Brian Sabean

Freddy Sanchez, the morning after

What I’m about to write either proves my amazingness as a fan or indicts me for being exactly the type of Bay Area fan (or boyfriend of a Bay Area fan) that fits all the bad stereotypes: when the Freddy Sanchez trade was announced, I was driving my girlfriend to an arts and crafts store in Colma. Why? So she could find iron-on letters and numbers and fake hair so she can dress up our Pomeranian as Tim Lincecum for Doggie Days at the Park on Saturday.

I think SGL was talking about doll hair when Ray Woodson announced who the Giants gave up for Sanchez, and all I could make out was “No. 4 prospect.” Since I didn’t have Baseball America’s rankings memorized, I couldn’t remember if that meant Angel Villalona or Tim Alderson, but I was shocked just the same. So much for tweeted rumors of the Giants offering a package including Jesus Guzman, Kevin Frandsen and John Bowker (which sounded fairly ridiculous on the surface, even with the Pirates involved).

We drove around for a while, and finally got word that the Giants gave away Alderson for a second baseman who — while he’s clearly a huge upgrade over the Giants’ group of junior college-esque players who had been manning the position up to this point — doesn’t get on base all that much, hit for power or even come to the Giants as a healthy player.

After hanging out in the land of frames, yarn and ribbons, we went to a certain electronics store and went on an all-out home theater shopping spree (three years interest free financing, baby!). So last night was busy, and as a result I had no time to jot down my thoughts on all the happenings of the last 24 hours (hey, this new HDTV isn’t just going to plug itself in). So with no further ado, let’s start off with a couple trade thoughts and a look at some instant analysis I missed while chauffering my Lincepom-creating girlfriend…

Now the selection of Zach Wheeler with the sixth pick of June’s draft makes more sense

If it weren’t for Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, most Giants fans would have gone ballistic after the team drafted Wheeler with the sixth pick overall. Sure, you go for the best player available blah, blah, blah…but with the Giants’ offensive woes both on the big league roster and throughout the farm system’s recent history (Villalona, Buster Posey and Thomas Neal notwithstanding), it ruffled more than a few feathers when the Giants didn’t go and select the best available position player, even though no hitters were selected after the Giants’ choice until Grant Green (SS) went to the A’s at No. 13.

However, if you look at minor league pitchers in one of two ways (future cornerstones or trade bait), as the Giants seem to, the trade of Alderson makes more sense after the selection of Wheeler (who by all accounts has nastier stuff and a bigger upside than the kid who was traded yesterday, two years after getting selected with the 22nd pick of the first round.

I don’t practice Sancheria…I ain’t got no crystal ball…if I had $17 million dollars I’d spend it all

All we kept hearing from the Brass about possible trades was the Giants didn’t want to give up their elite prospect and they didn’t want a rental player; instead they wanted someone who could contribute to the team for at least a couple years. That was a nice thing about the trade for Ryan Garko — even though he’s arbitration eligible after this season he’s only 28, meaning he’s entering his prime.

It pains me to say this since Sanchez is exactly a week younger than yours truly, but Sanchez, at 31, is not entering his prime. In fact, as a middle infielder he’s going to see his production (and his health) diminish starting pretty much now. In other words, Brian Sabean’s idea of when a baseball player hits his prime is much different than mine, or probably yours if you’re reading this. Of course, since Sabean’s contract is up after this season, what does he care about Alderson’s excellent control or what the Giants’ middle infield will look like in two or three years?

It’s clear the Giants wanted at least ONE infielder with at least average range, and with Edgar Renteria (another Sabean acquisition brought in past his prime) rapidly falling apart before our eyes it makes sense to pick up somebody who can dive and catch the occasional grounder up the middle. Still, unless Sanchez has been drinking from Omar Vizquel’s fountain of youth, it’s hard to imagine many will be happy that the Giants are paying Sancheria $17 million combined next season.

Here’s what Sabes and the scribes are saying:

“Obviously, this is a kid that has distinguished himself, especially as an All-Star three of the last four years and as a batting champ within that time frame,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. “The timing’s great, he’s a player that’s obviously going to help us (now) with this ballclub and hopefully a playoff run into the playoffs. And a little moreso going into the future as we expect him to be with us next year.” (Extra Baggs)

“Just when you thought it was safe to love San Francisco prospects again, general manager Brian Sabean tossed away the club’s second best pitching prospect for an injury-prone, veteran second baseman in his free agent year (although he has an $8 million option that is way too high). Oh, and the Giants organization just gave away its third best pitching prospect (Scott Barnes) to the Indians for a league-average first baseman. Madison Bumgarner is suddenly very, very lonely…P.S. The Pirates just got more value for Sanchez than Ricciardi could drum up for Halladay. That has to burn.” (Fangraphs)

“Cliff’s Notes version of my reaction for the vultures who want a quick hit of despair: The Giants a better team, and if they make the playoffs by a game or two in the next couple of seasons, it was probably a worthwhile deal, regardless of what Alderson does. But the Giants have trouble scoring runs because they a) don’t get on base and b) don’t hit for power, and they moved one of their more tradeable assets for a player who doesn’t do either a) or b) particularly well.” (McCovey Chronicles)

“The difference between Sanchez and Juan Uribe over the remainder of the season probably varies between 0.5 – 1 win. The Giants fix a major hole on their team and do improve themselves. But I’m not sure I like the price that they paid. Tentatively, I’d call this a Pirates win. Welcome to the team, Freddy.” (Bay City Ball)

“Sanchez will be a big upgrade if the Giants move Uribe to short and sit Renteria. He will only be a minimal upgrade if Sanchez and Renteria are the middle infielders. Well, whaddya know? Yesterday Bruce Bochy said he’ll sit the ailing Renteria for day games after night games.” (El Lefty Malo)

“No, today’s deal doesn’t feel completely right. If Sanchez’ injury proves to be a problem, or if Alderson finds himself pitching admirably for the Pirates this September, we’ll all be a little nervous. But I give Sabean credit for improving the Giants’ offense — significantly. And I’m guessing the Cubs, Brewers, Braves and the rest of the wild-card contenders — all of whom live in fear of the Giants’ pitching — aren’t happy at all.” (Three Dot Blog)

“ESPN’s Keith Law finds the Giants’ trade of Tim Alderson for Freddy Sanchez reasonable, due to “slippage in Alderson’s stuff.” (MLB Trade Rumors, because I stopped paying for ESPN Insider years ago)

“I’m not sure Alderson’s upside–I’d say he’s a #3 or borderline #2 starter if all goes well–is worth it. I can certainly see why the Pirates made this move, and I think it’s nice to balance the grab bags they got in the Jack Wilson and Nate McLouth trade with a riskier deal for more of a blue-chip player, but I’m not sure Alderson is the right blue-chip player.” (Bucs Dugout)

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