Thursday, July 30, 2009

Giants Trade Alderson for Freddie Sanchez: Color Me Meh!

Giants did the near unimaginable by trading Tim Alderson to the Pirates for Freddie Sanchez. As I've been noting all over, I'm not happy about this, as I don't think that Sanchez is worth obtaining and especially not for someone as highly ranked as Alderson, as I noted in my post on Garko.

I'm shaken but not stirred by the trade. I'm looking at the bigger picture and the team is still in very good shape. Clearly, Sabean is being evaluated when the season ends, as Neukom has been saying, and he has to earn it with these moves.

However, I disagree with the thought that Alderson alone could have brought a middle of lineup bat. He's not that good. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a bit deluded by Giants fanaticism. He's been at best rated as a middle of rotation pitcher, at best, and many still thought that he's at best a reliever, which was a prevailing thought when he was first drafted.

Look at his stats. He's had a lot of troubles striking batters out, at all levels, which is a key sign that he's not going to be that great a pitcher in the majors. That's going to lead to a lot of hits being given up. Even with his low walk rate, which is excellent, his WHIP will be high in the minors, as the MLE is even higher.

The trade however, is a bust to me. Sanchez is worth Alderson if he were hitting like he was in April and May. But he has not hit well enough in 10 out his last 16 months. He's been good for about 2 good months of every year the past three seasons and he's already had them this season. If he can hit well while playing as a Giant, then he would be worth it, but I don't expect it. Maybe he will perk up playing for a contender, we'll see, but I doubt it.

Still, the Giants are still set up nicely for the future, which is the big picture. We'll have a rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Zito and the 5th starter, who will eventually be Bumgarner. The bullpen looks good with Wilson, Affeldt, Romo, Valdez, plus perhaps Henry Sosa, Waldis Joaquin, and others coming up. We'll have Posey catching, Sandoval at 3B, Garko also in the middle of the lineup, and Rowand, Schierholtz, and Ishikawa, and now Sanchez hitting in other parts of the lineup. We also have good upcoming prospects in Villalona, Crawford, Kieschnick, Neal, and others.

If you want to throw out the baby with the bath water, as many have wanted to for the past 3 years, so be it, but I've been happy for the most part with what Sabean has been doing the past few years. Many were against Sabean's two year extension the last time and I would say that many on the other hand have been happy with the Giants progress the past two seasons.

It will be interesting times the next two months. If Sanchez sinks like Hillenbrand did - and Sanchez has been hitting .250/.287/.363/.649 since June began, covering 38 games, plus has been injured and missing games - I think Sabean is sunk, and I'll regret that because I like how the team has been built for the most part. Still, a .649 OPS is better than we were getting from 2B until Uribe took over. And I suspect that the Giants is worried that Renteria will be either out or ineffective the rest of this season, and thus want Uribe to be ready to start at SS.

So those are the silver linings to this trade. I hate this trade, as I don't think Sanchez is going to be that good for us, especially at the money we are paying for him, and because I think we should be able to get more for Alderson in trade, and I wonder what we could have gotten for Alderson and Barnes. But I don't think it's the end of the world as some seem to feel.

Go Giants!

25 comments:

  1. Generally, I'm not pleased with this trade for some of the same reason you're not.

    A couple of stray observations. KNBR's Brian Murphy this morning opined, "for the first time in 5 years, the Giants are thinking about now as opposed to the future." What? The Giants have been thinking of "now" for all but a small fraction of late 2008 and the first 70-80 games of 2009. Nice to see that our rebuilding phase almost lasted 162 games.

    Second, you write "Clearly, Sabean is being evaluated when the season ends, as Neukom has been saying, and he has to earn it with these moves." I think this is precisely the case. I also think this is completely wrong from an organizational standpoint. For too long, Sabean has been kept on a short leash. And deals like this are the inevitable result. I think it's inevitable that job security has something to do with these transactions, but it's too bad when that job security sometimes changes the priority from "what's in the long term interest of the franchise."

