Monday, December 8, 2008

Does Cantu-for-Sanchez Mean Orange and Black Is in Sabathia's Future?

The Winter Meetings in baseball are upon us and that gives me a perfect excuse to write about my favorite subject, the San Francisco Giants. Throw in Danny Penza's excellent article about the Jonathan Sanchez-for-Jorge Cantu rumors and I've got an excuse plus a topic. That trade would leave an opening in the rotation and bring in a proven bat.

And it would presumably push the pedal to the floor in the Giants' rumored pursuit of C.C. Sabathia.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cantu, he's a ex-second baseman who's been moved to third. However, he's a sub-par defender at the position and often spends the later innings at first base. He's also a potent bat - hitting 29 homeruns last year with an on-base percentage of .327 while driving in almost 100 runs (95). Furthermore, last year's success wasn't unprecedented.

He had essentially the same year for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2005 so it's reasonable to conclude 2008 was no fluke.

Finally, Jorge will be only 27 at the start of the 2009 season so he should be entering his prime and both Florida clubs play in parks that skew towards the pitcher so Pac Bell (I know, I know AT&T Park) shouldn't pose a huge adjustment.

There's a lot to like there. Of course, I really like Jonathan Sanchez.

He's a deceptively hard thrower from the left side. That's always nice. He's about 10 months younger than Cantu and still developing. Also very nice. And he's shown flashes of brilliance. Plus, it's always risky to trade young, talented pitching - doubly so when it's a southpaw. Unfortunately, San Francisco's stable includes several ponies I like better so I wouldn't be terribly sad to see him go.

But back to Sabathia. He's already a horse.

And the Giants might just be preparing for a serious run at him. Let's imagine the Cantu-Sanchez trade happens. Look at the sales pitch to Sabathia, who's looking for a long-term deal:

1. He grew up in Vallejo so the Giants are the closest thing he has to a hometown team in the National League.
2. SF's in the NL so he'd get to hit.
3. SF's got a wealth of young talent, including hitters for a change, that should be ready for the Show in the next several years.
4. The Giants have gotten better offensively while filling needs at both shortstop and third base/first base.
5. Edgar Renteria is a veteran presence with postseason experience and Jorge Cantu is a legitimate power threat.
6. Both moves show that SF is serious about contending - immediately and for the long haul.
7. While both Renteria and Cantu bring questionable defense, Sabathia succeeded in front of worse defense last year.
8. A staff of Sabathia, Lincecum, Cain, Zito, and me would be the best in baseball plus SF could lock up both the young guns (Lincecum/Cain) until they're 30 via the route Boston took with Dustin Pedroia.
9. With a staff like that, there would be more than enough offense (except for the days my turn came up in the rotation) and more possibly on the way.
10. SF is under new principal control and could see an increase in payroll despite the hard economic times because of Pac Bell so his contract wouldn't necessarily preclude chasing some of the offense available via free agency after 2009.

That right there is a pretty effective sales pitch. I don't know if can compete with the $140 million worth of persuasion the New York Yankees have thrown at him. But that offer's been on the table for a while.

Nor do I know if it could rival the one the Los Angeles Dodgers are sure to be putting together as I type. Apparently, C.C. told Ned Colletti that he was interested in playing for the Bums.

That changes things. Manny Ramirez doesn't scare me. I hope he re-signs with L.A.

But C.C. Sabathia, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and Hideki Kuroda as a fourth starter? That idea scares me. If the boys aren't gonna be competitive outside the NL West, I at least want them to beat the Bums. I'm not sure they do it too often facing that staff with such an anemic offense.

The Franchise and the Kid don't need many runs, but they need at least one.

I used to think the signing of C.C. would be a serious misstep by the Giants' front office. Now, I'm not so sure.

It would be risky to be sure. But what's that old saying?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

That risk might be worth it if the gain is a shiny new World Series trophy.

No comments: