Now that our playoff-clinching victory high has turned into anxious impatience for the NLDS to begin, it's time for rampant speculation and widespread knowitallism.
Yup. This is why you read stuff.
To keep it simple, there are some interesting rules for playoff rosters. Read away:
To be eligible for a team’s playoff roster a player must be on any of the following: (a) the 25 man active roster, (b) the disabled list, (c) the bereavement list, or (d) the suspended list as of August 31st at midnight. The only exception is that a player on the 60-day disabled list may be replaced by another player from the team's 40-man roster (as of August 31) who plays the same position (i.e. position player for position player, or pitcher for pitcher), with the approval of the commissioner of baseball.
Sooooo with all that said. If I'm Bochy and Sabean, this is my 25 man NLDS Playoff roster, and I'll throw some explanations of why I would even bother making a list that probably won't be a reality come Thursday. Indulge me.
Left out: Travis Ishikawa, Dan Runzler, Guillermo Mota, Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, Eugenio Velez, Manny Burriss, etc.
This is a bold list. Renteria over Ishikawa? No Zito AND no Rowand? Ford?! Yes, yes, and a million times yes.
Zito left out
I almost feel like quoting the Dany Heatley Sharks commercial. Aw what the hell. Dany Heatley/Barry Zito is a lousy pitcher, but he's a great hockey player/guy. Heatley couldn't throw a strike, and neither could Zito on Saturday in a crucial game against San Diago. He was trying... he really was. Barry Zito wanted so badly to do well, and he didn't have it. He hasn't really had it since September 19th. And although that wasn't that long ago, his most recent performances have been alarming to say the least.
Yes, he's a veteran, and yes, he once did well in the playoffs with Oakland, but that only pulls so much weight. With all due discretion and sensitivity... that was like 8 years and 5 miles per hour ago. Furthermore, the game he started against San Diego WAS a playoff game. It was a must win, just like a potential game 4 at Turner Field would be.
How could you justify Zito on the roster? I don't get it. If indeed we need a 4th starter (which we likely will), how is Zeets a better option than Madison Bumgarner?
Zito's pros: Veteran, has pitched in big playoff games before, had a 2.84 ERA in a stretch of starts from 9/8-9-19, his lone start against the Braves came in Atlanta in which he threw 7 innings of 2 run ball and struck out 10.
Zito's cons: Has a near 9.00 ERA in his last two starts with a 9.00 BB/9 rate, cannot come out of the bullpen, has a 5.09 ERA on the road this season, and would be a wasted roster spot if a 4th game isn't necessary, was booed on Saturday and reportedly aggressively heckled by drunken GTL enthusiasts in the Marina on Sunday night.
Bumgarner's Pros: In 10 road starts this season The Carolina Kid has a 1.91 ERA. In the month of September, he has a 1.13 ERA and opponents hit only .246 against him. Has amazing poise for someone his age. He can work out of the bullpen if necessary and has done it recently. He is from North Carolina and would not be affected by any strange weather.
Bumgarner's Cons: He's a 21 year old rookie who has never pitched this many innings in a year before, let alone in a playoff game.
In addition, arguably the Braves' best hitter, Jason Heyward, hit only .249 against lefties this year. Neutralizing the powerful rookie is key.
Ford vs. Rowand:
Rowand hit a clutch HR on Friday, he makes $12.5MM this year, and would gladly engage in some form of masochism or self-mutilation if it meant he could play sometimes. That being said, he doesn't offer much to the team. For the last 3 months, this once proud baseball player has been reduced to a cheerleading ghost, a constant reminder of how much better we are with Andres Torres and what an absolute albatross his contract is.
It's unfortunate that it's come to this, but I can't feel too bad for the guy. He's filthy effing rich, he has a World Series ring from his days in Chicago, and I'm sure his wife is pretty good looking.
The case for Ford is a stretch. This isn't a video game or fantasy baseball. And yes, I know he never got big league at bat and he hit .251 in Richmond. What I also know is that there is a profound lack of speed available on this team without him. With Torres and to a lesser extent Schierholtz the only fast baserunners on the team, Ford could be an insanely valuable weapon in the late innings. Think Dave Roberts for the Red Sox... how'd that work out?
The fact that Ford was brought up on the last day of August made him eligible, and it was a smart foresighted move by Sabean and Co. The kid can play some OF if absolutely necessary, and as we saw in the game against Colorado, the guy can flat out fly and win a game for you with his legs. This probably won't happen, but that's my argument, and I don't get what angle Rowand has for making the playoff roster over the speedster.
This guy is banged up, old, and I have no idea what he has left. He is a backup at best, and it's a mystery what we can expect from him. That being said, he's a repeated playoff hero and has a severe knack for clutch hits. Even this year, his avg. with runners on is higher than his avg. with the bases empty. In addition, he's the best backup option to Juan Uribe. Although Fontenot can play SS, it is risky to have only one backup middle infielder available.
Ishi is a good guy and he's been a great pinch hitter and late inning defensive replacement. Unfortunately, there is just no room for him. He is best suited for late inning at bats, but the Braves employ two filthy lefties as their 8th and 9th inning guys, making him veritably useless. Perhaps next round.
It's too bad we can't take all these guys, because Runzler and Mota are solid arms. Unfortunately they both experienced injuries late in the season and haven't made enough appearances lately to prove that they are indeed "back". Mota pitched great against SD the other day, and Runzler seems to be working out the kinks, but unfortunately they don't make the cut.
As for what will probably happen? Well, it's probably not as pretty. As Murph and Mac pointed out Tuesday morning on KNBR, the Giants are a very conservative organization that doesn't make any rash decisions and are not known to ruffle feathers. Sacking both Zito AND Rowand from the active roster would cause a bit of a media storm and would be a minor distraction. Also, we're talking about $30MM of dead weight sitting on the bench...
If I were to make a bet, I would say that the Giants ruin my perfect roster by keeping both Zito and Rowand over Ford and Ray. Doesn't make sense baseball-wise, but it's a reality. Let's hope Sabes gives this a read.
Coming up tomorrow, a look at the Braves, how the lineups match up and pitching schedules.
PS: My playoff guarantee made over a month ago came true. Trust in the Dodgerhater!