Jonathan Sanchez and the World Baseball Classic

First off, I’d like to thank the Giants for appointing me to deliver the following message to the world:

Dear Internet Baseball-Loving World,

Thank you for your mock trade proposals. While we are not completely opposed to trading Jonathan Sanchez in the right deal, we will not entertain any Sanchez trade that ends with the Giants getting a player who will be a free agent after this season. Just stop. We will not trade Sanchez for Adrian Beltre, we will not trade him for Hank Blalock. We will not trade him for Adam LaRoche, we will not trade him for Xavier Nady. Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
The San Francisco Giants

Well, the Giants didn’t exactly appoint me, but they should have.

Sanchez is one of the best strikeout arms in the majors, and while it seems like we’re waiting for him to arrive, it’s easy to forget that as late as July, he had arrived. Sanchez-related discussions were not in future tense. He was here. He’d arrived. His orange velvet "Big Three"-robe was monogrammed and everything.

Then the second half of the season came, and Sanchez disintegrated. His strikeout rate wasn’t much different, and his walk rate hadn’t changed, but the runs came in Costco-like bulk quantities. Then he was put on the DL with rotator cuff strain. A common theory was that Sanchez was tired from being a full-time starter for the first time in the majors. Another theory was that Sanchez was tired from being jerked around as the Giants’ de facto swingman in the previous season. Both theories have some merit.

So allow me the opportunity to recoil in horror at the news that Jonathan Sanchez will pitch in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico. I can’t blame him for wanting to. I can’t blame the Giants for letting him. I just don’t like it. Usually Sanchez pitches winter ball in Puerto Rico, so I guess this is kind of like a hybrid of winter ball and spring training, but I hated that Sanchez pitched winter ball too. The only study I know of that measured effectiveness of pitchers after the WBC was done in season, and it was heavily disputed, but it did show a little correlation between pitching in the WBC and early season ineffectiveness.

I don’t want to be a negative nelly , but I’d almost rather see Lincecum pitch for the U.S. than see Sanchez throw for Puerto Rico. Almost. I mean, obviously not, but I trust Sanchez’s structural integrity less than anyone else on the staff.

Eh. This is making a mountain out of a pitching mound, I’m sure. It isn’t as if pitchers throw 120+ pitches in the exhibitions, and it isn’t as if the workload is dramatically different from regular spring schedules. Still, I wish Sanchez would take a couple of extra weeks to finish up his screenplay, or something. I like the WBC concept – even if sometimes I feel like that’s a minority position among baseball nerds – but I hope that Sanchez emerges unscathed.

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