Tag:Aubrey Huff
Posted on: April 19, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Ross back with Giants, not activated yet

By Matt Snyder

Postseason hero Cody Ross has rejoined the defending World Series champions. He's been sidelined thus far in 2011 with a calf injury, but has told reporters he's presently 100 percent after a short minor-league rehab stint.

The Giants won't activate Ross until Wednesday, as they want to allow him to rest after a late game Monday night and flight to rejoin the team.

Considering rookie first baseman Brandon Belt -- who has struggled -- is out of the lineup Tuesday for the second-straight game, the writing seems to be on the wall that he'll be the person sent down to the minors in a corresponding move. Then, when Ross reclaims his job in right field, Aubrey Huff will move to first base.

Funnily enough, Huff reportedly sent Ross a text that said, "Thank God you're back. Now I can go back to first base," which prompted Ross to reply that's where Huff belongs. (Extra Baggs )

Ross, 30, hit the ball just fine in his two minor-league games. He was 3-6 with two walks, a double, a run and an RBI in eight plate appearances.

Ross was only with the Giants for 33 games to close the 2010 season, but endeared himself to fans with a huge postseason, where he hit .294 with a 1.076 OPS, five home runs and 10 RBI in the three postseason series, winning the NLCS MVP.

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Posted on: April 13, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Pepper: Huston Street off to fast start

Street

By Evan Brunell

HOT HUSTON: The Rockies have zipped out to a 7-2 start, and closer Huston Street has nailed down five of those victories. The early success has enabled Colorado and Street to put aside a frustrating 2010 season. Meanwhile, Street is reaching milestones in Colorado as he ranks third on the franchise list for total saves, but also tops the list in save percentage.

Part of Street's success -- no blown saves this season -- has to do with his changeup, which wasn't really a factor last year.

"A lot of it has to do with the weapons that [Street] has available to him when he has hitters in counts that he wants to get them into," manager Jim Tracy said. "It's a combination of two things, actually. His put-away pitches are there where we saw them in the past. That's No. 1. And No. 2, the fact that his ball is doing exactly what he wants it to do. I'm throwing it here, it goes there. That is what makes him so special. When the guy is right, he can thread needles. That's exactly what he's been doing these last few times out. The performance in Pittsburgh the other night, when he threw three innings and threw only 27 pitches, is indicative."

Street feels this season has gone perfectly so far. While he'd always be confident, the road's been a bit easier in the early going as he hasn't really had a roadblock put in his way so far.

"You always carry confidence out there. You always expect to get the job done," he said. "It's frustrating when you don't. It's more so when you're not executing because of mechanics or a lack of a feel for a pitch at a certain time. I felt that this year I had the perfect Spring Training. No setbacks, just gradually build, turn up the velocity and the intensity, and it's allowed me to develop all three pitches nicely. At the same time you've got to go out and execute, and I've been making some good pitches, and I've had some good plays behind me to help out in some big spots. It's a team game and we're winning as a team." (MLB.com)

BASEBALL TODAY: Josh Hamilton is injured again, the Red Sox lose again and the Orioles get a big early season test. Tony Lee of NESN.com joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss the latest.

BACK OFF: Manager Ozzie Guillen isn't happy about the hometown fans giving mock cheers to White Sox outfielders for catching balls hit to them. Hey, after five flubs so far in the early going, can you really blame them? (Chicago Tribune)

JUST WIN, BABY: Jayson Werth knows how it works. After bashing a home run against his former team to lead Washington to victory, Werth spoke about how important it is for the Nats to beat the Phillies -- and really, everyone else. Winning will change the culture and bring fans to the ballpark. Doesn't take a mad scientist to figure that out, but at least Werth has the right mentality after signing his lucrative contract. (MASN)

A LEGEND GROWS: Sam Fuld's incredible night Monday was not lost on the masses, who propelled him to Twitter stardom. ESPN even came calling for a couple interviews after he stroked four extra-base hits to catch everyone's attention. The outfielder came back down to earth in Tuesday's game, but his name is already out there. (St. Petersburg Times)

POWER: Justin Upton flashed some power in Tuesday's game by blasting a 478-foot home run against the Cardinals. (Matthew Leach on Twitter)

SWITCHING IT UP: Aubrey Huff and Brandon Belt could be switching positions, with Huff returning to his more familiar first base while Belt takes a crack at right. Manager Bruce Bochy has been displeased with the team's defense. But what do you expect when you play a first baseman out of position in right and a DH (Pat Burrell) in left? (MLB.com)

