Giants

Roster breakdown: Where Giants stand one week from MLB Winter Meetings

longoriabeltpanikusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Roster breakdown: Where Giants stand one week from MLB Winter Meetings

SAN FRANCISCO -- On his first day on the job, Farhan Zaidi said the goal of the front office would be to form a 40-man roster "where taking any player off gives you heartburn."

So far, the 40-man has only seen subtractions. Hunter Strickland and Gorkys Hernandez were the latest to go, leaving Zaidi with 34 players on his roster with one week until the start of the Winter Meetings. He has flexibility, but he also has work to do.

Here's a breakdown of where the roster stands as we approach the busiest part of the offseason:

Catcher: Buster Posey remains on track to be ready by spring training, but at the moment, the Giants have just one other catcher on the roster. They would be fine with Aramis Garcia as their backup, but expect them to add at least one veteran in the coming weeks. Nick Hundley is still out there. 

Corner Infield: Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria might end up being trade chips, but at the moment they make up the heart of the order. There haven't been any real changes here, and unless he trades one of those two guys, Zaidi doesn't really need to add.

The Giants owe Pablo Sandoval just the MLB minimum next season and he fits well with Zaidi's idea of team chemistry. 

Middle Infield: Joe Panik signed a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration, but that doesn't mean the Giants won't trade him at some point. For now, the Panik-Crawford duo is set to be back in the infield, with Alen Hanson and Abiatal Avelino the only players behind them on the 40-man roster.

Kelby Tomlinson is a Diamondback and Chase d'Arnaud is a free agent. Hanson and Avelino are pretty interesting in this new era. Zaidi likes versatility and could be open to playing Hanson all over the field more, especially because he has significant platoon splits. Avelino is playing winter ball and could be another do-everything piece. Expect at least one addition to this group in the coming weeks. 

Outfield: The Giants have just four outfielders on their 40-man roster and all are relatively unproven. Steven Duggar is the center fielder, but look for Zaidi to add significant depth to a group that also includes Chris Shaw, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater.

The Giants don't appear to be in on the biggest player in this market, but there are other options who can give the lineup a boost. 

Rotation: Assuming they don't trade Madison Bumgarner -- I don't believe they will this offseason -- the Giants have a pretty good start here with Bumgarner, Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez. Jeff Samardzija is said to be doing well, but this is the main area where Zaidi is looking to add depth.

Remember, the Dodgers regularly loaded up on starters when Zaidi was GM. It wouldn't be a surprise to see at least a couple of veterans brought in, giving the Giants some wiggle room if Samardzija isn't back to his old form. There are some sleeper options in terms of starters. 

Bullpen: Strickland made 244 appearances for the Giants over the last four seasons, but that workload can be replaced by the emergence of Reyes Moronta and possibly Ray Black. The bullpen is an area where Zaidi has traditionally looked for cheap breakout options, which means the Rule 5 Draft could be a bit more interesting for the Giants this winter, and they likely will add more options than in past years.

Guys like Melvin Adon -- recently added to the 40-man roster -- could be on the fast track. The Giants are actually in pretty good shape here, but it would be smart to build depth. If they're fading near the trade deadline, trading relievers will be the easiest way to stockpile prospects, and Will Smith, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson will be on the block. 

Brandon Crawford ties Giants record held by Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda

Brandon Crawford ties Giants record held by Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda

DENVER -- Brandon Crawford didn't know he had a chance to join a couple of Hall of Famers when he came up with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Monday afternoon. All he knew was that he was facing something he hadn't previously seen in the big leagues. 

Crawford dug in and looked up at Mark Reynolds, a first baseman who was asked to mop it up on the mound in the ninth inning of the Giants' 19-2 win at Coors Field. Reynolds was the first position player Crawford had faced in the big leagues. 

"It was a weird feeling," Crawford said. "But it's bases loaded, one out -- it's still an at-bat that counts."

Crawford made sure of that, bouncing a single up the middle to drive in two more runs. He finished with eight RBI, tying a San Francisco Giants record previously shared by Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda. He became the first shortstop in MLB history to record five hits and eight RBI in one game. Crawford said the big day was due to his teammates. 

"I hit with a lot of guys on base, that was nice," he said. "The whole lineup contributed."

That was rarely the case in the first three months of the season. But in the days leading up to the break, you could see Crawford, Buster Posey and other members of the core starting to turn it on, mixing in with Alex Dickerson, Austin Slater and other newcomers. 

Crawford took a five-game hitting streak into the game and added three walks over the weekend in Milwaukee. The breakout came Monday. He homered in the first to help the Giants take a 5-0 lead and added a long shot to right in the sixth. 

[RELATED: Breaking down red-hot Giants' historic game at the plate]

In one game, Crawford raised his average from .226 to .239. His OPS jumped from .654 to .695. That's hard to do nearly 100 games into the season -- unless you have the type of day that has you in the same company as Hall of Famers. 

"I've been feeling good," Crawford said. "I'm seeing the ball well. You expect to get hits when that happens."

Watch Giants' Brandon Crawford, Mike Yastrzemski hit back-to-back homers

Watch Giants' Brandon Crawford, Mike Yastrzemski hit back-to-back homers

Clear your October plans, Giants fans. 

The Giants somehow are the hottest team in baseball, winning eight of their last 10 games. And they couldn't have started off their doubleheader against the Rockies at Coors Field any better Monday morning. 

Brandon Belt and Buster Posey each singled to start the top of the first inning before Pablo Sandoval surprisingly squared for a sacrifice bunt. The Alex Dickerson train continued with the left fielder scoring Belt on a line drive to right field. But that was just the beginning for the red-hot Giants. 

Brandon Crawford and Mike Yastrzemski hit back-to-back jacks to give the Giants a 5-0 lead in the first inning over the Rockies. Crawford went opposite field for a 366-foot three-run homer, his seventh dinger of the year. Yaz followed him with a 433-foot shot to right-center field for a solo shot, his sixth homer this season. 

The Giants wound up winning 19-2, as the bats stayed hot all game. While they still appear to be in sell mode before the July 31 trade deadline, anything could happen once a team catches fire.