Urban: Giants should sign, trade Jonathan Sanchez


Urban: Giants should sign, trade Jonathan Sanchez

Sept. 13, 2011


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Mychael Urban

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.

How Cubs beat Kershaw to move on to World Series

How Cubs beat Kershaw to move on to World Series

Two quick runs off the best pitcher on the planet on Saturday night afforded the Cubs exactly what they needed to snap a 71-year-old drought.

Already confident after consecutive offensive outbursts in the previous two games, a two-run first inning against Clayton Kershaw had Cubs hitters in a positive frame of mind.

They rode the surprising rally and a dominant performance by Kyle Hendricks to a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. The win earned the Cubs their first NL pennant since 1945 and on Tuesday night they’ll seek their first World Series title since 1908 when they face the Cleveland Indians in Game 1.

“It’s huge for the confidence, the positive momentum from LA, to carry over back home,” left fielder Ben Zobrist said. “Those were the biggest moments in the game early on to help everybody keep pushing and that we got this thing -- that we’re in charge of the game early. That’s a huge momentum builder.”

The Cubs did a little bit of everything in the first inning against Kershaw, who dominated them for seven scoreless frames in a 1-0 Dodgers victory in Game 2 on Sunday night. Some hitters took a more aggressive approach against the three-time NL Cy Young winner while others remained patient. The one constant throughout the 30-pitch frame was that Cubs hitters took advantage whenever Kershaw made a mistake.


MLB becomes whole new ballgame since Cubs last World Series trip


MLB becomes whole new ballgame since Cubs last World Series trip

One way to realize just how long it's been since the Chicago Cubs last reached the World Series is to look at how much the game has changed since then, on and off the field.

The Cubs are making their first appearance since 1945 and chasing their first title since 1908.

Some of the ways the game has changed since the Cubs lost Game 7 to the Detroit Tigers some 71 years ago:

INTEGRATION: Jackie Robinson became the first black player to reach the major leagues in 1947, two years after the Cubs' last World Series appearance. Baseball has turned into a virtual melting pot in the seven decades since. The Cubs' roster includes players from Cuba (reliever Aroldis Chapman and outfielder Jorge Soler), along with Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, as well as the United States.

EXPANSION: There were 16 teams in the majors in 1945, including two in St. Louis, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago, and three in New York. The total is up to 30 now.

GO WEST: There were no major league franchises west of St. Louis in 1945. The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants headed to San Francisco in 1958. In 1969, the Seattle Pilots showed up - they went 64-98 in their first year, then became the Milwaukee Brewers.

DIVISIONAL PLAY: There were no divisions in 1945, just eight teams in both the American League and National League. They split into East and West divisions in 1969. Then a Central was created in 1994, with the Cubs shifting from the NL East to the NL Central.

PLAYOFFS PLUS: Extra teams and divisions resulted in expanded playoffs. The League Championship Series began in 1969, the Division Series started in 1995 and a one-game wild-card playoff came in 2012. A longer postseason pushed the World Series deep into October and beyond. If the Cubs and Cleveland go the distance this year, Game 7 would be on Nov. 2.

FREE AGENCY: When Phil Cavarretta and Peanuts Lowrey helped lead the Cubs to the 1945 Series, they were bound to the team until they were traded or released. Curt Flood tested baseball's reserve clause in the early 1970s and took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, helping pave the way for players to move around as free agents. Jon Lester, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist are among the players the Cubs acquired this way.

DESIGNATED HITTER: The designated hitter joined the American League lineup in 1973. The DH debate is still hot, with the leagues playing by different rules. When this year's World Series opens at the AL park, both teams will use the DH; when the Cubs host, the pitchers will hit.

LIGHTS AT WRIGLEY: The Cubs were the last team in the majors to play only day games. That changed when lights were installed at Wrigley Field in 1988. The games there have always been played outdoors on green grass, never under a dome or on artificial turf, trends that became popular starting with the Astrodome in the mid-1960s.