So long Freddy Sanchez; San Francisco Giants fans thank you for the ring

SATURDAY: Pirates 3, Giants 1 — BOX SCORE

Not much to say about Saturday’s loss in Pittsburgh, other than it’s another quality start for Ryan Vogelsong.

So, with the Giants in Pittsburgh this weekend, it’s seems like the right time to send a big thank you to Freddy Sanchez.

Thanks, Freddy, for the 2010 season and the World Series championship. That’s about all the Giants got for the more than $18 million they spent on Sanchez since aquiring him during the 2009 season. For most of us, that was enough.

In a way, it was like the money we spent on Edgar Renteria, the money we’re still spending on Aubrey Huff. Really expensive lightning in a bottle.

Freddy Sanchez

Sanchez’s bid to return to the Giants this season ended Thursday when the team announced the second baseman would require back surgery.

So thus ends the Freddy Sanchez era, in all probability, in San Francisco. He won’t be back this season. Maybe he won’t be back at all, for the Giants or anyone else.

On July 29, 2009, the Giants acquired Sanchez in a trade with the Pirates for pitching prospect Tim Alderson. A couple weeks earlier, Sanchez had been the Pirates’ All-Star representative.

A couple of days after the trade, a friend came up to me and said, with a smile, “we got Freddy Sanchez!”

I responded with a little wince. “He’s a good player, when he can stay healthy. I’m just not sure he can stay healthy, and I’m not sure he’s worth giving up Alderson.”

Well, as it turns out, I was right about the first two points, wrong on the final one. Sanchez was worth giving up Alderson, who has barely made it above Double-A since joining the Pirates organization.

In what basically amounted to a little less than two seasons of playing time with the Giants, Sanchez hit .290 with 11 HRs, 78 RBI in 196 games.

Sanchez only played 25 games for the Giants in 2009, spending a stint on the DL with a strained left shoulder.

That offseason, facing a decision on whether or not to pick up Sanchez’s team option in 2010, the Giants signed him to a two-year, $12 million contract.

Later that offseason, Sanchez had surgery on that left shoulder, but hopes were that he’d be ready for the 2010 opener. He did not return until May 19.

But after that, he played in 111 games, hitting .292 with 7 HRs and 47 RBI. After slumping in the NL Division series against the Braves, he hit .320 in the NLCS vs. the Phillies and .273 in the World Series vs. the Rangers. He became the first player to double in his first three World Series at-bats.

Sanchez strained his left shoulder again late in the 2010 season, but played through it. He had another procedure on the shoulder after the 2010 season, but started the 2011 season on time.

During the season-opening series in Los Angeles in 2011, the Giants announced they were extending Sanchez’s contract by one more year for $6 million. It was a puzzling move because it came so early in the season, especially given Sanchez’s history with injuries.

He hit .289 with 3 HRs and 24 RBI in 60 games in 2011 before dislocating his right shoulder while attempting to make a diving stop at second base against the Reds on June 10. He had season-ending surgery two months later.

Sanchez came to spring training this year hoping to be ready to play by the time games started. But a back issue delayed his recovery. After returning to the field, Sanchez was not able to develop the arm strength to start the season with the Giants, and he remained in Arizona for extended spring training.

He began a minor-league rehab stint with the San Jose Giants on April 23, going 4 for 10 in three games. But that ended when his shoulder stiffened up. He returned to Arizona to work on his shoulder strength when his back flared up in mid-May.

Now, the Giants are left to decide what their future is at second base.

Ryan Theriot (.280) has done a solid job after spening 15 days on the DL in late May. Joaquin Arias (.244) and Emmanel Burriss (.210) are the other options.

If there’s a silver lining, Sanchez’s surgery does open up a spot on the Giants’ 40-man roster if they want to see if anyone down on the farm could give the Giants boost at second base.

In the minors, they have:

  • Brock Bond (age 26) — 1 HR, 19 RBI, .332 AVG, .406 OBP in 56 games with Triple-A Fresno. Bats right.
  • Nick Noonan (age 23) — 3 HR, 38 RBI, .297 AVG, .357 OBP in 78 games with Triple-A Fresno. Bats left. Playing SS for Grizzlies.
  • Charlie Culberson (age 23) — 7 HR, 46 RBI, .251 AVG, .292 OBP in 74 games with Triple-A Fresno. Bats right. Had a brief stint with Giants earlier this year, going 3 for 22 (.136) in six games. On 40-man roster.
  • Ryan Cavan (age 25) — 8 HR, 28 RBI, .234 AVG, .305 OBP in 81 games with Double-A Richmond. Bats right
  • Bobby Haney (age 23) — 0 HR, 10 RBI, .322 AVG, .359 OBP in 35 games with Class-A San Jose. Bats left.
  • Joe Panik (age 21) — 4 HR, 44 RBI, .263 AVG, .339 OBP in 82 games with Class-A San Jose. Bats left. First-round pick in 2011. Playing SS in San Jose.

Among potential free-agent second baseman this offseason includes Orlando Hudson (White Sox), Maicer Izturis (Angels), Jeff Keppinger (Rays), Marco Scutaro (Rockies), Placido Polanco (Phillies), Kelly Johnson (Blue Jays) and Skip Schumaker (Cardinals).


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