To break it down, we are left with the following openings:
Starting Pitcher: 1
Relief Pitcher: 2
To top it off, there is a significant amount of competition for each of those spots. Here are players who I think have at least a 50% chance of making the 25-man roster for the San Francisco Giants coming out of Spring Training.
I think Zito has a much better chance than Eric Surkamp of occupying the fifth-starter slot come Opening Day. He generates significant good will in the clubhouse and excels at the “I’ve changed” stump speech. Plus, he is making an awful lot of money. Expect him to make the squad. Don’t be surprised, however, if he suddenly suffers a phantom wrist injury before leaving his first start with a 12-0 deficit in the first inning.
I give the edge to Chris Stewart over Hector Sanchez coming out of Spring Training. Granted, Sanchez has a much better bat. Should Posey return to full health, or should the Giants elect to go minus-one infielder in order to play Posey at first base occasionally, Sanchez will still make the club. As for now, however, Stewart’s defense and chemistry with Lincecum is entirely too strong to ignore. Have you seen any catcher in a Giants uniform that quick to second base? Ever?
I want to go on the record to say that I don’t necessarily approve of this decision. I still think, however, that Burriss will likely make the opening day squad. He has speed and can play a wide variety of infield positions, which will compliment Mike Fontenot.
This is tough, because with this selection I am ostensibly shutting the door for other infielders. Be that as it may, it is impossible to deny Pill’s offensive contributions during his trial-run in September. He put up outstanding numbers in the minor leagues and hit .300 in his (admittedly very brief) stint in the majors. I say it’s time to give him a legitimate shot to prove what he can do.
I know that this is cheating, since the roster lists him as an infielder. I expect that Brandon Belt, Brett Pill, and Aubrey Huff will all sort out which one of them will be playing left field by the end of Spring Training. Belt has a lot of holes in his swing and needs to patch them up if he is going to have any chance at being a productive major league hitter. He does, however, turn on an inside pitch better than any Giant since Barry Bonds. He, like Pill, needs to prove what he can do, and I predict he has a strong chance of making the club.