Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ortiz Up, Sanchez Down

It has been reported that Sanchez was optioned to AAA to make space for Ortiz. Bochy noted that Sanchez's future is as a starter but that he will remain a reliever this season, most likely. Too bad, I was hoping they would just let him start down there and get ready for next season.

It was noted that Sanchez needs to work on his breaking pitches, both his breaking ball and changeup, because he lost command of them and needs to improve his location, but that he still has a good fastball. They will put him in a regimen similar to the one they are using with Pat Misch - who I would rather see up here in relief than Sanchez - where Sanchez will pitch two or more innings in relief every two or three days to give Sanchez a chance to gain consistency. It would also allow him to work on refining certain pitches or mechanics, which he couldn't do with the Giants since he couldn't tire himself out in case the Giants needed him in the game later that day.

Bochy thinks it's the best thing for "Sanchie" and that once he returns, he probably won't see the minors again. But he must gain command of his off-speed pitches in order to earn that promotion. For the season, he had an ERA of 5.52 in 14 appearances with 13 walks and 21 strikeouts in 14.2 IP, a stellar 12.9 K/9 rate that ranked third among NL relievers but horrible command, around 1.6 K/BB, when good relievers should be at least 2.4 and good starters, 2.0. Either way, Bochy thinks he's going to add a lot of value whether from the pen or starting.

Giants Thoughts

Again, I wish they would just start him and give Misch a try up here. Or at least give Misch a try up here while Sanchez works on his consistency - if Misch does well up here, then move Sanchez into the AAA rotation, if not, then they can go back to this plan and bring him back up when he is ready.

Of course, if we let Sanchez start, he won't have a spot in the rotation next year, what with Zito, Cain, Lincecum, Lowry, and Morris. So he'll be looking at breaking into the 2009 rotation, probably with Morris's option not being picked up, otherwise if it is picked up that would mean 2010 and his prospect status will dim. So perhaps this could be why they are looking at him mainly as a reliever right now, because they don't have a spot for him right now in the near future.

I would rather let him start in AAA and do as well as he can. If he can do very well in AAA and make himself one of the top pitching prospects, he would be a very valuable trading chip, whereas a reliever, even at the major league level, would not be as valuable, in my opinion, even one striking guys out at a 12.9 K/9 rate.

Or he could make someone who is in the rotation now, expendable in a trade and net us even more perhaps. However, I view Cain and Lincecum as untouchables, and Zito isn't going anywhere as long as Magowan controls things, so that leaves Morris and Lowry. If both can continue pitching like they have been this season, they will be very valuable indeed.


  1. So you're saying that a starter that does well in AAA is worth more (in a trade) than a reliever who does well in AAA? I'll accept that. But Sanchez is a pretty common exception.

    People know he can start, and that he has the stamina to do it. So what does it matter if he's starting in AAA right now or if he's relieving? Especially if he's probably not going to crack the big league's rotation anytime soon.

    If he does well in relief, couldn't a team essentially look into trading for him to turn him into a starter? Sure they can. So should being a reliever hurt his value? I don't think so. If a team likes him, and wants him to be their starter, they could make him one (as he's already been one).

    I know, starting him will allow him to stretch his arm out and allow him to continually build up stamina to start. But is that really all it's cracked up to be? Especially once you've been a starter in your career?

    I know this isn't a very good example, but John Smoltz has switched back and forth within the period of an offseason. Does he just work on his stamina during the offseason? Or does he have "lingering" fatigue issues in his first few starts as a starter again?

    All I'm saying is the Giants need to maintain a course of action that allows the team to compete. If that means prepping Sanchez to come back to the big leagues as a more solid relief pitcher (as the rotation will be hard to crack the next year or two), then thats what it is.

    If anything, I think making him a relief pitcher in AAA will help his confidence. If I were Sanchez, I would look at is as the team not looking at me as a bargaining chip. Maybe they don't want to deal Sanchez at all.

  2. OK, I guess I'll have to spell it all out. What I'm saying is this: Sanchez is proven to have pitching talent but he's never been successful over a full season as a starter at either the AA or AAA levels. Or even Advanced (high) A.

    He has done well in AA and AAA for a few starts but not for a whole season. Was it luck or was it truly his good abilities? Players have come up to a new level and do well, but then get cold as the league catches on. But if you are not in the league long enough for them to catch up with you, there is that level of doubt over whether you can make the leap.

    There are many pitchers who can be successful as a relief pitcher but not as a starting at the major league level. For example, Ryan Madsen of the Phillies was great as a reliever but stunk it up badly as a starter. As I assume you know, the starters are more valuable. Sanchez is proven to be raw talent right now, with the ability to do well, but can he?

    He hasn't really done all that well in the majors thus far. Not that teams wouldn't take him up in a sec if we were giving him away, but my view is that the Giants should keep all their pitching unless they are trading for a major hitting talent, a top young hitter. No more Hillenbrand type of deals.

    And you can't keep all your pitchers. As I noted, there is no spot in the rotation in 2008 and possibly 2009 if Morris continues to pitch this well into 2008, his option will be picked up. So do you "waste" a starter's level talent in the bullpen or do you make him valuable as a starter or reliever?

    Right now, Sanchez can only be traded as a reliever. He's not prepared to start. Any team trading for him would have to put him in the minors to start and I don't think that's really enough to build up strength, plus build up IP, the most he has ever thrown in a season is 125 IP, he cannot suddenly leap to throwing even 180 IP, say, next season, and that's something the other team will account for when they are trading for him.

    That's not going to yield a top young hitter and I know probably even if he is a starter, he won't net one, but my point is just that he is more valuable, say, by season's end, if he is starting and showing how good he can be as a starter - looks like he can do well, now we need him to show it.

