Tag: Jonathan Sanchez

Jonathan Sanchez Is the San Francisco Giants’ Most Vital 2nd-Half Player

I know what you must be thinking after reading that headline.

How can Jonathan Sanchez, a starting pitcher who was just placed on the disabled list and was leading the league in walks, be the key to the success of the defending world champion San Francisco Giants in the second half?

I will be the first to admit that I do not believe Sanchez’s pitching will be a crucial factor in ushering the Giants back into the playoffs. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and perhaps even the resurgent (if only temporarily) Barry Zito could cover that task if need be.

In fact, the best way that Sanchez could actually help this team win the NL West would be to return from the DL and pitch very well in a couple of starts. Those starts, coupled with his potential and past success (a no-hitter and a dominant performance against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS), could very well make Sanchez pretty decent trade bait.

Even though Sanchez has struggled more than he (or Giants fans) had hoped, he still has a respectable 3.81 ERA with 92 K’s in 89.2 innings and a .212 BAA (batting average against). Unfortunately, those statistics do not include his 59 BBs, 1.42 WHIP or his general state of uncontrolled wildness. 

Still, there are a few issues here. If Sanchez does manage to do well, which is fairly likely if he takes the time to recover from biceps tendinitis, what team would want him? And, even if the Giants found a buyer who has a hitter, would GM Brian Sabean really be willing to let Sanchez go?

First, if Giants management really is looking for another bat, they are going to obtain it temporarily in the form of a catcher. They have outfielders and infielders who, for better or worse, are going to stay where they are because of injuries to Mark DeRosa, Freddy Sanchez, and Mike Fontenot. The catching tandem of Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart, though more than adequate defensively and surprisingly effective on offense in recent games, cannot replace the production of Buster Posey.

That means that the team needs to find a buyer who needs a starting pitcher and has a marketable catcher they are willing to trade. In that case, and correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like only the Cincinnati Reds would actually fit the criteria. 

The Reds, at 42-41, are three games back in the NL Central and are a run-producing machine with almost 400 runs scored (good for third in all of baseball). This team can hit. However, pitching is the issue as the team’s staff ranks 21st in WHIP and 23rd in ERA. In fact, the lowest ERA among their starters belongs to the youngster Mike Leake at 3.89. Jonathan Sanchez’s ERA beats that.

While there’s no doubt that Sanchez would help this team (even when he’s wild, he doesn’t really give up runs), would the Reds be willing to trade one of their better hitters?

To put it briefly, yes. Hernandez is 35 years old and already splits time with Ryan Hanigan. The Reds also have some good catching prospects in their system and Hanigan is signed long-term. The Giants could utilize Hernandez for a while; maybe even having him split time with Posey next season to give Posey some time away from the dish. It could work.

That takes us to our largest obstacle, however: Brian Sabean.

The last time Sabean made a move similar to this one, in which he traded an established but relatively young pitcher for a bat (a catcher, in fact) it was a disaster. Yes, I’m talking about Joe Nathan for A.J. Pierzynski in 2003. Oh, and another young pitcher named Francisco Liriano who has been a pretty solid starter. That went well. 

In short (too late), Sabean has no reason to believe he needs to give up a pitcher for some offense. After all, last year he was able to sign some random guys for relatively little and they helped the Giants win the World Series—no pitching sacrifices required. So what if the Giants have one of the worst offenses in all of baseball? They certainly have one of the best pitching staffs and great pitching beats great hitting in a seven-game series almost every time.

The bottom line is that Giants fans want to make a trade for a bat, Giants management probably won’t do it and the Giants will keep winning close games without scoring too much. They have a good catching prospect in the system in Hector Sanchez and everyone knows how much Sabean loves home-grown talent.

So, regardless of Jonathan Sanchez’s performance in the second half or Barry Zito’s resurgence as an effective starting pitcher, no one will be moved. A few tweaks here or there are all you are going to see. Who knows? It may be just enough.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Would Jose Reyes to the San Francisco Giants Be a Good Thing?

