Figuring Out the 25-Man Roster: a January Tradition

It's January. There are still a lot of tractor accidents that can happen in two months. But it sure looks like the Ryan Theriot deal was the last move that the Giants are going to make before the start of the season. That gives us a chance to play America's 483,393rd-favorite game (just in front of Monopoly), "What Will the 25-Man Roster Look Like?" An initial guess:

Almost certain if healthy
Buster Posey
Aubrey Huff
Freddy Sanchez
Brandon Crawford
Pablo Sandoval
Melky Cabrera
Angel Pagan
Nate Schierholtz
Mike Fontenot
Backup Catcher (Eli Whiteside, Chris Stewart, or Hector Sanchez)

Total: 10

Tim Lincecum
Matt Cain
Madison Bumgarner
Ryan Vogelsong
Barry Zito
Brian Wilson
Sergio Romo
Jeremy Affeldt
Javier Lopez
Santiago Casilla

Total: 10

That's 20 spots that are all but sewn up. I'm lumping the three catchers together because we already know that one of them is going to make it at the expense of the other two. That's three position players and two pitchers, mostly likely, out of a group that includes …

Possibilities
Manny Burriss
Ryan Theriot
Brett Pill
Brandon Belt
Gregor Blanco
Justin Christian
Gary Brown, to sit for three weeks before being sent down to get more playing time

Guillermo Mota
Dan Runzler
Clay Hensley
Eric Surkamp
Heath Hembree
Random Ryan Vogelsong-like guy we aren't thinking of at all
Brian Burres

Was tempted to move Mota up with the locks, but his deal isn't even official yet. Still, he's almost certainly going to make the roster, which leaves three players from the top group and one from the bottom.

But just grabbing three players isn't going to work. Burriss and Theriot would be completely redundant, save the limited experience that Burriss has in the outfield, and I'd wager that just one of them will make it. Same goes for Justin Christian and Gregor Blanco -- there's a chance that one of them will make it, but almost no chance that both will.

That's also true for Brett Pill and Brandon Belt. If the Giants took Belt, their right-handed bat off the bench against any late-inning lefty reliever would be Nick Punto. Or Willie Bloomquist. Or Ryan Theriot. Whichever one of those guys the Giants signed. That's who pinch-hits for Nate Schierholtz when Jonny Venters comes into the game, for an example. I'm thinking the Giants would rather have Belt on the roster in another situation, but considering the current makeup of the roster, they'll go a different way.

So my late-January prediction, which is sure to get messed with before April: Theriot, Pill, Christian, Mota, and Hensley are the last five players to round out the roster. I won't get too opinionated about it before it happens, or until there's a surprising spring performance that changes everything, whichever happens first.

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