MORE BEER: There is a second outdoor beer garden opening a couple blocks from Nationals Park. Hey, fans need a nice stiff drink before watching a team that could lose 90 games, right? (MASN)

LONGORIA PROGRESSING: Evan Longoria has experienced no setbacks in his recovery from a strained left oblique. He'll need a few rehab games but should be able to return on schedule at the end of the month. (MLB.com)

ONLY JAPAN: Ever had to try to hit a pitch thrown by someone in midair after jumping off a trampoline? Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi had to deal with this on a trip to Japan a while back. (Fangraphs)

THANKS, CARLOS: If Indians pitchers want to thank someone for their early suggest, manager Manny Acta suggests thanking catcher Carlos Santana. Acta praised Santana's game-calling in the early going and believes getting the additional work now and seeing more teams and players that he wasn't familiar with is really helping his progression. (MLB.com)

BLAME THE JERSEY? A Pittsburgh sports columnist recently wrote an article centered around Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was critically beaten at the hands of two Dodger fans. The two takeaways from the articles? Adults wearing sports jerseys are creepy and weird, and Stow basically had it coming. Big League Stew rightfully excoriates the article. (Big League Stew)

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Posted on: April 6, 2011 10:24 am
Edited on: April 6, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Pepper: Royal excitement

Royals

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Are the Royals baseball's most exciting team?

Well, through five games they are, that's for sure. All four of the Royals' victories this season have come in their final at-bat. Tuesday's walk-off winner was Melky Cabrera's 12th-inning RBI single for a 7-6 victory over the White Sox.

In the team's lone loss, on opening day, the Royals' Alex Gordon was just feet short of a walk-off homer in a 4-2 loss to the Angels last Thursday.

"All of a sudden, you just expect us to win and that's it," Royals infielder Chris Getz told MLB.com . "There are plenty of doubters out there, no one's giving us much of a chance, but what do we have to lose? We've got that good feeling and we'll just ride it out."

The Royals have had a different hero each night. In their first win, Kila Ka'aihue led off the ninth inning with a homer to break a tie, the next day the Royals scored two in the eighth inning, capped by Getz's RBI single. The Royals then used a three-run walk-off homer by Matt Treanor (above) in the 13th to beat the Angels in the series finale.

With four victories in their final at-bat, the Royals may not be the best team in 2011, but they're worth sticking around to watch.

Last season the Braves lead the big leagues with 25 victories in their final at-bat.

SEARCHING FOR A WIN -- Another day, another Red Sox loss. Will the Red Sox go winless this season and will the Reds go undefeated? Eye on Baseball's Matt Snyder joins blog favorite Lauren Shehadi with the answers (which, well, are both 'no.')

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS -- Ubaldo Jimenez's thumb is better -- but may not be good enough to allow him to make his start Friday in Pittsburgh. The Rockies' right-hander is expected to throw a bullpen today to test the cuticle injury on his right thumb. If Jimenez can't start, Jorge De La Rosa would start in his spot. De La Rosa will be on regular rest following Sunday's snow-out. [MLB.com ]

SHIFT BE A-GONE -- Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said putting three men on the right side of the infield has never been an effective strategy against him. Last season he had more singles to left field than right. The Indians, though, had good luck with the shift on Tuesday. The Indians used the shift and Gonzalez was 0 for 4 with two groundouts to the right side. [WEEI.com ]

COSTLY ERROR -- Jayson Werth's error was one of several events that led to the Nationals' 3-2 loss to the Marlins on Tuesday. [CSNWashington.com ]

A TRADITION LIKE NO OTHER -- I absolutely love the baseball tradition of giving a guy the silent treatment after his first homer in the big leagues. Tuesday's victim was the Angels' Hank Conger. [Press-Enterprise ]

WELCOME HOME -- Padres starter Aaron Harang looked like his old self in a victory over the Giants on Tuesday. In his first season with his hometown Padres, Harang certainly looked comfortable at Petco Park. [San Diego Union-Tribune ]

CALLED SHOT -- Toronto's Yunel Escobar told teammates Carlos Villanueva and Edwin Encarnacion the team would come back to win, even though they were down 5-0 in the middle of Tuesday's game against the A's. After a four-run sixth inning to tie the game, Escobar delivered on his promise with a two-run homer in the 10th to give Toronto the win. [MLB.com ]