    We don't necessarily have to trade a pitcher one for one for a good hitter, we could trade a package of players, just make sure the guy is worth getting, as a personality, as a good clubhouse guy.

    And I'm not saying the Giants are or should be looking to trade him off, but they should be preparing him because his name will be coming up during trade season, whether they are interested or not, and if another team is offering a good young starting player for him, why not be prepared to trade him off. For example, the Reds traded Kearns and Lopez for two relievers, we should prepare Sanchez to be able to be used in either starting or relieving situations, so that if a team wants a starter or reliever, and is willing to trade off young hitters for him, why not take advantage of that? That's how we got Nen and Livan before, taking advantage of teams suddenly selling off good players for prospects.

  3. I understand what you're getting at with trades. I understand that starters have more value than relief pitchers. I also understand that teams should be prepared to pawn off their players in the event teams are looking to unload payroll, age, etc.

    All I'm saying is that one year of starting for Sanchez down in the minors isn't going to improve his scouting report very much. As it stands: "wicked fastball, slider, change combo; spotty control; loads of confidence; can start". If he's been brought up all along as a starter (i.e. all of last year and this year), then his value would be different, but I don't see how sending him down 3/4 of the way through a season to make him a starter will improve his value by much.

    If a team is going to consider taking Sanchez on as part of some package, especially if he is the "bulk" of what is incoming to them, then they'd definite send scouts out to watch him and ask around for scouting reports. What he does in the next few months isn't going to affect what their advance scouts and minor league scouts already see in Sanchez.

    Thats really all I'm saying. Besides, I'm of the camp that thinks the Giants should just stand pat. Unless something drastic happens to Bonds, Durham, or Molina, they really aren't "desperate buyers". That would be a good position to be in come trade deadline time in two months.

  4. OK, I guess I agree for the most part. I don't see the need to trade either but I want the Giants to be ready to deal for a good young hitter if the opportunity opens up, like if Tampa Bay gets desperate for starters or something, they have a lot of young position prospects.

    And if he starts now, he can probably get into 17-20 starts, which would give him 100-140 IP of starting in AAA.

    You can scout a player's skill all you want, but performance counts for a lot. And he hasn't really been successful as a starter at the higher levels yet.

    And if he hasn't put in the IP this year or previously, any team acquiring him will be looking at him mainly as a reliever or as a potential starter down the line, which reduces his value to them today, unless they are desperate for a prospect like him.

  5. i think what has been lost in the fray is teh orginization's commitment to consitency with Snachez this year. They made it clear that if he started the year as a reliever, that is what he would remain for the forseeable future. Brian Sabean made it clear at the beginning of the year that they were concerned about shuffling him between relieveing and starting and the effect it had on his arm last year.
    I think this rationale would help to explain the demotion to Fresno as a reliever as opposed to plugging him into the rotation down there.

  6. Thanks for the comment Sebastian, good point to bring up about how the Giants had committed to keeping him in one role all year, forgot to mention that point.

    But sometimes plans change and you have to roll with the punches, much like how Linden was suppose to be the 4th outfielder with 400 AB this year but instead got shipped out. Or Lewis and Ortmeier getting promoted when they were not doing that well (OK really) at AAA but the opportunity opened up to bring them up. Plans change, sometimes players get put whereever.

    I don't think we need him now in relief this year. Misch has been doing extremely well in AAA this season, continuing the dominance that he exhibited last season and in the AFL. He's also a lefty like Sanchez if that is a factor, but he's pitching enough innings that he obviously is taking care of right-handed hitters as well as lefties.

    So why not bring up Misch, see how he does. If he continues to do well, move Sanchez back to starting, it would still give him about 15-16 good starts, about 100 IP plus either playoffs (OK, not likely for Fresno given their history) or coming up in September and getting some innings in. Then commit to only starting, but at least be open to changing his role once this season, that's all I ask. :^)

  7. Maybe Sanchez is down to there eventually "succeed" Misch as the elite lefty from the pen. As it stands, the Giants have plenty of lefty relievers (Kline and Taschner), so unless injury strikes, they won't need Misch either. But yeah, if they do call up a reliever from AAA, it'll probably be Misch (unless the person hurt is Hennessey or Correia).

    If Misch gets called up, Sanchez will resume Misch's duties (I'd assume). If Sanchez pitches well enough, he'll be part of the September call-ups, and probably stick with the big league team next year (making Kline expendable). Kline's salary is small enough where I could see him getting DFA'd or traded if Sanchez AND Misch show they're ready next year.

    If Sanchez pitches well at the big league level next year, I can almost guarantee that the Giants will pass on Morris' option year. Effectively, that would make Sanchez the 5th starter in '09.

  8. Right now, it sounds like Misch and Sanchez will be alternating with each other, one pitching 1-2 innings, then the other, so both will be doing it now, as Bochy said that he will be following Misch's regimen and that is to pitch every other day and work on your pitches.

    Sabean have dumped relievers mid-contract before, so if Kline don't straighten up soon, he could be replaced by either Misch or Sanchez by mid-to-late June, I agree with you that he is expendable should the opportunity come up where they are doing really well.

    Yeah, I can see Morris' option not getting picked up if Sanchez does pitch well in the majors next year, but given his struggles thus far, I was anticipating an OK year, not pitching well. Plus Morris would have to continue to pitch well this season and next, also not a certainty.

    The hope is Sanchez will return to his old ways of good control and get his BB/9 down a lot, but, as you know, sometimes a pitcher stalls in his development and never advances.

    I was assuming he would still be having development needs next year still and thus not be a slam dunk for the rotation in 2009 if Morris does well in 2007 and 2008. But if he can do well next year, yeah, I can see him making it into the rotation for 2009.



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