Fifths Figured Out 

Official word has arrived: Jamie Wright is the Giants' fifth starter and Jason Ellison is the fifth outfielder.

Todd Greene is also the backup catcher.

With Wright and Greene joining the team, two players must be dropped from the 40-man roster before opening day. We hope this will happen via trade, though it's conceivable a couple of the lesser minor leaguers on the 40-man (Jesus Reina, Justin Knoedler, John Coutlangus, Angel Chavez?) could be squeezed through waivers without being claimed.

More likely, someone like Tyler Walker will be traded -- as discussed here -- or Todd Linden, who told the Daily Draper he expects to be dealt. With one option left, he could be sent back to Fresno; ideally, the Giants would stash him in Fresno in case Ellison falters, and hope he breaks through for '07. But it's worth exploring what he could fetch on the block.

The answer? Don't hold your breath. Linden seems a classic 4-A player, and other GMs should know it, too. Sure, he may blossom in another organization. But no one's going to trade a top-20 prospect to find out.

Walker could be worth something to a team with no closer -- hence the rumors of Tampa Bay. Let's hope Sabean can play one desperate GM off against another and drive up Walker's price.

Both Linden and Walker have outlived or are soon to outlive their value as roster members (25 or 40-man variety). In terms of the Giants' org chart, Dan Ortmeier seems in much higher esteem than Linden as the '06 emergency callup/post-'06 hopeful corner outfielder. And the Merkccardos of the world look ready to usurp Walker's role as hard-throwing righty with closer potential.

A word of caution: Armando Benitez got lit up today to the tune of 10 runs in less than 2 innings. (What kind of a tune would that be, by the way? Hmm. Not this one.) If Mando has suddenly run out of health or talent, the Giants are going to need all the closer-by-committee they can get. Sorry, folks, simply letting Tim Worrell enter in the ninth with the PA system blaring Twisted Sister's "We're Not Going to Take It" isn't going to cut the Dijon-aioli on your tofu pup.

It may behoove the Giants -- as my eighth grade English teacher Mr. Tourlos might have said if he knew Thing One about baseball -- to hold on to Tyler for a few more days to see how Benitez fares between now and April 3.

With Greene and Wright on board, Brad Hennessey goes back to Fresno, along with Merkin and Ortmeier. Hennessey will be the first starter called up for injury replacement, no doubt.

The last big roster question, other than a possible trade of Walker, is Kevin Correia. No word whether his excellent spring will put him in the big-league bullpen. Indeed, with Benitez's struggles, bullpen decisions could come down to the final exhibition day.

And no doubt beyond.


UPDATE: A couple weeks ago we discussed the USA's dark-night-of-the-red-white-and-blue-soul ouster in the World Baseball Classic. Much philosophizin' ensued in the comments about Team Play, and whether the U.S. team lost because it did not have enough of this magical male-bonding elixir.

I know fisking is a cruel sport, but sometimes it's the best way to make a point. First read this:

Teamwork trumps star power in Classic

Then read this:

We All Knew Somebody Would Write it...


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