With the New York Mets recent financial situation and the San Francisco Giants desperate need for offense and a real short stop, Jose Reyes has been one of the hottest names floating around MLB trade rumors. 

This is an intriguing idea for both teams. They have exactly what each other wants and needs. However, neither team will be bite the bait for a small price.

Reyes will be a free agent at the end of the season. The Mets are facing a $1 billion lawsuit due to their involvement with the Bernie Madeoff scandal. All that is for sure is that they will be reducing their payroll significantly in 2012.

If New York is not a postseason contender (in the highly competitive NL East) when the July 31 trade deadline rolls around, you can bet that there will be no more “Joseeeeeè, Jose, Jose-Joseeeeeeè, Josè, Josè” chants for Los Mets fans at Citi Field come August.

The defending World Champion San Francisco Giants have been plagued with issues in 2011 of similar magnitude but very different circumstances.

San Francisco won their championship in 2010 because of their dominant pitching staff and timely hitting. A band of misfits and castoffs was strategically strung together by mastermind general manager Brian Sabean. 

Sabean did everything in his power to keep his champions together, making only a few small moves during the offseason. However, fate destroyed his careful work when San Francisco was plagued by several majorly devastating injuries.

A team that has notoriously struggled offensively and barely strung across enough runs to secure wins for their staff has already lost almost all of it’s biggest producers at some point this season. 

Heart-breaking injuries to the comeback Pablo Sandoval, sensation Buster Posey, the consistent and reliable Freddy Sanchez and a few other utility players, have created a “giant” need for an offensive spark-plug. 

The Giants currently hold the sixth worst batting average in the majors and are last in runs scored.

Somehow they have managed to stay on top of the NL West within half a game of first place the entire season (proof that great pitching really does go a loooong way, my friends). Although the NL West is admittedly not the most competitive division to compete in, this has been no easy feat for the Giants, and they will need to make a move to stay there.

The Giants have a big hole at shortstop, especially with an aging Miguel Tejada picking up most of the playing time there and hitting just .226.

With second basemen Freddy Sanchez possibly out for the season and the middle infield positions being held down by high-potential but not so high-impact players who have been brought up to the majors in wake of recent injuries, the need for an offensive shortstop with speed and range just became a high priority for San Francisco.

If you looked up “Jose Reyes” in the dictionary, that is exactly what you would see. “An offensive shortstop with speed and range” and one having one of the best years of his career leading the league in runs and average with the second most stolen bases. 

If San Francisco wants to have a shot at repeating their title, or even remaining contenders for that matter, they will probably need someone of the likes of Jose Reyes to fill the void in 2011. 

What exactly would the Giants have to give up to make this happen?

New York needs good, young players, particularly pitchers. San Francisco has many very valuable young players and pitchers, but some may have too much future value to be traded. 

This could involve Giants top pitching prospects such as first-round draft pick Zack Wheeler, as well as young position players such as Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, who both still have developing to do but have already shown potential at the big league level. 

Other players that will be targeted are members of the Giants top tier starting rotation.

Giants GM Brian Sabean will not give up his ace Tim Lincecum or workhorse Matt Cain. He would be lucky to get rid of Barry Zito in a package to the Mets. However, this could be even more costly for the Giants, who still owe the struggling lefty over $40 million and would likely have to buy out the rest of his contract.

With the year comeback player Ryan Vogelsong is having, you can bet that the Giants are going to hold on to him as long as he keeps up the best numbers and performance of the entire pitching staff.

However, No. 3 starter Jonathon Sanchez, who has had several shaky starts this season although he can be lights out when he’s locked in, has been relatively inconsistent with 38 wins and 44 losses in six seasons with San Francisco.

It might be smart for the Giants to include Jonathon Sanchez in a package with prospects to bring Reyes to SF. 

It all depends. Do the Giants want to give up the potential future success of their franchise over the next decade to bring Jose to the team for the rest of 2011? 

Yes, with the year Reyes is having, his addition would all but guarantee postseason success.

