Giants want Sanchez back, but not for $8.1 million

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Freddy Sanchez seemed like a worthwhile midseason pickup at the time. After all, he was a 31-year-old career .300 hitter batting .296/.334/.442 in 86 games with the Pirates and the Giants desperately needed some help offensively.
Instead of providing a big upgrade at second base Sanchez has hit just .284/.295/.325 while missing half of San Francisco’s games with shoulder and knee injuries, the latter of which will require surgery at some point. For the now the Giants are still clinging to slim playoff hopes, so Sanchez will try to put off surgery until the offseason and contribute something down the stretch.
Perhaps the bigger question is whether the Giants will exercise their $8.1 million option on Sanchez for next season. At the time of the trade that seemed like a foregone conclusion, but Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News now calls it “almost automatic” that they’ll decline the option and “talk to Sanchez about a two-year contract at a lower figure.”
Baggarly also notes that both the Giants and Pirates were aware that Sanchez would likely require offseason knee surgery when they made the July 29 trade. In fact, Sanchez sat out a three-game series against the Giants directly preceding the swap. Asked if he regrets trading a quality pitching prospect in Tim Alderson for what has turned out to be 25 games of terrible hitting and mediocre defense from Sanchez, Giants general manager Brian Sabean said:

I know at the time we made the trade everybody was all-in, including the medical team, that we could keep him on the field,. The bigger thing with Freddy is he hasn’t been on the field because of other things, including the left shoulder. He didn’t have the chance to be out there on a regular basis. You can’t deny that Freddy, when he’s been out there, has been every bit a No. 2 hitter that we didn’t have, and an All-Star second baseman.

Of course, you can deny exactly that, because Sanchez has a lowly .295 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage for the Giants, which isn’t exactly ideal atop the lineup. Perhaps the Giants will end up re-signing Sanchez at a discounted rate and perhaps he’ll bounce back with a healthy, productive 2010, but so far the trade has been a bust and with several quality middle infielders set to become free agents this offseason the Giants are probably right to decline Sanchez’s option.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.