NO MINORS FOR LEAKE -- Reds manager Dusty Baker said sending starter Mike Leake was never an option, even though it appeared that Leake made the team out of spring only because of the injuries to Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. Baker said Leake was overthrowing in the spring and looked like the guy who started the season 6-1 with a 3.53 ERA in Tuesday's win over the Astros. Leake, the Reds' first-round pick in 2009 made the big league rotation out of spring training last season, bypassing the minors altogether.  [Cincinnati Enquirer ]

BELT MAY BE DEMOTED -- When Cody Ross returns to the Giants' lineup, rookie first baseman Brandon Belt could be the odd man out in San Francisco. The Giants say they will base their decision on Belt's play, but sending Belt down would keep the status quo. With Ross back in right field, Aubrey Huff could move back to first. Or if the team decides to keep Belt, Huff would move to left and would make Pat Burrell a bench player. Also, putting Belt in the minors for more than 20 days would keep him from accruing a full year of service time and delay his free agency a year. [FOXSports.com ]

NO FEUD -- Former Met Pedro Feliciano said he was going to strike out Ike Davis when the Yankees face the Mets next month. Davis was uninterested in escalating the "feud."

Davis said it was Feliciano's job to strike him out, and well, last season he struck out 138 times, so "it's not that tough of a feat." [New York Post ]

BANDWAGON ROOM -- Attendance at Yankee Stadium through the first four games of the season is down about 8,000 fans per game. [ESPNNewYork.com ]

YANKS AREN'T ALONE -- As we mentioned the other day, it's not just Yankee Stadium that has its share of empty seats -- Wrigley Field has plenty of seats available, even for the seagulls. [Chicago Sun-Times ]

ON THE OTHER HAND -- Blue Jays fans are excited for their team in Toronto. [Slam! Sports ]

SUNSHINE BALL -- Is there any hope for baseball in Florida past March? [MASNSports.com ]

ROLAIDS ALERT -- The folks over at Big League Stew take a look at the top 10 new concessions at MLB parks this season. 

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 3:37 pm
 

Defense costing teams early

Aubrey Huff

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sunday afternoon the sight of Aubrey Huff diving in right field was a joking matter. The night before he made a diving catch and then before batting practice his teammates put a faux-chalk outline of his dive in the Dodger Stadium grass.

A couple of hours later, it wasn't so funny.

In the first inning on Sunday, Huff dove on a Jamey Carroll liner which ended up a triple and helped the Dodgers score three in the inning. In the seventh inning, Huff also lost a ball over his head by Marcus Thames, good for another triple and driving in the go-ahead run.

One scout told CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler that the Giants defense is "going to be an issue."

The Giants made their decision leaving camp that their defense would be secondary to scoring runs, as the team kept rookie first baseman Brandon Belt on the roster -- and it's not Belt that's the problem, he's a good defender. It's that in order to keep Huff and Belt in the lineup, Huff went to right field. And as right fielder's go, he's showing he's a first baseman.

I don't actually fault Huff, he's going out there and giving it his best and doing what the team asks him to do -- ultimately, it's just a flawed strategy putting Huff in the outfield. When Cody Ross is ready to come off the disabled list -- which is still at least two weeks away -- the Giants will be better at that spot, but they'll also have a decision between Belt and Huff -- or benching Pat Burrell and keeping Huff in the outfield. That said, the Giants will still have Miguel Tejada at shortstop.

But it's not just the Giants that are struggling defensively.

RangersThe Giants' World Series opponents last fall started off their season with a fielding error on the first batter of the season when Julio Borbon ran into Nelson Cruz.

The Cardinals seemed to be one team unconcerned about defense this offseason and could be concerned as the season goes along. The team added 35-year-old Lance Berkman, who hadn't played in the outfield since since 2007, to play every day in right field and got rid of one of baseball's best defensive shortstops, Brendan Ryan, and replaced him with an average second baseman in Ryan Theriot.

Theriot is the only National League player with two errors through Sunday's game, while in the American League one notoriously bad fielder (Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion) and one remarkably good fielder (Oakland's Daric Barton) have three errors each. 

There have been 68 errors this season through 46 games (following Sunday's games). That's only one more error than there was through 46 games last season (and 15 more than there was through 46 games in 2009).

