Diving into the depths: San Francisco Giants

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Tim Lincecum
2. Matt Cain
3. Jonathan Sanchez
4. Barry Zito
5. Madison Bumgarner
6. Jeff Suppan
7. Clayton Tanner
8. Dan Runzler
9. Henry Sosa
10. Shane Loux
11. Ryan Vogelsong

I don’t want to overestimate the Suppan signing, but before his addition, the Giants’ sixth starter was a guy who had a 79/64 K/BB ratio in 149 innings in Double-A last season. It’s going to be very important that the team’s top five stays relatively healthy once again.

Bullpen
1. Brian Wilson
2. Sergio Romo
3. Jeremy Affeldt
4. Santiago Casilla
5. Javier Lopez
6. Ramon Ramirez
7. Guillermo Mota
8. Dan Runzler
9. Marc Kroon
10. Waldis Joaquin
11. Alex Hinshaw
12. Steve Edlefsen
13. Casey Daigle
14. Ryan Vogelsong
15. Felix Romero
16. Shane Loux
17. Matt Yourkin

Because the Giants have two lefties guaranteed spots, they may well try Runzler as a starter this spring. If that happens, he’d start the year in the Triple-A rotation. … I’m very interested in seeing what Kroon has left. He always had a terrific arm, but command woes prevented him from establishing himself in the majors in his 20s. Now 37, he spent the last six years as one of Japan’s best closers. If he’s still throwing in the high-90s, he’s a sleeper.

Catcher
1. Buster Posey
2. Eli Whiteside
3. Jackson Williams
4. Chris Stewart

First base
1. Aubrey Huff
2. Travis Ishikawa
3. Brandon Belt
4. Pablo Sandoval
5. Brad Eldred

Second base
1. Freddy Sanchez
2. Mike Fontenot
3. Emmanuel Burriss
4. Mark DeRosa
5. Ryan Rohlinger

Third base
1. Pablo Sandoval
2. Mark DeRosa
3. Mike Fontenot
4. Ryan Rohlinger
5. Conor Gillaspie

Shortstop
1. Miguel Tejada
2. Emmanuel Burriss
3. Mike Fontenot
4. Ryan Rohlinger
5. Brandon Crawford

The Giants’ big question headed into spring training is whether Belt can force the team to carry him after his outstanding pro debut last season. If he does make the team, we’ll probably see him at first base and Huff in left field most of the time. Still, my guess is that he’ll head to Triple-A for at least two months. … Sandoval’s status will be another hot topic, but assuming that he’s made an effort to keep his weight down, he should get every chance to hold on to his job.

Left field
1. Pat Burrell
2. Aubrey Huff
3. Mark DeRosa
4. Brandon Belt
5. Aaron Rowand
6. Nate Schierholtz
7. Thomas Neal

Center field
1. Andres Torres
2. Aaron Rowand
3. Darren Ford
4. Cody Ross

Right field
1. Cody Ross
2. Aaron Rowand
3. Nate Schierholtz
4. Mark DeRosa
5. Terry Evans

Let’s assume Belt doesn’t make the team. There would still be four locks for the bench in DeRosa, Rowand, Fontenot and Whiteside, leaving just one spot for Schierholtz, Ishikawa or Burriss. Rowand’s demotion would seem to leave Schierholtz with no role at all, but Schierholtz’s defense would make him useful in the right situation.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