Roster Ditherings

Thirteen days until April 5, and there are a few undercurrents that could shape the composition of the opening day roster.

As you might have read today, the shoulders of Jason Schmidt and Robb Nen are not feeling their freshest. We all squint and grunt and spit our chew in the dirt with some skepticism as we listen to Stan Conte say, "Not a setback," "Not if but when," "Just a precaution," and behind our tough-guy glare is the prayer Dear Lord or Allah or Rarebit Fiend, Please let Robbie and Jason be healthy this year, all the way through. Oh please please please!

* If Schmidt isn't ready for O.D. vs Houston, word is Woody Rueter will start. Schmidt would either be pushed back a few days or put on the D.L., but unless there's a real problem, he wouldn't need to be disabled. The Giants have an off day April 9, which means they don't even need a fifth starter 'til Wednesday April 14. If Schmidt goes on the D.L., look for Kevin Correia to heed the call-up. However...

* If Nen isn't ready, as reports today speculate, the Giants will need bullpen help more than rotation help. As it stands, the bullpen's going to be more tired than a one legged man at an ass kicking contest. Who else in the rotation besides Schmidt is likely to go seven or eight innings each time out? Rueter can't go past 100 pitches; Williams is still learning how to pitch; Tomko is a horse but will often get hit fairly hard; Hermanson is coming off a few years of injury. It looks like Jason and the Six-Inning Shower Gang this year. What's more, the Giants' offense looks more anemic than last year, which means more need to pull the pitcher for a pinch hitter. How about carrying 13 pitchers to start the season?

So if Nen can't start the year, Herges will be moved up to closer. Does that mean Brower becomes a set-up guy and Correia comes up to be long man? There's also some talk that Zerbe won't make the team even if they carry 12 pitchers. He's always been a decent long relief guy, even since Estes couldn't make that start against the Mets in 2001, I think it was, and Zerbe filled in with 5 shutout innings. Last year was his first crummy year (although his peripheral stats have always been Rueter-like), so I say make Brower a 1 or 2 inning set up guy, make Zerbski the long guy and keep Correia in AAA where he can start regularly and pitch well enough to be included in a big trade come June or July.

* Jeffrey "Take These Broken Wings" Hammonds isn't going to be ready, which means Todd Linden is likely to be the 5th outfielder unless the brass figures he's better served starting every day in Fresno than PH'ing and benchwarming for a month in the bigs. If not Linden, then who comes up? Francisco Santos? I read somewhere that he's a first baseman/outfielder...I guess the same way Feliz is an "outfielder." Ah, but with the later-than-usual opening day and two off-days in the first two weeks, the 5th outfielder won't be that necessary. Mohr can platoon with Tucker in RF, and Grissom and Bonds will play everyday. I say let some other scrub take the roster spot while Linden gets four daily ABs in Fresno. Or, use that spot to bolster the bullpen.

* Finally, to Ransom or not to Ransom? Cody this spring is underwhelming as usual with the bat. But he's learning second base, which makes him more valuable. Or, from a different perspective, it makes him more like Jay Canizaro. Other than Ransom, the Giants have Feliz to back up at short. Other than Ransom, the Giants have Alfonzo to back up at second. Infield depth becomes extremely slim if Ransom doesn't make the team. Of course he'll make it. The Giants have invested six years in the guy's development. They have to give him one shot to prove he can stick with the big club. He probably deserves more, but considering he's never hit more than .250 in the PC friggin' L, not too much more.


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