Monday, February 13, 2012

Building a Lineup Out of the 40 Man Roster

Here we are, only a week before the first Giants start reporting to spring training. It's just about that time when we can start thinking about how the 25 man roster will take shape, the contours of the starting lineup, and about how there will be some non-roster invitee who might break out and shake everything up, at least on the offense. Here's the MLB Depth Charts take on these questions:
1 CF Angel Pagan
2 LF Melky Cabrera
3 3B Pablo Sandoval
4 C Buster Posey
5 1B Aubrey Huff
6 RF Nate Schierholtz
7 2B Freddy Sanchez
8 SS Brandon Crawford
Given the numbers, the appropriate amount of the Bochy and Sabean veteran love, and all other tangible and intangible factors (whatever that means), maybe that's a just lineup: as I've mentioned before, Nate Schierholtz did actually play himself into the starting lineup in 2011, and we all know that Huff is going to get a shot to make everybody forget his lackluster 2011 season. Nevertheless, let's face it. It's been a long offseason, and we want something that tells us that 2012 is going to be better:
1 CF Angel Pagan
2 RF Melky Cabrera
3 3B Pablo Sandoval
4 C Buster Posey
5 LF Aubrey Huff
6 1B Brandon Belt
7 2B Freddy Sanchez
8 SS Brandon Crawford/Ryan Theriot
Sure, it's not fair to Schierholtz, but I think it's obvious that if there is a breakout season to be had, it's going to be taken by Brandon Belt. So Huff goes to left, and Schierholtz gets the call for the 7th inning shuffle.

So that gives us 9 spots. The rotation (Lincecum/Cain/Bumgarner/Vogelsong/Zito) takes up five more spots, and the bullpen seven:
LHP Jeremy Affeldt
LHP Javier Lopez
RHP Santiago Casilla
RHP Sergio Romo
RHP Brian Wilson
RHP Guillero Mota
RHP Clay Hensley
That leaves four on the bench:
OF Nate Schierholtz
IF Mike Fontenot
IF/OF Emmanuel Burriss
C Chris Stewart
Now I know that Eli Whiteside signed as a free agent, but I'd like to imagine that Stewart, whose defense is better, would land the backup job. That leaves, at the moment, six players out of the remaining members of the 40 man roster waiting in the wings (I'm not including prospects in this list):
LHP Dan Runzler
LHP Eric Surkamp
RHP Steve Edlefsen
1B Brett Pill
3B Conor Gillaspie
C Hector Sanchez
Putting injuries aside, if I had to make some wildly uninformed guesses, I'd say that we will probably see several of these players over the course of the season: Hector Sanchez would be the obvious call up if/when the Giants decide to move to a three catcher set-up during inter-division play, opening the DH spot for Buster Posey. I wouldn't be surprised if this happens, although it seems that Burriss would get DFAed in this situation. If this kind of shuffling starts, I'd suppose that the management had decided that Fontenot/Theriot/and possibly Gillaspie could back up Freddie Sanchez at second.

If one of the right-handed relievers flames out (we're looking at you, Hensley), I'd imagine that they'd give a shot to Steve Edlefsen, on the premise that his last few weeks in the 2011 season were an exhaustion-ridden outlier, and not the curse of the Runzler. 

Then again, Gregor Blanco or some other non-roster invitee could crash the party, and all of this speculation would end up sounding like what it is: baseball-desperate preseason nonsense.

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