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Throwing Darts at Opening Day 2009

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DartNow that the draft picks have signed and the latest round of youngsters have reported for duty, it’s a good time to take another wild stab in the dark at the 2009 opening day roster. Today I’ll look at position players. The usual caveat of “barring injury” applies.

Behind the plate, I’m betting on Bengie Molina. If he’s traded this winter, it means more pressure on Pablo Sandoval or Buster Posey to hurry up and take the starting job. And unless the Giants trade for another grizzled vet, it also means Holm or Alfonzo would be a significant presence on next year’s team. I don’t think the Giants want either of those scenarios. Unless they’re blown away with a trade offer, Molina stays, with Sandoval as his backup unless he completely flops in his late-‘08 audition. Sandoval’s ability to play 1B also provides flexibility.

Around the infield, the only sure thing is three bases. Every infield has them. And dirt. Nice soft red well-groomed dirt. This we know about the Giants’ infield. Otherwise, we know more about the host site of the 2024 Summer Olympics — I vote for Havana after a long successful campaign led by El Presidente Elian Gonzalez. The official mascot is Chucho, a tightly rolled cigar with arms and legs, which makes Garry Trudeau either very happy or very sad.

Smoke up, kids. How about Ivan Ochoa, starting SS? And Travis Ishikawa, at least a platoon 1B? For a while I’ve been on the bring-Rich Aurilia-back bandwagon as utility guy and RH bat off the bench. And how about Eugenio Velez as another ute, though I have my doubts that he’ll ever be another Chone Figgins. Or another Jack Kennedy, for that matter. Kevin Frandsen gets every chance to win the starting 2B job, and 3B is filled via free agency or trade. I never thought I’d say it, but Adrian Beltre is looking better and better. (Travis Denker, you ask? Needs another year in AAA, I say. Emmanuel Burriss also goes back to AAA.)

In the outfield, Fred Lewis and Aaron Rowand are in left and center. Randy Winn and Dave Roberts make no sense on the same roster, so I see a trade. More likely the Giants try to pawn off Roberts and eat most of his ‘09 salary. I just don’t see the Giants handing Nate Schierholtz the starting RF job out of spring training, no matter how many home runs he hits off the Republic of Angola’s ace reliever. It’s not just his bat: I think the team is worried, and rightly so, about RF defense at Mays Field. The Giants’ fly-ball pitchers need premium D in the outfield, especially in RF. Misplays there turn outs into doubles, singles into triples. So unless they’re blown away by a trade offer, I think Winn stays, with Schierholtz broken in slowly. (The ideal right fielder for Mays Field is a guy with plus speed, a great arm, and a right-handed bat whose home runs don’t die on the right-center field warning track. Like this guy.)

For now, I’ll round out the OF with Schierholtz and John Bowker, but don’t be surprised if one is traded this winter. Brian Horwitz might make a good 5th OF and provide RH balance to the roster. So:

Molina
Sandoval
Ishikawa
Aurilia
Frandsen
Ochoa
Velez
outside 3B
Lewis
Rowand
Winn
Schierholtz
Bowker/Horwitz

Opening Day lineup:

Winn rf
Frandsen 2b
Lewis lf
Mysterio 3B
Molina c
Rowand cf
Ishikawa 1b
Ochoa ss

Remember, this is not necessarily my ideal nor is it my prediction of the roster next June or August. It’s also woefully short on power, again, unless the mystery 3B is Troy Glaus, 2001 Edition.

(Photo courtesy of infomatique via a Creative Commons license.)


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Header photo courtesy of Flickr user eviltomthai under a Creative Commons license.