MLB

Projecting the Giants’ Opening Day roster

I thought it’d be fun to project the Giants’ Opening Day roster on a semi-regular (weekly?) basis throughout Spring Training, since I can only write so many stories about which guys are injured, were injured, or could be injured. Injury blogging is sometimes unavoidable, but I’m going to avoid it … today, anyway.

These projections should and undoubtedly will change as on-the-bubble players beat expectations, struggle, and get hurt. Here’s what I’m seeing now.

Starting Rotation

  • Madison Bumgarner
  • Johnny Cueto
  • Jeff Samardzija
  • Jake Peavy
  • Chris Heston

Even if Matt Cain starts throwing on Sunday or Monday, it would take an accelerated program to get him fully ready on Opening Day. There’s no point in pushing the issue, so he’ll start on the Disabled List.

Bullpen

  • Santiago Casilla
  • Sergio Romo
  • Javier Lopez
  • Hunter Strickland
  • George Kontos
  • Josh Osich
  • Joan Gregorio

The last two spots are up for grabs. Osich walked three and gave up two earned runs in an inning yesterday, but there are only six lefties on the 40-man roster, and Osich is one of the three with major league experience. So Osich has a built-in advantage to go along with his strong performance in the majors last year. Mike Broadway has a decent shot, but he hasn’t started a game at any level since 2009. Cory Gearrin could theoretically pitch his way into that final spot as well, but he hasn’t started a game as a professional. The Giants need a guy to replace Yusmeiro Petit with Heston getting bumped up to the rotation; over 70% of Gregorio’s minor league outings have come as a starter, which is why I think he’ll get the nod here. Clayton Blackburn has the ability to handle the “long man” role, but he led all of Triple-A in ERA as a 22-year-old. Would the Giants want to mess with a potential long-term MLB starter by putting him in such an unpredictable bullpen role?

Catcher

  • Buster Posey
  • Andrew Susac

The Giants couldn’t possibly go with three catchers again. Or could they? Susac hit a three-run homer yesterday, and he was the favorite going into Spring Training. Trevor Brown could give Susac some competition, however.

Infielders

  • Brandon Belt
  • Joe Panik
  • Matt Duffy
  • Brandon Crawford
  • Kelby Tomlinson
  • Conor Gillaspie

If Tomlinson shows he can handle shortstop and Ehire Adrianza doesn’t wow anyone this month, they’ll let Adrianza go (again). Gillaspie, drafted in the first round of the 2008 Amateur Draft by the Giants, had an OPS of .752 and a 115 OPS+ in 2014 for Chicago. He had a down year for the White Sox and Angels in 2015, as those numbers dipped to .627 and 75, but he’s only 28 and he hits left-handed. If he can hit well in Spring Training (he hit the Giants first homer of the exhibition season) and play decent defense (he also made an error on Wednesday), the Giants might want to bring him back.

Outfielders

  • Angel Pagan
  • Denard Span
  • Hunter Pence
  • Gregor Blanco
  • Gorkys Hernandez

Along with Gregorio and Gillaspie, Hernandez was one of the last guys I settled on. Hernandez seems so much like Blanco that I went with my gut here, despite never seeing him play. He comes to the Giants as a 28-year-old non-roster invitee, he’s from Venezuela, and he’s known as a fast player who can defend all three outfield spots. Hernandez was actually a more heralded prospect than Blanco, and was involved in trades for Edgar Renteria, Nate McLouth and Gaby Sanchez.

***

This projected roster can and almost certainly will change over the next few weeks. Adrianza, Kyle Blanks, Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson and multiple relievers could end up on here. And if the Giants aren’t happy with their current options, they could go out and sign a free agent. David Freese, Austin Jackson, Marlon Byrd, Alex Rios, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Jason Frasor and Tim Lincecum are still available.

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