    Let's say the Giants lost one more game on the road trip, or the Pittsburgh opener, could he have become a deadline seller without consequences? Put another way, if he judged that the Giants would be unlikely to make the playoffs, does management have enough confidence in his judgment to let him make those deals and wave a white flag?

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  2. I see your point about Murphy's comment, but I'm willing to overlook it. I would also say that from late 2007 to 2008 to 2009 until now, is when the team has not been worried about the present. So for about 2 years.

    And thanks for your second point. I've been saying this all season but it's worth repeating that the team should be looking at the long term.

    Of course, from their viewpoint, they feel that they are looking long-term. Maybe they've determined that Alderson and Barnes aren't going to be more than marginal major leaguers - as nicely as they have done, it does not mean that they are going to make it in the majors.

    Still, it just seems that we could have gotten more for the two of them than Garko and Sanchez.

    I don't think that losing more games would have made the Giants sellers, unless they lost all 13 games in a row. The point of the season has been to be competitive - Neukom announced this long ago - and the team has been more than that, they have been entertaining and contending - they just unfortunately are playing in the same division as the leading MLB team, else they would be contenders in almost any other division.

    Thinking more on this deal, clearly Frandsen has no chance of starting for us, he's at best a utility guy now, and Burriss clearly hadn't shown enough before he was injured to make management think that he would be ready to start in 2010.

    So in their viewpoint, they basically traded Winn's salary in 2009 for Sanchez's salary in 2010, while gaining a starting 2B.

    Again, if Sanchez could hit .800+ OPS consistently, this would be a good deal. Or if Alderson never have much of a career.

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  3. Boof: "Whaddya think of your idiot-boy now? Alderson & Barnes gone in a flash for 2 suspect veterans. Things don't change that much. Want to give him another 2 year extension?"

    Garko is not suspect. He's a nice complementary player for many teams, just not ours. I just think we overpaid for a player who would not add much above what we have now.

    Yeah, I would still give him a 2 year extension, if I had to chose now. I still really like the way the team is set up overall, I consider these moves to mere irritants for now. If more stupid moves follow, I will yield to the pitch-fork crowd.

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  4. Matt Mongiello: "Can't believe Sabean gave up the team's 2nd best pitching prospect for an injured Freddy Sanchez. I was all for trading to get him but not at that cost. I was hoping for a Bocock/Culberson/Frandsen type with maybe Bowker or someone. I don't know. My initial reaction is that we're on the losing end of this trade. "

    There was no way Pirates would give up Sanchez for that package. That's why I didn't want the trade, I knew the consequence was something big like this. I agree that we are on the losing end, but if things work out the way I note, we could end up winners.

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  5. Kevin: "I was afraid of this. Our young team over performs half a season and Sabean smells the chance to earn a nice new contract. really....REALLY....did we honestly just trade our #2 pitching prospect for a 2b WHO IS HURT?! Freddie Sanchez is a solid player, and if we had a real team he could be the last piece of the puzzle, but he brings no power to the table.. He is only slightly better than Uribe. Can Sabean possibly justify slightly better than a guy we already have by trading TIM ALDERSON?! After both of these moves we are still hardly guaranteed a wild card spot, however we are guaranteed to be fretting the growth of a player we regarded as "untouchable" until the firesaling pittsburgh pirates called us and offered their 31 year old bum knee'd 2nd baseman.

    I mean honestly...the team had traded away all of it's position vets before this trade, you're telling me Sabean couldn't talk them into someone on less regard, even Pucteas, ANYONE?! I'm sick over this"

    I hate the trade, but it's nothing to be sick over. Alderson had question marks, but I agree that for a Top 50 prospect, we should have gotten more. Still, to them, they are getting a 3-time All-Star 2B. Sanchez has been hurt but the training staff examined him and deemed him healthy enough to trade for - if he's still badly injured, the training staff should be fired, as it's bad enough that they didn't notice bone spurs on Renteria, just like they missed all of Roberts' ailments.

