Mailbag: Patience for Sanchez?
Beat reporter Chris Haft answers Giants supporters' questions
It is amazing to me how little respect the fans have for Jonathan Sanchez. Seeing the NLCS and ALCS, you can perceive the importance of having a left-handed power pitcher. I think that the Giants should continue to be patient and let Sanchez progress. What is your take?
-- Freddie M., San Francisco
Sanchez definitely has the stuff to win 15 to 18 games per season. His June performance (5-1, 3.10 ERA) revealed how dominant he can be.
You're right -- ideally, the Giants would allow Sanchez to continue to develop. But, at Sanchez's age (26 next month), he might not possess greater trade value than he does right now. The Giants almost surely would have to part with pitching to deal for the offense they need. Unless they offer Matt Cain or Minor Leaguers Tim Alderson or Madison Bumgarner, Sanchez very well could serve as bait in a trade.When will the NL Cy Young Award winner be announced, and do you like Tim Lincecum's chances of winning the award? It's almost a no-brainer because the stats speak for themselves.
-- Julian Y., Parlier, Calif.
Nov. 11 is the big day. Based on what I hear and read from other writers, I'd estimate Lincecum's chances of winning at no worse than 50-50.I continue to hear rumors that the Twins want to unload Delmon Young to the Giants. As a Giants fan who lives in Minneapolis, I think this is a great idea. Twins fans are upset with Young because he didn't immediately produce, but he's only 23 with a huge upside and a great arm and he batted right around .300 this year (.290, with 10 home runs and 69 RBIs). Let's not give away the farm for him, though -- we don't need to mention the A.J. Pierzynski trade, do we?
-- Jeff B., Minneapolis
My understanding is that the Twins covet Cain and would be willing to relinquish Young for him. But it's unlikely that the Giants would make that deal, one for one.Clearly, the Red Sox need more pitching and are one of the few teams that can afford Barry Zito's contract. Zito might very well waive his no-trade clause to pitch in the postseason. Why can't general manager Brian Sabean make that deal, which would be a win-win for everyone involved?
-- Steve F., Sunnyvale
The same thought crossed my mind as I watched Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield struggle for Boston against Tampa Bay in the ALCS. But the Red Sox already had a chance to get Zito after the 2006 season, and they opted to spend their $100 million or so on Daisuke Matsuzaka. Even now, I doubt that they'll reconsider.Why did the Giants let Travis Denker go to the Padres on waivers? He's young, has a decent bat and is versatile, so you would think the brass would want him at least in Triple-A Fresno to provide depth. With the roster space the Giants have, this move didn't appear to make any sense.
-- Danny B., Rohnert Park, Calif.
Denker's departure indeed looked odd. When the 40-man roster is set next month, it'll become clear who the Giants preferred to protect ahead of him. They were willing to risk losing him because they feel adequately covered at second base with Kevin Frandsen, Eugenio Velez, Emmanuel Burriss (who can move from shortstop) and Matt Downs, who hit a combined .294 with 20 homers and 82 RBIs at Class A San Jose and Fresno. Giants management also was less than impressed by Denker's range defensively.
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Chris, the offensive players you stated the Giants need to pursue will not have much impact. We need a big bat in the four-hole! Mark Teixeira, Matt Holliday, Prince Fielder! We need a difference-maker now -- not Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion's numbers were put up in Cincinnati. Look what a difference-maker (Manny Ramirez) did for the Dodgers. Agree?
-- Kirt, South San Francisco
Whew, that's a lot to address. First of all, I tried to make realistic suggestions, not pie-in-the-sky ones.
Teixeira's a free agent whom the Giants ought to pursue but probably can't afford. Besides, does he really want to play half his games in a pitcher's park for a team that has finished below .500 for four years in a row?
Even if Colorado trades Holliday, it's unlikely to do so within the division. Acquiring Fielder from Milwaukee likely would require the Giants to trade Cain, as you suggested, but would the Brewers want more? And there's no way of knowing whether Bumgarner is "the next Lincecum" until he reaches the Majors.As for Encarnacion, his numbers certainly have been helped by Great American Ball Park. This year he hit .258 with 15 homers at home, compared with .244 and 10 homers on the road. Last season, however, was a mixed bag. Encarnacion displayed more power at home (10 homers to six) but had a higher batting average (.309-.270) and OPS (.799-.791) on the road. And in 13 games at AT&T Park he has hit .354 with an .894 OPS -- though he hasn't homered in 48 at-bats. Even an Encarnacion outside of Cincinnati would improve the Giants' third-base production, which was my point in suggesting that San Francisco explore trading for him. This year, Giants third basemen ranked last in the league in homers (12) and RBIs (59); the respective NL per-team averages were 23 and 86. Is it logical and do you see the chance of the Giants signing Greg Maddux to a one-year deal with an option for a second? He can help the young pitching staff and be a great fourth or fifth starter.
-- Baron S., Davis, Calif.
Logical, yes. But I don't envision this happening. Insiders say that if Maddux doesn't retire, he'll want close to $10 million to pitch another year, which is a little pricey for a back-of-the-rotation starter, even one who's a future Hall of Famer.Are the Giants working with Brian Wilson on developing an offspeed pitch? Hitters sit on his fastball, which accounts for the damaging ninth-inning homers he surrendered, his constant high-wire acts and his unacceptably high ERA. Don't get me wrong, I like Wilson's makeup, but do you agree he needs to work on a changeup or splitter this offseason in order to improve and become an elite closer?
-- Jim B., Alameda, Calif.
Manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti tried to impart upon Wilson the wisdom of mixing in a slider or a changeup. Sometimes he heeded this advice; often he pitched by feel. I agree that as good as his fastball is, he must diversify himself to keep saving 40 games a year.When do you think we can see this team in October?
-- Sam L., Walnut Creek, Calif.
Next year. The regular season ends Oct. 4. I should be sent to bed without any supper for that one, shouldn't I? Seriously, if the Giants upgrade their offense and bullpen, they can sustain a serious challenge in the NL West as early as 2009, given the division's parity (mediocrity?). But they'll probably need another year or two beyond that to become legitimate postseason threats.
Looking at the Giants' roster, they are still three to four players short of a contender. Sabean's track record with trades is not great, and we still don't know what some guys in our system can do. Is there anything wrong with standing pat for a year and figuring out if guys like Nate Schierholtz, Frandsen and Burriss can hack it as Major Leaguers? I will be in Zimbabwe for another year so it won't hurt me that much when they stink.
-- Sammy V., Harare, Zimbabwe
You're not being very considerate to us mainlanders, Sammy. I'm sending you two tickets to the Giants' exhibition game in Bulawayo next March and you better use them.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.