With the commencement of spring training baseball just around the corner, it's time to take an early look at what the 25-man roster could look like for the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants elected to focus on keeping their 2012 championship team in tact during the offseason, so there were not a lot of additions to the club outside of Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez. Interestingly enough, both Ramirez and Torres were on the Giants in 2010 before they were traded to the New York Mets in exchange for Angel Pagan.
Spring Training is where roster spots are won and lost. This time around, however, there won't be many spots up for grabs. There will likely be only two roster spots on the Giants' roster that will be open for competition.
Here's an early prediction for the Giants' 25-man roster on Opening Day.
1. Buster Posey
2. Hector Sanchez
Despite his struggles in the 2012 postseason (1-of-11 with seven strikeouts) Sanchez has proven that he is more than capable of being the San Francisco Giants' backup catcher.
Not only was he able to catch the effectively-wild Tim Lincecum and caddy for him every five days, but he flashed signs of being able to hit major-league pitching. In fact, Sanchez had 17 RBI after the first two months of the season despite his limited at-bats.
As for Buster Posey, I'm going to go out on a limb and say he makes the Opening Day roster.
1. Brandon Belt
2. Brett Pill
Belt, who is on the verge of having a breakout season, is slated to the the everyday first baseman for the Giants. He possesses an excellent eye and his plate discipline has always been far beyond his years, but the Giants would like to see more power coming from the first base position.
As for Pill, I believe he'll be the 25th man to make the roster. Despite the fact that he can—and I use that term loosely—play outfield, the majority of his at-bats will come by the way of a pinch hit appearance. Buster Posey will likely play first base when he needs a break from behind the plate, so that clogs the lane for Pill to get some playing time.
1. Marco Scutaro
Even though Scutaro will be the only second baseman listed on the depth chart, Joaquin Arias will likely back him up during his off days.
Arias is a solid backup that the Giants would like to insert into the lineup whenever possible, so he'll likely be the main and only utility infielder on the roster.
1. Pablo Sandoval
2. Joaquin Arias
Speaking of Arias, since he played 74 games at third base in 2012 he is technically listed as a third baseman. However, like I previously mentioned, expect him to spell Sandoval, Brandon Crawford and Marco Scutaro during their days off.
I fully expect Arias to receive over 350 at-bats in 2013.
1. Brandon Crawford
Out of all the San Francisco Giants players I enjoyed watching develop last year, Crawford got me most excited for the future. The shortstop position in baseball has run dry of talent throughout the league, so long-term options at the position are hard to come by.
However, Crawford showed me that he can be the shortstop of the future, which should make Giants fans elated. Not only did he put his defensive struggles behind him during the second half of the season, but he had seven RBI in the playoffs—including five in the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals—which all seemed to come at crucial moments.
At only 26 years old, Crawford should only continue to get better.
1. Angel Pagan
2. Hunter Pence
3. Gregor Blanco
4. Andres Torres
While Pagan and Pence have center field and right field locked up, it is more than likely that Blanco and Torres will split time in left field. Blanco will garner the at-bats against right-handed starters, while Torres will start in right when facing left-handed pitchers.
1. Matt Cain
2. Madison Bumgarner
3. Tim Lincecum
4. Barry Zito
5. Ryan Vogelsong
While the starting rotation in terms of personnel is practically set in stone, it's the order that has people guessing. Cain has already been declared the Opening Day starter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Apr. 1, 2013, but that's all we know.
Manager Bruce Bochy tends to alternate between lefties and righties when at all possible, so I believe either Lincecum or Vogelsong will be the No. 3 starter behind Cain and Bumgarner.
1. Sergio Romo
2. Javier Lopez
3. Jeremy Affeldt
4. Santiago Casilla
5. Ramon Ramirez
6. Jose Mijares
7. George Kontos
8. Dan Runzler
Bruce Bochy might not want to go with eight relievers in the bullpen, but he might be forced to do so. Runzler, who has excellent stuff for a left-handed pitcher, has never been able to put it all together.
However, Bruce Bochy has been pleasantly surprised with Runzler thus far and might have to find room for him on the 25-man roster if he keeps it up.
When asked if he would have four lefty relievers in the bullpen this year, Bochy said he'll keep his options open.