Shrinking to a 25-man roster has never been tougher, especially since the Giants needed more than 25 to make it here. Also, two of the lowest ranking Giants happen to be the two highest-paid players on the team; Zito and Rowand account for nearly one-third of the Giants’ payroll, making just over $30 million between them. Those dollar signs mean close to nothing right now, though. Sabean and Bochy would definitely be mocked on Thursday if a third of the payroll were left off the roster. However, they’d be ridiculed at least tenfold if they were to leave more valuable guys off the roster in place of Zito and Rowand…
Bochy has made pretty clear that he wants to go with 11 pitchers and 14 position players. This morning, he said on KNBR that the rotation will be Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and potentially Bumgarner. First off, he suggested that he’d go with Bumgarner if they’re up 2-1 and Lincecum on three days’ rest if they’re down 2-1. History has not shown Lincecum to be too reliable on three days. Easy solution: win the first two at home.
In addition to the four starters, Wilson, Romo, Lopez, Casilla, Ramirez, Affeldt are locks. That leaves one more spot for Mota, Runzler, and Zito. Initially, I wanted Zito. (I know, I’m crazy.) This is a short series — one shitty start, and we could need long relief. And he did have a solid outing in his start against the Braves (7 IP, 2 ER, 9 K). But as I believe Baggs and Urban point out below, Zito sucks in relief. He can’t get warm enough quickly, and perhaps more importantly, he’s not that arm that comes out of the bullpen throwing strikes. It’s also important to note that the Giants haven’t had a true long reliever all season, including Friday & Saturday when Cain pitched four innings and Zito pitched three innings. The number of quality arms in the ‘pen should be enough to substitute one long reliever.
Zito eliminated. Next I liked Runzler as a left-hander out of the pen since the Braves throw out two big left-handed bats in Heyward and McCann. (I’d include McLouth and Ankiel, but they’ve not been too intimidating this year. Yes, I knocked on wood.) But unless Bobby Cox mixes things up, they bat right after one another, and I think Affeldt and Lopez should [hopefully] be enough to face left handers.
What does this all mean? Mota impressed me this weekend; he came out on Friday and Saturday to pitch three perfect innings. What was perhaps most impressive about the outings was the fact that he had only pitched three times in the previous 40 days. In October, you gotta go with quality, and this is the most quality staff: Linecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Wilson, Romo, Lopez, Casilla, Ramirez, Affeldt, Mota.
I think Rowand got himself back into the roster with his pinch home run out of nowhere on Friday night. Just as importantly, he sees Braves’ Game 1 & 2 Starters Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson pretty well: 11-23 vs. Lowe & 8-21 vs. Hudson. The rest of the outfield is pretty obvious…
… Or is it? Guillen had that incredible 6 RBI game on September 19, but since then, he’s 4-33 with a double. He adds some power off the bench, but he’s also super streaky. He went through a 35-game stretch between July and September in which he hit one home run while batting .218. It really looks to me like he could be in the middle of one of those. I agree that he’d be great to have around, but at what expense? I like Ross starting over him. And off the bench, I’d much rather have Darren Ford pinch-run, steal 2B and 3B, and score on a ground ball. That’s the explosiveness you need in these series… Guillen’s a defensive liability and he’s slow as balls; his only weapon, the bat, is a little too iffy at this point. My roster has six outfielders: Burrell, Torres, Ross, Schierholtz, Rowand, Ford
My six infielders are Huff, Sanchez, Uribe, Sandoval, Fontenot, Ishikawa. I’d loved to have had Renteria in here. He brings two gold gloves and some solid veteran presence to the lineup. And he’s the only real backup at shortstop. This would be possible if Bochy had thrown Sandoval behind the plate in the bullpen to prepare him to be an emergency backup catcher; he wasn’t even playing in half of these games. However, that’s not an option… so Whiteside has to join the roster as Posey’s backup.
11 pitchers, 6 outfielders, 6 infielders, 2 catchers.
I think Guillen’s a lock in Bochy’s roster, but both Renteria and Ford would add more value to this bench.
Below, I’ve linked roster coverage by the Giants’ two main beat writers, Andrew Baggarly and Henry Schulman. They’ve done an excellent job all year, as has CSN’s and KNBR’s Mychael Urban, who wrote about the probability of Zito being left off the squad. Their various arguments have been the inspiration behind my own analysis.
Baggs: Giants ponder Barry Zito’s spot on playoff roster
Baggs: Could the Giants really cut their three highest-paid players from the postseason roster?
Baggs: Braves, Giants likely to go short with Lowe/Lincecum if facing Game 4 elimination
Schulman: Zito question heads roster decisions
Schulman: Yankees do Giants a favor re Zito
Urban: Giants Seem Set on Excluding Zito from NLDS