Originally posted on 22gigantes  |  Last updated 12/12/11

Looks like jersey No. 22 (worn by Whiteside) is up for grabs again in San Francisco.

The non-tender deadline passed tonight with the San Francisco Giants declining to offer contracts to catcher Eli Whiteside and infielder Jeff Keppinger, officially making both arbitration-eligible players free agents.

The Giants have whittled their list of arbitration-eligible players down to 10.

As expected, the club has tendered offers to Emmanuel Burriss, Santiago Casilla, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, Pablo Sandoval, Nate Schierholtz, Ryan Vogelsong, Mike Fontenot, and recently acquired outfielders Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan. Terms of the offers are not yet available but all of these players will likely receive raises from their 2011 salaries.

I’ll update this page as contract information becomes available.

[SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MY PROJECTED 2012 GIANTS OPENING DAY ROSTER]

Whiteside, 32, began his Giants career in 2009 after he was signed as a free agent on May 5, 2008 — about a week after the Minnesota Twins waived him. He was thrust into the starting role behind the dish last year after the season-ending injury to Buster Posey and was mostly disappointing.

Whiteside batted .197/.264/.310 with 4 HR and 17 RBI in a career-high 213 at bats last season. Horrible, to say the least.

Whiteside’s defining moment as a Giant, perhaps, came in the ninth inning of a game on Aug. 28, 2011 against the Houston Astros.

With the game tied and Aubrey Huff at first base, Whiteside (who would end up wearing the Golden Sombrero (0-for-4, 4 K) that day, flailed at a strike three in the dirt. Huff broke for second base and ‘Stros catcher Carlos Corporan threw down to second base instead of simply tagging Whiteside for the third out. Huff was safe, putting the winning run in scoring position.

However, Whiteside — rather than run to first base on the dropped third strike — stood and argued with home plate umpire Larry Vanover, while Houston second baseman Jose Altuve took the throw from Corporan and threw to first for the force out on Whiteside, making it a 2-4-3 inning-ending strikeout. The Giants wound up losing 4-3 in 11 innings.

With a healthy Sanchez, Keppinger is too much of a "luxury item' to be kept around in 2012.

Whiteside made another huge mental error in a game against the Padres on Jul. 17, when he failed to call off pitcher Matt Cain on a routine pop-up in front of home plate. Whiteside collided with Cain and the ball dropped to the ground for a base hit.

The Giants will likely use Chris Stewart or perhaps Hector Sanchez as the primary backup catchers to Posey in 2012.

[SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MY PROJECTED 2012 GIANTS OPENING DAY ROSTER]

After the season-ending injury to second baseman Freddy Sanchez, Keppinger, 31, was brought over to the Giants in a trade with Houston (on July 19, 2011 for minor league pitchers Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel).

Prior to the trade, Keppinger was hitting .307/.320/.436 with 4 HR and 20 RBI in 43 games with the Astros. He played in 56 games for San Francisco, where he hit just 255/.285/.333 with 2 HR and 15 RBI.

Keppinger lacks the versatility of Burriss and Fontenot (who were also both thought to be non-tender candidates), which is probably why the Giants decided against keeping him.

For all intents and purposes, the Giants’ roster is set. Sure, some non-roster spring training invitee could steal a job. The club may even make another trade, or sign one of the other non-tendered players from tonight.

But for now, here’s a quick rundown of the Giants’ 2012 25-man roster as I see it (barring injuries or trades, of course):

PROJECTED STARTERS BY POSITION (B/T):

1B — Brandon Belt (L/L)
2B — Freddy Sanchez (R/R)
3B — Pablo Sandoval (S/R)
SS — Brandon Crawford (L/R)
C — Buster Posey (R/R)
LF — Aubrey Huff (L/R)
CF — Angel Pagan (S/R)
RF — Melky Cabrera (S/L)

PROJECTED STARTING ROTATION:

1. Tim Lincecum (RHP)
2. Matt Cain (RHP)
3. Madison Bumgarner (LHP)
4. Ryan Vogelsong (RHP)
5. Barry Zito (LHP)

PROJECTED BULLPEN:

CL — Brian Wilson (RHP)
SU — Sergio Romo (RHP)
SU — Jeremy Affeldt (LHP)
MR — Javier Lopez (LHP)
MR — Santiago Casilla (RHP)
MR — Guillermo Mota (RHP)
MR — Dan Runzler (LHP)

PROJECTED BENCH/RESERVES:

1. OF Nate Schierholtz (R/R)
2. C Chris Stewart (R/R)
3. INF Mike Fontenot (R/R)
4. INF/OF Emmanuel Burriss (R/R)
5. INF Brett Pill (R/R)

PROJECTED OPENING DAY LINEUP:

1. Pagan (cf)
2. F.Sanchez (2b)
3. Sandoval (3b)
4. Posey (c)
5. Huff (lf)
6. M.Cabrera (rf)
7. Belt (1b)
8. Crawford (ss)
9. Lincecum (p)

As you can see, I’m predicting a few things:

  • First, infielder Pill (R/R) makes the Opening Day roster, and outfielder Justin Christian (R/R) does not. Simply stated, Pill’s got pop, Christian doesn’t. And I bet Pill wins the job with a good spring.
  • Notice also that I have Cabrera beating out Schierholtz in right, although I definitely see a platoon situation emerging with all four outfielders. Belt and Burriss will even log some innings out there.
  • Second, I predict that catcher Hector Sanchez will start the season at Triple-A Fresno. I love the kid, but he just has so much to learn about the nuances of catching and hitting at the big league level and he’s not ready yet. No doubt we will see him during the season if there’s an injury or other opportunity for a call-up.
  • Third, I think the Giants will start the season carrying 12 pitchers. It’s a tough call for that last spot in the ‘pen, but I’m going with Runzler over right-hander Steve Edlefsen because he’s got more experience (and the Giants already only have two southpaws in Affeldt and Lopez). Eric Surkamp will undoubtedly start the season in Triple-A. There’s no plans for the Giants to convert him into a reliever and he needs the starts. However, if there’s an injury to one of the Giants five starters, Surkamp is the first guy in line to get the call from Fresno.

I hope you enjoyed reading "Giants non-tender Whiteside, Keppinger." I'm interested in your opinion on this article. Why not leave a comment at 22gigantes.com?


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