Freddy Sanchez is an upgrade. The Giants have received less production from their second basemen than any other team has received out of any position. With Ryan Garko and Sanchez on the team, 20% of the lineup went from "yick" to "meh?", which is a pretty substantial move.
But this was an awful, stupid, and unbelievably short-sighted move. Bengie Molina is on pace to become one of the worst cleanup hitters in the last 50 years. Think about how special that is. A lot of people have stunk in the last half-century, but we're watching one of the greatest stinks in the history of stink. As such, a productive-for-his-position second baseman and a productive-for-his-new-team first baseman isn't the boiling water to our contending-flavored ramen. The Giants needed someone who would have pushed Molina out of the cleanup spot.
...but getting a real power hitter would have cost the Giants one of their top prospects... So went the refrain, and a lot of Giants fans were fine with that. Hey, Matt Holliday's a nice player, but we sure as heck aren't going to give up Tim Alderson for him. Like, pshaw. Find me a legitimate slugger that's available without giving up Madison Bumgarner, Angel Villalona, Buster Posey, or Alderson, and that's the move to make. That slugger doesn't exist? Well, then we'll just hang on to our top four prospects, thank you. The angriest of the angry -- the "Sabean had better trade for a bat or I am THROUGH with this team" types -- generally didn't have a name in mind; they were thinking of an archetype that wasn't available.
Sanchez is a nice player. Good defense. His one down year was probably due to a low BABIP. He's under contract through next year. Yeah, that's an upgrade worth trading for. But, good gravy, not with one of the more valuable trade chips in the system.
And I'm not the world's biggest Tim Alderson booster, either. He'd have to put a couple of ticks more on his fastball to really be an elite prospect, though his curve and control were already fantastic. I don't think he was the next Tim Lincecum, and I'm not even sure that he was the next Jason Marquis. What kills me, though, is that if the Giants were willing to trade Alderson, they could have traded for something they really needed. A hitter who knows how to get on base more than the average player, or a hitter with power. Sanchez is neither. He makes the lineup better, but, hey, you know who else would have made the lineup better? Felipe Lopez. You know, the guy whom the Brewers received for a couple of minor league tweaks. And then the Giants could have traded Alderson for another hitter. A Scott Barnes/Tim Alderson package wouldn't have been enough for Victor Martinez, but it would have been a heck of a start.
But we didn't really even think Martinez was a real possibility, as that would have meant that the Giants give up one of their best prospects. Heck, that wasn't going to happen.
The Giants are a better team today than they were yesterday. The Giants are still very, very, very unlikely to survive three playoff series with the current roster, and that's assuming that they even make the playoffs. Both things can be true. Don't try and talk yourself into this one. The only way this trade earns more than a D- is if the Giants keep their remaining prospects while adding someone who pushes Bengie Molina to the sixth or seventh spot in the lineup.
Another way the trade is a success is if the Giants win the World Series within the next two years. Then it will be the best trade ever. I'll just hold my breath for that one.
Dammit. I think that, other than Alderson's value as a trade chip being totally undersold, the thing that makes me the angriest right now is that I'm almost certain that the words ".300 hitter" kept rattling around in Brian Sabean's brain. "Can I really pass up a .300 hitter? For a pitching prospect? I mean, the pitching is strong right now, and there's only one .300 hitter on the team right now. Another .300 hitter would be worth, like, five more wins, at least." Using batting average to evaluate the worth of a hitter is like using an Apple II+ to do your taxes, and I'm almost sure it's going on in the Giants' front office. Just a guess, of course, but it's not as if there's any evidence to the contrary.
Also, I believe that the Giants overpaid for Freddy Sanchez. I'll cheer his at-bats, and I'm still excited to watch an improved team make a playoff run, but this is just...wow.