Monday, April 05, 2010

Your 2010 Giants: Opening Day 25-man Roster

The Giants have announced their 25 man roster (Baggarly had it here and the Chron here; additional positions in parenthesis):
    Starting Pitchers (5)

    Tim Lincecum RHP
    Barry Zito LHP
    Matt Cain RHP
    Jonathan Sanchez LHP
    Todd Wellemeyer RHP
    Relief Pitchers (7)
    Brian Wilson Closer
    Jeremy Affeldt LHP-Setup
    Brandon Medders RHP
    Guillermo Mota RHP
    Sergio Romo RHP-Setup
    Dan Runzler LHP
    Waldis Joaquin RHP

    Catchers (2)
    Bengie Molina C
    Eli Whiteside C

    Infielders (5)
    Aubrey Huff 1B (LF/3B)
    Travis Ishikawa UT (1B/LF)
    Edgar Renteria SS
    Pablo Sandoval 3B (1B/C)
    Juan Uribe 2B (3B/SS)

    Outfielders (6)
    Mark DeRosa LF (2B/3B/1B/SS/RF)
    Aaron Rowand CF
    John Bowker RF (LF/1B)
    Nate Schierholtz UT (RF/LF/CF)
    Andres Torres UT (CF/LF/RF)
    Eugenio Velez UT (LF/CF/RF/2B)
The Giants DLed Freddie Sanchez, Fred Lewis, and Emmanuel Burriss, plus assigned Denny Bautista to AAA, to get the roster down to 25 men.

Giants Thoughts

The Giants had mild surprises regarding the final 25 man and starting lineup, though it was no surprise considering how well they did.

Waldis Joaquin took the last spot in the bullpen, edging out if you will, Kevin Pucetas. The Giants announced that they wanted Pucetas ready in the minors in case the Giants needed a starter. I would add that given Pucetas' overall poor season in 2009, they probably wanted him to show that his spring would carry forward to the regular season in AAA. Plus Joaquin used to be a starter not too long ago, so he could probably take long relief duty if necessary.

In any case, Joaquin had a good spring. Surprisingly, he didn't strike out too many (only 3 in 13.2 IP) but still did well, walking only 1 batter. Walking batters had alway been a problem for him in the minors, and his brief time in the majors last season. The great thing was that he was getting a lot of ground balls, his GO/AO ratio was a stellar 3.75 (1.0 means you give up as many grounders as fly outs).

The way I viewed it, the Giants has been conscious about rewarding their young pitchers when possible. That is why they dropped Steve Kline a couple of years ago, to make space, I believe, for Merkin Valdez. And this year, with the way Denny Bautista pitched, if the Giants were really as vet focused as some claim, Denny would have won this spot and not Joaquin. I'm glad that they are giving Waldis a shot, he was a hot prospect previously, before his injury, so it is nice that he has recovered and made the majors. He's only 23.

John Bowker took the last starting spot that was open, RF, pushing out Nate Schierholtz. What can you say, Bowker, despite being written off for competition for RF before the competition even began, had a great spring and first forced himself into the competition, then probably won it long ago with Schierholtz's struggles, and continued to hit well to the end, hitting a homer.

My only caveat is that Ishikawa had a similar spring last season and came out cold for the first one and a half months. He, like Bowker, had a breakout year in the minors the year before, unlike any season he had before. In Bowker's plus column, his peripherals were great in that he took more walks than strikeouts, though he did still strike out too much, but was very close to what you want to see (64 vs 55 or 17.5% vs. 15%). The minus is that he came to the majors, after hitting that well in the minors, just like Ishikawa, but unlike Ishikawa, didn't do that well, reverting back to his bad habits of before.

Given how well he hit in spring and 2009, hopefully he solved whatever demons that causes him to choke in the majors and not hit that well. A Bowker hitting like he did in spring and 2009 would be a HUGE boost to our offense and our chances in 2010. If I could re-do my Big 6 Questions for 2010, I would add Bowker doing well as a starter as a wild-card that could make up for one of the questions going south.

Schierholtz actually had an OK spring overall, .262/.304/.507/.811, which is slightly above average for a RF. It is just that Bowker had an outstanding spring. Still, I hope there will be games against RHP where DeRosa would play 2B, Bowker LF, and Schierholtz RF (or even Uribe at 2B, though I would prefer DeRosa's bat instead). And hopefully Nate will still get to see a good amount of action anyhow, DeRosa is not the best against RHP, that is his weakness, so hopefully Nate will get some regular play via this route. There is also starting DeRosa at 1B in place of Huff to get Schierholtz in. Then there's Renteria getting a rest, Uribe playing SS, DeRosa 2B, and Schierholtz in LF. The Rubik's cube roster of the Giants can go crazy this season.

And, defensively, while Schierholtz was great last year, at least Bowker, albeit, in very little play, did well in the OF, and for his career is about half a win better than average. That surprised me, as I thought he was below average and looking at the available defensive stats, he wasn't that good in 2008.

But in according to the defense stats in Minor League Splits, he was actually very good defensively in RF in the minors in previous years, as it was his defense in LF that was not so good. So RF is actually where he played best in the minors, it was LF where he had troubles, though he did very well in limited time in LF in the majors in 2009. So we might not even take as big a hit on defense as feared, though still, Schierholtz was not just good, but basically as good as Winn in RF, which is a high standard, in terms of UZR/150. CHONE's projection, as shown in Fangraphs, has both of them getting about the same amount of ABs, and have their projected defensive values being very similar, but with Bowker doing much better offensively than Schierholtz, about half a win better.

Bochy would not divulge how the starting lineup would be with Bowker in there as the starting RF, other than he would not be batting 8th like Schierholtz would have. Ishikawa batted 6th last season, so here is how the lineup would look if Bowker got 6th, given what we have seen with the predicted lineup so far:
  1. Aaron Rowand CF
  2. Edgar Renteria SS
  3. Pablo Sandoval 3B
  4. Aubrey Huff 1B
  5. Mark DeRosa LF
  6. John Bowker RF
  7. Bengie Molina C
  8. Juan Uribe 2B
I was iffy, going either way regarding Molina and Bowker, but last year Ishikawa hit 6th with Rowand 7th, so I think that this is what the lineup will be today. Using CHONE's forecast, I have the addition of Bowker adding about 5 runs of offense, or half a win, to the Giants chances with this lineup. Of course, that does not account for defense, but given that CHONE's forecast is very similar for both, the gain in offense offsets the loss in defense by a lot. However, ZiPS had Schierholtz hitting better than Bowker, so there is a loss in offense using that projection. For Marcel too. However, Shandler has Bowker adding 2 full wins with Bowker's offense.

Looking at the lineup projections, I still would like to see a lineup of DeRosa 2B, Bowker LF, Schierholtz RF, because Uribe is not projected to be as good as Schierholtz as a hitter. For the Giants to maximize the lineup based on projections, they should think about going with this arrangement instead of going with Uribe at 2B, particularly against RHP but also against some LHP as well, as Nate has hit some well in the past. The plain fact is that Uribe has never been that good a hitter, he's a tweener, which is good if you are the first line of replacement, but not if you are mainly starting. Plus, we know what Uribe can do, so it would be nice to give Schierholtz a chance to show what he can do, knowing he's the starter, leaving it in his hands.

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