Friday, July 15, 2011

Giant News: Hector Sanchez is coming up; Crick signs

Just had to write about Hector Sanchez being called up (ExtraBaggs rumor on twitter).  Crazy Crabbers has a nice rundown of his stats at his blog.  I've already opined there that I don't think it was for his offense, since he's doing OK, not great in AAA.  From what I've read, his defense is pretty good at catcher, so that could be the major factor there.  Or could it?

Here is my speculation:  what if the Giants are grooming him to be the catcher of the future (meaning 2012-13)?

Showtime's "The Franchise" series about the 2011 Giants come out the other day and one of the quotes noted from that is that Buster Posey, in a candid moment, talked about how he would emphatically tell his unborn children NOT to play catcher, if they should decide that they want to.  The show apparently also delved into his rehab, about how there was all his grinding feeling while his ankle was being treated (Kruk or Kuip noted on their KNBR show that this feeling is gone now).  What if Posey was having second thoughts about returning as catcher next season?

That could explain why Sanchez was suddenly promoted from Advanced A San Jose to AAA Fresno so suddenly, when he was not really doing all that well in San Jose.  Good for his age, but the MLE for that has to be pretty low still.  Same for his time in AAA as well.

But his batting in the minors remind me of Pablo Sandoval's rise to the majors.  The batting line is never that great, but he handled the bat fine at each level, never striking out too much, though never really walking that much either, while Hector appears to be better than Pablo in that regard.  Basically, it appears that he can hit but it is just a matter of waiting for his body to develop and grow.  Pablo reached that in 2009.  I see some people questioning Sanchez's strikeouts, but they are not accounting for the fact that he was in his late teens and early 20's facing pitchers who are much older and experienced than he is.

Breaking new:  Baggarly tweets that Pat Burrell is going on DL for foot spur to bring up Sanchez.  I guess they are not ready to give up on Chris Stewart yet, as I noted before, I like his bat up the minors, he never really struck out that much either, but he appears to be one of those catchers who figure out hitting in his 30's.  I see tweets from Naysayers asking why a C when an OF goes down, but frankly we've been carrying too many OF for a while now, we still got Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Nate Schierholtz, and Aaron Rowand, plus Emmanuel Burriss can take up the slack with Burrell out, as necessary.

More importantly, this gives the Giants an opportunity to examine how Sanchez does against major league hitting for a while, until they get tired of carrying 3 catchers.  Kind of like what they did earlier this season by bringing up Brandon Belt and seeing how he did while Ross was on the DL.  As much as the minors give a good indication of how good a hitter is, you don't really know for certain what will happen until that player actually plays in the majors.  Guys who are sure things like Andy Marte and Sean Burroughs fall to the wayside, while players like Dan Uggla become a star hitter in the majors.  Or even Pablo Sandoval, who was not even on Baseball America's Giants Top 30 prospect list for the season he made the majors (or the season before).

And there seems to be a good balance there.  The OF is set, as noted.  The infield has Sandoval, Crawford, Fontenot, Tejada, Burriss (who as noted, can also play OF), then Huff at 1B, and Tejada can play 3B while Sandoval plays 1B to give Huff a rest against LHP.  Got plenty of relievers.  The roster actually looks good like this, despite the 3 catchers.

They still need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, and from what I recall Buster Posey was on the 15-day list still, so you can just move him to the 60-day DL and that would clear up a spot on the 40-man.  Probably could do the same to Freddy Sanchez as well.  Either way, one of them should cover Sanchez's call-up.

Anyway, I wonder if the rush to bring Hector Sanchez up is a sign that Posey wants out as catcher.   Or, even, what if the recovery is not going as well as hoped, maybe good enough that he can walk and run and play other positions but not catching?  Especially long term, say beyond 2012, where the Giants still has Freddy Sanchez signed to play 2B, but he could be gone in 2013.

That could be a nice spot to start Posey at, a la Houston's Craig Biggio, catcher turned 2B.  Let's say Posey returns to start at C in 2012, Sanchez backups, but get regular starts while Posey starts at 1B (especially against LHP, who Huff don't hit that well and he could use some more rest I think, getting old) and 2B (Sanchez needs breaks, Posey needs practice).  And should Sanchez be out on DL again (odds appear good on that, his body is falling apart), Posey could "temporarily" start at 2B while Hector starts at C, with Posey as backup catcher.

Crick Signs

Baggarly reports that Kyle Crick signed with the Giants for $900K, about 25% higher than the recommended slot bonus.   The rumor was that Selig had OKed going 5% over without getting the offer held back, as the MLB usually does, so that overslots are not reported until later, close to the deadline.  This is the earliest I can remember where such a large over-slot signing bonus is reported so early, exactly a month before the deadline.  I would love to see an expert's take on that oddity.

In any case, good for the Giants, I saw many comments that had Crick and Panik been swapped in terms of where they were selected, the experts would have had no problem with that - apparently Crick was held in higher regard than Joe Panik, which shows that experts not always right, he's been hitting great and so has Gary Brown.  So that high a bonus is not too surprising, maybe the MLB is being more lenient with guys who fell?

We need more high quality arms in the system as it has gotten a little barren.  Though I would note that perhaps Giants fans have been spoiled by having Lincecum and Bumgarner in the minors in recent seasons, as I think most farm systems would be happy to have a Zack Wheeler and Eric Surkamp as top pitching prospects, Heath Hembree too.


  1. I left this comment on Extra Baggs (with slight editing for clarity):

    The Giants and Sabean has been pretty solidly consistent over the years: if the prospect is considered a keeper, they keep him, and try to trade the non-keepers to get what they need. The undistinguished list of players traded away (nobody’s perfect, I’m talking looking at the whole of all trading) indicates that they have been pretty good at making this distinction.

