Pitchers and catchers are just a mere 11 days away from reporting to Spring Training. That means winter is winding down and baseball, glorious baseball, is just around the corner. Soon we’ll be hearing all the familiar baseball sounds – mitts popping, bats cracking, and all the other terrific accompaniments that come with baseball.
Unfortunately, other than waiting for Spring Training to start, baseball happenings are few. Which means it’s the perfect time for 25-man roster speculation.
Position player locks to make the roster
C: Buster Posey
C: Backup catcher (Whiteside, Stewart, maybe Hector Sanchez)
1B: Aubrey Huff
2B: Freddy Sanchez
SS: Brandon Crawford
3B: Pablo Sandoval
OF: Angel Pagan
OF: Melky Cabrera
OF: Nate Schierholtz
UTL: Mike Fontenot
That’s 10 spots locked up for the position players.
The rotation and bullpen locks
SP: Tim Lincecum
SP: Matt Cain
SP: Madison Bumgarner
SP: Ryan Vogelsong
SP: Barry Zito
RP: Brian Wilson
RP: Sergio Romo
RP: Jeremy Affeldt
RP: Javier Lopez
RP: Santiago Cassilla
RP: Clay Hensley
RP: Long reliever (Mota or Runzler)
That’s 12 spots for the rotation and bullpen. Clay Hensley might not be a bullpen “lock”, but I think he’ll make the team. He has experience relieving and starting, that should make him valuable enough to get on the 25-man.
That leaves us with 22 total spots on a 25-man roster. I’m not sure I can see Giants carrying 12 pitchers to start the year, but it’s possible. That leaves us with three roster spots for additional bench players.
* SS/2B: Ryan Theriot – Theriot will earn a base salary of $1.25M with incentives that could take his deal all the way to $2M. What else can you say about Theriot that hasn’t already been said? He’s a bad/poor/terrible defender at shortstop. He’s acceptable at second base, defensively speaking. Theriot does have a strength in hitting LHP, even if it’s a little overstated at times. After regressing his career splits against LHP, Theriot is a projected .328 wOBA batter in 2012 against southpaws. That’s acceptable, but not lefty-masher status.
* 1B/OF: Brett Pill/Brandon Belt – Pill could make the team as a right-handed bench bat that would occasionally start at 1B or maybe a corner OF spot. Belt is the more talented player, but it remains to be seen if the Giants will find playing time for him. If Huff can play LF most days, I would rather have Belt making most of the starts at first base. If Huff can’t play the OF, then I think Belt will have a hard time making the roster. He also has minor league options which could make the Giants’ decision easier to make. Being a lefty could also hurt Belt if the team wants to decide between him and Pill.
* OF: Gregor Blanco/Justin Christian – Both are speedy players that struggle on offense. Both should be able to play all three OF positions and steal a bag off the bench. It’s worth noting that Blanco has a pretty nice career on base percentage in the majors (.358) and he destroyed the Venezuelan Winter League this year, taking home MVP honors.
If you think the Giants will carry 11 pitchers, then you can add someone like Emmanuel Burriss to the roster. Though, I’m not sure why you would want to.
My best guess: the last three spots will be filled by Theriot, Pill, and Christian. And I’ll expect much gnashing of teeth when Belt is optioned to Fresno because the team is best configured if he’s playing every day at first.
Comment starter: How do you think the 25-man will play out?