Aaron Rowand

Giants NLCS roster: Panda extinct?

Alright, I’m rested up (sort of), and ready to focus on the Philadelphia Phillies and how the Giants should approach this series. And I think I’ve cracked the code: they need to hit the ball away from the Phillies’ infielders. The problem with the Giants is they keep hitting ground balls that lead to one or two outs in key situations, and continuing to do that makes it very difficult to score, unless the other team has infielders who are incapable of making routine plays.

Wow, I just went into Tim McCarver mode there. The thing about going into Tim McCarver mode is that you can’t stop yourself from sounding like Tim McCarver.

(Slaps self in the face.)

Sorry about that. Back to your regularly scheduled sarcasm and speculation. And as the kids at McCovey Chronicles like to say, it’s rosterbation time! So turn on your “private browsing,” load up the Fangraphs.com and let’s get to it!

First off, anyone who says, “The Giants should keep their roster the same because that’s the roster that won against the Braves” can stop reading this post right now. Don’t waste your time. By that logic, the Giants should have kept Barry Zito and Jose Guillen on the playoff roster because they both played a lot during the end of the regular season, and didn’t keep the team from winning the NL West.

Zito should be nowhere near the active roster. He’s a half-hour long, 4-run fifth inning waiting to happen if you stick him in the bullpen. In fact, without a curveball he can control, Zito is just like Madison Bumgarner — only without the velocity or command. You don’t need any more than four starters in a 7-game series, and the Giants are obviously fine there.

Guillen’s a little bit of a different situation, because the Giants only hit 2 homers against the Braves and we don’t know how his neck’s doing. As a pinch-hitter he’d be about 10 times more fearsome than Aaron Rowand, who had a particularly Rowand-like at-bat last night.

Travis Ishikawa showed he’s up to the postseason challenge, but when there was no pinch-runner to replace him (even though he’s not fast at all and he represented the tying run in the ninth inning), it was clear the Giants could have used a guy like Darren Ford against Atlanta. Or Eugenio Velez, if the Giants just can’t bring themselves to trust Ford.

So that means the Giants need an influx of power AND speed, which is why they should leave Pablo Sandoval off the playoff roster. Forget marketing gimmicks like a certain type of hat that should never find itself on an adult male, Sandoval doesn’t provide anything the Giants need (and that also includes good at-bats or dependable defense).

Sandoval was effectively removed from the roster on Sunday, when he was replaced by Mike Fontenot for both games in Atlanta and didn’t even get an opportunity to pinch hit. Bochy’s totally done with Sandoval, and it only took 164 games! The case for keeping Sandoval is that he hit .330 last year with 25 homers and that he’s 3-for-9 lifetime against Cole Hamels and went 2-for-4 against Roy Halladay back in April, when Sandoval was hitting .365. It’s safe to say Sandoval is not that kind of hitter right now, and the Giants don’t have the luxury of trotting him out there game after game to see if he can finally snap out of whatever funk he’s in.

The other roster-related question is whether the Giants should continue carrying 11 pitchers, since the Phillies’ offense is just an eensy teensy bit better than Atlanta’s. I don’t see any reason to increase the amount of pitchers, since only nine guys were used against the Braves. Of course, that’s due to the starters shouldering such a huge load over the 4-game series. But if Guillermo Mota and Jeremy Affeldt weren’t good enough to stick in there, do you really think the Giants would start using Dan Runzler or Chris Ray against the Phillies? Actually, after thinking about it a little, Ray might get a shot here.

Now that I’ve totally confused myself. I think it’s time to end this by predicting the lineup (new guys in bold):

Catchers: Buster Posey and Eli Whiteside

Infielders: Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Juan Uribe, Mike Fontenot, Edgar Renteria (who we may see a lot more of in the NLCS if Uribe continues to hit under .100), Travis Ishikawa

Outfielders: Andres Torres, Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz, Jose Guillen

Pitchers: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, Brian Wilson, Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Guillermo Mota, Chris Ray

(Note: if Guillen’s hurt, I think Eugenio Velez is the guy who gets the nod over Ford. I just can’t see how Rowand adds anything at this point, and the Giants seem to be a lot more logical lately than they’ve been in recent years.)

And for fun, here’s the lineup I’d like to see:

Catchers: Posey and Whiteside

Infielders: Huff, Sanchez, Uribe, Fontenot, Renteria, Ishikawa

Outfielders: Torres, Burrell, Ross, Schierholtz, Ford, Velez

Pitchers: Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Wilson, Casilla, Ramirez, Lopez, Romo, Affeldt, Mota

Ford should be on this team, especially with the problems the Giants had moving runners. Plus, Carlos Ruiz is a guy the (faster) Giants can steal on (he threw out 28.6% of the runners attempting to steal during the regular season, compared to 37.1% for Posey).

Also, I don’t think Guillen has anything left this year, and if you’re leaving off Pablo, you’ll need another emergency middle infielder in case Sanchez and Fontenot both get hurt in the same game. I know I’m more pro-Velez than most people (especially the group that regularly uses the term “rosterbation”), and I know why people are wary of him: he’s wildly inconsistent and flaky to the point of people wondering whether he truly knows the rules of the game. Even the simple rules, like how many outs are in an inning, or if pitchers are allowed to pick off baserunners. But Sandoval is like Zito without the paycheck right now. He has no idea how to recapture past glory, and he’s hurting the team greatly in the process. And I know I’ll probably get some negative feedback here, but I feel like Velez is fast enough, as well as crazy enough, to do the unexpected in the playoffs: succeed.

Oh, who am I kidding … the Giants are totally going to keep Rowand on the roster because he’s facing his former team. Maybe the people who think the roster will go unchanged from the NLDS and the NLCS are right. Only four more days of speculation until the games start! Can you handle it?

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