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Justin Christian and the 40-Man Roster

A couple of days ago, Justin Christian was answering questions at Giants Media Day. Today, he's wondering which organization he's going to play with in 2012. The 31-year-old outfielder was designated for assignment today to make room for Guillermo Mota and Ryan Theriot. This is the kind of move that can put the colon-open-parentheses into a fella's heart.

In pure baseball terms, this isn't a big deal. It's probably not that close to a small deal. This is the rounding error of rosternomics, as there will always be a Justin Christian looking for work somewhere. The Giants have had Adam Shabalas and Julio Ramirezes on the roster before, and they'll have similar players on the roster in the future. For some reason, though, I was especially attached to the idea of Christian as a fifth outfielder on this team.

Maybe that's just because my subconscious can make a forceful argument, and it hadn't forgotten about this play:

Maybe it's because I know there's a small-but-real chance that Christian could be the third-best hitter on the team (not really … but you had to think about it for a second, right?) Don't know. But where the focus of my unrealistic optimism used to be with scrappy utility infielders like Brian Dallimore and Matt Downs, now I have a soft spot for over-30 center fielders who tear up AAA.

This is, of course, the Andres Torres Effect.

Andres Torres was a fifth outfielder at best until he was vintage Mark Kotsay at exactly the right time. Torres was a AAA dynamo who morphed into something more after turning 30. This doesn't happen often. Or ever, really. But it happened to the Giants, so now I'm all screwed up, figuring out ways to get Christian back on the roster.

  • Do the Giants really need Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside on the roster, especially with Hector Sanchez on the 40-man in case of emergency?
  • Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, and Manny Burriss on the same roster seems like an exercise in redundancy seems like an exercise in redundancy.
  • Putting Angel Villalona on the roster might have had more to do with a legal decision than a baseball decision, but it sure hosed the Giants here.

I'm cycling through the possibilities because Christian could be the next Torres. Speedy, plays a mean center, had some good years in AAA … this could be a huge mistake. I mean, Torres did it! Remember Andres Torres? Dude was cool. Christian could have been the Mr. Furley to Torres' Mr. Roper. Or something. A seamless transition from one guy to the next, allowing us even more chances to the underdog.

The reality is that a) there's a pretty fantastic chance that Christian clears waivers this late in the offseason, when just about every team is facing a similar roster crunch, and b) the difference between, say, Tyler Graham and Christian is negligible at best, especially when you figure that a fringe-fifth outfielder might get 100 at-bats, if that, over a full season.

The point isn't to be especially outraged that Christian was removed from the 40-man roster -- fed to the transaction lions, if you will -- but just a note that Andres Torres has ruined my perception of fifth outfielders and 25th men. It happened that one time, remember? Not sure when this will stop. Maybe it never will.

I hope you'll stick around for tomorrow's post: "Why Ryan Vogelsong has made me sit at my computer for the last three hours exploring potential trades for Jerome Williams."