Hasta la vista, Jeremy and Ramon?
Ramirez would be an attractive pickup for someone. He struck out 8.7 batters per nine innings last season and isn’t expensive. Affeldt has his uses too, but his current salary seems way too much for a guy like him.
Supporting the San Francisco Giants since April 19, 2006
On a team with payroll constrictions, though, he can't possibly be a part of the future. If the Giants want to be quasi-frugal, if they want to hit a certain number when it comes to year-to-year profits, they've forfeited their right to a luxury closer. Committing to Wilson for almost $10 million a season for several seasons would be a miserable allocation of money. Even if you assume that Wilson will be effective despite his declining velocity and horrific walk rate last year -- a huge assumption -- the Giants still can't afford a luxury closer. Luxury closers are for teams that can afford luxuries. The Giants can't afford a real shortstop.
Part of me thinks that the Giants are of a similar mind, and that they'll be looking really closely at how Heath Hembree's season goes. Committing a baleful of cash to a closer, even one who is as marketable as Wilson, is never a great idea, and the Giants have been burned by Benitez and Robb Nen in the recent past.
And yet he probably saw the red light more than any player on Manager Steve Decker’s roster.
“I had to red-light him most of the time, actually,” said Decker, whose club stole a league-high 209 bases. “He was so aggressive, he’d be flashing me the green light pretty much every time. I’d have to say, `No, Tyler, we’re down by three.’ But that’s his personality. He plays so hard.”
Buster and Freddy are coming back. Buster and Freddy are coming back. Buster and Freddy are coming back. The former is coming back from a serious leg injury. The latter is Freddy Sanchez. He's pretty okay! When he's healthy! Which is rarely!
It's easy to joke about a player's fragility and say that he has dried seaweed for hamstrings, or something like that. But are the Giants forgetting how Sanchez's shoulder exploded? He dove for a ball. He didn't even do it awkwardly.
Opponents hit .217 off Cain, the league's third-lowest figure. Among the top Cy Young contenders, only Kershaw, who led the NL with a .207 figure, was more efficient.
Cain outperformed all of the NL's Cy Young candidates in preventing the long ball. He yielded nine home runs, fewest in the Majors among pitchers who worked at least 200 innings. His per-nine-inning average of 0.37 homers allowed ranked second among NL pitchers behind Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton (0.31).
Many experts deride the value of a "quality start," since the criteria (three or fewer earned runs allowed in at least six innings) don't define pitching excellence. Nevertheless, Cain's 26 quality starts topped the NL, ranked third in the Majors and reflected the consistency he maintained.
There’s a good chance that the Giants were never “in” on Carroll, but that doesn’t change the fact the the infield market is really starting to get thin. If the Giants decide to go into 2012 with Brandon Crawford as their starting shortstop, I can’t help but wonder if it’s based on a huge leap of faith, an awesome internal evaluation, or the cold hard truth that the team is being cheap. Like most things, it’s probably a combination of all three, but short was a big problem in 2011 and it’s looking like it has the potential to be sore spot next season.
Man, Clint Barmes is really starting to look good right about now.
In other words, the Giants long ago determined that they didn’t want Sanchez back at his $5-6 million price point for next season. When you trade a guy you no longer want, that isn’t breaking up the rotation. That’s using your resources.
Sure, it’s a bit scary to think of Barry Zito or Eric Surkamp as the No.5 starter behind Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong. But I do think the Giants will find another pitcher or two, at least to provide competition in the spring.
Who knows? Maybe the Giants discover that Roy Oswalt really, really wants to spend a season in San Francisco. When you play half your games at AT&T Park, it’s always easier to attract a veteran starter looking to get a short-term bounce into a better position to make money a year from now. (Even a few weeks can do the trick, in Brad Penny’s case.)
Anyway, Sanchez’s time with the Giants had passed. He’ll be 29 soon and he remained as frustrating as ever with his lackadaisical attitude and high walks totals. I know he received a lecture from coaches in July after telling me he felt “unappreciated here” and that he didn’t expect to come off the disabled list till September.
Sure, Sanchez’s strikeout rate and OBA remain among the best in baseball. The statistical set love his FIP. But ask his fielders if they’re impressed with his FIP while they’re standing around as he walks hitters on a cold night.
Numbers by themselves don’t win games, and if you watched Sanchez pitch, he didn’t always compete so well. When he was struggling earlier in the season, he was asked about possibly getting skipped in the rotation. Hs response? “I’m the No.2 starter. I don’t feel any pressure about it.”
When I asked him last spring about leading the NL in walks, and whether he felt motivated to cut down the free passes — a softball question if ever one existed — Sanchez surprised reporters by saying no, he was fine pitching the way he’s pitched in the past.
“If I walk two guys and get a ground-ball double play, hey, the inning is over,” he said.
Sanchez’s attitude was understandable in one respect: He pitched away from contact because he had to. With a continual lack of run support, he simply couldn’t afford to give in. And in a few very important games, he didn’t. When the Giants needed Sanchez to step up in Game 162 a year ago, he faced down the same Padres team who frustrated him all season. Yep, he walked six batters. But he beared down and pitched the Giants to a division-clinching victory over Mat Latos. He made his own brash prediction come through.
It’s a reminder that Sanchez’s best moments as a Giant weren’t merely good. They were historic. You could argue that his no-hitter in 2009 — the first by a Giant in 35 years — was the first glint of hope that brought them out of nearly four seasons of darkness.
But he went the other direction in 2011. He needed a change of scenery as much as the Giants needed a hitter. If he hasn’t put it together by now, under Dave Righetti’s constant tutelage, it’s not a very good bet that he’ll be a better pitcher in 2012. And with his salary only going up and up, that bet involves putting a lot more chips in the middle — chips better saved for Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum.
Sanchez remains an interesting upside play for a team like the Royals, who are starved for pitching. They have top prospect Lorenzo Cain to plug into center, and they probably weren’t going to re-sign Cabrera beyond this season. So it’s a trade of players who, because of the time and place, had become imperfect fits. It’s a trade that could help both teams.
One thing is for sure: Whenever Sanchez finds himself back at AT&T Park again, the applause will be strong and sustained. And deservedly so.
Despite his constant struggles at the plate, Rowand had the sixth-most plate appearances on the team (351). And despite his utter inability to reach base (the man drew nine(!) unintentional walks this season), he led off for the Giants 46 times. I kid you not: fourty-six times.
I’m both thrilled and relieved to never have to see Rowand don a San Francisco Giants uniform ever again. His tenure as a Giant was increasingly disastrous, and he’s without doubt one of the worst free agent signings in franchise history.
He’ll be making $12MM next year to not play for the Giants.