    If Sanchez can hit .800 OPS (or even high 700 OPS), the deal would be worth it. It's just that I don't think Sanchez can do that.

    And playing Devil's advocate, Alderson isn't guaranteed to be anything at the major league level, particularly given how poorly he's doing in a pitcher's league (AA). Still, he still have some catchet so I would still think that we could have gotten more and better.

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  6. Boof: "The amazing thing is that's even worse than you think. Not only did we overpay for Sanchez by giving up one of top prospects, but we're on the hook for about $10M in salary. You would think for that type of package you'd get.......oh, maybe a cleanup hitter, perhaps. It's totally absurd.

    Yeah, he's doing a great job rebuilding this team. "

    If you want to overlook the great team that Sabean has put together in rebuilding the team, that's your choice.

    If Sabean was perfect, he wouldn't be human. I still like the job he has done overall. I haven't cared about these moves, but they won't kill the team. Our rotation is set for the next 3-6 seasons (depending on contracts and injuries) to be pretty good if not the best, so losing them would be losing LOOGY candidates though I agree that I would have thought we could have gotten more for them than Garko and Sanchez, plus be on the hook for next season's salary.

    Still, I don't think it's worth crying over, particularly since there are still possibilities for this working out. A .800 OPS 2B is worth $10M, maybe even more than that and Garko is a legit power hitter and could become our starting LF or 1B and middle-lineup slugger.

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  7. Anon: "Just fire Brain Sabean, RIGHT NOW"

    I disagree, though if more moves like this happens, I would agree.

    Still, I would have to think that these moves are happening because Neukom is pushing for this. He's the one who publicly set the bar at competitive this year, and Sabean and Bochy met it in spades so far. Both have already earned extensions thus far.

    So I would have to think that Neukom has pushed Sabean to make these moves, to try to make a move to keep the Wild Card lead.

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  8. Matt Mongiello: "We're not necessarily on the hook for the 8mil next season... yet. I hope Bochy slides Uribe over to start at SS. That would maximize the value of the trade.
    From everything I've read Alderson's stuff has regressed considerably. His velocity is down and his curve has lost it's bite. I'm sure scouts from other teams have noticed and we may be overvaluing him a bit.
    Overall, it does seem like we gave up too much. They wanted to dump payroll, Sabean obliged AND gave up a good prospect. Oh well."

    I have a feeling that that's part of it, I think they fear that Renteria might be done (or could be done) and expect Uribe to play SS or at least be ready to start at SS. And starting at 2B would preclude that.

    I still don't know why they don't just start Frandsen at 2B.

    But from what I understand, his option vested or should easily vest (please correct if I'm wrong). So I do think we are on the hook. But if he can hit in the mid-high 700's, he wouldn't be so bad at that price.

    But like you, I just don't like the good prospect part. But if it's like you said, that his stuff has regressed considerably, that's something that other teams have figured out, and we are lucky to get even a so-so Freddie Sanchez for him.

    Still, I hate the trade but just willing to overlook it because I'm looking at the big picture and the future looks bright.

    And if Sabean was as stupid as the naysayers say he is, then how did he put together the best pitching staff - rotation and bullpen - in the NL and how did the team get enough offense to have one of the best records in the NL? The way others describe him, explain how such a person could put together such a competitive and winning team?