    That, to me, suggests that Sanchez is not being showcased for a trade, that would be different from his (i.e. Sabean's) M.O. from before. If Hector is up here, that to me means that the Giants think highly of him and want to take this opportunity to see how he does in the majors.

    I have to think that this eats into Stewart’s and Whiteside’s time as starter. Also, given that Sanchez is considered good defensively as a catcher, he could be brought in on double-switches late in the game for defensive as well as offensive (more to see how he does than better offense) purposes.

  2. I don't think Chez3 is considered a good defensive catcher...Steve Decker has said that he needs a lot of work on calling a game. He'll be a switch hitter off the bench is my guess. That, or the Giants are trying to gain leverage with the Reds in a Hernandez deal. PTB to the DL does clear room for Beltran, though....

  3. But you never know, maybe better offense too, his numbers (yes, SSS) look good in Fresno in terms of strikeouts and walks.

    Though his time in SJ was pretty nasty in terms of K%, but I feel assured it is some sort of adjustment or aberration, as his history shows an ability to avoid K's. However, he did strikeout more in his second month there, so maybe it was an aberration, but it certainly was not an adjustment on his part, though I suppose it could have been an adjustment by pitchers, but his batting line improved, seems more like his K% went up in order to boost his HR's, he had 7 in May! Nice trade off!

  4. Jewy, I am going by DrB's description of Hector, as there is not a lot out on him. See here:

    DrB notes "Sanchez is also helped by a reputation for good defense."

    If you have a better source, I would love to read it.

    Thanks in any case for your comment.

  5. Also, remember that Barry Zito raved about Sanchez just before he rejoined the team. I don't think he would do that if Hector wasn't good defensively.

  6. I got my info from the BA scouting report Baggs wrote up for the 2010 Prospect Handbook, or maybe it was for one of the League Top 20's.

    From what I recall, it said he has an average to above-average arm, but is very good at blocking balls and calls a good game.

    Zito was way impressed with his game calling and credited Sanchez with the idea of "pitching backwards" which we've seen since Zito came back.

    So if Sanchez comes up, who goes? I would think CSTew would be the odd man out here.

    I'm guessing they want a look at Sanchez at the MLB level before the Trade Deadline to see if he's good enough that they don't have to trade for a catcher.

  7. OK, the League Top 20's make sense, as there is nothing on Hector in any of the annuals, which I checked before finding DrB's nice capsule on him. Thanks DrB!

    Didn't know that it was Sanchez that got him to pitching backwards, shows a pretty good understanding of handling pitchers I think.

    Turns out that Burrell was DLed for his heel spur, so CStew is still around, and started today, as he appears to have won role as Timmy's catcher.

    Bochy in his pre-game noted that Sanchez was the most improved prospect from 2010 to 2011, and that Decker was working with him on his play calling, so apparently that is still a work in progress.

    I agree that the Giants are taking a look at Hanchez to see how good he is before trading. As I speculated, if Buster is having second thoughts about catching, the Giants might consider a deal for a long-term catcher with this trade, if available and reasonable.

  8. OGC, here's the quote:

    Decker, a former catcher himself, said Sanchez is "in the process of a lot of classroom time" right now, learning all the basic elements of playing the position. He has done well thus far, even earning rave reviews from Giants lefty Barry Zito after a rehab start, but he still has to refine his talent. Decker pointed to pitch selection as well as receiving, throwing and blocking techniques as chief among the many aspects of his game that need improvement.

    But, most importantly, Sanchez is still learning -- and he has plenty of time to do so.

    "Aptitude, retention -- just like when Buster was here, a lot of it is when he comes in to the dugout. 'Why did you do this? Why did you do that? That's not a good idea,'" Decker said, recalling times he explained Sanchez how to minimize pitch counts against bottom-of-the-order hitters as opposed to setting up and getting out a quality hitter.

    "These are all things that he really has no idea how to do."

  9. Thanks Jewy!

    OK, so I guess that sounds like Hanchez has a lot of potential to be good defensively in the majors, based on what DrB saw, but has a lot of work to do to be major league ready. That is, compared to others in the minors, he showed good defense, but it is just that the majors require a even higher bar to succeed defensively.

    Furthermore, in this article, he was compared favorably with Buster and Buster only had 82 games to be so good defensively for us last year and this season. Hector already has 25 games under his belt in AAA, and should the Giants start to use him more frequently, as some in the media had speculated, that should continue his development up here. But if it is only once a week, then he would be better off going back to AAA when it is time to bring someone back.

  10. Good timing, John Sickels just published a prospect review on Hector:

    "On defense, Sanchez has a very good arm and a quick release. He caught 38% of runners in 2010, 42% for San Jose, and 24% during his three weeks at Fresno. However, the other aspects of his defense are raw, and he's vulnerable at this point to excessive passed balls and defensive miscues. These types of things usually improve with experience, and with his arm strength and good mobility he should be a positive asset with the glove once he matures."

    Sounds very similar to the scouting report that I read on Posey when he was getting ready to make the majors. Sounds like the consensus is that Sanchez has a lot of good tools that catchers need to be successful defensively but he still need more experience behind the plate for a variety of reasons.

    I'm very encouraged by what I've read about his defense. He might not be there right here, right now, but I don't think that he's that far away and neither is his hitting, I think, at least for a catcher.

  11. OGC: agreed; I think Chez3 has the tools to become a very good defensive catcher, but he needs development time. I'm not sure why he isn't in AAA right now working with Decker to become that excellent receiver. Then again, the Giants FO knows 10x what I do.



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