Welcome to CATCH IT!– My observations of the sports world. Basically it’s something to read and comment about in between podcasts. By the way, once pitchers and catchers report to spring training, INSIDE CHINA BASIN goes full throttle again with podcasts three times a week. Not only do we plan on having Jeremy Affeldt return as our regular player guest every homestand, but we will also once again feature San Francisco Chronicle Columnist John Shea as an expert contributor along with many other pertinent guests. We will continue to bring you various Giants player interviews. Last season we talked to almost every player on the team.
Here’s my take on Pablo Sandoval signing with the Red Sox. I understand both sides of why Sandoval is no longer a Giant.
Let’s start with Pablo’s perspective. It seems to me that Panda was more than a little miffed that the Giants didn’t sign him before the season began. I believe that in his heart he wanted to stay in SF, but he didn’t want to be slighted. He saw that players like Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Matt Cain and Angel Pagan were fairly rewarded with handsome contracts after helping the Giants win titles.
I’m guessing that he was tired of hearing about his weight being an issue. He felt like he proved himself as a clutch performer, especially in the last two successful Octobers. He didn’t have a break-out offensive 2014 season, but he recovered from a terrible start at the plate and definitely stepped up his defense to become a Gold Glove candidate. We know the Giants don’t win the World Series without Madison Bumgarner’s performance, but they don’t win it without Sandoval either.
For the Giants to keep Sandoval, I believe that in his mind they were going to have to make an offer far above what the Red Sox were offering.
For those of you hating on Pablo and saying good riddance, put yourself in his shoes for a minute. You put all of your energy into helping an organization your whole career. When the club insisted that you lose weight you worked on conditioning. Your weight might have been fluctuating the last two years, but when it came time to perform in the clutch you did.
The fans absolutely love the Panda. But, did the front office love him 100%? Would you want to stay married to an organization that doubts you can keep the weight off? And, when you are being courted by another team, it’s easy to see the grass being greener. Both cities love their baseball teams so that is a wash. Both teams have a chance to win again this year and the resources to give themselves every opportunity to succeed every year. Boston offers an opportunity to hit some more homers over the Green Monster and get on Sportscenter more often. We all know there is East Coast bias in our sports world and ESPN and other networks love to show Red Sox games and highlights. Plus, an occasional turn at DH is attractive to any hitter.
Now for the Giants side. If it’s true that the Giants offer is similar to the Red Sox offer, Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans and company have to be shaking their heads. They feel like they made a fair proposal to a guy who said after the parade, “I want to wear that jersey for the rest of my career. I’m going to go from what my heart tells me.” Apparently Pablo truly did “leave his heart in San Francisco.”
Tonight on Comcast Sports Net there was a good round table discussion. Host Glen Kuiper suggested that maybe the Giants had a sense of relief that Sandoval is gone. KNBR’s Rod Brooks mentioned that the Giants look good since they made a similar offer and they were rebuffed. Columnists John Shea (SF Chronicle) and Tim Kawakami (SJ Mercury News) talked about the Giants moving on from it even though they will miss Sandoval.
I agree that they will miss Pablo, but the Giants had to be hesitant to give a $100 million contract to a guy who doesn’t put up spectacular numbers during the regular season. Weight is not hindering his performance now, but once he gets into his 30′s can he stay reasonably fit? I think the Giants were leaning towards answering no to that question.
If the last two Word Series titles are any indication, the Giants front office and the players they put in the lineup find a way to get it done even when a key piece leaves. Melky Cabrera? Angel Pagan? I have to admit, that in 2012 when Cabrera was suspended I did not envision a parade. Same in 2014 with Pagan missing at the top of the order.
So, where do the Giants go from here? As Shea (a regular on the “Inside China Basin” podcasts on TheSportsVirus.com) mentioned on Comcast, the Giants have plenty of holes to fill. Left Field: do they bring back Michael Morse? How about a better defender like Torii Hunter? His numbers (.286, 17 HR, 83 RBIs) were slightly better than Sandoval’s in 2014. But, he will turn 40 in 2015 and he recently said he favors going back to his original team, the Twins.
Two rotation spots are up in the air. Edinson Volquez anyone? He had the best season of his career with the Pirates last year: 13-7, 3.04 ERA.
Plenty to think about, including whether or not to bring back Sergio Romo, who had a roller coaster season.
As far as third base? Chase Headley? Not exactly on a good career path arc now. Adam Duvall? I’m not saying he is the next Joe Panik, where you spend a lot of time and energy thinking about trading for someone when the answer is right there on your 40-man roster, but he might be worth giving an extended look. Sure he hit .192 in 73 Major League at bats, but he demonstrated big-time power at AAA Fresno that may or may not translate to the big leagues.
Larry Krueger made an interesting suggestion on KNBR about moving Andrew Susac to third base. I like the idea because it looks like his bat is for real, but it would probably take more than just one spring training to be serviceable at the hot corner.
That takes us back to what I think Giants fans will miss most about Sandoval in 2015. Believe it or not, I think it will be his defense. He wasn’t the greatest right handed hitter (.199 in 2014, yikes!) and he didn’t put up clean-up-hitter-type numbers. But he was really picking it at third and was fun to watch over there.
Thanks for the memories Pablo. From your three homers in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series to your catch and tumble for the final out in 2014 we will never forget you.
Artwork courtesy of: Suzie Armagost.Share