What to do about Brett Pill?


What to do about Brett Pill?

Brett Pill doesn't have anything left to prove in the minors. He's raked at every level, and he's been raking in the big leagues since being called up earlier this month.His 3-for-5 night Wednesday in a huge win against the rival Dodgers highlighted his clean and controlled stroke, raising his batting average through eight games with the Giants to .333 with two doubles, two triples, two homers and eight RBIs, giving him an eye-popping slugging percentage of .733 and an equally impressive OPS of 1.067.So what do you do with him next year? It's a question the club will have to think long and hard about over the winter.

Pill, you see, is a first baseman by trade. But so is Aubrey Huff, whom Giants manager Bruce Bochy recently said will be his first baseman in 2012, when Huff is again going to be pulling down 11 million in salary.And so is Brandon Belt, who made the Opening Day roster with an impressive showing at spring training that came on the heels of a ridiculously productive 2010 season, in which Belt ripped through the minors like he had a deadline to meet.Huff, by the way, could be in the mix through the 2013 season, too. The Giants have a club option on him for a cool 10 million. But unless he lives up to his recent career pattern of good season-bad season-good season, hello 2 million option buyout.It's been assumed since Belt burst onto the scene that he'll eventually replace Huff at first base, and given how badly Huff has struggled in 2011, more than a few folks would like to see that happen sooner rather than later.Yet Belt hasn't exactly been a man on fire this year himself -- unless you count his numbers at Triple-A Fresno, to which he was banished three times. During his time this season with the Grizzlies, Belt batted .309 with a .448 on-base percentage and a .975 OPS with eight homers and 32 RBIs over 49 games.Pill, meanwhile, batted .312 with a .341 OBP, .871 OBP, 25 homers and 107 RBIs over 133 games at Fresno. And suddenly it is Pill for whom Giants fans are pining, in part because Belt's numbers with the Giants have been pedestrian.Granted, Belt's stats for San Francisco -- .212 BA, .701 OPS, eight homers and 16 RBIs over 56 games -- could be the product of being a human yo-yo, and missing considerable time with a broken wrist didn't help, but this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, and Pill has done more for Giants fans lately.So let's re-phrase the question: What do you do not just with Pill next year, but with Huff penciled in by Bochy as the starting first baseman, what do you do with Pill and Belt?Well, Belt can play in the outfield. He's far better at first base, where he's got Gold Glove ability, but he could handle left field with an offseason and next spring to prepare.Pill, though, despite having spent some time at second base in Fresno, isn't cut from any sort of legitimate middle-infield cloth. He's 6-foot-4 with average lateral range. Besides, the Giants have Freddy Sanchez (they hope) and Jeff Keppinger (under club control via arbitration) to man second base.Seems like a trade is in order. But which guy do you trade? Belt is 23 and has more upside, so his trade value is likely highest, but he's also a highly popular player and could very well blossom into the power-hitting first baseman for which the Giants have been searching for years.Pill, on the other hand, is 27. How much upside is there? He might not fetch much in return. And hey, if Belt can transition into the outfield, what would be so wrong with Pill serving as Huff's backup for 2012 and taking over at first in 2013?As for trading Huff ... yeah, right. Not after the season he's put together this year. Not with that salary looming.So again, the big question, and this time it's posed directly to Giants fans: What do you do?

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants drop finale in Miami


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants drop finale in Miami


SAN FRANCISCO — The flight from Miami to San Francisco is one of the longest in the league. It will not be a happy one.

The Giants fell behind early and never recovered, losing 8-1 in the series finale with the Marlins. The Giants had won six of nine entering the road trip. They dropped a series in Washington D.C. and then lost two of three to the Marlins. 

You are here already, so here are five things to know … 

—- Matt Cain deserved better in the first, and it was kind of a stunning error that cost him. With two outs, Brandon Crawford dropped a liner that was hit right at him. The next batter, Tomas Telis, hit a two-run double. 

—- Cain was charged with five runs in four innings, but only two of them were earned. He struck out seven and walked just one, showing a good curveball throughout. Several times, he dropped down for a new look. Like I said, he deserved a bit better than that final line. 

—- Pablo Sandoval’s walk in the eighth was his first since returning to the Giants. His numbers, by the way, are right in line with his Boston numbers. 

—- Albert Suarez has seen his stuff take a tick up during this stint with the Giants, but it’s not leading to results. After giving up a walk-off grand slam on Sunday, he allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings in relief of Cain. Suarez currently has a 7.43 ERA. 

—- Giancarlo Stanton was 2 for 4 with two singles. His run of six games with a homer came to an end. I suppose that’s a small victory for the Giants?

Giancarlo Stanton to Giants? Upside vs downside from Marlins perspective


Giancarlo Stanton to Giants? Upside vs downside from Marlins perspective

Because we are too cool to allow the games to sustain us and because we all think the purpose of sports is actually not to be the best player but the general manager, the new item on the baseball menu is not the pennant races but “Where should Giancarlo Stanton go?”

The usual suspects are listed – the Yankees, the Giants, the Chunichi Dragons, Real Madrid – and the $295 million still on his contract is not considered an impediment.

But the logic behind the Marlins keeping him is just as clear and more pressing. Namely, Bruce Sherman, the incoming owner, and Derek Jeter, the designated face, did not buy this team and promptly try to make themselves detested by the few people who still care about it.

So far, we know that the monstrous thing in center field (no, not Christian Yelich) is likely to be torn down, and that Stanton is don’t-go-to-the-bathroom-during-his-half-inning entertainment. Beyond that, we know only that the Marlins draw when they win a lot and barely at all the rest of the time. They are clearly a distant third in a four-team race with the Dolphins and Heat for people’s hearts, and now that hating Jeffrey Loria’s living guts are off the table for the fans, there really is no there, there.

So what’s the up-side of moving Stanton (and before we go any further, the Giants don’t have nearly enough assets to make that work, so calm the hell down) for the Marlins? Prospects, the dark hole that makes a three-year plan a six-year plan.

And the down-side? Sherman may as well move the team for the level of fun he’ll get from it, and the only reason to buy a team looking at a $60 million loss is for the fun. Besides, onlky a very few owners have ever made the full turn from villain to hero – the first impression almost always lasts forever.

So while Stanton may create immediate wallet relief for this aggressively average team (their current record of 57-61 is the 12th best in their 25-year history, and they’ve only had eight winning seasons ever), they also have nothing to sell the fans that they have to live with every day. And if they don’t have enough fans . . . well, I hear San Jose is always hot for a mediocre franchise that lurches between spending money and hoarding it.