Jonathan Sanchez didn't die, but his career did. It was taken to the underworld, and it gave coins to Charon to cross the River Styx. Which isn't that sad, when you think about it. Sanchez threw a no-hitter and helped his team win a World Series, which is more of a legacy than you would normally find with 99 percent of everyone who has ever been paid to play baseball. He had his moments, and they were occasionally seized. Good work, young man.
There is news, however. There is an update. Sanchez's career might have struck a deal with the gods. It might be climbing out of the underworld right now.
The last we saw sanchez, he was walking six batters for every nine innings he pitched, and he wasn't missing nearly as many bats. Then he went to the Royals, where he was worse, then the Rockies, where he was even worse, then the Pirates, where he was even worse. He pitched two-thirds of an inning for the Cubs' Triple-A team last year, and his ERA was 67.50. So.
But he rallied for a 2.72 for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican league. Sure, he walked 20 in 36 innings, but his strikeouts were back and he allowed just one home run. He'll probably get a minor-league invite somewhere, and we're all pulling for him back at the office.
What would a Jonathan Sanchez comeback story look like?
Oh, stop that. It's January, and we're supposed to be optimistic about things. Here are three other left-handed pitchers whose careers crawled back from the underworld.
The obvious comp for Sanchez, even while they were still active. They had stuff. They didn't have command. Then the stuff slipped and the command got worse, and they each fell into the river of molten baseball lava that flows under every pitcher.
Perez came back, though. He walked 100 in 112 innings (!) between 2009 and 2010, bounced back a little in Double-A the next year, and then became a reliable, quality late-inning reliever. He's been a solid first lefty out of the bullpen since 2012, and he turned that into a multi-year contract.
From 2009-2011, he was a baseball afterthought. Then he was Alan Embree. There's no reason to expect the same from Sanchez, but it at least should keep him from feeling hopeless.
Along with Ryan Vogelsong, one of the greatest renaissance stories of the decade. He was better than Sanchez ever was, though, so the comparison isn't perfect. Kazmir made the All-Star Game twice, and he had an impressive three-season run of success in his early 20s that Sanchez couldn't touch.
But his career was definitely an ex-career at one point. In 2012, he faced Travis Denker, Pedro Feliz, and Timo Perez in the Atlantic League. All of them had above-average offensive numbers at the time, even though the latter two were 37. This is because it was the Atlantic League. In that context, where Travis Denker hits like an MVP, Kazmir was completely ineffective. That is a step beyond a platinum-selling band playing the county fair. That's the county fair not even calling.
Then he accepted a minor-league invite with the Indians, and now he's rich and on the Dodgers. Hopefully he'll fail spectacularly, but it's nothing personal.
There's no reason to expect the same from Sanchez, but it at least should keep him from feeling hopeless.
Here be lowered expectations, but not in a bad way. Gorzelanny was never a stuff guy, at least not compared to any of the pitchers above, but he was effective for the Pirates when he threw more than 200 innings for them in 2007. Then he was awful the year after that, with Sanchez-like command, and while his control improved the next season, his run-prevention didn't, and he kicked around the majors for a bit.
Then he joined the Cubs in middle relief, and he was okay. Then he was okay with the Nationals before he was okay with the Brewers.
Tom Gorzelanny, fans of those teams might say, was pretty okay.
Maybe one day, same fans might say the same thing about perfectly competent middle reliever Jonathan Sanchez.
Now, I'm not saying the Giants should be that team. They already spent their raffle money on Mike Kickham, and that's just fine. But baseball can get a lot weirder than a renaissance from Jonathan Sanchez. A lot weirder. There are three names that prove it.
Don't bother to think of the counterexamples of lefties with inferior command who just kind of floated away, like Ricky Romero, Damian Moss, Shawn Estes, Jo-Jo Reyes, Ron Villone, Jimmy Anderson, Jeriome Robertson, Dontrelle Willis, Chris Narveson, Horacio Ramirez, John Koronka, Scott Olsen, Jim Parque, Scott Schoeneweis, and, well, that's not the point.
Jonathan Sanchez made an all-star team in the Puerto Rican Winter League, and we should root for his continued comeback. This sentiment applies to everyone on a roster in 2010, 2012, or 2014, except for maybe Jose Guillen. These continued best wishes are but a small price to pay as a fan who has been given so much.