For the San Francisco Giants, splashy free-agent signings and mega-contracts have never been the team's bread and butter.
The team with two World Series titles in the last three seasons has made its mark with homegrown players and savvy veteran acquisitions. One of the newest players to buck the farm for the majors is Brandon Belt, who came aboard last season in the wake of Aubrey Huff's dismal 2011 performance.
After playing in a sporadic 63 games the season prior, Belt found himself the Opening Day first baseman in 2012. His play was hit and miss, a mix of deft defensive maneuvers overshadowed by an inconsistent bat. As Huff continued to injure himself over and over again, Belt was afforded the time any player needs when transitioning into the role of being an every day starter.
By the time the regular season was over, Belt had notched 56 RBI and finished with a solid .275 BA (via Baseball Reference). Numbers to work on? Certainly, but a nonetheless decent output. Belt would go on to have a relatively quite postseason, bringing us to the offseason and questions of the future.
Namely, is Brandon Belt a product worth being patient for?
In deciding whether to stick with Belt, the underlying question that needs asking is, who else is there?
The short answer is pretty much no one. Aside from perennial free-agent veterans like Jim Thome (who's essentially a DH at this point) and Carlos Lee, there are no premier upgrades on Belt to be had this offseason. As for internal options and trade bait, the Giants farm system has been thoroughly depleted in recent trades for Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence, leaving no amateur candidates or compelling trade chips to speak of.
And then there's the Pablo Sandoval thing. Why moving Sandoval to first is still a subject of conversation is beyond me. The Panda has won a ring for his team at third, and looks poised to make a bid for a Gold Glove at some point down the line with his acrobatic catches and willingness to go the distance to secure an out.
Unless Miguel Cabrera demands a trade to San Francisco between now and March, Sandoval is staying at third.
With all other options extinguished, the most obvious reason to keep Brandon Belt around is that there is no one better to replace him with. Belt has upside, and if he can key into the power of his swing and start churning out some home runs, he'll be a welcome sight in the 6 hole for Bruce Bochy.
Anything can happen in baseball, but until it does, the Giants need to let Belt continue building his confidence and establishing his presence as a major league player.
What, you'd rather have Brett Pill?