Giants Mailbag: Why Newcomers Are Staying, and Alen Hanson Is Not

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants were caught off-guard by the rain last night. Bruce Bochy was about 20 minutes late addressing the media because he had to rush to inform some players they had made the Opening Day roster. 

There ultimately were not too many surprises if you've been keeping up with the endless moves over the past week, but a lot of people still had questions, so let's run through an emergency mailbag to figure out why Connor Joe, Michael Reed, and Pablo Sandoval are here, and Alen Hanson is not:

"Is there something I am missing in this Joe or Reed over Hanson?" -- @hldogg1

Reed was in a different boat than the others because he can back up Steven Duggar in center field, something nobody else on the roster -- Gerardo Parra can in a pinch -- can really do.

"We've kind of been looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play center field since we released Maybin and returned Ferguson (to the Astros)," Farhan Zaidi said yesterday. "We kind of view him in the same slot on the roster that those guys had been competing for."

It's important to remember that Duggar has never played even a full half of big league baseball, so the Giants wanted coverage there. Joe, Sandoval, and Hanson were all a bit similar in that they're utility types, but Joe is better in the outfield than the other two, and most importantly, he hits right-handed. Hanson can't really be put in the lineup from the right side, and the Giants already have Yangervis Solarte to take left-handed infield at-bats. 

"How many innings did Solarte play at SS this spring? He hasn't played SS for a while. Can he really be the backup?" -- @ThePlant_O_Mavs

Solarte played just 10 innings at short this spring, and for that reason letting Hanson go was a bit surprising. Zaidi has talked a lot about his desire to give Brandon Crawford additional rest days to make sure the nagging injuries don't hamper him at the plate, but ultimately they don't have a great backup option. 

This won't be a big deal early on, as the Giants have four off days in the first 25 days of April, and you can hide a poor defender for nine innings with excessive shifts. But if Crawford misses extended time they'll need another solution. Abiatal Avelino can handle it defensively and Ryan Howard might be getting close, but the real answer is probably that Zaidi would scoop up the shortstop version of Joe or Reed. 

"Sooooo the reason Sandoval over Hanson? Other than being Bochy's favorites?" -- @Cpt_America09

Look, it does matter a bit that Sandoval is a World Series hero and fan/Bochy favorite. When you have a tough decision to make, that plays a part. He still gives fans a reason to stand up and cheer during a game. 

And let's be honest for a moment: Hanson had a .558 OPS in the second half last season, striking out 41 times and walking just once. It's not like the Giants chose Sandoval over Fernando Tatis Jr. 

"Chances of a revolving closer?" -- @bensalvi23

Closer-by-committee sounds like a good idea in your head, but in reality, it's hard on the guys in the bullpen, and it's something Bochy doesn't like to do. The expectation is that Will Smith will be named closer on Thursday, but I will say this: If you're in a fantasy league that has a deep bench, pick up Reyes Moronta. 

There's a small shot he gets the job from the start, and if he doesn't get it now, he should be in that role by August. 

"Anybody else feel this will be a fluid roster all year long with lots of average to below average players coming and going? I have no idea what to expect record-wise. Could be a 100 loss team or could be an 80+ win team. Let's hope they keep us interested through September." -- @YacovoneRick

When Zaidi picked up Joe, I asked a team official how difficult it would be to evaluate a Rule 5 pick all year knowing that you can never send him down to Triple-A. The response was essentially that Zaidi does not care about losing a player after three weeks, he simply wants to give guys like this a chance and see if they break through.

Zaidi calls it "runway." Another way to put it: "Searching for the next Chris Taylor or Max Muncy."

If the Giants hit on Joe or Reed or someone else, that's a big step towards rebuilding the lineup. So yes, we'll see a fluid roster. Some of these guys might hit .185 for 19 games and then get cut. One may become an All-Star. That's the tradeoff. 

And for what it's worth, I don't at all think this is a 100 loss team. The Giants won 73 games last year and basically punted all of September. I think a .500 season is a reasonable expectation, with leeway one way or the other depending on health. 

"Any word on beer prices at Oracle Park? I'm only going to two games if they're still $14." -- @brenteg8

Keep an eye out for videos of me sampling strange ballpark food this season, but at this point, I haven't gotten permission to visit the bar in the fourth inning (boss, are you reading this???) so I'm not sure what beer costs this year. 

[RELATED: Seven Giants prospects who could reach major leagues in 2019]

Teams usually make a big deal of slashing prices, and nothing of that sort was mentioned at the annual media day last Friday, so I assume Oracle Park prices are the same as last year. 

But I'll repeat something I said often last season and the year before: If you've been priced out by professional teams over the past decade, this is a good opportunity to scoop up a $6 ticket and get into the ballpark. It's still a phenomenal place to watch a game, no matter what the roster looks like. 

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