Giants spend $12 million to retain Sanchez

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The Giants could have gone out and picked up Felipe Lopez or Ronnie Belliard to fill a colossal hole at second base at midseason, but they guessed wrong and picked Freddy Sanchez. They may well have lost the NL West in the process.
Not that they deserved to have things turn out so badly. Sanchez was hitting .296/.334/.442 when the Pirates when the Pirates opted to move him at the deadline. That decision was reached not long after Sanchez reportedly turned down a two-year, $10 million extension to stay in Pittsburgh.
The rejection was a no-brainer for Sanchez. At the time, he was on pace to see his $8.1 million option for 2009 vest, and he knew he’d be worth at least that much in free agency anyway.
Unfortunately, things went sour for team and player after the deal. The Giants had to give up a better prospect in Tim Alderson than the Brewers did when they acquired Lopez earlier in the month, and in return, they got next to nothing. Sanchez missed time with shoulder and knee injuries while hitting just .284/.295/.324 in 102 at-bats for the Giants. Lopez ended up at .320/.407/.448 in 259 at-bats for the Brewers.
Because of the injuries, Sanchez missed out on seeing his option vest. That seemed like good news for the Giants, who were taken off the hook.
Giants GM Brian Sabean, though, decided he wanted to keep Sanchez around anyway, even after offseason knee surgery. The new deal is worth $12 million over two years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The option was torn up, so the Giants are actually getting him for $11.4 million, since they would have had to pay a $600,000 buyout had they let him go.
It’s a reasonable price. Sanchez, our No. 52 free agent, turns 32 this winter, and second basemen can lose it quickly in their early-30s. However, it’s more likely that Sanchez will simply remain injury-prone that it is that he’ll to turn into an Edgar Renteria-like liability. He’s a legitimate .290-.300 hitter, and assuming that he bounces back from knee surgery without incident, an average defender at second base.
Since it’s a mere two-year commitment, it’s hard to get too excited about this one either way. The philosophy, on the other hand, is a problem. Sabean’s tendency to target average players, in the hopes that they’ll remain average, certainly hasn’t worked out very well for the Giants.

Aaron Judge broke a dubious record last night

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Aaron Judge hit a monster home run in last night’s win over the Mets, but he also set a dubious record. Judge struck out for the 33rd consecutive game, setting a new mark for a position player in a single season.

Yes, that’s qualified. No pitchers, of course, as I assume many of them have struck out in more than 33 straight games. Also,  Adam Dunn once struck out in 36 straight games, but that straddled two seasons: he struck out in the final four games of 2011 and the first 32 games of 2012. Still, Judge’s feat is impressive, and given the nature of his game and the state of baseball these days, it’s not hard to imagine him striking out in three or four more straight games anyway.

None of which, by the way, should be all that much of a slight on Judge. The guy is still hitting .291/.420/.614, even with his second half slump. If I was a manager I’d happily accept his whiffs in exchange for everything else he brings to the table. It’s not 1959 anymore, and strikeouts are not the worst thing that can happen.

The Cubs gave Rick Renteria a World Series Ring

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It was revealed, in the course of a Jerry Reinsdorf interview the other day, that the Chicago Cubs gave Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria a World Series ring.

Renteria, of course, managed the Cubs for one season — in 2014 — and was fired when Joe Maddon became available after exiting his contract with the Rays. Renteria did an OK job with the Cubs — they were 73-89, which was seven games better than they had been the year before, and in the normal course would never have been fired after that showing — but the thinking by the Cubs front office was that they wanted Maddon, and not Renteria, to be in charge of taking a young and talented team from the land of rebuilding to the land of contention. Which Maddon did, far more quickly than most expected.

It’s a nice gesture by the Cubs, and I have no issue with it at all. If you can do a nice thing that costs you little or nothing, it’s always good to do it. And, based on his comments before yesterday’s White Sox-Dodgers game, Renteria did appreciate it. He’s been nothing but gracious since his undeserved (even if understandable) firing by the Cubs. He’s a high-road guy.

Still, I’m wondering what the inspiration for it was, because as far as I know, it’s pretty unusual for a team to give a former manager a ring in this situation, especially if the former manager had no greater history with the club (Renteria never played or coached in the Cubs system before 2014). At the time the judgment — put bluntly — was that the Cubs had a better chance to win with Maddon than Renteria, so it feels sort of . . . revisionist for them to be doing this now. Or even disrespectful on some unintentional level. Isn’t it sort of like the ex who dumped you for someone else a couple of years ago giving you a gift on their wedding day? How would that make you feel? “Glad I helped make you a better person for your new partner,” no one would say, ever.

In reality, I imagine that the thinking is a benign and somewhat cosmic “it takes a village” kind of thing and that the Cubs brass believes that anyone who had even a small hand in what became the 2016 Cubs should be rewarded. And, like I said above: nice gestures are good things and this is a nice gesture.

Still, there’s an element to this that strikes me as weird. Almost as if it’s a guilt-assuaging move on some level. “Er, uh, sorry for that awkwardness when we dumped you for the prettier girl a couple of years back. No hard feelings?”