That said, we all know errors aren't the best way to measure defense, there are plenty of examples of bad defense that didn't include an error in the boxscore.

On Sunday, the Cubs' defense let down closer Carlos Marmol. With one out and runners at second and third, Pedro Alvarez hit a dribbler to shortstop Starlin Castro who unloaded a bad throw to first, allowing two runs to score and the Pirates to get the win.

Milwaukee's Casey McGehee has had two costly decisions in the team's sweep at the hands of the Reds. In the ninth inning of Thursday's opener, McGehee failed to tag Brandon Phillips going to third, setting up the Reds' walk-off victory. On Sunday, McGehee went home and failed to get an out on a Drew Stubbs chopper, which led to a game-turned three-run homer by Phillips in the fourth. And that's two entire instances of the Brewers' bad defense without mentioning Yuniesky Betancourt, who the team had to take to get Zack Greinke, but didn't have to make their everyday shortstop. According to John Dewan's +/- system, no defensive player in baseball has cost their team more runs over the last three seasons than Betancourt's -66.

David Pinto over at Baseball Musings noted BABIP (batting average on balls in play) over the first weekend was .300, while it was .291 last season. That stat tells you a ball in the field was more likely to be fielded a year ago than it was this weekend.

Now, we're just 47 games into the 2011 season, so it's way too early to make any real conclusions about errors and defense as a whole, but it is something to watch. 

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:12 pm
 

Pepper: Closer concerns in NL Central

Brandon Lyon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The National League Central appears to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, with up to four legit contenders for the crown, so every little difference is going to be magnified when it comes to the end of the season.

While we're a long way from magic numbers, but the division's closer could be cause for concern.

In the first weekend of games, NL Central closers blew four of eight save chances -- including the first three -- and had an ERA of 12.91. Only Pittsburgh's Joel Hanrahan (who is 2 for 2 on save opportunities) hasn't allowed an earned run among the division's six closers.

All six closers have had save opportunities, and half of them are save-less. Milwaukee's John Axford has allowed four earned runs and hasn't finished an inning in two appearances, allowing a walk-off three-run homer to Cincinnati's Ramon Hernandez on Thursday and allowing two hits on Sunday before being replaced.

St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin gave up a game-tying homer in an eventual opening-day loss to the Padres and Houston's Brandon Lyon allowed six hits and three runs, picking up the loss against the Phillies on Friday.

The Cubs' Carlos Marmol struck out the side on Saturday for his first save, but Sunday he walked one and allowed two hits to cough up a lead, sending the Cubs to a 5-4 loss to the Pirates (and setting up Hanrahan's second save).

And then there's Cincinnati's Francisco Cordero, who picked up a save, but didn't instill much confidence in anyone, allowing two hits and a run in Saturday's Reds victory against the Brewers.

It could be a wild ride this year in the NL Central this season, and that's just the ninth inning.

HOMETOWN BOY -- Padres manager Bud Black said part of his reason for setting his rotation as he did was to allow San Diego native Aaron Harang make the start for the Padres' home-opener at Petco Park on Tuesday.

Black said it also helped that Harang has a history of opening day starts. Harang started five consecutive opening days in Cincinnati. He is in his first season with the Padres. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

PRETTY MUCH -- Dustin Pedroia on the Rangers' sweep of the Red Sox: "They kicked our ass, that's it." [Boston Herald]

RAY OF HOPE -- On opening day, the Rays announced a long-term deal with Wade Davis. The team's No. 1 starter, David Price, said he'd be interested in a long-term deal as well.

"Everybody here knows that I feel very comfortable here with the Rays," Price told MLB.com. "And I feel like I fit in very well with this organization and how they do stuff. If it's something we're able to get done, it's definitely something I'd like to do."

TURF CALF? -- Johnny Damon said Tropicana Field's artificial surface may have contributed to his right calf tightness that forced him to be scratched from Sunday's lineup. [St. Petersburg Times]

ANGEL TOURISTS -- Howie Kendrick and Torii Hunter talk about how special the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City is to them. [Orange County Register]

BASEBALL ART -- Aubrey Huff made a diving catch in Los Angeles on Saturday and before Sunday's game, Pat Burrell, Dan Runzler and Brandon Belt taped a body outline in the outfield where Huff made his catch. Here's a picture of their art.

