Last year's Freddy Sanchez projection was almost spot on. I started with this:
The most important stat to project for Freddy Sanchez is games played. His knees are filled with yogurt, and his shoulders are filled with granola. If medical science could just figure out a way to put his knees in his shoulders, it would be delicious.
But then I blew it with this:
So stupid. Overly optimistic by half. When he did play, he was Freddy Sanchez:
That is the most Freddy Sanchez line possible. Useful? Sure. Batting-average dependent? Yep. Punchless? Of course. Hinting at an injury or series of injuries? Naturally. Freddy Sanchez isn't a number, he's a free man!, but those numbers are most certainly Freddy Sanchez.
Which brings up the odd propaganda that the Giants are pushing this offseason. 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.
His shoulder didn't catch as he rolled, and he didn't leap six feet into the air and land on his shoulder. He did a very normal baseball thing, and his shoulder exploded. That's kind of a red flag. And now that we're talking about red flags and explosions, I want to play Minesweeper. Be right back.
So what do you do with a player like that? Nothing. There's nothing you can do. He's under contract, and when he's healthy, he'll be useful. What you do with a team that has a player like that, though, is make sure that you have a capable backup. If possible, the backup should be complementary, with a left-handed bat that can spell Sanchez early and often. And if Sanchez goes down -- or, when -- the backup should be okay to start. Not ideal, but acceptable.
Yet the Giants are a) expecting (or at least giving the impression that they're expecting) Sanchez to be a big part of the 2012 offense, and b) considering whether Mike Fontenot is worth the arbitration payday or not. This isn't a huge deal -- either Sanchez plays well or he doesn't, it doesn't matter what kind of quotes the front office will give about him -- it's just odd. Everything about this offseason has been odd. Except for thinking that Melky Cabrera is a lead-off hitter. That's just Giants.
Looking forward to having Sanchez back. He's been a good Giant -- one of the more likable players that I can remember. And while empty-average hitters get a bad rap, at least now we have the perspective of having watched Jeff Keppinger, an extreme empty-average hitter with the range of a tetherball. Sanchez sure looks like an organizational building block compared to that.
But the Giants shouldn't expect too much. They shouldn't expect anything, really. They should put Sanchez down for a repeat of last year's 200+ at-bat season, figure out where the offense can really improve, and treat anything more from Sanchez as a welcome surprise. Because if they don't, you're going to wake up one day and read a Giants lineup featuring Yuni Betancourt at short and Manny Burriss at second.
Welcome the return of Sanchez. Keep Fontenot. Don't expect too much. Anything else is just weird.