As the Giants continue to surprise people in the National League early on, and the need for an offensive upgrade becomes more evident with each passing series, a lingering question is on the minds of Giants fans everywhere:
Who do we give up to make this team better?
And the main player who is deemed expendable by a majority of Giants fans, bloggers, and columnists?
A lot was expected from Sanchez after he rose up the minor leagues at a quick pace. While a low draft pick (he was picked up by the Giants in the 27th round in 2004), Sanchez dominated at Double A level and proved to be a strong lefty relief guy in his first couple of stints with the Giants.
However, as a starter the results have been mixed.
In his first full year as a starter last season, Sanchez put up a decent 9-12 record and recorded a 157 strikeouts. Unfortunately, his penchant for giving up big runs was evident on more than one occasion as he finished the year with a 5.01 ERA, far too high for a good starting pitcher.
And this season has been an utter disaster for Sanchez.
He is 2-8 with a 5.54 ERA, and his confidence on the mound has dipped so drastically that the Giants are actually thinking about skipping his next start in the rotation, and putting him back into the bullpen. If anything, he seems to be a repeat of Barry Zito from a year ago, only Sanchez isn't the number one starter, and isn't being payed in the hundreds of millions.
The worst part of Sanchez's disastrous start this year was that we felt if we were going to upgrade offensively, Sanchez would be the key cog in any deal. Now it doesn't look like we can even use him as a second or third player in a trade. After all, who wants a starting pitcher with shelled confidence and an ERA near six?
Sanchez has the tools to be a good starting pitcher and it is possible to think that a team might take a waiver on him thinking they might get an Oliver Perez-kind of pitcher.
The situation is very similar to Perez a couple of seasons ago: he was struggling mightily with Pittsburgh mentally and while he had the tools, many thought he was done in terms of being a decent pitcher. Yet he goes to New York, gets to be in a different environment, and actually becomes a solid pitcher for the Mets the following year during their 2007 playoff run.
Could that be the case with Sanchez? Maybe, maybe not; it is early and difficult to tell at this point because he is pitching so poorly right now.
But it begs Giants fans who are so desperate to get rid of him to ask themselves, are you willing to get rid of a pitcher who could potentially give the Giants a killer 1-2-3 punch next season in exchange for a player who may be with the organization for only half a season?
No question Sanchez has confidence issues and something needs to be done to get him back on track to the potential he was showing last season, in which he looked dominating on certain occasions.
However, his lack of trade value might actually be a blessing for the Giants. Maybe he can get through this and bounce back after the All-Star break or next season, when the Giants can really be serious contenders with a more active off-season, and not just surprise fringe contenders like they are this year.
And if (perhaps when) next year comes and Sanchez suddenly starts to show that 2007 Oliver Perez form (15 wins, 3.56 ERA, 174 strikeouts), we'll start to breathe a sigh of relief we didn't trade him away for a Shea Hillenbrand-esque player like we wanted back in June.