I've just stumbled across Andrew Baggarly's comprehensive recap for the Mercury-News, filed two days ago, of the Winter Meetings and the implications for the Giants.
It's an excellent read. He leads off by asserting that Brandon Crawford leads the list of "winners" -- Not only did the Giants pass on adding a shortstop like Alex Gonzalez (who signed with Milwaukee), but they don’t even plan to pursue a cheap right-handed bat at the position such as Edgar Renteria, Yuniesky Betancourt or the like. They are going Crawford, whole hog. He will be the everyday shortstop, and perhaps there’s a reason that Bruce Bochy wasn’t given any veteran fallbacks that he might be tempted to lean on.
He also listed Emmanuel Burriss and Brett Pill (they're making the roster), Matt Cain (he's going to get big bucks due to the CJ Wilson deal) and Andres Torres (he'll get playing time) as winners. The most interesting analysis (to me) was naming the Giants pitchers as winners --
With Crawford the committed shortstop and plenty of speed in the outfield on days that Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Nate Schierholtz start alongside one another, the Giants defense looks to be the most improved aspect of the team. Sure, Pagan’s 10 errors last year are a concern and he sometimes makes bad decisions when he throws to bases. But as one official told me, how many runners does a center fielder throw out, anyway?
Even if you don’t think that outfield defense will be much of an improvement, the everyday play of Crawford should be worlds better than Miguel Tejada and Orlando Cabrera last season. Or the season before that. Combine Tejada and Cabrera with Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria and you’ve got a group with as much mobility as the Burghers of Calais.
Losers include Carlos Beltran (the Giants have decided against signing him, probably due to concerns about injuries), Aubrey Huff (The additions of Pagan and Cabrera leave left field and first base as the two muddiest positions on the field), Brandon Belt (Unlike Crawford, Bochy will have alternatives if Belt struggles), Pablo Sandoval (they probably want him to be the emergency catcher), and Giants pitchers --
I know, I know. They’re winners for the improved defense that will play behind them. And it’s reasonable to assume the Giants will score more runs with Cabrera and Pagan, who make them much less of a station-to-station offense. But the Giants didn’t add to the middle of the order. They didn’t get Jose Reyes (who wouldn’t have come to San Francisco anyway) or re-sign Beltran. They’re banking on better health and the “law of averages,” as Brian Sabean put it. All well and good, but tell that to Tim Lincecum the first time he loses 1-0 to Clayton Kershaw.
Here's how Baggarly sees the Opening Day roster:
Rotation: Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong, Zito (with Surkamp the next line of defense).
Bullpen: Wilson, Affeldt, Romo, Lopez, Casilla, Mota, Runzler
Catchers: Posey, plus backup (either Hector Sanchez or Chris Stewart)
Infield: Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Crawford, Sandoval, Pill, Burriss, Belt, plus either Fontenot or Keppinger
Outfield: Pagan, Cabrera, Schierholtz.
It looks weird with three outfielders and eight infielders, but Huff, Belt and Burriss can all play in the pastures. (Sandoval only plays left field in Taiwanese ballparks.)
The Giants will make the call on Fontenot or Keppinger on Monday, when one of them won’t be tendered a contract.
They’ll have to determine whether Hector Sanchez should back up or play every day at Triple-A. They certainly love the progress he’s made, and his offensive potential.
Once Mota’s deal is finalized, there will be just one bullpen spot left open, in theory. Runzler finished strong last season and is a clear frontrunner, but the Giants always seem to find at least one non-roster surprise in Scottsdale. So Runzler will have to throw strikes to claim that last job. I still expect they’ll provide more competition in the form of non-roster invitees for the No.5 starter job, too.