Giants Round Table: Acquisition Aftermath? More of the Same from Brian Sabean?
Okay, Giants fans, this is it. We’re in August. The deadline is behind us, and players have been exchanged. There are new faces all over the league and plenty of big names that are in new zip codes.
Two of those new guys are in San Francisco, with Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Garko added to the team and Scott Barnes and Tim Alderson shipped out.
Now that the dust has settled, I asked the fellow Community Leaders to comment on the fallout of these deals.
After retooling the minor league system and promoting the youth movement, did Brian Sabean revert to his old self, dealing great pitching prospects for decent veteran hitters? Or is this the new Sabean in disguise?
Who gets the short end of the stick with the acquisitions? With the solidifying of second base (a la Sanchez), Emmanuel Burriss and Kevin Frandsen are no longer the second basemen of the future for this team. Who feels that worse?
All these questions will be answered, and remember, you can always suggest questions for us to answer by going to the San Francisco Giants fan page and clicking on Contact Evan or Danny or Andrew. Enjoy!
When looking at the trades that the Giants made before the trading deadline, you couldn't help but think that these were typical Brian Sabean moves.
In his tenure as Giants GM, Sabean has always preferred the proven veterans to the young kids in the system. There's no denying that this is true about Sabean, and that most of the time he hasn't seen the minor league talent sent in the other direction push the brink of superstardom.
That's why you have to think that there was something that Sabean saw in the two pitchers he dealt, especially Tim Alderson, that makes you think more of the same kind of evaluations have taken place.
The difference with these moves is that both of them are viewed as trades that will be utilized beyond 2009. There are no rent-a-players, a la Shea Hillenbrand or Sidney Ponson, like there were earlier this decade.
Garko is under the Giants' control until 2012 and has already shown that he is the best option at first base that there is in San Francisco.
Because Garko is going to be with the Giants going into next season, and most likely beyond, they don't have to rush prized prospect Angel Villalona.
They can let Big V develop in the minors, learn some much-needed discipline at the plate, and then, when 2011 or 2012 rolls around, take stock in what is going to happen when Garko is finally eligible to hit the open market.
There is an obvious trickle-down effect with the acquisition of Sanchez at second base.
Even if he said he doesn’t hit the 600 plate appearances needed to automatically enact the $8.1 million vesting option for next season, Sabean has said that Sanchez is going to be back. That’s certainly huge for Sanchez, but not for the guys who were competing for the job at the beginning of the season.
Kevin Frandsen seemingly is going to be riding the bus between Fresno and San Francisco as long as he is in the Giants organization. The Giants don’t view him as a regular player, and wherever you stand on him not getting his shot at a regular job, the acquisition of Sanchez seemingly puts an end to him having a long-term future with the Giants.
It’s a different situation for Community Leader favorite Emmanuel Burriss, who is younger and probably the better all-around player then Frandsen.
Burriss has what few other young Giants infielders have—speed to burn and a great glove. And because Edgar Renteria’s contract is up after next season, there could still be a chance that Burriss finds himself at his natural position of shortstop.
But for now, Burriss is rehabbing after having season-ending surgery on his injured foot a few weeks ago.
The best thing this trade has brought to the team, no matter if you weren’t a supporter of who they traded to get Garko and Sanchez, is that the everyday lineup is now consistent.
Bruce Bochy can basically pen Sanchez into the No. 2 hole every game and Garko at first just as much. Little Pronk may find himself in a different spot in the order depending on who is pitching, but he’s going to get basically all the at-bats based on how he has done so far.
My personal opinion is that the deadline dealing is enough to get the Giants into the postseason.
What they do lack in a pure cleanup hitter is what they now have in pure intangibles at the plate. The Giants now have two hitters who have great approaches at the plate.
Remember—the Giants weren’t supposed to contend this year. I’ve said numerous occasions that .500 would’ve been perfectly fine with me.
Now that they’re a year ahead of schedule, things are just being accelerated, but the big vision on long-term success is still there.
(In regard to who gets the short end of the stick) I gotta believe the answer here is Kevin Frandsen.
The acquisition of Ryan Garko obviously puts a crimp in the development of Travis Ishikawa, but the big fella from my alma mater feels more like a single-season band-aid than a long-term commitment. I expect Ishikawa to get more serious run once the tension of jostling for postseason position settles.
Freddy Sanchez, on the other hand, feels like another building block in the foundation.
I think we all expect Brian Sabean and management to make a strong push to secure the former Pittsburgh Pirate beyond the 2010 season, which I believe is either a club option or a guaranteed year.
It seems unlikely Sabes would burn Tim Alderson for a year-and-a-half of the second baseman, especially given the start Freddy’s had in the Orange and Black.
He’s only 31, and based on his position, as well as the type of player he is, you’d expect Sanchez to remain highly productive at least until 35. That means the second sack should be locked down, and the youngsters will have to move elsewhere.
