Dickey: Sanchez signing is Sabean’s latest gaffe

Brian Sabean doubled his original mistake by signing Freddy Sanchez to a two-year contract, but he really had no choice.

Sabean made a panicky trade in the second half of the season, obtaining Sanchez for Tim Alderson, who had been rated the Giants’ No. 2 pitching prospect.

Sabean apologists in the media wrote about scouting reports which noted that Alderson’s pitch velocity was down, but that’s normal for young pitchers who are throwing far more innings than they had in their high school careers. Rest takes care of that problem.

Significantly, Madison Bumgarner, the No. 1 prospect, also had reduced velocity, around 88 mph on his fastball, when he came up.

Sanchez had cartilage damage in his knee when he came to the Giants, so he made a delayed debut. He later injured his shoulder and finally had to have knee surgery, so he played only 25 games for the Giants.

Sabean didn’t want to be known as the GM who had traded a top pitching prospect for 25 games of Freddy Sanchez, so he negotiated a two-year deal for $6 million a year.

What are the Giants getting for that? Sanchez won a batting title with a .344 average in 2006, but he has hit .304, .271 and .293 since then. He’s a hacker, so he’ll fit right in with the Giants, but his on-base percentage is low and he has limited power.

He’ll be 32 in December and he’s coming off a year in which he played only 111 games. He’s playing a position where he’s vulnerable to more injuries, having to make a pivot on the double play with his back to the incoming runner. The only question is whether he’ll spend more time on the DL than Edgar Renteria.

Sanchez is clearly on the downside of his career, but Sabean loves those guys. Renteria is the best current example, but Aaron Rowand is close behind, entering the third year of a five-year, $60 million contract. By the last month of the season, Rowand was sometimes batting eighth. Ouch!

There are other players in the past who have gotten big contracts out of Sabean even though their skill levels had declined: Dave Roberts, Edgardo Alfonso, Ray Durham.

The next test will be Juan Uribe, now a free agent. Uribe was a pleasant surprise last season. Signed to a minor-league contract, he played three infield positions as a backup before settling in at third base. He hit .289, 36 points higher than his major league career average, and hit 16 homers in just 398 at-bats, approaching his best years in home run ratio per at-bat for the White Sox, when he was playing in a noted hitters’ park.

When that happens to a player who has changed leagues, it generally means that the new league’s pitchers don’t know him.

Sabean has an example close at hand: When Randy Winn came to the Giants in midseason 2005 from Seattle, he hit 14 home runs in just 58 games. He had never hit more in a full season for the Mariners, and he didn’t in four full seasons with the Giants, either, but Sabean gave him a contract so rich that he was untradeable.

Will Sabean learn from that mistake? He never has before, and the Sanchez signing is the latest indication that he never will.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.
 

BaseballGiantsGlenn Dickeysports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A sign about proposed development of the bluff at Thornton State Beach in Daly City on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Retreat center proposed at popular state beach

Daly City residents oppose construction on ocean bluffs

Rev. Roland Gordon shows “The Great Cloud of Witnesses” collage mural at the Ingleside Presbyterian Church, which he began building in 1980.<ins> (</ins>
Rev. Roland Gordon preaches love in action

Pastor promotes peace, hope through art and prayer

San Francisco’s Buster Posey was back at the plate after sitting out last season due to the risk of COVID-19. (David Maialetti/Tribune News Service)
Giants struggle against Angels in first game of Spring Training

By Nick Zeller-Singh Nearly 1,000 fans gathered into a breezy Scottsdale Stadium… Continue reading

Basketball (Shutterstock)
SI alum Begovich gets his moment, but Stanford falls on Senior Day

MAPLES PAVILION — Generally speaking, Stanford’s home finale on Saturday afternoon, a… Continue reading

U.S. Attorney David Anderson announces federal firearms charges against two men for their roles in a March 2019 shooting outside the Fillmore Heritage Center in a news conference alongside SFPD staff at the Phillip Burton Federal Building on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Departing U.S. attorney predicts corruption probe will continue

David Anderson shook up City Hall as top federal prosecutor

Most Read