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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

ST Preview: A Lot of Bench Options

After discussing the potential spring bullpen battle for the last 2 spots in the Giants' bullpen, it is now time to look at their bench situation heading into the spring. The Giants have plenty of options when it comes to filling out there bench, and the battle for the last couple bench spots should be as interesting as the battle for bullpen hierarchy. The only two guys who are sure to have spots on the Giants bench come opening day are back-up catcher Elizier Alfonzo, and free-agent signee Ryan Klesko. If the Giants are going to carry 12 pitchers, which is most likely the case coming out of spring training, it would leave 3 remaining bench spots to be filled with plenty of candidates in the running. As they stand now, the Giants will need to find a utility infielder, and 2 outfielders to fill out the roster by opening day. The two favorites to earn the 4th and 5th outfielders roles are Mark Sweeney and Todd Linden. Linden had a solid year at the plate in limited time last season but also showed excellent defensive flexibility. Linden can play all 3 outfield positions, and is a switch hitter, unless the Giants find a place to deal him, or he gets hurt, I would be surprised if he isn't on the big league roster when they head north at the end of spring. Sweeney is basically only a left fielder or first basemen, so his value is limited. Jason Ellison can also play all 3 outfield positions, but doesn't bring the bat that Linden or Sweeney do. Ellison's ticket onto the team are his wheels. A wild card in the competition for a spot could be Freddy Lewis. Lewis is the better athlete and is faster, and younger than the rest of the bunch, but Lewis has to show some consistency at the plate this spring to even be mentioned.

As far as the infield goes, things are a little more clear. Kevin Frandsen looks to have the inside track at becoming the Giants' utility infielder. Frandsen isn't a great shortstop, but Rich Aurilia will be available to play shortstop when Omar Vizquel gets a day off, so Frandsen can concentrate on 2nd and 3rd base. The interesting decision for Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean will be as to whether they want to carry Klesko as an outfielder or an infielder. The Giants have Mark Sweeney still on the roster, but there have been a lot of rumblings that his days with the team may be numbered. The Giants really only need one back-up outfielder with Klesko on the roster. If they decide to go with only Klesko plus one other outfielder for the bench, it could open a door for Lance Niekro to make the team as the back-up to Aurilia at 1st. After starting the year out horribly last season, Niekro rebounded and had a great 2nd half, but it was in Fresno. If Niekro tears it up during spring training, then it could force the Giants hand to carry Klesko as strictly an outfielder and release Sweeney.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 11:51 PM, Blogger sink sink socks said…

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  • At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice Blog, I think Klesko will end up being the everyday first basemen.


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