SF Giants lineup: Crawford out again, in fact all Brandons on bench

Before the 2012 season I invented a segment for our blog/podcast called “Brandon Watch”, based on the premise that the Giants could be successful if their young (and cheap) position players performed at the level of major-league caliber starters. What followed was a great defensive season from Brandon Crawford and a really nice all-around performance by Brandon Belt.

There will be no Brandons for Giants fans to watch Friday night against Miami. Crawford sits for the third straight day after spraining two of his fingers on a stolen base attempt Tuesday. Crawford will be available to pinch-run and/or pinch-hit, according to Andrew Baggarly. The only hurdle to starting now is the discomfort he feels when releasing the ball on defense.

Belt also won’t be gripping any bats to start the game, as Bruce Bochy has given Posey a “day off” from behind the plate and placed him at first base. This is Posey’s 7th start at first on the season, but it is his third in the last week. Hector Sanchez, who will catch Tim Lincecum today, may be the reason for Posey’s sudden shift and Belt’s partial exile. The Giants have been impressed with Sanchez’s ability to come through in big moments at the plate despite never posting an OPS of .700 at the major-league level. Belt has five hits in his last 12 plate appearances. Ricky Nolasco is right-handed. What’s your damage, Bochy?

Also of note is Hector Sanchez catching Tim Lincecum. Like his dalliances with Zito, Sanchez was briefly considered a “Timmy Whisperer”. Sanchez caught Lincecum in 16 of his 33 starts in 2012, where he posted a 4.87 ERA. In comparison, Posey caught 15 of those 33 starts and Timmy’s ERA in those starts 5.46. That isn’t enough for “personal catcher” status in my mind, especially with a pitcher whose results have been all over the map for the last season-plus of outings.

Ricky Nolasco pitching in AT&T Park raises an eyebrow, as the young righty has been targeted as trade-potential for the Giants come the July 31st deadline. He is a free agent after this season, and presumably the Giants would need to toss the Marlins a prospect and eat around $5 million of salary to acquire him. Nolasco is in the middle of his second-best season in his career, posting an ERA, WHIP and a H/9 near his career lows. Could be a great value, but let’s see what the Marlins ask for. Even one of Klye Crick/Clayton Blackburn/Chris Stratton may be a stiff price to pay for three months of another mercurial pitcher.

Here’s the Giants’ lineup vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (4-7, 3.61 ERA):

CF Blanco

2B Scutaro

1B Posey

RF Pence

C Sanchez

SS Arias

LF Torres

3B Noonan

RHP Lincecum (4-7, 4.57 ERA)