Freddy Sanchez's Surgery Cripples San Francisco GM Brian Sabean's Return

Kevin O'BrienCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Freddy Sanchez #21 of the San Francisco Giants hits a single in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger stadium on September 18, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)

With this being the last year of GM Brian Sabean's contract, owner Bill Neukom is faced with a very tough decision.

Does he stick with the GM who has been at the helm of the Giants' front office since 1997? Or does he go a different route with somebody else calling the shots when it comes to personnel decisions?

As far as I'm concerned, everything Sabean has done (or that has occurred as a result of his decisions in the past) after the All-Star break shows why Neukom should go in a different direction next year when it comes to taking or declining Sabean's option.

First off, Sabean pulled the trigger on trading for Cleveland's Ryan Garko, who has done relatively nothing in his tenure in San Francisco, as evidenced by his .233 batting average and only two home runs in 113 plate appearances as a Giant. (It also should be noted that both his home runs came in the same game and at Coors Field.)

Secondly, Edgar Renteria has been a tremendous, and classic, Sabean bust. This is only magnified by Juan Uribe's season, which may be his best offensive year since 2005, when he helped the Chicago White Sox to a World Series title.

Not only has Uribe been better than Renteria this year in almost every offensive category despite 98 fewer at-bats, but he also came seven million dollars cheaper.

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Just imagine what the Giants could have done with an extra seven million dollars to spend had they not wasted it on Renteria.

Next, Angel Villalona, a highly prized prospect a couple of years ago who Sabean sold Giants fans on as being the future of the post-Bonds era, not only has tanked on the field (he had only a .267 average, .303 OBP, nine home runs, and 42 RBI in 310 PA in Single-A San Jose this year), but now also is a suspect in a murder case in the Dominican Republic.

Villalona's future seems closer to Ugueth Urbina than Miguel Cabrera, and even then, at least Urbina had SOME time in the Major Leagues.

Lastly, Freddy Sanchez, who was traded for No. 2 pitching prospect Tim Alderson, may be shut down for the year after reports, via the Giants web site, that his knee will need surgery.

If anything, Sanchez's impending knee surgery should be enough for Neukom to send Sabean packing. Everybody knew there were some questions with Sanchez's health before the trade deadline, but Sabean "examined" Sanchez and assured Giants fans he was healthy enough to make an impact during the August-September run.

Well...Sanchez, despite a solid debut, has barely made a dent on this Giants team. He has only played in 25 games—not exactly what Giants fans expected when Sabean traded Alderson for him.

To make matters worse, with Sanchez most likely not reaching the number of plate appearances he needs to activate his 2010 option, the Giants will need to renegotiate with him on a contract next year.

Therefore, there is a possibility that Sanchez could be gone next season, and if that happens, the Giants basically lost the second-best pitcher in their minor league system for an injury-riddled player who barely played half a season.

That's the kind of thing Giants fans wanted to avoid this trade deadline. The San Francisco faithful didn't want another Ricky Ledee or Sidney Ponson half-season disaster.

Yet here we are, with that situation a possibility again.

Overall, there has been a lot Sabean should be credited for in his tenure in San Francisco, especially recently. He has set down a solid foundation around pitchers like Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain and position players like Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey (even though Posey can't seem to find the field since being called up).

However, the mistakes of Sabean have added up too much in the recent past, and this year is no exception. Some new energy is needed in the Giants' front office to keep this team going in the right direction, and unfortunately, after almost 13 years at the helm, the Giants aren't going to get that if Sabean is still calling the shots.

Neukom, the decision is up to you. Do the right thing.


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