Right now, Hunter Pence is known as a Giant who gives a good speech but swings a weird stick. There's still a chance he can add to that legacy, though. There was some thought the Giants would non-tender Pence to save some clams, but when Jerry Crasnick caught up with Brian Sabean at the GM meetings in Palm Springs, Sabean was completely unambiguous about Pence's future:
"Pence is going to be coming back," Sabean said at the general managers' meetings. "We think there are some things he can do to fix what went wrong this year. We like the player. We made a big trade to get him, and he's going to be a Giant next year."
There were two obstacles to Pence coming back:
a. He spent the second half of the season chasing sliders like he was Aaron Rowand in a sensory-deprivation tank.
b. He'll probably make something like $14 million in his last year of arbitration.
We all watched the first part for months, which makes the second part seem a little risky. And it still is. You can buy some good baseballing for $14 million. That's not a price point at which a team should take risks.
But even though we watched Pence flail and flutter at breaking balls, he's usually a reasonably productive hitter. I think we're all aware that his 2011 was a fluke, but I'm also not ready to write him off because of 2012. Give me the Pence from 2009 and 2010, who would still be overpaid and overextended in the middle of the order, but still a valuable piece of the lineup.
Beats ditching him and finding out in January that the only player returning your calls is Don Kelly, I guess. And, oh, how the Giants were able to do that sort of thing in the past. It's paying $35,000 for a Civic because you know you aren't getting the Maserati, and you're scared you'll get stuck with the Aspire. Also, instead of $35,000, it's several million, and instead of cars, it's this guy:
Pence will be back. That's good for my business, at least. Don't know about yours.