HALLOWED GROUND -- Volunteers cleaned up at the old Tiger Stadium and finished off with a pickup game of baseball. The Navin Field Grounds Crew will be doing this every week during the summer in Detroit, hoping to allow everyone to use the field. [Detroit Free Press]

JAPANESE HERITAGE DAY -- The best highlight of Sunday's Japanese Heritage Day in Oakland was when Ichiro Suzuki caught Kurt Suzuki's fly in right and threw out Hideki Matsui at third base. The A's and their fans also raised more than $65,000 for earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. [San Francisco Chronicle]

HUMIDOR SECURITY -- MLB has tightened its security procedures concerning the humidor at Coors Field, an "authenticator" will keep an eye on all the baseballs from when they're taken out of the humidor to the umpire's room where they're rubbed down to the Rockies dugout, where they're kept. During the game, he'll watch the bag. [Denver Post]

CARDS OWNER CONFIDENT -- Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. is happy with his team and confident, but added the team does have playroom flexibility of "several million dollars" if the team needs something later in the season. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

COPYING BAGWELL -- Astros shortstop Clint Barmes will wear a protective pad on his left batting glove when he returns to action. Barmes suffered a fractured bone in his hand late in spring training when he was hit by a pitch. Barmes said it's the exact same pad attached by velcro that former Astro Jeff Bagwell used to wear. Barmes said he wore a similar pad after breaking his hand in 2002, but will make it a permanent addition this time. [MLB.com]

VLAD THE ENIGMA -- Vladimir Guerrero has wowed us on the field for years, but not much is known about him off the field. But the Baltimore Sun's Kevin Van Valkenburg and Jeff Zrebiec have managed to write a really interesting feature on the new Oriole. For instance, before every home series, Guerrero writes down the name of all the Spanish-speaking players and coaches coming to town, and will then have his mom cook food for all the Latin players and bring it to the park. Guerrero's mom has lived with him since he was in Montreal. [Baltimore Sun]

REALLY? -- Wearing a guy's jersey to a game is one thing, but a whole uniform, catching gear and all? This Philadelphia fan was at Sunday's game wearing complete catcher's gear, a glove, mask and even taped wrists. I wonder if security allowed him through the gate with metal spikes? [Philadelphia Daily News]

OAKLAND'S 'DUMP' -- Apparently the field at the Oakland Coliseum smells like sewage. And that's not all that's wrong with the Coliseum. [San Francisco Chronicle]

GREINKE PROGRESSING -- The Brewers expect Zack Greinke to throw off the mound at some point during the team's week-long homestead starting today. Greinke still isn't expected to return this month, but throwing off the mound is the first step to determining when he can return. He played long toss and threw from 60 feet before Sunday's game in Cincinnati. [MLB.com]

BLAKE BETTER -- Casey Blake is eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday and hopes to be ready when he is eligible. The Dodgers are in Denver on Wednesday. [Los Angeles Times]

REWARD OFFERED -- A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest in the case of Dodger fans beating Giants fan Bryan Stow, 42, a Santa Cruz paramedic and father of two. Stow is currently in a medically induced coma. [Los Angeles Times]

SIGNS YOU'RE OLD -- When Jim Thome faced Blue Jays rookie Kyle Drabek on Saturday, the TV folks accidentally put up Thome's career numbers against Doug Drabek, Kyle's father. [UniWatch Blog]

IZZY SHELVED -- Jason Isringhausen, attempting a comeback with the Mets, left an extended spring training game on Saturday after feeling a "twinge" in his back. [New York Daily News]

DIFFERENT SWING -- John Smoltz talks about his attempt at a golf career. [Detroit Free Press]

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 6:47 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Belt makes Giants' opening day roster

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Brandon BeltBrandon Belt will indeed be on the Giants' roster when the defending champions start the season tomorrow against the Dodgers.

The team placed first baseman Travis Ishikawa on waivers to make room for Belt, the team's top prospect.

With Belt on the roster, he'll most likely be in the lineup. Last season the Giants kept Buster Posey in Triple-A to avoid starting his arbitration clock. If the Giants are going have the 22-year-old slugging first baseman on the roster, he'll be on the field.

It will also allow the Giants to use Aubrey Huff to the outfield to help the void left by the absence of Cody Ross, who is on the disabled list with a sprained right calf. 

Belt told reporters he cried when manager Bruce Bochy told him the news. That, of course, earned some teasing from his teammates.

