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.