Should Sabean reward Sandoval?


Should Sabean reward Sandoval?

Let's assume Pablo Sandoval's shoulder, whether or not it requires offseason surgery, isn't anything to sweat beyond his winter recovery.Is it time to offer him a long-term deal?Eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, Sandoval is coming off a bounce-back season that would have made him a lock for Comeback Player of the Year had he not missed six weeks with a wrist injury. In fact, he might win the award, anyway; the missed time didn't stop him from making the National League All-Star team, and he took advantage of that opportunity by drilling an RBI double that helped the NL ice the game.He's been the most valuable Giant, no? Of course. He's been the most consistently productive guy on the offensive side of the roster, without question.
His 2011 salary? A bargain-basement 500,000.
In addition to his offense, he's had a fairly spectacular defensive season at the hot corner, and the reason he's been so good this year is that he responded to an ultimatum about his weight -- issued at the start of last offseason by general manager Brian Sabean -- by dropping between 40-45 pounds.Sandoval, who fell out of favor (and the lineup) last year as his waistline reached grotesque proportions, is a man transformed, and he has the potential to transform the future of the franchise. He was a revelation in 2009, and it's easy to look at 2011 as the first step on his climb to genuine superstardom.So what do you do as he enters the first of three years of arbitration eligibility. Lock him up for three years, let him know how valued he is, make him feel like a key part of the future, guarantee him a certain level of finical security while locking in some payroll certainty or your own?Or do you wait a year or so? Make sure the commitment he showed to fitness last season wasn't a one-year deal. Hold off on spending any more money than you have to until you see him report for spring training 2012 without a massive flesh fanny pack.Three years for a total of 20 million? If this is the real Panda, that'd be a steal. If it's not, that'd be a big mistake.What would you do?

Giants lineup: Pence leading off, lefties back in against D'backs

Giants lineup: Pence leading off, lefties back in against D'backs

After batting fourth on Sunday in Los Angeles, Hunter Pence is back in the leadoff spot in the series opener against Arizona.

Additionally, Denard Span, Joe Panik and Jarrett Parker return after sitting against Clayton Kershaw.

San Francisco Giants:
1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Denard Span (L) CF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
7. Jarrett Parker (L) LF
8. Nick Hundley (R) C
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P

Arizona Diamondbacks:
1. Gregor Blanco (L) LF
2. Kristopher Negron (R) SS
3. Brandon Drury (R) 2B
4. Christian Walker (R) 1B
5. Rey Fuentes (L) CF
6. Adam Rosales (R) 3B
7. Jeremy Hazelbaker (L) RF
8. John Ryan Murphy (R) C
9. Zack Godley (R) P

Three teams chasing Giants in tight race for first overall pick


Three teams chasing Giants in tight race for first overall pick

LOS ANGELES — The Giants have a pretty strong track record when picking in the top five of the MLB Draft. In 1985, they took Will Clark with the second overall selection, and Clark remains the highest-drafted player in franchise history. A year later, Matt Williams was taken third overall. Jason Grilli at No. 4 in 1997 is rather forgettable, but taking Buster Posey with the fifth pick in 2008 led to three titles. 

With a week of baseball remaining, the Giants are a lock to pick in the top four of next year’s draft. A few days ago, they looked like a pretty strong bet to pick first overall, but the standings — the bottom of them, at least — have tightened in recent days. Here’s a look at the contenders, so to speak … 

White Sox (63-92): No team went into tank mode this year quite like Chicago, with trades of just about every big piece on the roster. But a funny thing has happened … they’ve actually played decent baseball down the stretch. The White Sox are 11-12 in September after a blowout of the Royals on Sunday. They finish up with four against the Angels and three against the Indians, so they should get pretty close to 100 losses. 

Phillies (62-94): They have looked all along like the team to beat, but they hurt their top-pick chances by taking three of four from the Dodgers last week. They host the Nationals and Mets this week. 

Tigers (62-94): All of a sudden, they’re the biggest road block for the Giants. The Tigers have lost seven straight and they’re 4-20 in September. They finish up with three against the Royals and three against the Twins, and all six games are on the road. 

Giants (61-95): Can we stop for a moment and appreciate this. We’ve been talking about it for five months, but still, it’s pretty amazing that a $200 million team is headed into the final week with a very good shot at having the worst record in Major League Baseball. What an awful season this has been. Having said that, the Giants have not shown any signs of actually tanking, and manager Bruce Bochy said this weekend that he won’t shut any players down. So, it’s on to Phoenix, where the Giants have lost six of seven this season but the Diamondbacks might chill out a bit after clinching a postseason spot. They’ll face Zack Godley, Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke. The season ends with three at home against the Padres. The Giants have struggled against the Padres for the last year and a half, but they’ll have Matt Cain going in an emotional start and Madison Bumgarner will also get a game.