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3.28.2005

Roster Construction 

Sometimes we ponder the possibility of painting a large jungle scene, complete with psychedelic tiger, on the side of our house, and sometimes we walk down to the Ace Hardware and spend a half hour browsing through the fine selection of drywall screws.

The talk of media bias, steroid scrutiny, and personalities is like that mural -- full of swirling emotion and grand gestures. But brass tacks, nuts and bolts, and other boring toolbox metaphors are fun, too, so today we discuss the nerdy details of the Giants roster construction.

First, the things we know. Barring trade or injury, these position players will be on the opening day roster:

Matheny
Torrealba
Snow
Durham
Vizquel
D. Cruz
Feliz
Alfonzo
Grissom
Alou
Tucker

Bonds's absence will move Pedro Feliz into the outfield and open an extra bench spot. It's nearly certain that Jason Ellison will make the team as an extra outfielder, and Tony Torcato, who's slugging .636 this spring and is out of options, is probably going to make it, too.

That brings us to 13 position players. There may be room for another, depending on the pitching staff. Given how much Alou loves to use the bullpen, it's a long shot, but candidates for this theoretical last spot are Brian Dallimore and Lance Niekro.

Dallimore isn't on the 40-man roster, which means his promotion would result in someone else getting bumped and possibly snatched up by another team. But if he doesn't make the big squad, Dallimore is free to walk. Use him or lose him.

There's a pretty vocal "Free Dallimore" movement among Giants' fans, and he's a great underdog story, but to me the guy smacks of Jay Canizaro, a former Giants' farmhand who had great AAA numbers but couldn't put it together in the bigs. Would the sentiment of adding him to the team be worth the loss of a younger, brighter prospect such as Brad Hennessey or Brian Burres?

To Dallimore or Not to Dallimore: that will be the most agonizing roster decision regarding position players.

Onward to the moundsmen. Barring injury or trade, these pitchers will be on the team:

Schmidt
Lowry
Tomko
Rueter
Benitez
Brower
Eyre
Christiansen
Herges

Jerome Williams has been behind schedule this spring, and I recently advocated letting him get a start or two with Fresno until the Giants need a fifth starter. The extra bench spot would go to a position player (see above), which will give Felipe Alou more substitutional flexibility. But Jerome pitched five innings Thursday and seems to be on track to start the season with the club.

So let's assume Jerome is ready to roll on Opening Day. That's 10 pitchers. The final question is should the Giants break camp with six relievers or seven? This gets complicated. The candidates for the last one or two spots:

Foppert
Franklin
T. Walker
Levine
Fassero

Like Dallimore, Levine and Fassero are non-roster invitees. If they don't make the team, anyone can snatch them up -- and probably will, as both have pitched extremely well this spring. It's the same as the Dallimore Conundrum: Is the benefit of adding Fassero or Levine, old guys having good springs, worth the risk of losing younger players forever?

Walker is on the 40-man, but he's out of options. The Giants can't send him to the minors without putting him on the waiver wire.

I believe Foppert and Franklin have at least an option left -- they can be sent to Fresno without complications.

Today's question: If Victor Conte had incriminating photos of Jose Canseco, a loaded syringe, and your left buttock, and he said he would release them to the media unless you added one or more of the non-roster invitees to the opening day roster, whom would you add, and whom you correspondingly bump from the 40-man? (The entire 40-man roster is here.)

I'll go first: Despite my reservations about Dallimore, he would be my first NRI choice (Fassero and Levine are simply too old and too fungible). To clear a space for him, I would try like hell to trade Christiansen or Franklin to a team desperate for a LOOGY. Barring a trade, I would drop Franklin or Tyler Walker from the 40-man.

Et tu, Brutus?

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