San Francisco Giants Acquire Freddy Sanchez: A High Price For a Solid Bat

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IJuly 30, 2009

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 13:  Freddy Sanchez #12 of the Pittsburgh Pirates stands ready at bat during the Opening Day game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on April 13, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The lunatic fringe had been clamoring for Giants GM Brian Sabean to make a deal for a second baseman and now, after paying a hefty price to get him, Freddy Sanchez is finally a San Francisco Giant.

Like the Garko trade, Sanchez was acquired for only one minor league player. It’s not surprising considering the Giants have a stacked system and don’t have any legit trade options at the major league level they are willing to part with.

The problem is that player wasn’t a surplus Single A left-handed pitcher like Scott Barnes—a player that didn’t have an immediate future in San Francisco. In the Sanchez trade, the Giants parted ways with somebody who could very well make an impact in 2010 and could be looked at as a long-term fixture in the Giants rotation.

That would be 20-year-old righty Tim Alderson.

This is the same Tim Alderson that won the ERA title in his first-full season as a professional in one of the most hitter-friendly leagues in the minors. The same Alderson, who, excluding his last three starts, was having a very good season at Double-A with fellow 2007 first-round draftee Madison Bumgarner.

In 249 professional innings, Alderson has walked just 51 batters and has a strikeout-to-walk ratio barely under four.

He’s 20 and has great command. You can’t teach that.

So straight up, the Giants flip their best pitching prospect behind Bumgarner for a good, not great, second baseman and No. 2 hitter?

It’s a pretty steep price to pay for a 31-year-old second baseman that is currently banged up, mired in a 3-for-34 slump, and doesn’t hit for much power at all.

That doesn’t mean this is a bad move when you look at the talent the Giants having coming in. They were direly searching for an answer at second base after trotting in five different players to start a game as Edgar Renteria’s double play partner.

Sanchez joining the ranks now brings stability to the lineup much like Garko does. He has a solid glove and very professional approach at the plate—the .300 career average and 2006 National League batting title show why he’s regarded that way.

But like basically every other Giants hitter, Sanchez doesn’t walk at all—something that Garko does do. Sanchez’s career-high total in walks is just 32 and that came the season after he played in 157 games and walked one-less time.

You would think that the Pirates would eat some of Sanchez’s remaining $2 million left this year for the price of acquiring a talent like Alderson, right?


The Giants are going to pay the whole kit-and-kaboodle of the contract. Sanchez also has a vesting option for 2010 if he reaches 600 plate appearances for a price tag of $8.1 million. As of right now, he’s barely going to reach that number.

It’s just the player that is going the other direction that has a lot of people scratching their head.

Alderson is the kind of pitching prospect you consider dealing for a power hitter, not a guy who basically hits it in the gaps.

We all understand there is a price to doing business, but trading away one of your big three prospects that was going to be up at some point next season is something that has numerous Giants fans scratching their head.

When a writer as good as Andy Baggarly says Alderson has the potential to be a frontline like he did in the 2008 version of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, I’m going to take his word for it.

If you look at the projected lineup Baggarly put together in the Handbook, Alderson is projected as the No. 4 starter—not exactly something you would make you think he’s very good.

Then you look at the guys in front of him in the projected rotation—Tim Lincecum, Bumgarner, Matt Cain—and you understand that he probably wouldn’t be just a normal guy to bring up the back end of the rotation.

So much for the four-headed monster starting rotation.

Sabean can say that the Giants made this trade because of organizational pitching depth, but no pitcher in the system not named Bumgarner has this kind of talent and at the same time, is close to being ready for the majors.

It’s just for some reason, no matter what Sanchez does, the Pirates got themselves a pretty nice pitcher who will make an impact pretty darn soon.

We were told that Bumgarner, Alderson, and Buster Posey—the batter of the future—were the only untouchables in the Giants system. Yet, for some reason, Freddy Sanchez changes how Sabean feels about him.

Guess Alderson wasn’t untouchable after all. I’m still scratching my head.


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