Ratto: Giants Roster Set, Speculation Begins

October 7, 2010, 4:17 am
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Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thebig news wasnt news, after all Barry Zito learned that he would notbe part of the Giants starting rotation and very nearly as surely offthe roster entirely for the NL Divisional Series and essentially blamedhis civilian predicament on, well, himself.The smaller news, though, was the bigger news. Aaron Rowand, theperpetually criticized outfielder, made the roster instead of JoseGuillen because of his history against the Braves pitchers, hisability to defend and therefore be double-switched in a close game, andbecause Guillen is limited by his defense and neck problem.Thus, the Giants have set their roster for Game 1 against Atlanta, and the surprise was, well, muted.He told me yesterday, Rowand said of manager Bruce Bochy. I came in with no expectations.Expectations, maybe not. Desperate hopes, almost certainly. He lookedlike one of the odd men out Sunday night, but manager Bruce Bochy saidthat he and general manager Brian Sabean met Monday and thought thatRowand gave the roster more flexibility.We hashed that one out awhile, and we finally just decided that hecould help up in more ways, Bochy said. The way were setting upright now, I like him on this roster. And I know he hasnt gotten a lotof playing time, but he will help out.Rowand did play sparingly down the stretch, but his history againstGame 1 starter Derek Lowe (11 for 23) and Game 3 starter Tim Hudson (8for 21) worked in his favor. In addition, Guillen, who was 4 for hislast 33, didnt exactly seize the job. As a result, what seemed like adecision made the other way late Sunday night took a 180 andbecame a clear-cut choice the other way, to Rowands great relief.Hey, who doesnt want to play in the postseason? Rowand said in asteely monotone. Im glad Im on the roster, and able to help in anyway I can. You prepare yourself, for an at-bat, defense, whateveryoure called on to do. Youre playing for a ring.The Zito decision, which has not yet been officially announced, wasless of a shock because of the flood tide of hints, his performance andBochys radio interview on KNBR Tuesday. Indeed, Zito seemed to accepthis fate as the logical result of a difficult second half and a brutalfinal game against San Diego Saturday.Im disappointed in myself for not cracking that rotation, he toldreporters after the workout Wednesday. I brought it on myself.But while he, as the highest paid Giant, would become a bit of anovelty by not making the team in the first round, Rowand and EdgarRenteria, who were Nos. 2 and 3, survived, making Zitos exclusion lessoverwhelming. After all, the figure 19.5 million is a lot lessimposing than 39.5 million, which would have been the number if allthree had been omitted.As a result, the Giants look less like money wasters and more likeflinty-eyed pragmatists, and neither decision will be evaluated untilthe series plays itself out.This is a series pitting a team that came to live on the home run facinga team that allows so few. A team with too many starting pitchersgoing against a team with just barely enough (Jair Jurrjens, the Bravesputative fourth starter, looks like he will miss this series because ofhis knee). Two teams clash that dont have big boppers, profligate runproducers or even ballparks that would reward such types if they didexist.And in such cases, who gets left off the roster is as important as whostays on. In short, this series might actually come around to AaronRowand, or it could miss him entirely. But hell be closer than mostpeople thought he was going to be.