San Francisco Giants: 5 Players Who Will Just Miss Making the Postseason Roster

Zack RuskinContributor IIOctober 1, 2012

San Francisco Giants: 5 Players Who Will Just Miss Making the Postseason Roster

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    Fresh off a somewhat dramatic ninth-inning comeback, the San Francisco Giants will travel from San Diego to Los Angeles to conclude their regular-season play against the rival Dodgers.

    Prominent in their late-game turnaround was Xavier Nady, the journeyman outfielder who joined the San Francisco roster on Sep. 1 after being signed to a minor league contract in August.

    Nady's ninth inning, game-tying home run off Padres closer Huston Street is sure to be in the minds of Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean as they whittle down their roster to 25 men for the NLDS.

    Having already announced that Melky Cabrera will not rejoin the team when his suspension concludes, the Giants will assuredly bring Nady aboard to platoon left field with Gregor Blanco and provide some pop off the bench.

    Who else will join Nady on the playoff roster is the source of speculation as the calendar turns to October. Here are five players that will likely fall just short of making the cut for the postseason.

5. Eli Whiteside

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    When the two people ahead of you on the depth chart are named Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez, it doesn't bode well for your playing time.

    Yes, Posey will slide over to first should Sanchez catch Tim Lincecum or Barry Zito, but that alignment allows for Posey to take over behind the dish should Sanchez be injured.

    In other cases, it will come down to Bruce Bochy's willingness to "burn" his backup catcher by pinch-hitting Sanchez in crucial late-inning at-bats. 

    In short, the postseason roster does not afford teams the luxury of a third catcher, and Hector Sanchez earned his shot over Whiteside before Opening Day.

4. Brad Penny

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    The San Francisco Giants' bullpen has always been a source of strength for the team.

    With a club light on offense and currently enduring some end-of-season starting pitching woes, the consistency of arms like Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo has more than a little do with why they've captured the NL West.

    Not among the names above is Brad Penny, who joined San Francisco in 2009. In that stretch, he went 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA over six starts. This time around, the numbers aren't so pretty.

    In his time with San Francisco this season, Penny has amassed a 6.11 ERA. He's also allowed 19 earned runs vs. 10 strikeouts. With the competition for a spot in postseason bullpen crowded and competitive, those numbers simply won't support adding Penny to the roster.

3. Brett Pill

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    In the future, baseball historians may not be sure how it ever came to pass that Aubrey Huff was selected to the Giants' 2012 playoff roster.

    For a guy with an astoundingly bad .189 batting average, in addition to 14 hits and six RBI on the season to make the cut over a player like Brett Pill can only mean that Bruce Bochy is valuing an intangible over a slash line.

    The intangible in question is playoff experience. Huff has it, having played an integral role in San Francisco's 2010 championship season. When faced with coming off the bench for a vital eighth- or ninth-inning at-bat, Bochy wants the guy who's been there, not the kid who's green behind the ears.

    How well this strategy will work out for Bochy remains to be seen, but the end result is no October magic for Pill the Thrill. 

2. Justin Christian

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    Justin Christian may be suffering from Nate Schierholtz Syndrome, an affliction that plagues San Francisco right fielder bench players.

    The symptoms of NSS include never getting regular playing time and failing to make the most of your limited opportunities. Now Schierholtz is a superior player to Christian, but the fact remains that Christian's playing time on the big stage has been minimal at best.

    What he can offer the Giants is speed, a valuable commodity with a pinch-hitter like Huff aboard. Unfortunately, he is not alone in his talents.

    Emannuel Burriss, another minor leaguer with a scrapbook full of brief appearances for the San Francisco Giants, is also quite fast. And while the Giants may be pretty well set in terms of infield depth, the familiarity the team has with Burriss will most likely give him an edge over Christian.

    Of the five players listed, Christian stands the best chance of proving me wrong. It really comes down to determining if Huff is being considered as the fifth outfielder, or whether that slot still remains open for Bruce Bochy.

1. George Kontos

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    While Bruce Bochy has explicitly stated that Melky Cabrera will not be utilized in San Francisco's postseason play, there has been no such declaration made against the other player suspended this season for a positive PED test.

    Guillermo Mota, back from a 100-game suspension, has served San Francisco well as an innings-eater and mid-game bridge between a struggling starter and the late-inning reliever corps of Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, Jose Mijares, Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla. Add in Ryan Vogelsong, and you've got one spot for either Mota or George Kontos.

    In 42 appearances this season, Kontos has pitched to a 2.55 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 12 earned runs. Those numbers are solid, to be sure.

    The only thing standing in Kontos' way are the same troubles facing Brett Pill: the value Bruce Bochy places on experience.

    Mota pitched (albeit not much) in the 2010 postseason. George Kontos is finishing his first real season as a big-leaguer. Now, plenty of fresh players aren't punished for being new on the scene—no one minded that Buster Posey was a rookie two years ago.

    Unfortunately, Kontos hasn't been so lights out as to warrant automatic inclusion on the postseason roster. And with Lopez, Romo, Mijares, Affeldt and Casilla all locks for the playoffs, it appears that Mota will be given a shot at a redemption at the cost of Kontos' postseason.