Predicting the Giants’ 25-man roster…again
Updated March 30, 2012…..
Opening Day is just a week away (April 6). Based on spring training battles, injuries, and straight-up performance, I have revised my original 25-man roster projections from last month.
I originally had Chris Stewart beating out Eli Whiteside and Hector Sanchez for the backup catcher spot. Now I’ve flip-flopped Stewy and Whitey, mainly because Eli has flat-out kicked Stewart’s ass this spring, both offensively and defensively (Whiteside has thrown out three would-be base stealers in the past two days alone!).
Manager Bruce Bochy loves him some veteran players, as you know, which also gives Whiteside the edge over Stewart. Sanchez has outperformed both vets, but I think the Giants want him playing everyday and he’ll wind up in Fresno, just a few short hours away in case he’s needed in a pinch. (For Buster Posey‘s sake, let’s hope the only pinching going on is some belated St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans.)
That’s why I’m putting him on the 25-man roster, too. Oh, not to mention the reigning Venezuelan League (winter ball) MVP is tearing up the Cactus League with a .348 batting average, to go along with 11 stolen bases, tops in baseball.
With Bochy clearly instituting a new “small ball” strategy for the 2012 Giants, Blanco certainly has an edge over, say, first baseman Brett Pill (.254/.270/.525, 3 HR, 12 RBI), who will surely wind up in Fresno. Even though he’s one of the few right-handed bats in the lineup (the Giants are stocked with switch-hitters and lefties), I just don’t see Pill emerging through the logjam at first base.
What about Emmanuel Burriss? Might he be nearing the end of his days as a Giant?
Maybe, but San Francisco still needs Burriss’s versatility in the field and his speed off the bench, so I think he stays. And Burriss has definitely proved he belongs, batting .360/.429/.500 (.929 OPS) with five doubles and five stolen bases this spring.
And how about Brandon Belt? Where does he fit in? Let me put it this way: How can you open the regular season without the Baby Giraffe on the roster? Look at his numbers this spring: .407/.446/.678 (1.124 OPS), 3 HR, 7 doubles, 7 RBI.
Sure, an argument can be made that Belt needs everyday at bats, but I think he’ll get in a lot of games. He will spell starting first baseman Aubrey Huff from time-to-time (and more so as a late-inning defensive replacement). He can also play left field and even right field (where Bochy has stuck him several times this spring). The Giants are so high on this kid, you’d think they were riding shotgun up I-5 to Washington state with Tim Lincecum. I say he makes it.
Now, I hear what you’re saying. There’s simply not enough room on the 25-man roster for Belt, Blanco, and Burriss. Unless, of course, you force the matter by placing someone on the disabled list.
That’s where Freddy Sanchez‘s status comes in. It’s been painfully obvious that the 34-year-old second baseman is nowhere near ready to play defense. (He’s made a few appearances as a designated hitter, but reports still say he can’t make the necessary strong pivot throw from second to first base). The Giants would be better off letting Sanchez “heal” on a rehab assignment (DL) while the rest of the Opening Day roster begins to sort itself out over the first few weeks of the season.
The Giants’ pitching staff is pretty well set with Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito all ready to start the season. Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong will start the season on the disabled list, and it looks like the Giants will go with a four-man rotation to start the season.
I highly doubt Eric Surkamp comes into the picture, by the way. The Giants will send him to Fresno to work on being an eventual big league starter.
The bullpen looks fine. Clay Hensley will probably snag the spot voided when Dan Runzler re-aggravated his strained lat muscle a week ago and righty Steve Edlefsen will likely take Vogey’s DL-vacated spot.
So there you have it. My revised projected 25-man roster. Of course, all of this could change tomorrow with another injury (or trade). So stay tuned, friends. I may be updating my projections again sooner than later.