However, if San Francisco makes a trade for Jose, it would likely be a short term “rental,” as when he goes on the free agent market after the World Series they would have to re-sign him. 

Reyes is only 28 years old, and if he keeps up his All-Star numbers through the second half he will demand,and likely be awarded a big time superstar contract of the likes of those of Troy Tulowitski and Carl Crawford. 

The Giants will not sign Reyes to a long term contract. If they do, it will cost them.

Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson’s contracts are all up in the next few years. This is a team that is built around pitching, and it won them a World Series. If the Giants want to repeat as champions anytime soon, they need to save their money to keep the pitching staff intact. 

Look for a team with a higher payroll to sign Reyes for 2012. The New York Yankees? That’s a whole other story. 

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Matt Cain: Five Reasons the Giants’ Number Two is MLB’s Most Underrated Pitcher

When the San Francisco Giants called up Matt Cain in August of 2005, he made his debut as the second youngest pitcher in the major leagues.  Now in his seventh season as a big leaguer, Cain is a seasoned veteran with a laundry list of accomplishments to his credit.  He finished last year’s World Championship season with a 13-11 record with a 3.14 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 177 strikeouts, 61 walks, 223 innings pitched and four complete games (including two shutouts).  

In May alone, he pitched into the sixth inning or later in each of his six starts while giving up nine earned runs on 23 hits with 35 strike outs and 18 walks with an 1.81 ERA.  He was instrumental in the Giants’ regular season success last year and even more so in their postseason World Series run.  Despite his track record of success, he is rarely included in the list of current upper echelon pitchers, and there are five main reasons why. 

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San Francisco Giants: Giants’ Sweet Torture Continues in Extra-Inning Affair

Aaron Rowand hits game-winning single in the bottom of the 12th inning and goes 2-for-3 in Giants’ 5-4 win.

Looks like things have not changed much since last year.

The San Francisco Giants continued their victorious but torturous ways, as a sellout crowd at AT&T Park witnessed one of the greatest, yet weirdest games baseball fans will ever see.

The game featured two dramatic ninth-inning rallies with two outs and nobody on, a strike zone the size of a golf ball at one time and an SUV at another, an unlikely hero two home openers in a row, and an extra-inning dogfight where the Giants stranded a runner at third with nobody out in the bottom of the 11th inning.

If you thought that was weird, the St. Louis Cardinals moved their left fielder and put five men in the infield in that bottom of the 11th inning—and it worked when Aaron Rowand lined a smash right to third base, which was manned by left fielder Allen Craig.

The Giants achieved their 5-4 victory and broke the 4-4 tie in the bottom of the 12th inning when Rowand roped a game-winning single off the left-center field wall with the bases loaded. Coincidentally, it was just last year on the Giants’ 2010 home opener when Rowand hit an RBI infield hit in the 13th inning to beat the Braves 5-4.

“This one was a lot easier than the last one trying to leg it out,” Rowand said.

The 12th-inning rally began off Cardinals lefty Brian Tallet (0-1) when Miguel Tejada hit a one-out single to left. With two outs, Andres Torres reached on a catching error by first baseman Albert Pujols.

Cardinals manger Tony La Russa elected to walk Freddy Sanchez to load the bases for an unlikely hero. Rowand promptly silenced the naysayers by coming through in the clutch for the second home opener in a row.

“It was a lefty in that situation, so I hope they got to me,” Rowand said.

The ecstasy at AT&T Park by the end of the 12th inning was nothing of the sort back in the top of the ninth inning. With the Giants up 3-2 and Brian Wilson looking for his first save of the year, Wilson lost the 12-pitch marathon battle with Ryan Theriot, as he singled in the tying and lead runs with the bases loaded. The inning started with two quick outs.

Wilson was angry, as he walked off the mound in the top of the ninth inning. He seemed to disagree with home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman’s strike zone and began shouting at him while he was leaving the field.

“I was a little pissed,” Wilson said. “Emotions are flying. It’s opening day. Oh well, that’s what happens.”

