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The Giants roster battles of the near future

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There was roster chaos on Monday. There is more chaos to come.

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Chris Marrero didn’t necessarily give the Giants “wins,” per se, but he did give them something valuable: a cautionary tale the next time there’s a non-roster invitee laying waste to the Cactus League. Lastings Milledge will take Glallson Armstin (fourth round, 2020 draft) deep for his seventh homer in March, 2022, and we’ll all start to wonder what might be.

“Chris Marrero,” the wind will whisper. And we’ll snap out of it.

We have another reminder that the roster a team breaks camp with isn’t the roster they’ll spend 162 days with, and the Giants’ 25-man roster is in flux. Christian Arroyo is the presumptive starter at third base, and Eduardo Nuñez is the poor man’s Ben Zobrist. Drew Stubbs and Gorkys Hernandez are the fourth and fifth outfielders, which isn’t a permanent solution, and the Giants have to figure out what to do with all the players who are currently hurt.

A sampling, then, of the roster battles that are likely to happen soon.

Aaron Hill vs. Christian Arroyo

Ah, a counterintuitive one! This one doesn’t make sense at first blush, so bear with me.

Nuñez isn’t going anywhere. He’s either starting at third, or he’s a hyper-utility player roaming around at different positions. If he’s the former, that means that Arroyo has struggled in his debut, and that he should gain additional experience in Triple-A. If Nuñez is roaming around, it’s because Arroyo has seized the job and won’t let go.

So if Arroyo thrives, there’s no room for Hill when he comes back. If Arroyo struggles, Hill will return to the role the Giants originally envisioned for him.

Really, if Arroyo has an Aaron Hill-like career, he’ll be a resounding success, so there’s a sci-fi element to this battle. Is Hill actually Arroyo from the future, or is Arroyo actually Hill from the past? Food for thought.

I’ll give the edge to Arroyo because I’m all hopped up on prospect dust, but there’s a legitimate chance that he struggles — he’s one of the youngest players in baseball, after all, and his plate discipline does need a little work — so don’t write Hill off yet.

Drew Stubbs vs. Gorkys Hernandez

Gorkys Hernandez wasn’t awful last year. I’ll keep repeating it because it’s so hard to believe. He showed a little power and played a little defense, looking like an obvious caddy for Denard Span. What a fine player in the mold of Gregor Blanco, I thought, like a fool!

This season, he’s been worth a cool -1 WAR, which is hard to do in 16 games of limited playing time. He’s threatening to make “gorked” a widely used verb.

Ugh, can’t believe I gorked that test.

While Stubbs didn’t excite me as a solution in left field, he’s perfectly capable of doing what Hernandez was supposed to do in the first place — hit the occasional dinger and catch the ball. Anyone who does that will be a cult hero, even though that kind of player shouldn’t be that hard to find.

If Hernandez wants to stick around, he’ll either need to look markedly better over the next few days, or Stubbs will need to look overmatched. The advantage is clearly Stubbs’ right now, even though he hasn’t really done anything to gain it.

Michael Morse vs. Mac Williamson

Williamson has the 40-man roster spot. Morse has the bobblehead and kisses blown from the stands. There probably isn’t room for both, though, especially considering their similar profiles. Both are right-handed, and both play left field with varying degrees of success.

The difference might be that Williamson has options, whereas Morse probably isn’t keen on hanging around in Triple-A, and that might be enough. And don’t overthink the part where Morse doesn’t have a roster spot, either. There will be a roster spot opened up from the previous battle. Someone gonna get gorked. Unless they’re stubbed out? Will workshop later.

Morse is the sentimental favorite, and he’s probably the actual favorite based on what the organization is likely to do, but I’m still stumping hard for Williamson. His defense and baserunning give him a much higher floor than Morse, and his age gives him a much higher ceiling at this point, too. The organization still doesn’t have a long-term solution in left, and this is one of the only chances they’ll have for an internal fix for next year.

No, you’re not excited for Mac Williamson, starting left fielder for 2018. But that’s because you haven’t had a chance to be. We’ve got five months of baseball, horrible baseball, left. That’s more than enough time to establish himself, Duffy-like, into our expectations of the future.

My guess is that in a month, the lineup and bench is going to look like this:

C - Buster Posey
1B - Brandon Belt
2B - Joe Panik
SS - Brandon Crawford
3B - Christian Arroyo
LF - Michael Morse
CF - Denard Span
RF - Hunter Pence

4th OF - Drew Stubbs
INF/OF - Eduardo Nuñez
C - Nick Hundley
Pinch-hitter - Conor Gillaspie

That’s with a 13-man pitching staff, which I could see the Giants using, but it also looks like there’s room for Hill or Williamson on this roster if the Giants want to go with one left-hander in the bullpen again (or cut ties with Neil Ramirez).

It’s not necessarily the lineup I would employ, especially in the outfield, but just looking at the homegrown infield makes me beam. All they have to do is hit.

Please hit.