It’s been a long offseason, but the 2012 regular season is finally about to begin. The Giants will play their opener on the road, against Arizona; as of now, Tim Lincecum is set to start against Ian Kennedy. The Opening Day roster decisions will be announced tomorrow, prior to the team’s exhibition game against Oakland. Here’s my stab at what it’ll look like:
C: Buster Posey — He’s healthy, and for what it’s worth, he’s looked pretty good this spring. I’m guessing he’ll get a fair share of work in at first base, and he’ll certainly be getting a lot of rest throughout the season, but he’s the Giants’ starting catcher.
1B: Brandon Belt — Belt’s raked this spring, and the Giants do put some stock in Spring Training performance. Anyway, there have been a few hints at the fact that Belt will be the starting first baseman. Aubrey Huff is referring to himself as an outfielder, and apparently Henry Schulman said on KNBR that Belt had nabbed a starting role at Nate Schierholtz’s dispense. Perhaps I’m reading into these clues a bit too much, but this is a team starved for offense, and it’s hard to ignore Belt at this point.
2B: Emmanuel Burriss — With Freddy Sanchez on the DL, and Mike Fontenot out of the picture, Burriss is the Opening Day second baseman. He had a strong performance in March, but this is one of those cases in which a player was clearly performing above his talent level in Spring Training. I’m nerv0us.
3B: Pablo Sandoval — As with Posey, this is a no-doubter.
SS: Brandon Crawford — The Giants have made it 100% clear at this point that Crawford is the starting shortstop.
LF: Aubrey Huff — With Belt at first base, Huff moves to left field. He’s a poor defensive left fielder. But in this scenario, Belt would be in the starting lineup. You win some, you lose some.
CF: Angel Pagan — Another no-doubter, though Pagan certainly put his starting role in jeopardy with a poor spring performance. I’m hoping the Giants will give him enough of a leash to begin the season, but if he gets off to a slow start in April, I fear he could end up working his way to the bench.
RF: Melky Cabrera — Cabrera has looked fantastic this spring, and he was already pretty much a lock for a starting role. With Huff moving back to left field, Cabrera shifts over to right.
C: Chris Stewart — I think the Giants prefer him over Whiteside, and that’s about all there is to it. Despite the rumors that the Giants will carry three catchers, I’m going to guess that they’ll end up going with two. We’ll see. But Hector Sanchez is 22, and definitely could use some more seasoning — after all, he didn’t exactly tear up Fresno. Bochy’s hinted that Sanchez could be better off in Fresno, where he’ll play every day, and that makes the most sense to me. If Sanchez starts in Fresno, I just can’t see this team giving roster spots to Stewart and Whiteside.
1B/2B/3B: Brett Pill — He’d be the right-handed bat off the bench, and the Giants have been prepping him for third base this spring. I’m not sure how many games he’ll actually play at second or third, but I suspect he’ll see some time at both positions. He’s the big question mark here though — if the Giants push someone off the roster to make room for a third catcher, I’m guessing it’ll be Pill.
OF: Nate Schierholtz — Perhaps he’s played his way out of a starting role, but he most definitely has not played his way out of a roster spot.
2B/SS: Ryan Theriot — Mike Fontenot is gone. Theriot, for better or for worse, is the backup middle infielder.
OF: Gregor Blanco — Another guy who’s had a hell of a spring, Blanco has surely won a bench spot. Realistically, he’s not much more than a fourth outfielder, but he does have an intriguing skill-set: he can draw walks, hit for a decent average, cover all three outfield positions, and he can run (if I’m not mistaken, he led the majors in steals this spring). His only standout weakness is his lack of power.