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Zaidi explains 'most overrated' part of roster building

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SAN FRANCISCO -- It has been forgotten as the Giants have spent all summer as the best team in baseball, but the 2021 season got off to a disastrous start. 

The Giants opened up in Seattle and blew a 6-1 lead by allowing six runs in the eighth inning, but looking back, the box score tells an interesting story. Half of the runs in that eighth inning were allowed by a player -- Matt Wisler -- who is no longer on the roster. 

The bullpen actually has become one of this team's greatest strengths, and a reminder that we should never, ever worry too much about what an opening day roster looks like. Of the eight current Giants relievers, only four were on the roster for the first game of the season, part of the plan all along for the Giants.

Farhan Zaidi, general manager Scott Harris and the rest of the front office staff stockpiled veterans over the offseason but most of them started the year in Triple-A. With a looming roster crunch, the Giants prioritized players already on the 40-man roster as they filled the plane to Seattle, but Zaidi knew that wouldn't last long. 

On this week's Giants Talk podcast, Zaidi explained how we should never pay too much attention to that first group of 26. 

"I think that's the single most overrated thing that human beings overrate on the planet," Zaidi said, laughing. "I guess it's not surprising because all offseason you have one roster to talk about -- the opening day roster. Once opening day is done, that roster is gone and it's about the next day and the day after that. You understand why that's the case but we try to remind ourselves in the offseason and even during spring training, like, 'Hey, the opening day roster is the roster for one day, and a lot can change and a lot does every year.' But, it doesn't (stop) people from talking about it."

 

Under Zaidi and Harris, the Giants have at times seemingly made a roster move every day. Their success this season is in part because of how flexible they have been with the roster, something that keeps Gabe Kapler and his coaches from ever being short-handed. 

That was seen on a 7-2 homestand, in particular, as the Giants tried to keep their pitching staff fresh. 

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Camilo Doval was called up last Tuesday but sent down three days later. Thairo Estrada also spent three days on the roster, giving Brandon Crawford a break with a start on Friday. Sammy Long was called up and then optioned the next day after making a spot start. In the middle of it all, the Giants even found a way to add intriguing outfielder Luis Gonzalez to the 40-man roster when they had an open spot for a couple of days. 

The roster moves have come quickly at Oracle Park, and that's always been the case under this front office. It didn't take long for the opening day roster to get tweaked, particularly in the bullpen. 

Lefty Caleb Baragar was part of that group but has spent most of the season in Triple-A. Reyes Moronta has spent most of the season on the IL, Wisler was DFA'd and traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, and Wandy Peralta was dealt to the Yankees for Mike Tauchman less than a month after he made the Giants' initial 26-man roster. 

So next year, just remember, there's really no point in overreacting to that first roster of the season. 

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