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Whether the Giants open the season with 11 or 12 pitchers will determine the number of reserves they can keep. The staff's size is a crucial factor, because the Giants face difficult position-player decisions around the diamond. San Francisco has opted for a 12-man pitching contingent every year since 2004, but the fact that general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy are openly considering the smaller option demonstrates their awareness of the looming roster crunch.
I'm not seeing the roster crunch. A 12-man pitching staff means 13 position players. According to the Giants' depth chart, you can get down to 13 pretty easily:
Bengie Molina
Dan Ortmeier
Ray Durham
Omar Vizquel
Kevin Frandsen
Dave Roberts
Aaron Rowand
Randy Winn
Eliezer Alfonzo
Rich Aurilia
Fred Lewis
Rajai Davis
Nate Schierholtz
That's assuming that Schierholtz is parked on the major league bench, which might be the worst thing Brian Sabean could possibly do to the rebuilding process. Schierholtz needs at-bats more than he needs chartered flights, and it isn't even close. Unless Bruce Bochy commits to starting Schierholtz in some capacity for 60% of the games, Schierholtz should go back to Fresno for 2008.

Assuming that there aren't any spring training injuries or trades and that Sabean is of a similar mind regarding Schierholtz's development, the Giants will actually need to add a bench player. That's a big assumption. The article is written as if the Joe Crede trade is a forgone conclusion. We hardly knew ye, Jonathan Sanchez. If the gods intervene, though, and don't bequeath this awful roster an unnecessary one-year rental at a high price, there will be slim pickings. Here are the non-roster invitees with an outside shot:

And here's a screenshot of my detailed spreadsheet of MLB-ready prospects in the upper levels of the Giants system:

There really aren't too many appealing choices between the two groups, but I'm all for giving Justin Leone a spot on the bench. He's shown a little power and patience in the minors, and he can play every position but catcher. Not that I'd want to see him at shortstop, but he can at least do a reasonable facsimile of whatever Aurilia can do at short these days.

I hereby announce that Justin Leone is the winner of the 2008 Brian Dallimore Award for Unrealistic Expectations Placed on a Career Triple-A Journeyman. The BDAUEPCTAJs aren't just given to anyone, so congrats to Justin.

What the article really means, though: The Giants are trading for Joe Crede. It's a matter of when, not if.

What the real question should be in the article: How can we give away Dave Roberts to create playing time for the young outfielders?

Yeah, well, I'm going to do it until the horse turns into a fine powder. And then I'll beat the powder. These are not idle threats.

Sorry. I got off track. Comment starter: Last bench spot? Will the Giants bury three young outfielders on the bench, will they trade for Crede, or will a mystery man emerge to take a utility role?