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  9. I think, by and large, the responses from fans are pretty predictable. That group of fans that hate Sabean, of course, hate this trade. And the weak arguments they make to jsutify it show how little it takes to convince them that anything Sabean does is wrong.
    I don't necessarily have a position on this trade. I do think that a lot of the conclusory arguments made are just bullshit. For example, Sanchez being injured. Give me a break, Giants m,edical staff looked at him 2X, he has some inflamation in the knee, nothing catastrophic. The comments about Alderson are not so inflammatory, but they are wrong because they are date - or they are based on one evaluation, or the highest evaluation. Alderson, in July 2009 is no longer a top 50 prospect. He is, in many MLB eyes, not even in the top 100. He has really slipped. He is no longer universally regarded as a #3 starter, but some see him as no better than a #5. I think the Giants have made very few mistakes evaluating pitchers, particularly ones they've traded away. I think it is more likely that they are selling high.
    There is another reason to defend this trade. We really don't have 2B prospects. We thought we did, but we don't. For a fairly modest cost we fill this black hole. That allows us to continue to be patient with our other prospects. Same with Garko. By playing Garko most of the time, it still gives Ishi the chance to learn and develop. By getting some production out of 1B, 2B, 3B we are able to play our young OFs and see if we can get some decent production out of LF and RF. I am as disappointed as the next guy about the lack of production we are getting from SS and CF; it is just that, as a practical matter, we are not going to solve those problems before mid '10 or '11. To me, the team has rather artfully improved itself in order to maximize what has been a sruprising run at the playoffs for this year, without sacrificing the rebuilding program.
    I admit they are kind of cutting it down the middle, not going wholly for this year, nor wholly for rebuilding. While I favor rebuilding more than taking a run with a flawed team, I don't think we have hurt ourselves for '10 or '11.

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  10. Yeah, the 8 mil option kicks in at 600 PAs but I think it might've vested since he made the all-star game.

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  11. Off-topic but here but what's up with the short-leash on the starters? Sadowski wasn't blowing anyone away or anything but he wasn't doing too bad. He was only at 82 pitches. Bochy was short with Sanchez last night too.

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  12. In Sadowski's case, he was playing with fire and hadn't gotten burned much yet. Only 83 pitches, but only 4 IP and 44 strikes, with 7 fly balls and 4 ground balls. I would have taken Sadowski out by then too.

    In Sanchez's case, not sure. 99 pitches is not awfully high, he had 61 strikes, 6 GO, 6 FB, not that many hits, and he just walked one batter after getting two out. Must have been a gut thing.

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  13. So, we give Alderson a $1.3 mil bonus last year and we're stuck with the Sanchez option at$8.1 next year. A $9.4 mil 2nd baseman? There has to be something better than that coming on the FA market over the winter. And we've sacrificed the pitching depth upon which our club is built. One can never have too much pitching, as we're finding out right now.
    What's wrong with guy. I hope he's "kicking the tires" on a new career.

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  14. Actually, that's the incorrect stance to take. Prospects in his draft range fail about 90% of the time to be a good starter. And most think he'll be at least that. So he represents about $13M worth of bonuses, either already given out or yet to be given out.

    And I have no problem with a $9.4M 2B if he could hit. He just hasn't hit as well as I would think such a 2B would hit (or whatever amount he is making).

    Pitching depth is no affected by Alderson going as there's no way he was making the majors this season, not with Pucetas, Martinez, and Bumgarner ahead of him. He would represent depth next season, but with those same players again ahead of him, particularly Bumgarner, and the staff is pretty solidly healthy, knock on wood.

    I still like what Sabean has put together, if you don't then I don't know what team you have been following this year.

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  15. First round pick failure is 90%? So 27 of 30 picks don't make it at all? Or is it guy taken with the 22nd pick? I don't know, I'd like to see the numbers. I'm not claiming he would be an all-star, but he DOES provide depth. Organazational depth. I can't see how you say he doesn't. I don't want to have to knock on wood. Did these two minor moves get us over the top? I doubt it.
    We're going to need to get an OF on the FA market next year and we just ate up $8 on a 2B. If they can buy out the option(maybe the 3yr/$20 his agent offered the Pirates) it's better. But then, aren't we going against the "new" Giants philosophy of not giving long-term contracts to players over 30?
    Why can't we stay the course? No one expected this kind of a year. If they did, I'd like to smoke what they're smoking. It's just not sustainable. If Tim or Matt have a little funk, this team could drop 10 of 12 in hurry. It's been fun, but we've been bad for four years. Why not take this year for what it's worth, an abberation.