Eugenio Velez has already started collecting other gloves.
Emmanuel Burriss can always be moved to shortstop (which is where many of us thought he should be playing this year, alongside Orlando Hudson...). He still has options once he returns from his foot surgery.
Unfortunately, Frandsen looks screwed—he doesn’t seem well-suited for short, and he doesn’t hit well enough to force him into the lineup anywhere else. It’s too bad because he’s always been a good dude, but Major League Baseball can be cruel.
At first blush, I thought this was business as usual for Sabean, and consequently a regression to the ugly days of jettisoning young talent for high risk/low reward veterans.
The Scott-Barnes-for-Ryan-Garko trade didn’t bother me because Barnes was so slight a blip on the prospect radar. But shipping Alderson—the No. 2 pitching blue-chipper, after everyone’s wunderkind Madison Bumgarner—to Pittsburgh really looked dumb to me.
I was wrong.
If Alderson blossoms into a dominating ace, that would obviously be unfortunate.
However, the more I see Freddy Sanchez, the more I like the idea of having the guy around for the next several years. I still don’t think he changes the Giants’ 2009 postseason chances too drastically, but he’s a savvy acquisition, even as a cog in the accelerated rebuilding process.
The young right-hander might have been a steep price to pay, but as others have pointed out, Sanchez is a known commodity, and San Francisco does have a wealth of pitching.
He doesn’t bring much power, but that’s why the future horizon is relevant—if it’s a smart move for the long-term plan, Sanchez's lack of what most ails the Giant offense is less of a fly in the ointment.
Ultimately, I do think it’s consistent with this season’s philosophy despite being a riskier adaptation. The plan appeared to be to rely on pitching and defense as the organization matured toward a coming-out party as early as 2010. If they caught lightning in a bottle, then wonderful—but don’t sacrifice the future to do so.
While a bit more of the future was sacrificed than originally seemed likely, the core is still intact, and San Francisco now has a bigger bottle with which to grab some lightning.
The acquisitions of Garko and Sanchez changed the starting right side of the infield overnight.
Albeit that those two positions had changed many times over the course of the season, with Burriss, Frandsen, Matt Downs, and Juan Uribe making starts at second base, and John Bowker, Pablo Sandoval, Ishikawa, Jesus Guzman, and Rich Aurilia getting time at first base.
But the Sanchez trade has great implications for the Giants. As stated by my fellow writers, Sanchez is not a rent-a-player. The Giants are sure to exercise his 2010 option and might even talk about a long-term extension. He should continue to be a solid hitter and above-average second baseman well into his 30s.
Agreeing with the other two writers on this Round Table, this might spell the end for Kevin Frandsen. Frandsen, who has tried to get in anywhere he can (playing second, short, third, and left field for the Giants), just didn’t have the magic this year that he did last year.
When Burriss went down, it seemed only natural that Frandsen would be the one to come up and replace him...but his .128 average was far from an improvement over Burriss and his .238 clip.
Again, as stated before, Burriss has a couple advantages working for him. First, he’s younger.
Frandsen is 27 and running out of both time and options, while Burriss is 24.
Second, he’s fast.
Speed doesn’t slump, as the saying goes, and even though Burriss did have a low average, he has the ability to bunt for base hits and steal, two things that Franny just couldn’t do.
Third, he’s proven at another position.
With the departure of Omar Vizquel, it looked like Burriss was the choice to inherit the shortstop job, with the support of Sabean...until he changed his mind and signed Edgar Renteria.
But coming off foot surgery, Burriss has the chance to head up through the minors again next year, playing shortstop and getting back in that groove. That way, in 2011, when Renteria’s contract expires, Burriss will be ready to take over again.
Stop for a second and imagine an infield of Pablo Sandoval, Emmanuel Burriss, Freddy Sanchez, and Ryan Garko/Travis Ishikawa at first. That’s a solid defensive combination, and not too shabby on the offensive side either.
On Sabean’s philosophy with this year, I have to again echo the sentiment. It looks like typical Sabean on the surface, but if you look at these track records of both Sanchez and Garko, and the depth of the pitching in the system, they are very, very current with the Giants Way.
These two guys are not over 35 (Marquis Grissom, Ellis Burks), nor are they rent-a-players (Shea Hillenbrand), nor do they have character issues (A.J. Pierzynski).
They’re under team control, stable in the head, good clubhouse presences, and actually fit in with the rest of the team. In his first game with the Giants, it took all of two innings for Garko to sidle up to Tim Lincecum in the dugout and chat like they’d been teammates for the whole year.
They also play the kind of baseball that the Giants have been having success with this season. Both have the ability to hit one out, but they also have high OBPs and averages and have a knack for finding gaps or hitting RBI singles that keep an inning alive.
That’s why Sabean didn’t make a mistake this year with these trades, and that’s why these two will be with the team for the next couple years, helping them get even more competitive.
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