The magic number is 5 and there are still 13 games left to play, so I think it's safe to hand the 2012 NL West title to the Giants now. The next big challenge will be to choose the 25 players to put on the roster for the NLDS and to set the starting rotation for the series.
I'm going to break this process down into 4 steps:
1. Choose the main group of position players that will be starting/platooning.
2. Choose the 4 starting pitchers.
3. Choose the 5-7 sure-fire relievers.
4. Choose the supporting position players and relievers that will fill out the 25-man.
Before I get into this, I'll just remind everybody that the MLB rules state that only players that were on the Giants 25-man roster prior to Sept. 1st are eligible for the post-season roster, although guys that were on Injured Reserve are also eligible. In reality, though, any player that is currently on the 40-man roster is eligible, because there's an expception that allows teams to replace any 25-man player that gets injured with any player on the 40-man roster. If Sabes wants to put one of the September call-up guys on the playoff roster all he has to do is tell a 25-man guy to fake an injury.
Let's start the fun by choosing the core group of position players. Here are my 10 no-brainers:
Buster, Hector, BBelt, Scoots, Crawdaddy, Panda, Arias, Pagan, Pence, and Blanco
Next, I want the following 4 pitchers as my starting rotation:
Cainer, MadBum, Timmy,and Zito
I just don't trust Vogelsong enough right now to send him out for a crucial game 4.
And I definitely want these 6 guys to anchor my bullpen:
Vogelsong, Casilla, Romo, Lopez, Affeldt, and Mijares
I want Vogie as my main long-relief man in case one of the starters sucks an egg or we find ourselves in a long extra-inning game, and I also think he can be an effective option for 1 or 2 innings after the 6th inning if needed.
That leaves 5 spots open for some combination of relievers and position players. We definitely need at least 1 more OF to be a possible platoon for Blanco in LF and a bat off the bench to PH. The feasible candidates are Nady, Pill and Christian. I'm going to hold my nose and go with Nady based on his power potential and experience.
We also need another backup guy in the IF (preferably one that is comfortable at 2B) who can also be a PH off the bench. The feasible candidates are Theriot and Burriss. I'm going to go with Theriot based on his vastly superior bat and greater experience.
We also definitely need 2 more relievers to allow Bochy some flexibility in the later innings. The feasible candidates are
Hensley, Kontos, Mota, Loux, Machi and Penny. I'm going to go with Hensley and Mota (Mota over Kontos based on experience, recent performance, and sentimental factors).
That leaves 1 opening for a 13th pitcher or another bat off the bench. The feasible candidates seem to be Kontos, Huff, Pill and Christian. I think another bat is going to be more valuable than another reliever, so my choice will be Pill, because of his RH power off the bench and his ability to play 1B very well and an adequate LF in a pinch.
So, there you have it, 12 pitchers and 13 position players. Where did I go wrong, or is this about right? What's your preferred roster?