Bleacher Bum

Sanchez trade comes at strange time for Giants
Last week, Giants fans emoted some sort of reaction following
the team’s dealings at the trade deadline.
It may have been joy, as GM Brian Sabean made a pair of trades
to bolster a lackluster offense, saying out loud and for all those
to hear,

Yes, we will try to make the playoffs!

Sanchez trade comes at strange time for Giants

Last week, Giants fans emoted some sort of reaction following the team’s dealings at the trade deadline.

It may have been joy, as GM Brian Sabean made a pair of trades to bolster a lackluster offense, saying out loud and for all those to hear, “Yes, we will try to make the playoffs!”

Or, it may have been regret, as GM Brian Sabean made a pair of trades to bolster a lackluster offense, saying out loud and for all those to hear, “Yes, I will try to save my job!”

Where you stand really depends on your opinion of the Giants’ offense and its future plans (and perhaps your opinion of Sabean himself).

On one side, a side beaming with optimism, are those joyful Starbucks types; fans who were thrilled to see the Giants make a move, realizing the team’s surprising season to date, and looking to take advantage of a strong pitching staff.

All the Giants need to do is make the playoffs, they say, because in the playoffs, anything can happen.

On the other side, a side oozing with curmudgeon-ry, are those cantankerous Walter Matthau types; fans who just watched San Francisco ship a pair of potential starting pitchers for a pair of bats, all in an effort to bolster a still-lackluster offense.

Two bats, they say, the Giants need more than just two bats.

Such is the debate, usually at every trade deadline, when potential is swapped for a proven product.

Last week, the Giants traded for Indians first baseman Ryan Garko and Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez, sending Single-A pitcher Scott Barnes (12-3, 2.85 ERA) back to Cleveland and Double-A pitcher Tim Alderson (6-1, 3.47 ERA) back to Pittsburgh.

What Barnes and Alderson turn into is anybody’s guess. They could be the next Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Or they could be the next Jesse Foppert and Kurt Ainsworth. Nobody knows.

But while the acquisition of Garko seems to be a relatively decent one, as Barnes was considered a lower-level prospect who had a high stock, while Garko is only 28 and fills the team’s “slugging first-baseman” need, the Sanchez-for-Alderson trade seems to be another classic knee-jerk reaction from the San Francisco general manager’s office.

Let the record show, I love Freddy Sanchez, after having watched him emerge through the Red Sox organization. He is a former batting champ (three years removed) and lifetime .300 hitter. He’s a clear upgrade at second base for the Giants and is also a pure hitter, which I believe to be a better fit than a slugger would within the cavernous confines of AT&T Park.

But Sanchez is also 31 and has been battling an “ailing knee” of late. In the post-steroid era, those aren’t promising signs. And with Pittsburgh unable to sign Sanchez to an extension in recent weeks, the Pirates had to get rid of him. All the power should have been in Sabean’s corner, especially with Pittsburgh conducting its most recent fire sale, shedding players Adam LaRoche, Ian Snell, Jack Wilson, Nyjer Morgan and Nate McLouth all before the deadline.

Should the Giants have been able to get more in return for one of their best prospects? Or, at the very least, should the Giants have been able to get Sanchez at a lesser price?

Alderson, meanwhile, could turn out to be anything. But he was considered the Giants’ third best prospect by some publications, behind only pitcher Madison Bumgarner and catcher Buster Posey. It’s certainly comforting to know the Giants still have a relatively strong farm system, even without Alderson, and maybe Sabean knows something we don’t; he has a pretty decent track record in sizing up future prospects (Joe Nathan the exception).

I know you have to give up something to get something, but the timing and details of this trade seem to be way off. The Giants were not one player away from turning into a formidable offensive powerhouse. But by trading Alderson, they pretended that they were, when, in fact, they still have a ways to go.

Although Alderson may never turn into anything substantial, acquiring Freddy Sanchez isn’t going to suddenly turn the Giants into a World Series contender. Like I said, I love Freddy Sanchez. I just don’t like giving up on one of your best prospects, proven or unproven, when it seems that it will take a lot more to succeed in the playoffs than just Freddy Sanchez.

Of course, I could be wrong. Sanchez could very well turn out to be the missing piece, the link that brings the Giants’ offense together. And really, all the Giants have to do is make the playoffs, because in the playoffs, anything can happen.

But I’m sitting on the fence for this one; one of those joyful killjoy types, a fan who sees the immediate upgrade at second base, one in which that will undoubtedly make the Giants a better team. But I also can’t help but realize the Giants acted a little too desperately. They traded away a part of their future plans when it doesn’t appear their time is now.

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