Sunday, April 03, 2016

Your 2016 Giants: Opening Day Roster

As released by the Giants, this is your 2016 Giants on opening day:


40Madison BumgarnerR/L6'5"250lbs8/1/89
18Matt CainR/R6'3"230lbs10/1/84
46Santiago CasillaR/R6'0"210lbs7/25/80
47Johnny CuetoR/R5'11"220lbs2/15/86
62Cory GearrinR/R6'3"200lbs4/14/86
53Chris HestonR/R6'3"195lbs4/10/88
70George KontosR/R6'3"215lbs6/12/85
49Javier LopezL/L6'4"220lbs7/11/77
61Josh OsichL/L6'2"230lbs9/3/88
22Jake PeavyR/R6'1"195lbs5/31/81
54Sergio RomoR/R5'11"185lbs3/4/83
29Jeff SamardzijaR/R6'5"225lbs1/23/85
60Hunter StricklandR/R6'4"220lbs9/24/88


14Trevor BrownR/R6'2"195lbs11/15/91
28Buster PoseyR/R6'1"215lbs3/27/87


13Ehire AdrianzaS/R6'1"170lbs8/21/89
9Brandon BeltL/L6'5"220lbs4/20/88
35Brandon CrawfordL/R6'2"215lbs1/21/87
5Matt DuffyR/R6'2"170lbs1/15/91
12Joe PanikL/R6'1"190lbs10/30/90
37Kelby TomlinsonR/R6'3"180lbs6/16/90


7Gregor BlancoL/L5'11"175lbs12/24/83
16Angel PaganS/R6'2"200lbs7/2/81
8Hunter PenceR/R6'4"220lbs4/13/83
2Denard SpanL/L6'0"210lbs2/27/84

ogc thoughts

First, wow, Madison went through some makeover!  Second, there were few surprises, but still a couple of big ones.

But pretty much the roster fell out as expected.  The starting rotation is, in order:  Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Peavy, and Cain.   The starting lineup is, around the diamond, Posey C, Belt 1B, Panik 2B, Duffy 3B, Crawford SS, Pagan LF, Span CF, Pence RF.  The bench is Trevor Brown as backup C, Blanco as 4th OF and regularly starting (to give rest to the old folks out there), and Kelby Tomlinson and Ehire Adrianza as middle infield but around the diamond utility guys, including OF.  Relievers include Casilla as closer, Romo, Lopez, Strickland, Osich, Kontos, Guerrin, and Heston as long reliever.

Trevor Brown, Backup Catcher

The biggest surprise was Trevor Brown making the roster.  Not entirely surprising since he was brought up to the majors last September and got good notice.  But Susac was expected to be the backup, and instead, the wrist he was operated on in order to be healthy this season was bothering him again.   They did start him near the end of spring training and he made good contact, from what I recall, but he just ran out of time to get into playing shape.

I'm actually OK with this, other than the part that Susac was still having issues with the same wrist.  Many prospect experts think that he could be a nice starter for an MLB team, and though it would be a nice story for a guy who grew up loving the Giants to start for the Giants (like Crawford), Posey just said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that "the way I see it, I plan on catching my entire career until I'm told otherwise."  He plans on catching as long as he can, and he thinks he can last longer because he only started catching in his sophomore year in college, and thus have a lot less wear and tear than someone who has caught since little league.   Ironically, Susac has caught all his live, and it would be a shame to hold him back if this is Buster's intention, to hold the position indefinitely, so I would just start Susac all season in AAA (unless Brown proves to not be that good a backup), let him develop his bat more, as well as work on his defense (good but everyone can improve), and he could be a good trade chip, or a great resource off the bench in the playoffs.

Cory Guerrin, RP

A surprise almost as big as above was Cory Guerrin getting a spot in the roster.  The official reason is that the Giants have very few days off in the first three weeks of the season, plus the starting rotation was having their issues going past five innings during spring, and thus they need the extra pitcher on the roster, as he's the 13th pitcher.  The Giants had talked during the spring about how carrying that extra pitcher had weakened our bench last season, and during the off-season, noted when they signed first Samardzija and then Cueto, about how they were huge innings eaters, which should allow them to carry only 12 pitchers, but then they do this.

Baggarly was the one beating the drum early for Guerrin making the team.  The problem is that he's out of options and the only way to send him down to the minors would be to put him through waivers.  And apparently the Giants like him as a potential replacement for Romo, as Sergio is a free agent after this season, and at $9M salary right now, might be too much for our budget now, as we are over the penalty threshold again for the second season.  But right now, some teams are still a bit open minded about who to carry on their roster, and would snatch a player like Guerrin.

