Acceptance. I will root for my contending San Francisco Giants Baseball Club, and I will root for them heartily. They’re a better team than yesterday’s group of misfits, and that’s a good thing.
Scouts still find it difficult to warm up to Alderson, however. "It's not an insult at all, he's a for-sure, big-league starting pitcher for me," said one scout who saw him recently, "but it's strictly back of the rotation for me," he added, while explaining that Alderson's backwards style of pitching is not one that is usually conducive to major league success. "That plus breaking ball is his calling card, and he's a guy with plus-plus control and average command, but he can't pitch off his fringy fastball, and you don't really see many changeups out of him."
At the time it was written, that passage was obviously untrue. Alderson did not have any flaws at that time. Now that he’s been traded away, though, the passage is certainly true. Alderson was obviously flawed. Schrödinger’s flaws! A month ago, I was rationalizing Alderson’s declining K-rate as a product of his youth. Now it’s obvious that his fastball will never allow him to be an All-Star. Having opinions is much easier when you don’t mind being inconsistent or hypocritical.
But my main point of discontent – that Alderson could have been used to acquire a more productive hitter – might be inaccurate. Brian Sabean might have used Alderson as bait for a guy like Victor Martinez, only to be told flatly, "No. We will not accept Alderson as a centerpiece." Maybe there are 15 teams who still believe Alderson is a top-50 prospect, and maybe 14 of them are within a couple of games of the wild card/division lead. The second wave of reaction to the deal, in which a couple of learned folks tried to soften the "top prospect"-hyperbole surrounding Alderson, is undercutting a lot of my argument. And that’s fine with me. I don’t want to be filled with rage.
What’s still killing me, though, is that Bengie Molina is our cleanup hitter now. He was our cleanup hitter last season. In between, Alderson probably could have helped the situation. Going over the offseason trades and a list of teams that probably considered themselves non-contenders, there really isn’t an "I wish the Giants were in on that" potential deal. Maybe Dan Uggla could have been a Giant if Alderson were available in November, but Sanchez has been better than Uggla this year. In retrospect, trading for Alderson for Miguel Tejada probably would have been a solid move, especially if it meant avoiding the $18M S.S. Renteria boondoggle, but I think blood would have shot out of my eyes if such a trade went down. So maybe it’s a little unfair
Another thing that still kills me: I’m one of the 5% who still think that Kevin Frandsen will have a couple of Freddy Sanchez-type years yet. I would have liked to have been proven wrong. About seven people thought Manny Burriss could be an acceptable MLB hitter as soon as this year: two of them cash checks with a Giants logo on them, and most of the rest share DNA with Burriss. The best in-house option for second base was playing shortstop in Fresno (you know, because he didn’t have the defense for second), and the best outside options for second base weren’t really considered. Not to mention, Freddy Sanchez could have been had for a bag of Tim Alderson's fingernail clippings last offseason.
I’m not as upset as I was yesterday. I’m not sure I’m even still upset. The main points stand, and I’ll keep repeating them until they revoke my soapbox:
- The Giants have problems scoring runs because they don’t get on base and they don’t hit for power, and they traded for a player who doesn’t address either of those needs. Well, he does, but only in the sense that he’s replacing a series of comically overmatched hitters.
- The Giants probably overvalue Freddy Sanchez because he usually has a high batting average. That just shouldn’t happen in 2009. It’s like planning a vacation around the sun’s rotation of the Earth. Maybe I’m wrong with this assumption, but judging by the number of times ".300 hitter" came up in yesterday’s press conference, I don’t think so.
- I would have rather have traded for Felipe Lopez or Marco Scutaro, holding on to Alderson while his stock is down. Teams willing to eat salary usually aren’t paying retail.
- Freddy Sanchez is a good player, and I’m glad he’s on the team both this year and next.