"You crying yet Belt?" Huff said, according to the San Jose Mercury News' Andrew Baggarly. "Tear up... I'm going to be tearing up the rest of the year in right field."

Belt hit .282/.338/.479 this spring with three home runs and 13 RBI in 71 at-bats this spring. Last season Belt hit .352/.455/.620 with 23 home runs and 112 RBI at three levels, leading the minors in OPS and was second in on-base percentage. He continued hitting in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .372/.427/.616. He is also a very good defensive first baseman.

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Posted on: March 18, 2011 5:48 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 5:49 pm
 

Could Brandon Belt open year with Giants?

BeltBy Evan Brunell

Last season, the Giants had an elite prospect who was clearly ready for the Show and was better than any of the other options to start at his position. And yet, even though GM Brian Sabean weakly issued denials, it was obvious upon this prospect's reassignment to Triple-A that finances came into play. The club wanted to wait until late May to ensure an extra year of free agency for this heralded prospect.

On May 29, Buster Posey finally hit the majors, wrestled the starting catcher's job away from Bengie Molina and led the team to a division title, requiring the last day of the season to clinch. We all know what happened after that -- a World Series title for the club and NL Rookie of the Year award for the backstop. Given what Posey contributed, it's likely that San Francisco would have won the division by more than one game, but hey, money saved.

A similar decision is at hand this spring, although unlikely the Posey decision, Sabean seems surprisingly open to having first baseman Brandon Belt -- ranked the No. 18 prospect on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects list -- open the year with the big-league squad. 

"I think we're all more open-minded now because he's played a lot, and because of that, has faced front-line pitching," Sabean told the San Francisco Chronicle. "He's started a lot of games. It's not like he's coming in the second part of a game and not facing major-league pitching. With each day that he holds his own or excels, it turns your head."

Belt is currently hitting .283/.340/.522 in 46 at-bats. While spring training statistics aren't worth much, it's an encouraging line to see from the 23-year-old who mashed his way through three levels of the Giants' minor-league system in 2010.

But is it prudent to put Belt in the majors immediately? While the financial considerations of keeping Posey down last season were largely scoffed at given how much of a difference Posey could (and did) make, the same considerations aren't there for Belt. Incumbent first baseman Aubrey Huff is coming off a strong season, and while he could move to left field and bump Pat Burrell, Huff is a liability on defense. Belt himself has been playing around in left, but it's unlikely he can suddenly morph into an average fielder.

In addition, there are no shortage of candidates for two roster spots. While Belt could end up the best hitter of all, it's not clear at the outset that he can outhit Huff and Burrell. The team also has Aaron Rowand, Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz to worry about. Rowand has a hefty contract and is going nowhere, while both Ishikawa and Schierholtz have no minor-league options. The club has asked around on moving Ishikawa, but has received muted interest from other teams, while Schierholtz has drawn interest due to his defense and hitting left-handed -- the same reasons the Giants would prefer to hang onto him.

Sabean does say that the statuses of Rowand, Ishikawa and Schierholtz won't be major stumbling blocks -- rather, the decision will come down to what makes the Giants a better team.

"If Belt forces his way on, it would have to be legitimate, and we're all agreed he would be the seventh hitter," Sabean added. "The caveat is, there are high expectations and we certainly hope he'll be in a winning situation immediately. There's more pressure associated with that."

The financial considerations remain relevant, however, and Sabean's constant denials of those considerations for both Belt and Posey are odd. Also relevant is just how much better the team will be with Belt at first and Huff in left field. Will the defensive hit offset the offensive increase? That edge isn't really significant at this point, especially if Pat Burrell and/or Mark DeRosa produce.

Bet on Belt opening the year in the minors, but it won't be long before he's in San Francisco.

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Posted on: February 17, 2011 1:10 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2011 1:11 pm
 

Rally thong retired

Brian Wilson's beard may be back for 2011, but the Giants' rally thong will not be.

Aubrey Huff told the San Francisco Chroncile's John Shea (via Twitter ) that the thong wasn't coming back.

"We retired that thing," Huff said. "Just play baseball this year and try to keep the antics at home."

And Huff's home, apparently, is where the thong will stay, even though Cooperstown called. The Hall of Fame wanted to display the thong, but Huff declined because, he said, then his kids would know "their daddy wore women's underwear. I'm sorry, not going to happen."

Um… it seems that horse is out of the barn.

Aubrey Huff

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com