How should the Giants set up their playoff roster? I know that is the question that is burning in everyone's minds today. Some credit on this is going to my friend Mark who emailed me who he thought will be on the roster, and it was so thorough that I may not be able to stray away from it too much. Let's start with pitching:
Your number 1 starter has to be Tim Lincecum. True, his month of August was about as good as BP blowing up an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, but he has rebounded nicely and looks like the pitcher who won the Cy Young each of the last two years. He's a lock to go Game 1 against the Braves (in fact, I'm fairly certain that has already been announced.)
My initial instinct is to have Matt Cain saw off the Braves' bats in Game 2, but upon thinking about it, I actually might go with Jonathan Sanchez Game 2. Cain recently pitched ok against the Padres on Friday night while Sanchez was lights out on Sunday to clinch the division. Not only that, but it might work in the Giants advantage to go Right-Left-Right rather than Right-Right-Left. In this case, if they decided to pitch Bumgarner in Game 4, they'd actually have Right-Left-Right-Left with all the pitchers being ridiculously dirty. Of course, they could go right back to Timmy in Game 4 (or maybe they'll have already swept the Braves at this point.)
(Author's note: After looking back over that last paragraph, I'm reminding of the old Contra/Konami code- Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-B-A-Start. Good times.)
So there is your rotation. There is no way in hell you allow Barry Zito to touch the ball as a starter, but do you include him on the roster at all? Let's see:
Assuming the Giants will keep 11 pitchers and we've already taken up 4 of those slots with Timmy, Cain, Dirty Sanchez, and Bumgarner- the next obvious choice is B-Weezy himself- Brian Wilson (5.) Other essential pieces to the Giants bullpen include Sergio Romo (6), Santiago Casilla (7), Javier Lopez (8), and Ramon Ramirez (9.) None of the players I just named off have an ERA higher than 3.00. They are all locks for the Post Season.
So who gets the remaining two spots? There are 4 possibilities:
1) Dan Runzler (3.03 ERA)
2) Chris Ray (3.73 ERA)
3) Jeremy Affeldt (4.14 ERA)
4) Barry Zito (4.15 ERA)
Conveniently, only Ray is right handed. There is probably a case to be made for all of these guys. Affeldt and Zito are veteran guys who have playoff experience (yes, Affeldt was on the 2007 Rockies and you well remember Zito battling for the A's.) Runzler is a young fresh arm who is absolutely filthy. If the Giants ever get cheap and let B-Weezy go, Runzler will be the next closer. It's tough to leave that kind of arm off the roster. Chris Ray has been consistent and could eat up innings if necessary (obviously Zito would be the ultimate inning eater, but should that the #1 reason to keep a guy on the roster? Probably not.)
If it were me, I'm taking Runzler and Affeldt. A lefty cannon arm and a lefty veteran will help out in the playoffs. Do I expect this to actually happen? Eh- maybe not. Bochy might even do the opposite and keep Zito and Ray. I have a feeling he'll go with the vets and keep Zito and Affeldt. I'm highly interested to see how this actually shakes out.
Now to the lineup:
1. Andres Torres CF (This guy is a STUD.)
2. Freddy Sanchez 2B (Another stud- really happy he finally got to the playoffs.)
3. Aubrey Huff 1B (Ditto F. Sanchez.)
4. Gerald Dempsey Posey III C (He should start going by his real name. It sounds so regal. Oh, and he's the NL Rookie of the Year. No question.)
5. Pat The Bat LF (Did anyone really expect him to be this good?!)
6. Juan UUUUUUUUU-Ribe! SS (He swings out of his shoes every time! Hilarious!)
7. Panda Express 3B (Somebody get Fontenot ready to go... Panda's in for past performance- this could be a bad decision. He's also needed for back up Catcher.)
8. Cody Ross RF (He's a former Marlin so you know he'll be pesky in the playoffs.)
Bench (6 spots remaining):
1. Mike Fontenot (Has been a surprisingly great acquisition for the Giants. Very consistent.)
2. Darren Ford (He's FAST. He will have 0 at bats and at least 3 pinch runs.)
3. Travis Ishikawa (Decent bat, great defensive replacement.)
4. Nate Schierholtz (Ditto Ishikawa.)
5. Edgar Renteria (Great playoff track record and will be a solid back up SS just in case.)
6. Aaron Rowand (His Friday night pinch hit homer gets him on the roster. Hopefully he'll be the Giants' version of Jeff Conine.)
Now, the glaring omission is Jose Guillen. As my friend Mark pointed out (and this line up was pretty much exactly what he had, but like I said, I agree with it for the reasons stated above) Bochy will probably leave Schierholtz off and put Guillen on for some extra pop. I will not agree with Bochy if he does this, but then again, I'm not the Giants manager so what do I know?
Not a bad little squad. They are definitely a likable bunch, but I'm not sure that likability wins championships. I guess we'll find out starting this week. Playoff baseball in the Bay Area should be fun!