But the Giants can't carry 13 pitchers indefinitely.  If it is the lack of days off, then Guerrin should probably be send down sometime in the last week of April.  The Giants have done this in the past and got players through waivers and into the minors without losing them (Ishikawa and Adrianza comes to mind).   Plus, as the saying goes, sometimes the situation solves itself, whether by the player not doing so well or another reliever going down for any reason or the Giants deciding that they need a short reliever more than a long one, if the starters are all going long and Heston isn't being used much or at all.

In any case, most probably it will be Jarrett Parker being brought up to add power to the bench when the Giants decide that they need another bat on the bench more than they need another pitcher.

Other Comments, Stream of Consciousness
  • Cain:  As wrong as I was last season in saying that Cain should be back, I'm doubling down and saying he should be back this season.  Probably not peak form Cainer, but good enough to be any team's middle rotation guy, and that's gold in the back of any rotation.  If Peavy can stay healthy and producing, we would have a rotation much like in 2011 where the other team gets no rest in our rotation, they will face a tough pitcher many more times than not.
  • Adrianza:  He added on weight over the off-season and played good defense in all infield positions plus played some in LF, while hitting well too.  He's had the bad luck of always being very young (too young) for the leagues he played in, but he's catching up now (26 YO this season) and ready to start showing the bat he showed sporadically in the minors.  
  • Blanks:  I thought that he would win the 5th OF position, providing both a good bat as well as good defense in LF and RF, but should have realized that injuries would be a factor probably again, which it was.
  • Pitchers Batting 8th:  Giants finally taking advantage of this saber innovation, which lineup calculators had found to be true, that batting pitchers 8th would help spur more offense.  I guess having Pagan being a true "second leadoff hitter" in the lineup helped them get their brains around that concept (but they could have done it last year when Aoki was leading off).  The Giants also plan on using Blanco in that scheme if he's in the lineup.
Giants 2016-2017

I feel that these Giants teams of the next two season is probably better on paper than any of our championship teams.  Giants management made it so with their acquisitions and upgrades of Cueto, Samardzija, and Span.  Hence, I think the goal is clearly for the World Series the next two seasons, winning at least one, if not back to back.

The lineup was already pretty good before adding Span, who is a better player than Aoki.  Most commentaries I see blamed the pitching only for the Giants not making the playoffs in 2015, but the offense was as much of a problem when the full lineup (particularly Pence) was not available.  From what I recall, I calculated an offense in the high 4's, low 5's when Pence was in the lineup, but 4 and under when he was not in the lineup.  That's why the Giants went 34-17 when Pence was starting, and so poorly without him, the offense was crippled by him, Panik, Aoki out of the lineup, or McGehee and Pagan trying to play while severely injured.  A lineup that is good up and down, with no letting up, will be very consistently good as well as producing a lot of runs, and consistency is an important trait for winning games.

Not that the pitching could not use upgrading as well.  Only Bumgarner was really good all season long.  The other were good on and off, with only Heston and Peavy having any long streak (at least 10 starts) of dominance (Heston's numbers were very good until he tired out mid-season; Peavy's numbers were quite good if you took out his first two starts when he tried to pitch with a bad back;  Giants should not have allowed him to do so, but he insisted).  Now he has Cueto as a co-ace, which was the formula we had from 2009-2012.

And that's the key, having two co-aces, because that means the remaining three only need to provide two good middle rotation starts out of three for us to do well.  Maybe the Giants have trouble getting Samardzija consistent all season, but I think Peavy and Cain are capable of producing mid-rotation results consistently, and if injured, I think Heston has shown that he can produce good results as a starter over extended periods (and with rest as long reliever, he should be able to take over fine).   If the three produce like I think they can, other teams will have no rest in our rotation, they will have a tough time in each and every game, and we will win a lot of games.  And with Heston and Blackburn in reserve, we have two very good replacement starters should we ever need any.

And that toughness goes into the bullpen as well.  Again, top to bottom, we got good pitchers, there are not any breaks if they all perform as expected.  Even if not, we have a lot of guys who should be ready to contribute, starting with Broadway and Dunning, and soon enough, I think Law, Okert, Black, Smith, and others will be showing that they are ready to come up.

The Giants will have a tough lineup, tough rotation, and tough bullpen, which I think should lead to a 93+ win season, barring any rash of injuries across the team, which happened in 2013 and 2015.  And I would not be surprised if they get into the 95-100 win range, they are that good when healthy.

