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Inbox: Who will claim Smith's setup role?

March 28, 2017

Losing Will Smith really hurt. I think the Giants will have a tough time piecing together the back end of their bullpen with young pitchers. I see a lot of last year leading up to our top-tier closer. Am I overreacting? -- Mike W., New YorkYou're not necessarily overreacting, given

Losing Will Smith really hurt. I think the Giants will have a tough time piecing together the back end of their bullpen with young pitchers. I see a lot of last year leading up to our top-tier closer. Am I overreacting?
-- Mike W., New York

You're not necessarily overreacting, given what happened last year. But I do believe that many of the relievers who will likely open the season in the Giants' bullpen have the stuff to perform adequately, even admirably, in the setup role. The left-handers, Steven Okert and Josh Osich, are capable of muzzling most hitters. So is right-hander Hunter Strickland, from whom we've seen dominance before. I also think right-hander Derek Law, given the chance, can at least share the setup role with somebody. So the arms are there. But it will be a matter of who can handle the burden mentally as well as physically.
Chris Marrero must make this team. Why not start him over Jarrett Parker? He has legitimate power, a decent arm and he's a former first-round pick.
-- Lee D., San Jose, Calif.

One of the biggest reasons for keeping Marrero on the Opening Day roster, I think, is to demonstrate to players that upward mobility exists. In other words, you will be rewarded for a job well done; you will be recognized for outplaying the other guy. As for starting Marrero over Parker -- well, I don't like to sound indecisive but I'm on the fence regarding that one. I think Parker is a better defender and, over the long haul, a more consistent hitter. There are reasons for Marrero spending the vast majority of his career in the high Minors. I'd certainly like to see him claim a bench role to begin the season, though he might have to relinquish it if or when Michael Morse returns from his left hamstring injury.

:: Submit a question to the Giants Inbox ::
Do you expect Hunter Pence and Joe Panik to be healthy and have solid years?
-- Jonathan B., Salt Lake City

Yes on both counts. Pence has struggled a little at the plate this spring, but I believe that he'll find himself when the stage lights go on, so to speak. Panik's Cactus League stats are deceiving. He has made solid contact all spring and I'm sure that his consistency ultimately will pay off.
Do you see Christian Arroyo or Tyler Beede making a splash this season? I'd like to see what Beede can do as a fifth starter.
-- Mark S., San Francisco

The Giants also are eager to unveil Beede on a Major League mound. With Ty Blach and Player Page for Matt Cain capable of handling the No. 5 spot, there's no need for them to rush Beede, their No. 1 prospect, to San Francisco. But the organization's curiosity about his skills led manager Bruce Bochy to assign him Saturday's Bay Bridge Series start at Oakland. Arroyo, the No. 2 prospect, probably needs the better part of another season in the Minors before he begins to make an impact with the Giants.

Where will Brandon Belt play when Buster Posey starts at first base? We can't afford to lose Belt's bat for 20 to 25 games a season. He's got to play more left field.
-- Artie S., Pittsburgh

Belt's absences when Posey plays first might not have as much negative impact as you think, particularly if Posey plays first when the opponent starts a left-handed pitcher. Belt probably won't start against certain left-handers, which is when, I would think, that Bochy will seize the opportunity to use Posey at first base.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.