.

Manager Joe Maddon chose Wilson for the NLDS over Rondon, only to switch it up against the Dodgers.