It appeared that the Giants’ opening day party, which included their championship flag being hoisted and set atop a pole forever at AT&T Park, was ruined by the Cardinals’ ninth-inning rally. However, the Giants returned the favor and started a two-out rally of their own, which concluded with a game-tying single to right by Pablo Sandoval.

It appeared the first baseman Pujols was out of position when Sandoval hit his hard ground ball to the right side, as he broke toward the bag as the pitch was being thrown by closer Ryan Franklin. Nonetheless, the Giants enjoyed every minute of it.

“The game was an emotional roller coaster, a great game,” said Bruce Bochy, Giants manager. “These guys fought hard. It was quite a ball game for a home opener.”

Lost in all the hoopla was a fine starting pitching performance by Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez. Although he threw a lot of pitches early, he battled through a first-inning jam and allowed just one run while striking out seven in five innings of work.

The Cardinals scored first on a Tyler Greene single in the top of the second inning. The Giants would tie the game on a third-inning home run by Miguel Tejada, his first as a Giant.

The Giants grabbed the lead on a Freddy Sanchez double in the second inning. They would tack on another run in the sixth inning on Pat Burrell’s third home run of the year, making the score 3-1.

For the most part, the Giants kept Pujols in check. The Cardinals slugger went just 1-for-6, with an RBI single in the eighth inning that cut the Giants’ lead to 3-2. Pujols’ average fell to .179 for the year.

Dan Runzler (1-0) pitched a perfect 12th inning to earn the win in relief. He was one of eight pitchers used by the Giants in the game.

Although the torture called Giants baseball continued, like last year, torture still never felt so good for the fans in San Francisco.

My Thoughts

This was just a great baseball game.

The Giants did something that all good teams need to do to be successful. That is to not quit, even when all seems lost.

When the Giants blew their 3-2 lead in the ninth inning, many teams might have felt so deflated and just rolled over—not the Giants. They roared back with a two-out rally. Rowand (2-for-3) got things started with a two-out single, and would eventually come in to score on Sandoval’s game-tying single.

Another instance where the Giants showed resiliency was after the bottom of the 11th inning. After Torres doubled and advanced on a wild pitch with nobody out, the Giants suffered a crushing blow. Victory was within reach, but the Giants stumbled.

Freddy Sanchez struck out, and then, Aaron Rowand hit a hard, low liner that the left fielder dove for and trapped at third base. La Russa moved the left fielder to third base, and it actually worked, as Torres was nailed in a rundown on the play. Mark DeRosa then struck out on some questionable pitches for the third out of the inning.

Again, the Giants could have rolled over and let the failure get into their heads. Fortunately for the Giants, this did not happen, as Runzler came out and pitched a scoreless top of the 12th, setting up the Giants’ walk-off win at the bottom of the inning.

Another thing to note: Bruce Dreckman’s strike zone was awful today. The one thing players ask for in a home plate umpire is consistency, no matter if his strike zone is high, low or wide. It seemed that early in the game, Dreckman’s zone was very tight when Sanchez was on the mound. Later on, his strike zone widened, especially during DeRosa’s 11th-inning at bat.

If the Giants are going to do this torture bit on their fans again, it should be another fun season in the wacky world of San Francisco Giants baseball.


The Giants are now 3-4 and have won three home openers in a row. With home runs from Burrell and Tejada, they now lead the National League in home runs with nine (tied with the Reds and Brewers).

Rowand got his second-straight walk-off hit in a Giants home opener.

Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday says he may play this weekend after having his appendix removed just five days ago.

Pujols has hit into five double plays in seven games so far this year.

Tomorrow, Matt Cain will look for his second win of the year against the Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia. The game will start at 7:05 p.m. to accommodate the Giants’ ring ceremony.



  1       2















  0       1















  0       0















W: D. Runzler (1-1)

L: B. Tallet (0-1)


Vinnie Cestone is a Baseball/San Francisco Giants Featured Columnist for The Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Stats and other information came from ESPN.com and MLB.com.

This article was featured on the blog Talking Giants Baseball.

Follow me on twitter @vintalkingiants.

