Urban: Giants should sign, trade Jonathan Sanchez

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Urban: Giants should sign, trade Jonathan Sanchez

Sept. 13, 2011

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Unless you're among the Giants fans still unwilling to concede the miracle it'll take to chase down the Braves for the National League wild-card spot, and if you need to take a peek at the impossibility that the remaining schedule represents, your mind is surely wandering in the direction of Scottsdale 2012 right about now.Specifically, the competition for the No. 5 spot in San Francisco's starting rotation.Let's assume for the time being that Ryan Vogelsong won't break an ankle jumping at the two-year deal the Giants should offer him the moment the season ends; he's in.
We'll also assume the Giants don't do the unthinkable and trade Tim Lincecum for a big bat rather than pony up another massive raise via arbitration this offseason; he's in.
Matt Cain is under contract, and trading him would be a PR nightmare on par with a Lincecum deal; he's in.
Madison Bumgarner has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's in, too.RELATED: Sanchez stats splits game logs
That leaves, as of now, three legitimate candidates for the final spoke in the wheel that once again will be expected to motor the Giants into contention in 2012: lefties Eric Surkamp, Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito.As of today, because he's done in the short time he's been in the big leagues what Sanchez and Zito haven't done all year (i.e., proven himself to be steady, reliable, unflappable under a modicum of pressure), Surkamp is surely the frontrunner in most fans' minds.
Is he that in the minds of management? Probably not as strongly.Why? Track record. Sanchez, for all of his maddening inconsistency, remains the most gifted among the trio. Zito, whose five years in Orange and Black have redefined maddening in many ways, remains the most accomplished. Those things count for something, believe it or not. And they should.RELATED: Zito stats splits game logs
So if all three of them pitch well next spring, who gets the gig?Here's a better question: Will all three be in Giants camp next spring?Now, here's a scenario in which they aren't, and it's a scenario that could make the Giants considerably better:Sanchez, who heads to Scottsdale this week to continue his rehab, is eligible for arbitration this winter. Despite his lost season, he's going to get a big raise unless the Giants decide to non-tender him and let him walk as a free agent. That's just how the game works. At first glance, it might look sensible to strongly consider a non-tender for Sanchez, but the first glance is usually blurry. Look at the situation with clarity and you'll see that such a move would mean the Giants are giving up a very talented, still-fairly-youngish lefty and getting zero in return.RELATED: Surkamp stats splits game logs
So why not, as soon as he gets healthy, go to Sanchez with a one-year offer for 6 million? He's making 4.8 this year, and coming off such a disappointing season, he'd probably jump at that the way Vogelsong would jump at the aforementioned two-year deal (10 mil total sounds about right there).Then, with Sanchez firmly in the fold, get to work on trading him.That's right. Sign him and trade him. Think there won't be a number of teams out there jumping at a chance to add a talent like Sanchez for 6 million? Teams that will buy the change-of-scenery pitch that Giants GM Brian Sabean will surely pitch?
There will be plenty, and by packaging Sanchez and perhaps a decent prospect or two, the Giants should be able to get a decent hitter to fortify an offense that needs help all over the diamond. And there will be teams willing to give up a bat for a that kind of package. Then you're down to Surkamp and Zito for the No. 5 spot next spring, and may the best man win. If it's Zito, whose contract makes him untradeable until about midseason next year, Surkamp gets a little more seasoning or makes the club as the long man. If it's Surkamp, Zito has to figure out a way to survive in relief.Either way, with Lincecum, Cain, Vogelsong and Bumgarner in the first four sports, the fifth spot isn't going to be a make-or-break gig -- especially with an improved offense; improved in part by the Sanchez sign-and-trade.It's as simple as it sounds. And quite a bit more realistic than those crazy playoff hopes you might still be harboring.

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.