Freddy Is No Nightmare

October 30

                 On the day before Halloween, Freddy returned.

                 No, it isn’t Nightmare On Elm Street XXXVII, it’s Freddy Sanchez.  The three-time All-Star second baseman was living a nightmare since being traded from the Pirates.  His short stint in San Francisco couldn’t have gone much worse this year, but he’s back for two more at a total of 12-million dollars.

                 Sanchez must have felt like a victim of Freddy Krueger.  His knee acted up before the trade, then his shoulder kept him on the bench, then his knee came back for another performance in pain.  Sanchez played in just 25 games with the Giants and only gave a glimpse of what he can do.

                The injuries probably cost Sanchez a few million bucks.  He was due an 8.1 million dollar option on his old deal for 2010, but the Giants were having none of that, and neither was anyone else.  However, the Giants demonstrated a level of trust despite bad early returns.  Sanchez read the room and signed quickly.

                Fans are rightfully wondering just exactly what the Giants are getting for that kind of money.   Is it Edgar Renteria Light?  Probably not.  ( By the way, Renteria was banged up for much of 2009 and probably would have been shut down earlier if the Giants didn’t stay in the playoff hunt.  Renteria should have a better 2010. ) 

                 The fact that Sanchez signed before Halloween should be a clue.  He knew he couldn’t get a better deal elsewhere, but he also made an early commitment.  Sanchez has always been a smart, conscientious ballplayer who also has some professional pride.

                 Sanchez says the surgically-repaired knee is fine and he has begun rehabbing his strained shoulder.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, it wouldn’t surprise me if Sanchez comes to spring training a very motivated player.  If he is healthy, he’ll be a far better free agent signing that Renteria and/or Aaron Rowand. 

                 That might not be saying much, but here’s what Sanchez brings to the table:  intelligence, a good situational hitter in the two-spot who makes solid contact consistently; a gap hitter whom Bruce Bochy can slot third against some left-handers, and one of the top fielding second basemen in the National League.  He’s not going to draw a lot of walks, which sounds familiar to Giants fans, but he will put the ball in play.

                  Cynics say the only reason he went to three All-Star games is because he played for the Pirates, that he’s slow and he doesn’t provide much to offset his lack of power.  The fact is, two of those years he would have been an All-Star for anybody;  in 2006 he won the batting title and had an OPS of .851, then followed it up with a solid .304 average in 2007 with 42 doubles and 11 home runs.   That’s what a healthy Sanchez is still capable of doing at age 32.

                  One important piece is in place for the Giants.  Several even more important pieces still need to be addressed.  Juan Uribe, Brad Penny, and a possible big stick via free agency or trade.  And what will they do about Bengie Molina? 

                   If the Giants re-sign Molina it will be for at least the same money, with the necessity that he catch fewer games to stay fresh at age 36, so the Giants would probably get less for their investment.  He’ll want and deserve a two-year contract after hitting 20 home runs. a big power number for catchers.  If the Giants re-sign Molina, they will need to increase their payroll next season in order to get another big bat or two because Molina should not hit cleanup anymore. 

                   If they don’t re-sign Molina they might be able to make a run at a hitter like Jason Bay, and it sounds like they are at least going to try.  That’s encouraging, although not likely to succeed.  If you believe Sports Illustrated, Bay was raised by a Red Sox fan, and the Sox are reportedly willing to go 15-million a year to keep him.  That might be too rich for the Giants’ blood unless they expand their payroll.

                   The Catch-22 is that the Giants expect a “late developing” market, as if teams are waiting to see what the economy will do.  If the Giants wait too long, they miss out on Bay, Molina, and other free agents with some pop.  The Giants might then be forced to look at a trade.  As I have said 385 times before, if there is some way to get Adrian Gonzalez, do it. but the likelihood of the Padres sending their franchise player to a divisional rival is remote, unless that rival gives up the farm.

                  If they don’t re-sign Molina, Posey is the man behind the dish with Eli Whiteside a capable backup.  If they can’t snag a free agent bat from elsewhere they’ll probably overpay a little for Juan Uribe.  They’ll give him a lot of playing time at third and move Pablo Sandoval to first.  Overpaying for Uribe might not be so painful considering he was a steal at 1 million in ’09, and could also be used at shortstop if Renteria doesn’t rebound.

                  Knowing the Giants and Brian Sabean, that’s the more likely scenario.  The scenario may include further upgrading the pitching staff to make up for the lack of power.  They might try to re-sign Brad Penny, who was stellar in September, and pay the arbitration raises for Lincecum and Sanchez  if they aren’t signed to long-term contracts. 

                 That would give them a rotation of Lincecum-Cain-Zito-Penny-Jonathan Sanchez.  Scary.  Maybe not Freddy Kreuger-scary, but a buzzsaw for NL West hitters.  Mike Krukow thinks Sanchez  can be a “monster” in the next couple of seasons. 

                Sanchez certainly made strides in 2009, not even counting the no-hitter.  I have advocated trading him, and despite his up and down 2009, it wouldn’t be surprising if some team dangles a fairly big bat because they like Sanchez’s potential.  Krukow is among those urging not to trade Sanchez.

                Noah Lowry was let go Friday.  He left with seemingly hard feelings after his agent claimed the Giants mis-diagnosed and mis-treated his arm injury, which the Giants deny.  I’m not sure if that hatched can be buried, but if it can, Lowry would be a cheap alternative in 2010 if the Giants trade one of their arms.

                His agent says he’s healthy … but of course he would.  Lowry hasn’t pitched since 2007 but someone is going to give him a shot, sales job or not.  The back of the baseball card says he once won 14 games. 

               Summing up, don’t be surprised if the Giants go the same route that led to last year’s improvement, with only a slight upgrade in offense.  Sabean might think Bochy can hit Pablo Sandoval cleanup against lefties and some righties, then look for Freddy Sanchez to fill the three-hole against lefties.  That leaves him searching for a #3 hitter against right-handers.

              The Giants might hope Posey or maybe Nate Schierholtz will develop into that kind of hitter as the season progresses.  If not, the Giants might figure they could trade an arm for a big bat before the trade deadline, if they’re still in contention.  I can hear some fans shrieking in terror like Nancy Thompson when she saw Krueger in her dreams;  Freddy, not Larry.

              Yes, I’m not crazy about the more-of-the-same scenario,either.  I’m just saying, remember the Boy Scout motto: be prepared.  The Giants might again try to nickel-and-dime their way into contention.  Now you’re really spooked. huh?

              Time for Halloween.  No, I’m not dressing up as anything.  Halloween has been hijacked by adults and it’s lamer than ever.  I’m going to the store to get some “Fun Size” Snickers to pass out to kids — although there’s not much “fun” in a candy bar the size of  a cat nugget.  At least I’m not the doofus on the block who hands out toothbrushes.

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One Response to “Freddy Is No Nightmare”

  1. Marty Says:

    Ray,

    Freddie Sanchez is an upgrade at second base. Will they sign another bat?

    Yes, Halloween has been kidnapped by the adults, and that is sad! The adult need to leave that day for the children:)

    Enjoy your stuff as usual:)

    Marty

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