Can Eduardo Nunez play left field while Conor Gillaspie starts at third base? It seems that Gillaspie deserves an everyday shot.
-- Obrey B., Beaumont, Calif.
Though Nunez is capable of filling in as a left fielder in a utility role, using him as a regular outfielder might be kind of risky. Of the 404 Major League games he has started, 18 were as an outfielder -- 15 in left, three in right. Left field at AT&T Park is the least challenging of the three outfield positions. But given their reliance on pitching and defense, the Giants can't afford to have any of their position players undergoing on-the-job training, which likely would be the case for Nunez if the Giants shoved him in left field.
As for Gillaspie, he certainly looked impressive while batting .421 in last year's postseason, and he has improved defensively. But his career platoon splits (.266 batting average against right-handers, .203 off lefties) don't fit the profile of an everyday player. Though Gillaspie improved incrementally against left-handed pitching last year (.227), his OPS reflected his difficulties in handling southpaws (.591 off left-handers, .767 against right-handers).
I am curious as to why the Giants wouldn't consider bringing back Angel Pagan in a Gregor Blanco-type role. If Pagan could play 90 to 100 games, that would be perfect.
-- Todd G., Lynden, Wash.
Indeed, there has been a complete absence of buzz around the Giants' inner sanctum about re-signing Pagan, who's a free agent. The silence derives from a combination of factors. He stayed relatively healthy last year, but his injury history remains a concern. That, combined with the fact that he'll turn 36 this season, would leave any club hesitant to bring him aboard.
Though Pagan won't command anything close to the $11.25 million he earned last year, the Giants probably are reluctant to consider him even at a deeply discounted rate because the competitive balance tax is an issue for them. Furthermore, the factors and intangibles that once made him valuable seem to have evaporated. San Francisco went 64-61 with him in the lineup last year, compared with 86-63 in 2012, 56-35 in '14 and 66-57 in '15.
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I feel Brandon Belt, as the No. 1 hitter, does not get a lot of respect. Why is that?
-- Joyce C., Concord, Calif.
What's fascinating is your reference to Belt as the Giants' No. 1 hitter. Most observers would reserve that distinction for Buster Posey, Hunter Pence or Brandon Crawford. Then again, considering the six-year, $79 million contract that Belt received last year, the Giants show him plenty of respect on the first and 15th of every month.
Maybe you believe, as many do, that Belt should be the Giants' top offensive performer, due to the skill that has been shrouded by inconsistency. Last year, for instance, he made the All-Star team with a .302/.407/.521 slash line. That dipped to .241/.378/.414 in the season's second half. In 2015, he hit .314 at home and .248 on the road. Two years before that, he batted .255 before Aug. 1 and .346 afterward. That mirrored 2012, when he hit .237 through July and .329 thereafter.
Why don't we sign Barry Bonds as the hitting coach? We could use him.
-- Samuel A., New York
The energy and enthusiasm that Bonds' presence generated in 2014 when he appeared at Spring Training as a guest hitting instructor was something to behold. Sustaining that charged atmosphere for an entire season would be impossible, however. And it takes two sides to make a deal. That said, Bonds certainly could help the Giants in some capacity.