San Francisco Giants: 5 Players Who Should Have Been Traded at Their Peak
The San Francisco Giants are no different from most teams when it comes to determining the worth of their players. Teams are constantly evaluating their talent and deciding what is the best move to make in regards to each player.
Often teams will decide to trade a player that they have been frustrated with only to see him flourish with his new team, Joe Nathan comes to mind. Teams routinely hold on to players too long also, hoping that they have worked past their inconsistencies and have become solid contributors, only to learn that they should have looked to deal the player while they had the most value.
Sometimes teams ignore the obvious signs that a player will leave in free agency and instead of getting something in return for the player, they end up watching him walk away after his contract expires.
Here are five players the San Francisco Giants should have traded when they would have brought the most in return.
Marvin Benard was Aaron Rowand before Aaron Rowand was, well, Aaron Rowand. Benard enjoyed two years of success, and was rewarded after the 1999 season with what was at the time a fairly significant commitment by the Giants of three years and $11.1 million dollars.
After posting years of .322/.396/.434/.830 in 1998 and .290/.359/.451/.816 in 1999, Benard came back to Earth. He was about as consistent with his numbers over the next three years as he was in swinging at absurdly high fastballs at the plate.
His 2000 numbers of .265/.320/.439/.759 were OK, but not the numbers that justified a multi-year contract. In his final year with the Giants, in 71 at bats, Benard hit .197/.237/.268/.504, a mere shadow of what he produced at his peak.
The Giants were fooled into thinking that they had struck lightening in a bottle with the 50th round pick. Who knows if there was even a market for him after 1999, we will never know. The Giants did not care to find out though. Hindsight being what it is, the Giants should have tried to trade him instead of giving him the contract that they did.
Honestly, Andres Torres wasn't going to be traded after last year for a number of reasons. He had been the Giants' spark plug in 2010 and was under team control, keeping him relatively inexpensive. Fans had really identified with him during the World Series run and there would have been backlash if they had traded him.
Torres had only one decent year, 2010, at the big league level, so the return for him, if anything, would not have been worth entertaining.
Where the Giants made their mistake with Torres was hoping that he could repeat his career year in 2011, and not having a decent replacement for him, which is akin to not trading him when he was at his peak.
The Giants won't be giving Torres a long term contract ever, and the Andres Torres era in San Francisco will pass sometime next year with a World Series Championship to show for his one good year. Giants' fans will most likely take that.
I will start this slide by pointing out that in the early 1990s, there was not a bigger Will Clark fan anywhere than I. I would have been more devastated as a fan had the Giants traded him than I was when he walked as a free agent. Having said that, the Giants should have traded him.
Clark's final year as a Giant was 1993, Barry Bonds' first year on the team. From day one, it was clear that this was now going to be Bonds' team and there would not be room for both Bonds and Clark.
The 1993 season was one of the most epic ever with the Giants and Braves fighting until the final game of the year to decide who would represent the NL West in the playoffs. The Giants won 103 games that year and finished second to Atlanta's 104 wins.
When a team is fighting all season long to stay in a race, it is hard to trade one of your most productive players, potentially ruining your chances of competing.
Clark had hit .300/.384/.476/.860 in 1992 and finished 1993 hitting .283/.367/.432/.799. If any one player in his era was the epitome of consistency, it was Clark.
He could have brought a significant return had the Giants decided that they needed to receive something in return for him as opposed to letting him walk as a free agent.
A difficult decision to be sure, but if they knew that they were not going to re-sign him, they should have at least entertained the thought of trading him.
Jonathan Sanchez is a left handed pitcher with all of the talent in the world, and a severe lack of concentration at times. Sanchez was inconsistent, to put it mildly, during his first two-and-a-half seasons with the Giants. At times he was too wild to find the plate and other times he was nearly unhittable. On July 10, 2009 he actually was unhittable.
The consistently inconsistent pitcher put it all together that night, pitching the game of his life. Sanchez was so dominant that night that he seemed to justify the Giants' faith in him over the years.
From that day on, Sanchez was a different pitcher, and in fact finished the 2010 season with the lowest ERA out of all of the Giants qualified starters, 3.07. The Giants had to believe that they had finally reached him; he had finally matured into the pitcher that they always knew he could be if his head and his arm ever found a way to get into sync.
Sanchez reverted back to his old ways when he melted down in the biggest game of the 2010 season at that time, Game 6 of the NLCS in Philadelphia. That the Giants overcame Sanchez's implosion, and won that game and eventually the World Series, shows that they were indeed a team of destiny. His failure in that game should have told the Giants that the time was then to trade him.
The talented pitcher, who seemingly was mentioned in all trade rumors involving the Giants from the moment he arrived in San Francisco in 2006, and who owns a career strikeouts per nine innings ratio of 9.4, never had, nor will he ever have, the value that he had in the offseason between the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Sanchez's frustrating return to his pre-no hitter form in 2011 solidifies in my mind that the Giants should have done what they had long been rumored to be doing, and traded Jonathan Sanchez before the 2011 season.
I hope this isn't taken as a sign of disrespect for what Brian Wilson has accomplished in his Giants' career and the hard work and dedication that he puts into every day as the closer for this team. Brian Wilson is an elite closer and has been for a few years, but how long can that be expected to last?
Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman are few and far between, and a closer's effectiveness generally lasts four, maybe five years. Teams with these elite closers can only hope that they can take advantage of that dominance and win a World Series during their reign. The Giants did that, and then Wilson broke down the following year.
Wilson's effectiveness had not diminished before his injury. He was once again an All Star, and he actually had become more economical at times in his outings.
The fact that he ended the season with only two appearances over the final six weeks of the year, outings that raised more concern than alleviated fears, puts not only his status as the closer for 2012 in question, it also means that the Giants will have to have a backup plan in spring training.
If Wilson has not, or cannot, recover in time to pitch at the start of the season, the Giants will have a question mark at the end of the game for the first spring since the Armando Benitez era.
The Giants are not without options to close games. Santiago Casilla filled in admirably for Wilson at the end of 2011, and Sergio Romo had one of the best years that a reliever has ever had. I've long thought that Romo was the eventual successor to Wilson, and now it appears that an injury may force him into that position.
If the Giants had traded Wilson at the height of his worth, and put their faith in Sergio Romo, they could have received some promising, young hitting in exchange for him while not suffering too significantly at the back end of the bullpen.
Here's to hoping that Wilson fully recovers physically and returns to his dominant ways. If he does that, the Giants should trade him as soon as the market is favorable.