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Pads to Giants: "Denker Very Much!"

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At the end of last week, the Giants’ 40–man roster shrank faster than the Dow Jones.

In case you missed it Friday, like I did, the Giants cut eight players from the roster: Correia, Walker, Hennessey, Alfonzo, Espineli, McClain, Ochoa, and Denker. That final name is the most surprising. Travis Denker is only 23 and has shown a promising bat, so maybe it was his defense that swayed the Giants’ decision. Nah — if bad defense were a cardinal sin, Eugenio Velez would have been toast months ago. Did the Giants consider him hopelessly stuck on the 2B/3B depth chart behind Frandsen, Velez, Rohlinger and Gillaspie? (Rohlinger?!)

This one’s hard to fathom. Let’s hope the beat writers ask Sabean some tough questions. The Padres thought well enough of Denker to grab him off waivers, according to Paul DePodesta’s blog. Read that and think, what’s not to like?

All the other moves have some underpinning of logic. Walker, Correia and Hennessey are all arbitration-eligible. According to the contract rules, they will earn in 2009 at least 20% below this year’s salaries. That’s a minimum of $600,000, $860,000, and $1.3 million, respectively. That cash will now go toward an expensive free agent reliever or two, I’ll betcha. No way Sabean has the guts to start 2009 with a bullpen of Wilson, Taschner, Yabu, Romo, Sadler, Hinshaw, and Valdez.

I wrote earlier this season about the Giants going through an organizational closet cleaning in 2008, a big reason we saw single-A guys like Brian Bocock and Manny Burriss in San Francisco. Weed out the underbrush to make way for new growth. In cases both negative (Bocock) and positive (Burriss) the organization learned something valuable. I thought they learned something valuable about Denker — dude can hit — but apparently the team saw it differently.

As for Eliezer Alfonzo, he’s lost his spot on the depth chart to Steve Holm, who quietly did a nice job this year. A line of .262 / .357 / .405 is respectable for a backup catcher, and he had a knack for key late-inning hits.

The roster now stands at 33, with Vizquel and Aurilia soon to file for free agency. That will make 31. Apparently several players will need protection from the Rule 5 draft, which takes place at the end of the December winter meetings. I hope that list provides some justification for dropping Denker like a bad loan.

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