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Giants Looking at Sanchez, LaRoche

July 7, 2009
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There have been rumors of the Giants looking into Pittsburgh Pirates Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche for a while now. A couple days ago, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette released official news of trade talk about the two players between the two organizations in this article. For Giants fans, this is mostly good news. The biggest hole on this team has been without question the 2nd base position, both offensively and defensively. Through Monday, the Giants had the 2nd lowest offensive production from 2B (.258 wOBA) and 17th in total defense (1 run below average). While the jump from Emmanuel Burriss to Juan Uribe was very significant, Uribe still remains a bench player.

Freddy Sanchez, the Pirates’ lone All-Star representative, has generally been somewhere around a top 10 2B with a very down 2008. Sanchez has been a 3.2, 4.8, 3.8 and 0.4 WAR player the past 4 seasons. This year he’s been worth 9 runs above average with the bat and 3.2 runs defensively, accumulating to 2.4 Wins Above Replacement so far in 2009. This type of production would be the best from the 2B position since Ray Durham in 2006 (his contract year, I’m sure you remember). Uribe’s defense is similar to that of Sanchez, but his offense is well below league average at a .312 wOBA (compounded with a high BABIP). As pointed out during the off-season, my fellow blogger here at Triples Alley pointed out that Uribe would be a solid backup maxing out around 1 WAR, but shouldn’t be utilized as a starter.

With that out of the way, it’s time for me to explain why we do not want to trade for Adam LaRoche. Since the interest seems to be moderate from the Giants side, and Sabean’s preference to not trade for pending Free Agents, LaRoche would seem like a poor fit. But, the rumors are still floating and I’m going to justify why we’re better off with Ishikawa. For the lack of offense that we’ve seen from Ishikawa, in his defense, he is without a doubt the best defensive 1B in baseball this year. In merely 43 defensive games, Ishikawa is 7.1 runs above average at 1B, and extrapolates to +25 (!) in 150 games. While he’s still below average at the plate, he’s still managed .7 WAR in limited time. LaRoche, in a full season so far sits at 1.1. Although extrapolation is dangerous, assuming Ishikawa carried over those numbers in the same playing time as LaRoche, we’re looking at a difference between the two players about half a win. Defense is underrated, and defense has been a big part of the Giants success. No need to weaken it. As for wanting some offense, here’s a positive in regards to Ishikawa: His month by month wOBA and OPS are .246 (.550), .348 (.776) and .366 (.874). Give the kid the chance he deserves.

So for final thoughts, it would be in the Giants best interest to try and get Freddy Sanchez. His contract ($3 million remaining) and his $8 million option vested with 600 PA could be a bargaining chip for Sabean to use in acquiring him. So as long as all we acquire is Sanchez, and don’t part with anything such as a Tim Alderson, and even Jonathan Sanchez, I’ll be happy, and so should you.

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