Questions or comments? E-mail my blog mailbag at vc4re@yahoo.com. Your questions may be answered on my blog.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Spring Training Is Over: The Game’s 10 Most Overrated Players

Everybody has their list.

They get a ton of attention and for this group, unwarranted. They’re overrated.

Which stats are the best indicators of being overrated?

OPS? WAR? Should an eye test be taken?

Potential sometimes cannot be judged on stats.

Let’s take a look at the 10 most overrated players in baseball.

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San Francisco Giants: Why They Are Favored to Win N.L. West, Part II

As stated in the previous Giants piece, readers will agree that the San Francisco Giants have taken more steps forward than other teams in their National League West Division.

Part II to this series will introduce three more reasons why the Giants can only improve their record from last season.

Part II to this series will introduce three more reasons why the Giants can only improve their record from last season.

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MLB Trade Speculation: Moving Matt Cain for a Dynamic Bat Would Be a Big Blunder

Prior to winning the World Series in 2010, there were many fans calling for the San Francisco Giants to trade Matt Cain for a big bat. At the time of the original rumors a couple of years ago, I was a proponent of trading Matt Cain for Prince Fielder. Thank goodness GM Brian Sabean didn’t make that move.

Over the past couple of years, in addition to Prince Fielder, we have heard rumors involving Jose Reyes, Adrian Beltre, Grady Sizemore and several others in blockbuster deals involving Matt Cain. 

The trade rumors have also swirled around moving Jonathan Sanchez for a powerful bat. I must admit, a year ago at this time, I was in favor of making a move involving either Sanchez or Cain.

Watching the Giants in 2010 and also looking at their 2011 roster, I have now changed my view completely. The Giants proved that excellent pitching is the most important thing if you want to make a deep run in the playoffs.

Cain was the most consistent and reliable pitcher for the Giants in 2010. During the regular season he threw 223 1/3 innings, finished with a 13-11 record, 3.14 ERA and 1.084 WHIP. 

In the post season, Cain continued his dominance. In 21 1/3 innings, Cain only gave up 13 hits.  He went 2-0 and did not allow an earned run. 

Durability and reliability are also Cain’s trademarks. Over the past five years, Cain has also never failed to start at least 31 games for the Giants. 

Sanchez was also extremely effective over the last couple of months of the season. He had a breakout season in 2010, finishing with a record of 13-9. His ERA was a career-best 3.07 and his WHIP ratio was also a career best of 1.23. Sanchez also had 205 strikeouts in his 193 1/3 innings pitched.

If it were not for Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez, the Giants would not have even made the playoffs, let alone won the World Series. Kudos to Brian Sabean for not trading either of these young arms.  The Giants proved that top notch starting pitching, along with a solid bullpen, is a recipe for victory.

Trading from an area of strength when you have nobody ready to step into the role for the departed player is a flawed approach. It makes no sense to strengthen one area of your team by weakening another.

Looking ahead to the 2011 season, the Giants will be wise to hold onto their starting pitching staff. The top four pitchers—Tim Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner—are outstanding. Keep these four and the Giants will be poised to make another deep run in the postseason.

The No. 5 starter, the much-maligned Barry Zito, cannot be traded unless the Giants were to eat a huge portion of his salary. It doesn’t make sense to do that, so the Giants must just hope Zito can be an effective fifth starter. At least Zito is a durable innings eater as he has made at least 32 starts in the past ten seasons. 

The additional argument against trading Matt Cain or any of their top starters is that the Giant offense should be much improved in 2011. The Giants will have a full year of Buster Posey behind the plate.  In addition, Pablo Sandoval is looking svelte and his bat is quick. He looks ready for a big year.

Super utility man Mark DeRosa should be a big contributor after missing most of 2010 with a wrist injury. NLCS MVP Cody Ross will also add punch to the Giants outfield. 

Rookie phenom Brandon Belt will probably not make the team out of spring training because the Giants would like him to get more seasoning in AAA.  I expect Belt to be called up in the May or June time frame, much the same way that Buster Posey was brought up to the Majors last year.  Belt should give the Giants’ offense a positive jolt over the second half of the year.

