Minnesota has to do something about who they play at second base.
In Sunday's game thread, one of the discussion points was the offensive futility of anyone who plays at second base. Going into the game they were batting (and let's be honest, an 0-fer isn't going to help) a combined .197/.256/.261. That .517 OPS is worst in all of baseball, with the San Francisco Giants coming in second place posting a .549 OPS. There's something desperately wrong with those numbers.
Of all the second basemen who have been rumored to be available, Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez stands out. The Pirates, at 31 - 37 as of this writing, are 6.5 games out of first place in the National League Central, and aren't equipped to close that gap this year. If Minnesota could put together an attractive package, Pittsburgh would listen.
#12 / Second Base / Pittsburgh Pirates
Dec 21, 1977
|2009 - Freddy Sanchez||63||266||36||84||23||3||5||26||15||41||4||1||.316||.356||.481|
So far this year, Sanchez is living up to his reputation as a solid hitter: good batting average, lots of doubles, and in spite of having a down year defensively is still rated right around average. But mostly that's common knowledge, so here's a more extensive scouting report...
- Sanchez hits a lot of line drives. Since 2005, these are his line-drive breakdowns: 24.5, 27.5, 22.5, 24.3, 22.3.
- Swings at a lot of pitches outside of the strike zone. For a guy who doesn't hit for a lot of power (career .424 SLG, .122 ISO), swinging at 30% of pitches that should be called balls is too much.
- Following on, he doesn't walk much, with just a 5.3% walk rate.
- Sanchez slumped in '08, not in line drives hit but in power and walk rates. But he's back on form this season.
- Manager John Russell has, at times, gives him the day game off following a night game.
- According to Cots Contracts, Sanchez is making a manageable $6.1 million in 2009. His option for 2010 (age-32 season) sees an $8 million club option with a $600K buyout. 650 plate appearances this season, an All-Star selection, a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger get him a $500K increase in his '10 base salary.
- He was an All-Star in '06 and '07, and deservedly so; he won the NL batting title in '06 hitting .344. He also led the league in doubles that year with 52.
- Makes a lot of contact in the strike zone, getting wood on 93.6% of his cuts throughout his career.
- His wOBA is .360 so far in 2009, very similar to his career-best season of '06.
- While he's fundamentally sound in the field, his range has diminished over the last couple of seasons. RZR and UZR/150 still rate him right around evens, not hurting his team with the glove but not winning games with it either.
- Depending on how he finishes the season, Sanchez should become eligible as a type-B free agent would the Twins decide to decline his 2010 option.
I think we know what we'd be getting with Sanchez. He's a guy whose value is almost entirely wrapped up in his bat, although consistency at the position would have to count for something in Minnesota. Starting four players, all of them at least eight times, says less about the versatility of Twins defenders than it says about the futility of the options.
Sanchez isn't the golden ticket, the silver bullet, the bronze...banana? But he'd constitute a drastic upgrade, and he wouldn't come at an unfathomable cost financially.
Let's have it. Is this transaction viable? Is it a move this organization, as we know it, would be able to make? I'm interested in hearing both sides of this, so let me know why or why not. And if you think it is...what would it take?