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  16. First round picks in the 21-30 pick range that Alderson was picked in; I forget sometimes that not everyone has read my draft study.

    Not that they don't make it but that they don't become a good player. Some become what I call useful players (basically journeyman players like Tucker), some more get a nice taste of the majors, but most of them just never amount to anything. Only roughly 10% become good players.

    Well, if you must be technical, he is depth but there are a number of players ahead of him. Unless a catastrophe happens, his depth is not needed.

    If you've read either of my posts, I don't really care for either deal, I would use hate as the best descriptor for the Sanchez deal, and I don't really care for the Garko deal, though I see some value coming out of it if he's a platoon buddy with Ishikawa at 1B and then gets a lot of play in LF. He's a consistent hitter, which we haven't had in LF thus far. Sanchez's deal I'm only OK with if he's as good as he was long ago, not what he has done in the past 2-3 seasons.

    Just because one takes on the general philosophy of no deals for, say, over 30 year olds, that does not mean that you don't make exceptions. This is real life, not elementary school where everything is black and white.

    Not that I'm for signing Sanchez for such a deal. I'm just answering my issue with your statement.

    This season is not an aberration. Both Lincecum and Cain are capable of pitching like this, they have shown that in years past. I've been documenting this with my PQS study. Plus, as I've noted somewhere, there has not been a lot of what I would call unexpected performances other than Sandoval and Affeldt. All the rest are about what could be expected and there are many who are underperforming what could be expected.

    I've been saying all season that I would prefer that the Giants stay the course and let our young players play. I'm not happy with the Garko or Sanchez acquisitions. But I understand the Giants position to try to do something to improve things and take a risk in order to improve and win this season. It is a psychological boost to add a 3-time All-Star, and he plays good defense as well as hitting OK (though not enough in my opinion to warrant giving up Alderson) while our 2B has been crap until Uribe took over, and now we need him to backup SS when Renteria's elbow spurs are acting up. They should just operate on him and end his season, and bring up Frandsen to backup 2B and SS, as the utility guy that they apparently think he is, while starting Uribe at SS and Sanchez at 2B.

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  17. To the Anti-F. Sanchez People:

    It's one thing to bash a player whose performance you've watched and don't like. It's quite another to make conjectures based on perception alone.

    I was a little shocked top see Alderson go, but not terribly so. Teams in contention make these kinds of trades all the time. It's not as though Sabean's actions stand as an isolated isntance of "What the heck?!!"

    Did you all see Freddie yesterday? Coming through with his hitting in the clutch? From an offensive POV, who among our cast of 2B have demonstrated that ability?

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  18. Uribe had been our only RBI source the couple games before that, so...

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  19. Perceptions? I'm referring to his stats for the past three seasons!

    I have no problem with trading Alderson if I think we got good value for him. I don't think we got good value.

    I think that if Sanchez comes through and hit like he did in April and May and not like he did in June and July, then I would be happy with the trade. I would also be happy with the trade if Alderson should take a career flop and never develop, though I would feel sorry for him.

    I never said that Sanchez would not be an upgrade over the guys we had playing 2B this season. In fact, I said as much in my post when I referred to his poor .649 OPS in June and July.

    And I think that most people prefer to judge a player's long-term ability by what he does over a longer length of time than just one game.

    Even a Professor should know that one.

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  20. My comment was directed at all of the people who were begrating F. Sanchez and never saw him play, not at you.

    Of course, you never said he wouldn't be an upgrade.

    A professor can follow a syllogism.

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  21. Well, I was one of the people who were berating F. Sanchez and never saw him play, so I rightfully felt that it was directed at me too.

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  22. When you don't like something, you usually base it on something in the real world, Which is more than I can say for some of the other comments on the internet.

    It may turn out that Alderson will be another Keith Foulks or Joe Nathan.

    But with Cain and Lincecum so dominant this year, it makes sense that the Giants would seek an upgrade now. This team is built more for a short series than a 162 game season. So hopefully, Garko and Sanchez just give us enough to get into the playoffs.

