The day after GM Brian Sabean got a new two-year contract, it's only fitting that the two deadline deals that didn't exactly live up to the billing during the stretch drive.
With the clear need to add offense, Sabean hit the trade market in both the National and American League's Central Division, and reworking the entire right side of the infield.
Sabean acquired first baseman Ryan Garko from the Cleveland Indians for left-handed pitcher Scott Barnes and second baseman Freddy Sanchez from the Pittsburgh Pirates for right-handed pitcher Tim Alderson.
Well, we thought they would help. The two deadline acquisitions by Sabean combined for a .258 batting average, three home runs, and 19 RBI.
Not exactly what we had hoped for when we saw Alderson and Barnes heading in the other direction before the trade deadline.
We've been down this road before individually, but never as a group when the trades had just happened. Now with the season over, will the opinions of the deals that Sabean put through change?
When I heard Scott Barnes was traded for Ryan Garko, I applauded it as a typical Brian Sabean transaction. To be completely honest, I had no idea who Barnes was, and I had a pretty good idea of what the Giants would be getting with Garko.
He was a solid hitter with the Indians, and his reputation was one of a solid fielder who would hit around .280 and bop a couple home runs. I didn't expect him to be a huge part of a new offensive scheme, but I thought that he would at least contribute.
As for the Sabean aspect, Garko was someone that no one had linked the Giants to until the day of the deal. Sabean has been known to make these trades before (a la Randy Winn), and with my lack of knowledge about Barnes, I thought that it was a fair trade.
What I didn't realize was that Barnes was having a very good year in a stacked Giants system, and that Garko wouldn't mesh with Bruce Bochy at all.
Granted, when he first came over, he was obviously trying way too hard to impress his new team, and it showed, with woeful offensive numbers that if anything, made the Giants worse.
But his numbers against lefties were still very good, and I was surprised to see him pretty much absent from even the pinch-hitting roster at the end of the season.
In a final blow, Barnes, who was promoted to the Indians' Double-A affiliate after the trade, defeated his former team, the Connecticut Defenders, in the Eastern League Championship game, striking out seven in five innings. Ouch.
The Freddy Sanchez trade was one that I was much more speculative of. For starters, Tim Alderson and Madison Bumgarner were supposed to team up with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain to form the super-rotation Megazord of the future.
Second, Sanchez had a bum knee before the trade happened. Thirdly, the Pirates didn't assume ANY of Sanchez OR Alderson's contract.
For those three reasons, Brian Sabean should not be fired. He should, however, be kicked in the knee by someone. Someone small. And angry.
Sanchez is not a bad player. As Mike Krukow pointed out, you can't lead the league in hitting by accident, as Sanchez did in 2006.
He's a good defensive second-baseman and a definite upgrade over the light-hitting combo of Emmanuel Burriss (look for him in the future), Kevin Frandsen (can't fit in at the Major League Level), and Matt Downs (who?).
But is he worth a top-five pitching prospect in the organization? And worth $6 million PLUS Alderson's signing bonus of almost $2 million? I don't think so.
Unless Sanchez comes out next year for a reasonable amount of money and produces like the Giants need someone to out of that position, the Giants run the risk of this becoming one of the trades like the Nathan/Liriano trade, and looking very bad.
When the trades happened, I was somewhat split on them.
I had no problem with the Ryan Garko trade because even though it wasn't a spectacular trade for the bat the Giants needed, they gave up a surplus arm to get a proven major league hitter.
The arms the Giants had in their system at the time—Madison Bumgarner, Alderson, Henry Sosa and 2009 first round pick Zack Wheeler—and dealing Barnes wasn't really a big issue for me.
As we know, Garko struggled out of the gate after he put on the orange and black, which led to him finding a spot on the bench for the better part of September—even if it was a lefty pitcher on the mound.
Is it all on Garko? Most of it, but not all of it. Obviously, he is the man to blame for not hitting in his two months with San Francisco.
But Bruce Bochy can also be looked at as not giving him any chances until the Giants were basically out of contention in September to snap out of it.
That's the kind of manager Bochy is, though. He goes with the guys who are familiar to him, and Garko wasn't one of those players.
In terms of the Freddy Sanchez trade, I wasn't opposed to it in terms of who the Giants were getting (although there were some red flags in my mind), but who the Giants gave up to get him rubbed me the wrong way.
Even with his stuff not what it was a year ago and as a result, his stock taking a hit, I was still a fan of Tim Alderson. You don't put the kind of numbers he did in a league like the California League without doing something well. He wasn't touted as high as Bumgarner was coming into the year, but he was looked at as a pitcher who could contribute in the not-too-distant future.
Alderson's stock has slipped quite a bit in this season after a very good 2008 campaign. His seven starts after the trade for the Pirates' Double-A affiliate were nothing special at all with an ERA close to five.
For all the heat he gets, the young pitchers that Sabean has traded away over the years not named Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano over the years for vets for vets haven't amounted to much of anything. Can you name any of the pitchers that Sabean has traded over the years to amount to much of anything at all? Good luck trying.
Sanchez in all likelihood is going to be a Giant next season and then some. There is no way in hell they are going to trade Alderson for all of 25 games of Sanchez at second base and it's not like there's a big-time prospect making huge strides which calls for major playing in 2010.
I’m still not ready to jump off the Freddy Sanchez bandwagon. There were flashes of real promise there, which is all the more impressive given the nature/severity of his injuries. As long as he comes back and puts together his standard year, I think it was still a good move.
Granted, this also assumes the trajectory on Tim Alderson’s development has plateaued as has been indicated. I’ve said from the jump that—if Alderson turns into the pitcher we were sold on while he was burning through San Francisco Minor League system—then nothing Sanchez does would matter.
As for the Garko trade, wow.
The only thing that can turn this coal into a diamond is if Scott Barnes amounts to absolutely nothing. That’s a pretty uncharitable thing to wish on a young kid, but that’s the bed Sabean’s made for himself. If Barnes becomes even a decent middle reliever, this will be another bad blemish on Sabes’ growing résumé.
If Barnes turns into an ace or stopper out of the bullpen? Yikes. It becomes a hideous scar that you can’t take your eyes off of no matter how hard you try or how sorry you are for staring.