Heading into the new year, the San Francisco Giants have answered most of their questions as far as the roster is concerned. Here is the projected 25 man roster, December edition. (Part one)
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that the infield moving into the spring is pretty much set. The homegrown talent there has allowed the team to put more money into other areas of need. Of course, as shortstop Brandon Crawford has learned, those former prospects will eventually get paid too. As long as they continue to grow.
The pitching staff is pretty well covered as well. There may be one or two spots in question, but if the pitchers who are slotted there now perform as they are expected to, the questions will be answered.
Here is the projected current 25 man roster, part one - infield and pitching staff.
This is the most solid group of young, homegrown players in the game. They have shown a steadiness and ability to get better at every level.
Buster Posey is already established as a superstar in the sport, even if his quiet demeanor keeps him out of the spotlight. Pitchers love throwing to him, and his offensive skills are far above the average catcher.
Brandon Belt is the only question mark for the infield, based on health. Belt is basically one of those players who has the chance to be one of the top first basemen in the league, but he has to play a year or two straight without any injuries to truly capture the magic. That being said, Belt's numbers last year were almost identical to Freddie Freeman's. And the Atlanta Braves are saying that they refuse to trade him. So what is Belt's real worth.
Joe Panik is a lock at second as long as he's healthy. He is a far superior defender at second due to his days playing short. His stroke is perfect for AT&T Park, and he should provide steady production from the two hole.
Matt Duffy is a more powerful Bill Mueller, and that is a great thing. He gets the bat on the ball, and hits it off the sweet spot more often than not. With just a bit more weights, and familiarity with the opposing pitchers, Duffy can compete for batting titles in the near future.
Brandon Crawford is not only the best defensive shortstop in the National League, but is becoming the most well-rounded in baseball. His offensive stats have gotten better year after year, and he makes pitchers look great when a grounder is hit in the 6.5 hole.
- Starter - Madison Bumgarner
- Starter - Johnny Cueto
- Starter - Jeff Samardzija
- Starter - Jake Peavy
- Starter - Matt Cain
This group is the best in baseball if Matt Cain is, Matt Cain. Even if he is Mike LaCoss, the staff is up there with the best.
Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto make up a formidable duo against the opposition's front two. And Samardzija is a competitor in the Ryan Vogelsong vein. So he will always give you his peak performance. Jake Peavy has that same quality, and being asked to be the fourth starter is a spot where he should over achieve.
And then there is Cain. His ability to pitch in high leverage games in the past will go far in getting back into it. If he is completely healthy, being the fifth starter will allow him to focus on building his arm strength up for a playoff push.
- Reliever - Santiago Casilla
- Reliever - Sergio Romo
- Reliever - Javier Lopez
- Reliever - Hunter Strickland
- Reliever - Josh Osich
- Reliever - Chris Heston
- Reliever - George Kontos
Here is a quality group of relievers, but there are still some possible changes available. If the team decides to bring back Tim Lincecum, then Chris Heston or George Kontos would be replaced. If a free agent is signed, maybe it is to fill a late-inning role. Or we could see a spring training miracle, and a surprising candidate pushes his way onto the team.
But as it stands, Santiago Casilla will start as the closer, with Hunter Strickland ready to take over at a moments notice. And with arms like Michael Broadway knocking on the door, the team is well-equipped with fire-ballers for the late innings.
Sergio Romo will enter his ninth season with the team. And Javier Lopez continues to be effective against most lefties. Josh Osich will take over the duties left behind by the retirement of Jeremey Affeldt. Heston and Kontos will share long-man, clean up duties. Or Yusmeiro Petit's old job.