MLB

San Francisco Giants roster projections – time for a few changes

It’s time for Version 3.0 of my 2016 San Francisco Giants Opening Day roster projections, and there are changes since last time! Oh yes, changes galore. And most of you probably won’t be all that thrilled with what changes I’ve made, but don’t get too upset. I didn’t even go to Spring Training this year, so these are just guesses based on numbers, what little I’ve seen/heard from the games, and tweets from beat writers. That said, some developments have occurred that make it a little easier to read the tea leaves.

Starting Rotation

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

For the first time in a while, I’m giving Matt Cain the benefit of the doubt. Will he start the season on the active roster? He seems to think so. He threw 54 pitches over 2 2/3 innings on Friday, which is a good sign, although the results (seven hits, three walks, three earned runs) weren’t stellar. Cain will get only three chances to pitch between now and then (if we assume he’ll throw every five days), and if he feels pain or looks awful, the Giants might want to “slow play” him and slot Heston into the rotation. But for now, it sounds like Cain will get every chance to make his first start on April 8.

Bullpen

  • Santiago Casilla
  • Sergio Romo
  • Javier Lopez
  • Hunter Strickland
  • George Kontos
  • Josh Osich
  • Cory Gearrin
  • Chris Heston

Clayton Blackburn will start the year in Triple-A, basically because they like him well enough to keep him as a starter instead of having him bounce back and forth between starting and long relief. Josh Osich isn’t really having the greatest spring, so if the Giants make a trade between now and the beginning of the season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them target a lefty reliever. The problem: lefty relievers are almost always in short supply. If Osich doesn’t look sharp heading into the season, would the Giants ask him to start the year in Triple-A and keep Gearrin around instead? Gearrin has been outstanding, and a side-arming righty is nice to have … but it sure is difficult to envision Bruce Bochy being happy with a bullpen that includes just one lefty.

Catcher

  • Buster Posey
  • Andrew Susac
  • Trevor Brown

Andrew Susac hasn’t played since March 14 and his wrist pain was described as a “mystery” by Bruce Bochy. (In other words, Bochy is getting impatient and/or annoyed with a player who missed time last Spring due to multiple dental ailments.) Trevor Brown is hitting .375 and Jake Peavy says he’s “advanced” defensively. Brown had to leave yesterday’s game early after getting caught by a backswing, but if he can shake that off quickly he’s made a strong case to start the season in the majors.

Infielders

  • Brandon Belt
  • Joe Panik
  • Matt Duffy
  • Brandon Crawford
  • Kelby Tomlinson
  • Grant Green
  • Ehire Adrianza

This is by far the toughest position group to handicap. And most Giants fans wouldn’t particularly like the change I’ve made since last time, because they don’t particularly like Adrianza. But he can play shortstop and third base (although he’s only spent 57 innings in the minors and majors combined at the latter position) and he’s hitting better this Spring than Tomlinson. Tomlinson has had only 34 at-bats, but .208/.308/.265 isn’t going to cut it for a guy who’s defense is far from perfect. He also has options (unlike Adrianza), and the Giants might like to see him hone his skills at multiple positions in Sacramento. The Giants could also keep Adrianza, Green AND Gillaspie and use Green as the de facto fifth outfielder. But I think they’ll roll with the outfielders below instead.

Outfielders

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

No alterations here, especially after hearing Bobby Evans tell Marty Lurie on Sunday that they’d like to see Mac Williamson play every day in Triple-A. However, this isn’t set in stone. The Giants wouldn’t have a right-handed power bat on the bench if they constructed the roster this way, and a lingering injury (Gregor Blanco and Denard Span seem to be the likeliest candidates) could open up a spot for Williamson. They probably saw Kyle Blanks as an option to become their latest Burrell/Morse/Maxwell/Byrd, but Blanks can’t stay healthy and was reassigned to minor league camp over the weekend.

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