The Giants offense will be better in 2011 and there is no need to trade a pitcher the likes of Cain or Sanchez. I thank Brian Sabean for holding on to these two pitchers when people, including me, were clamoring for a trade to acquire a big bat.

Sometimes the best deals are those that never get completed. In this case, it is 100 percent true. By keeping their pitching staff together, the Giants won the World Series and made a lifelong dream of mine come true!

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

New York Yankees Rumors: 10 Potential Ace Replacements for CC Sabathia

Spring training is here and there’s already panic in the Bronx.

The New York Yankees’ offseason will not go down in the history books among the all-time greats.

They missed out on Cliff Lee. Their best acquisition was Rafael Soriano, which isn’t to say that he’s bad, just that the ridiculous contract they gave him is. They alienated Derek Jeter—arguably the most beloved player in franchise history—by handling the negotiations through the media. To add insult to injury, Andy Pettitte decided to call it a career.

The Yankees enter 2011 with a lot of questions that need to be answered if they are going to compete with the revamped Red Sox in the American League East.

One thing that they don’t have to worry about is their ace, CC Sabathia. He has been as reliable as anyone in baseball since the 2007 season.

However, they do have to worry about that opt-out clause in his contract after this year. If Sabathia chooses to exercise it, he will be a free agent, and that will leave the Yankees scrambling to ensure that they don’t lose him.

They do have a great bargaining chip in the minors in Jesus Montero, whom they can dangle to acquire a new ace for 2012. Since the free-agent pitching market next winter is going to be pretty bad, a trade would seem to be their best bet to acquire a new ace.

Here are 10 guys that the Yankees could take a look at if Sabathia decides to bolt from New York after 2011.

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San Francisco Giants: Sanchez Vs. Bumgarner, Who’s The Better Future Lefty?

Madison Bumgarner or Jonathan Sanchez?

Thankfully for the San Francisco Giants, the tough choice between the two does not have to be made, for now. However, the day may soon come in which a trade comes along that cannot be turned down and the Giants will need to make a decision; hopefully the core rotation will stay intact (cheers for Brian Sabean), but that day may be sooner than you’d think.

As the two productive lefties in the Giants rotation (sorry, Barry Zito), Bumgarner and Sanchez are seemingly easy to group together. However, the pitchers are, in fact, extremely different physically, mentally and stylistically.

Sanchez, at 6-foot-2, 189 pounds is built for power, with long legs and a windup reliant on torque for increased force. If his arm is not in the right slot, the Giants are usually in for a stressful night. So is Sanchez, who frequently shows his frustrations on the field.

Bumgarner is a lanky 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and generates power by slinging his arm through his motion. He tends to last longer per start than Sanchez and his motion does not seem to put much stress on his arm. He also stays calm, even in stressful situations (though he has not found himself in many).

The most obvious difference between the two is age: Sanchez is 28, Bumgarner is 21.

With all of these facts taken into account, I believe that Madison Bumgarner is the better lefty moving forward. Let’s go a little more in depth and see the top 10 reasons why.

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The 10 Biggest Questions Facing The Giants Heading Into Spring Training

As February dawns here in 2011, that can only mean one thing for baseball fans, here comes spring training. And with the breath of fresh air and the feeling that only a beginning can supply comes a time when all the questions are going to be tackled. For three months us Giants fans have been basking in the glow of a World Series victory, the first for the city. And now, the Giants must begin their first title defense in the history of San Francisco.

For a team that did relatively little in the offseason (besides locking players up), this spring training will still be phenomenally interesting, mostly due to the tumultuous nature of last season. Now, we know that spring training can be nothing more than a small exercise, and that none of our questions may be answered. Heck, just look at the lineup changes that went on during the season in 2010. However, it is still an incredibly important time of year, a time to review last year, but mostly preview the coming year and address the questions heading in.

In that case, let’s count down the 10 biggest questions facing the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants (feels good don’t it!) as the head into spring training.

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