    Is it a gamble? Yes.

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  23. What you guys are missing here is that it really doesn't matter what type of player Alderson turns out to be. Right now, his perceived value is worth much more than his actual value. Add that to the fact that the Pirates were desperate to rid themselves of Sanchez's contract and you arrive at the result that Sabean grossly overpaid for what he got.

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  24. That was part of my point above: we have our own perceived value, but that value could have (most probably have) changed among the professionals.

    So yeah, I understand and agree with everyone's feelings that we overpiad, but we don't know what the scouts have been saying about Alderson. At minimum, his numbers in AA are pretty putrid for strikeouts, most major league pitchers cannot hope to have a long-term career with the numbers he is posting in AA, and, remember, that should go down even further if/when he makes the majors, unless he makes a huge adjustment. Control is very nice, but if he can't strike out many batters, his numbers will bounce around with the multitude of balls in play he allows.

    I don't know enough about what the scouts are saying about Alderson, so I am with most people who hate this trade. So how he turns out is a major factor, if he's pretty much toast as a prospect in the Giants opinion, then we got an OK deal, getting a gimpy 2B who is a good defensive player (better at 3B FYI) and offensive upgrade for us at 2B. If he still can make it at the level the experts envisioned when they rated him the 40th best prospect (roughly) - though I cannot imagine how with his very poor strikeout rate in AA - then this is a horrible deal.

    And, of course, this is a horrible deal if Sanchez does not hit in the high 700 OPS range or above, beyond what we gave up, because the salary is too much for anything less.

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  25. Oh, and as I noted in my original post, I don't think that he's going to be hitting that high, and thus why I hate the deal, Alderson or no Alderson; Alderson being in the deal just makes me hate it more.

    However, as someone noted, perhaps here or somewhere else that I've surfed at, Sanchez most probably is an upgrade over what we have had at 2B this season, except when Uribe was starting, and, really, he was hitting over his head for much of that time, I would expect Sanchez to hit much better than Uribe over the long-run (Uribe hasn't been that good the past three seasons).

    So at least we got that. But at the cost of Alderson and possibly at the cost of $8M next season.

    Looking a little deeper into Sanchez's stats, I see another positive note: his BABIP for his career is .323, and he is right around there this season while he was way below last season, suggesting that this season is closer to his talent level than last season. And outside of his poor July, when he was possibly/probably hampered by this knee injury, he has been either good/great (April/May) or OK (June), so those are positives as well.

    A looming negative this season is that his strikeout rate is much higher this season than in the past, which is a sign of slippage, though at 84% contact rate, he's doing OK still. Oddly, he had his best month in April when he was hyper aggressive and only took 3 walks but hit .943 OPS, but the increase in walks in May was accompanied by a drop to .832 OPS, then keeping the walks and dropping his strikeouts to a good level (90% contact), his OPS dropped to .749. Really weird and just goes to show how variable stats can be due to how the ball bounces: .403 BABIP in April, .374 in May, .290 in June, .268 in July.

    So I still hate the trade, and it only works if Sanchez can hit in the high 700 OPS or better AND can play in most of the games remaining. The good news is that this year appears to be more in line with his career than 2008. The bad news is that his knee problems led to a horrible July and he's clearly not 100% if he is limping noticeably in yesterday's game.

    He needs 600 PA to vest his option; he is at 391 PA right now, leaving him 209 PA short. The Giants have 56 games left. Batting 2nd should yield roughly 5 PA per game, so he needs to start in 42 of those 56 games to vest. Or taking it from our view, it would take 14 games of sitting for his option not to vest. The way he was limping yesterday, from the way it was described on the radio, I don't see how he don't sit out a few games this week, particularly with Velez hitting so hot.

    But if he plays well enough, I can see the Giants trying to sign him to the 3 years, $20M that Sanchez counter-offered to the Pirates, which would be more acceptable, assuming he can continue to perform in the mid-700 OPS range and provide good defense.

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