Why Brian Sabean's Trades Put Pressure On Phenom Buster Posey

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJuly 31, 2009

Within the last four days, the San Francisco Giants have acquired a new first-baseman in Ryan Garko and a new second-baseman in Freddy Sanchez. However, during that span their have been articles written arguing both sides of the new acquisitions.

There are those who feel that these trades are absolutely horrible moves which hinder the progression of San Francisco's farm system and yet there are also those who think these moves were vital for the playoff chase.

However, these moves were neither horrible nor vital. Clearly the Giants needed an upgrade at second base but is Freddy Sanchez the guy who can put this team over the top? No he's not. Was he worth phenom AA pitcher Tim Alderson? No, he probably isn't, but at the same time, the Giants filled a hole in their lineup with this move.

Plus, when you take a look at the Giants' rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez, Ryan Sadowski and future starters Kevin Pucetas and top prospect Madison Bumgarner, where does Alderson fit in?

I mean it is just like when we were all kids, if you have 10 starbursts and 0 gummy worms, you would be willing to exchange some of your starbursts (but keep your favorite flavored ones) for a couple of gummy worms wouldn't you? 

In the Giants' situation, they gave up their second favorite type of starburst (Alderson) but kept their favorite type (Bumgarner) in exchange for a gummy worm. Would they have made this deal if the only had one starburst? Definitely not, because clearly starbursts are more valuable than gummy worms.

Therefore, saying the Sanchez trade is "dumb" is a bit of a stretch. The Giants needed a second baseman and they went out and filled their need without giving up talent that projected to be a difference maker on their roster.

Consequently, the statement that Alderson would be "the Bumgarner" if there were no "Bumgarner" makes absolutely zero sense because the Giants do have Bumgarner. Why would any corporation do business acting as if they didn't have a valued piece of equipment that everyone knew belonged to them?

However, although Sanchez brings more value to the Giants than Alderson, making this move hinders the Giants' abilities to trade for a premier power hitter.

No matter what a few odd ball fans may think, Ryan Garko is not the answer to the Giants power outage issues. Garko is an average defensive first-baseman at best, and still doesn't have enough pop to replace Bengie Molina as the Giants cleanup hitter. If Garko can't even bump the league's worst cleanup hitter from the No. 4 spot, why then should Giants fans expect him to provide the power this lineup has been missing?

Listen, Garko is not a bad player, he is an offensive upgrade over Ishikawa but the former everyday starter for the Giants is by far the better defensive first-baseman. But therefore, knowing Ishikawa's defensive prowess, how much of an actual upgrade is this move? Not much, not much at all.

Therefore, despite both trades being a quick fix and making the current Giants team a much better all around ball club, the prospects given up could have been packaged together to make a better deal.

Giants fans need to face the facts. Their current pitching staff is amongst the best in baseball if not the best. Even without Madison Bumgarner and the rest of the talented arms in the minor leagues, the Giants look to have one of the league's top staffs for years to come.

However, since Barry Bonds' departure, the Giants do not have the cornerstone everyday player that every team needs in order to truly compete year after year.

To be fair, Buster Posey (the top position prospect in the Giants' system) is projected to become one of those "cornerstone" type of players. However, to expect the current Fresno Grizzly to take over the starting catcher position and hit cleanup in his first season is asking an awful lot of a rookie.

Plus, even if Posey's numbers during his prime are equivalent of a cleanup hitter, the Giants may not want to hit him in that spot because of the wear and tear catcher's take on a daily basis.

The Giants are currently already suffering the consequences of a lineup that has its main No. 4 hitter as its catcher. Numerous games throughout the year have come without the prototypical lineup because Molina hits in the cleanup position.

Now although Posey is going to hit no lower than sixth when he takes over starting catching duties, the Giants will still be in need of some major pop in their lineup.

With Molina most likely on his last year with the Giants, (seeing that Posey is taking his position) who is going to hit cleanup next season? You can count out any free-agent acquisition from hitting in that spot because the Giants won't be able to out-bid other clubs for the services of a marquee hitter.

So then what? Ryan Garko at cleanup? Nate Schierholtz at cleanup? With Pablo Sandoval seemingly set in stone at the No. 3 spot in the lineup, Posey may be forced into the cleanup role in his rookie year.

Is that what the Giants are planning on? A rookie to hit cleanup? Look, I am as big of a Buster Posey fan as anyone out there but it seems apparent that the Giants are banking on him to be the next Evan Longoria (.272/.343./.531, 27 HR, 85 RBI in just 122 games a rookie in 2008).

But the chances of that happening are extremely low. With Posey having much more on his hands in terms of learning how to catch at the big league level, expecting his power numbers to surface right away is a tad unrealistic.

So with the vast majority of Giants fans expecting to "really compete" come 2010, I ask, "Where is the power going to come from?".

The pitching may be enough to contend all season long next year (much like this year) but unlike the hated Dodgers, the Giants won't have quality power in the middle of their lineup.

But instead of giving up a couple prospects (Tim Alderson and Scott Barnes) for solid players in Garko and Sanchez, they could have packaged a handful of prospects for a difference maker.

A package including 4-5 of the following prospects: Alderson, Barnes, Angel Villalona, Emmanuel Burriss, Nick Noonan, Henry Sosa, Thomas Neal, Roger Kieschnick, Brandon Crawford, and Kevin Pucetas could have been dealt for a single player who offers much more to the Giants than either Sanchez or Garko.

Some sort of combination of those prospects would have been enough for a Matt Holliday/Victor Martinez/Jermaine Dye/Adrian Gonzalez type of player. It is simply fact that the Giants need a player of this caliber even with Posey in the wings.

Make no ands/ifs/or buts about it, the Giants need a cornerstone player. No matter if it would take the top five prospects in that aforementioned group to acquire one of those players, it would have been worth it.

To put things in perspective going into 2010, just look at the projected top two hitters and top two pitchers of next year's playoff contenders in the National League.


Hitters: Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Pitchers: Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright


Hitters: Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley


Hitters: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pitchers: Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels


Hitters: Derek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Pitchers: Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden


Hitters: Todd Helton, Brad Hawpe, Pitchers: Jason Marquis, Ubaldo Jimenez


Hitters: Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Pitchers: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain

Both Sandoval and Posey are extremely young and with Posey being a rookie next year, the Giants will have the least amount of offense of all the contending teams. Yes Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are arguably better than each of the other contending teams' top two pitchers but not by enough to compensate for how much better lineups the other contending teams can put on the field.

Therefore, San Francisco fans who had hoped to compete in 2010 without trading away prospects are kidding themselves if they think the Giants will be on par with the other contending teams.

However, if the Giants had used prospects like Alderson and Barnes in a deal to acquire a cornerstone player instead of two mediocre/solid players, then the Giants would be on par with those other contending clubs when it comes to offense.

Imagine a Giants lineup that looked like this: Sandoval, Holliday, Posey, Schierholtz or this: Sandoval, Gonzalez, Posey, Schierholtz.

A lineup like that to go along with a rotation of Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner? Please, that could arguably be the best team in the league.

But instead, Sabean has decided to roll the dice and expect his young pitching to carry the team for years to come without a legitimate power source.

The Giants are set for the next few years with plenty of star bursts, and they now have traded for a few gummy worms but if you don't have a piece of pizza to fill your stomach, what does any of it matter?


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