And even if not healthy, they have a lot of risk mitigation throughout the team and farm system, that should be enough to get them the NL West Division Title.  Especially with LA's Russian Roulette Rotation, and I don't know why so many people think that the Diamondbacks were such strong contenders, but after losing one of their key players in Pollock for at least half the season, I'm even less concerned about them.  And both the Rockies and Padres are rebuilding and thus should not be contending (though the Padres GM is dangerously dancing around by trying to compete when he made a massive disaster with their roster last season, especially losing so many good young players, much like the D-backs did this season, trading all their young talent in an effort to compete and then paying so much for Greinke).

And once they get into the playoffs, I expect at least three of them to be pitching very well (and if as well as I expect, I see Peavy being the Zito of these playoffs, the starter who is sat down; though perhaps the Giants use Samardzija in the Lincecum relief role since he has a lot of experience relieving) and thus we should get to the World Series and have a good chance of winning it.

And a repeat in 2017 is not out of the question.  Free agents include Peavy, Casilla, Romo, Lopez, Pagan, and Blanco.  I think they will be able to retain at least Casilla and maybe Lopez too.   But we got Heston and Blackburn already ready, and I expect Beede to be ready by next season, plus there's Stratton and Blach as well, and perhaps Mejia.   And I expect Bickford to get jumped to the majors at some point, first as a reliever, then transitioned into starting at some point.   And they could relieve too, with up to three bullpen spots up for grabs potentially, as well as the actual good prospect relievers we have in the minors.  We should have a riches of options for the bullpen in 2017 and 2018.  

Then for the outfield, we got Williamson, Parker, and probably Arroyo battling for the starting LF spot.  The losers probably end up taking Blanco's place, though I think Gorkys Hernandez is going to be groomed to take Blanco's spot, he's a CF who can play all OF positions, and his stats reminds me of Blanco's before he joined the Giants:  OK MLB numbers, but very nice minor league numbers.  Perhaps like Blanco he can produce just enough when taking the place of a downed starting OF.  

Meanwhile, out infield is young, but injuries do happen.  We got Tomlinson and Adrianza as backups who I think can start in a Blanco-like fashion if pressed into service.  Arroyo looked so good this spring that I think he would get the call should anyone be placed on the DL.  The depth is not as strong here - most of the strength is in the lower minors with Fox, Miller, Hinojosa, Vizcaino, Shaw, Duggar - but we don't need a lot of depth because of the relative youth of the infield.  

So I think the Giants are capable of getting to the World Series in both of the next two years, with enough health (I think their depth is a strength that helps greatly with mitigating healthy issues), and should win one if not back-to-back.  And there is enough talent in the minors that I think the Giants should continue to make a claim on being the Team of the 2010 Decade beyond 2017.  But, first, they need to win the 2016 championship!

Go Giants!


  1. Just realized I forgot to mention the other lineup change: with Pence around, Posey will bat third and Duffy bats sixth, for a lineup of Span, Panik, Posey, Pence, Belt, Duffy, Crawford, SP, and Pagan.

    That still goes against saber rules for lineup construction, but isn't going to kill the lineup. The rationale seems good: you want Posey always getting a chance to bat in the first inning.

    But I would argue that you don't want him batting with nobody on base and two outs, which will happen the majority of the time.

  2. Yeah, the front office has set things up very nicely. Now it's just up to the players (and trainers) to execute.

    Piece of cake! :)

    1. Ha Ha! Yes, piece of gauntlet soul-crushing cake!

      But I think that they can execute, the problem this decade has been the health of the players. It seems like playing in the playoffs disrupts our players off-season schedule so much that injuries happen. Granted, some are random, like Pence hitting HBP (though Belt's now got two, so is he standing too close to the plate and not protecting his hands?) and Panik's fractured back due to a now illegal slide, but the last two times, huge rash of injuries followed, so is it just luck or is there something the team is not doing well enough? Not sure either way, though I'll admit it would be easy to blame the trainers (which I have in the past), but most of the press I read on the Giants is that their trainers are great.

  3. For the sake of brevity, and for all the reasons listed above -- Giants win 104 games. Book it.

  4. Brown-I don't see him losing his back up catcher role,he's good defensively,and he works well with the pitching staff,the Giants really value that.

    Susac-I'm starting to think Susac's real value might be at 1B,with the ability to go behind the plate,if needed.His swing did look good in Spring,and it would help him stay healthy,if Belt went on the DL,it would be his best opportunity to help the team,and get some playing time.

    Adrianza-Biggest surprise of the spring,he looks like a different ball player,confidence wise.

    1. Thanks for the comments.

      I've been discussing Susac's value at 1B for a couple of years now. Brown is more intriguing in that he probably could play 1B, 2B, 3B in a pinch as well, as well as good defensively. Yeah, I can see them going with 3 catchers if Belt does go down for any reason.



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