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Evaluating the Freddy Sanchez extension

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It’s hard to get worked up about the Freddy Sanchez deal. The trade was a debacle, and it’s not an insignificant amount of money to pay an oft-injured, middle-of-the-pack second baseman. But if I’m going to spend the rest of the offseason arguing that the Giants would be nuts to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on name-brand free agents like Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, it would be disingenuous to claim that Sanchez’s $8M is going to prevent the Giants from getting a better player. I don’t want them to get a better player. Better players will cost more money or Bumgarners than they should this offseason. Keep the money and prospects; one player isn’t going to fix the team for the $8M we’re giving to Sanchez.

So that leaves two schools of thought on Sanchez’s deal:

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  • He’s a good player, especially when you factor in defense, and he’s a measurable improvement over the roster litter that’s been starting for the Giants since Ray Durham left.
  • The Giants need help getting on base and hitting for power, which are two things that Sanchez doesn’t do well.

I lean toward the former, with a definite caveat. The 2010 Giants will have a better starting baseman on Opening Day than the 2009 Giants did. I like that thought. It’s discouraging to judge a roster move based on how awful the previous roster construction was. Would I prefer to sleep with a dead goat or a live goat? Well, the real answer is "no," but if I had to choose one with a gun to my head, I go with the live goat. Maybe dress it up with a wig, some nice pearls, and fishnet goat stockings, but that doesn’t mean that I like sleeping with live goats. It’s just a better option than dead goats. You’d need, like, two strings of pearls to make that viable, and then you’re spending more money than you’d like, what with the price of pearls these days, and it’s silly to think that faux pearls are an acceptable substitute, because c’mon.

But I digress…

It’s still fair to look at Sanchez, though, and say he’s better than what we had. The Giants sure had a lot of players who weren’t qualified to start in a major league lineup last year. Sanchez doesn’t belong in that group. Baby steps.

The biggest problem with Sanchez is that it’s another option down. The Giants have one less lineup spot that isn’t going to feature a hitter with an above-average on-base percentage or slugging percentage. That doesn’t make Sanchez a bad option. It’s just one less option.

If the Giants are going to get creative, they’re going to have to take the Southern California approach to roster construction. Both the Dodgers and the Angels made the playoffs. Neither Juan Pierre nor Gary Matthews, Jr. started a playoff game, even though they were given close to a combined $100M in ill-advised contracts. If the Giants are serious about scoring more runs, they can’t just say, "Well, Renteria (or Rowand, for that matter) is penciled into the lineup. I mean, he’s penciled in. Look, right there: a name written in pencil." They’re going to need to keep their options open if they’re going to fill spots with players like Sanchez – good players who aren’t going to help an offense a whole lot.

I’m doubtful that’s how they’re looking at it, though. I’m think they’ve just dusted off their hands, beaming with the knowledge that the Giants re-signed a man who once led the entire league in batting average. You know, like Al Oliver. That’s the first step to fixing the offense: get that batting average up!

So if you want to know why "meh" is the overwhelming response, there it is. Good player, but the overall problems haven’t really been addressed.