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Brandon Belt's Gravitational Pull On The Outer Outfield

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With Javy Lopez reportedly back in the fold (more on that later today), the final major puzzle piece for the Giants is left field. This week, if you haven't been following, Brian Sabean spread a little baking soda on the stove-top grease fire of our expectations. The new shiny outfielder will not be someone tagged with a qualifying offer, he might have to come through a trade, and -- the latest downplay -- left field might remain a platoon situation, with Gregor Blanco taking the lefty-hitting side.

Cue collective groan.

But wait. An astute acolyte of Andy Baggarly made this point during today's online Baggschat:

Belt LF Comment.JPGFor the record, yes, Baggs agrees that it would be wrong to keep Belt out of the lineup when Posey plays 1B, which Baggs estimated at 30, not 40 games a year. Either way, I think Bergmaster is on to something. If Belt starts 30-40 games in left, the need for a full time guy diminishes. Also consider that Blanco in an ideal world would be coming in for late inning defense quite often, which would lessen the need to pay a premium (either in cash or in trade) for a top defender.

So, even before the groans fade into the fog, Sabean's caveats start to make more sense. paying top (or over-the-top) dollar for a full-time left fielder in this free agent market might be a waste of resources. The Giants really need someone in left field who does one thing very well -- hit left-handed pitching with extreme prejudice -- and who runs around with a glove without embarrassing himself. Pat Burrell pulled off that neat trick for a few months. The trick now is luring someone who a) maintains peace of mind while hitting 400-foot-outs once every day or two; b) understands that his starts could hit a 120-game ceiling, even if he's healthy; c) doesn't mind getting paid with a little platoon pro rata in mind. Might be a tough order on the free agent market, which is why Sabean has talked about potentially filling the position via trade.

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