So, I guess that this …
… will be the last image we will have of Pablo Sandoval in a Giants uniform.
Honestly, as Grant Brisbee put it, it’s not that bad of an image to go out on.
Nonetheless, San Francisco’s beloved “Kung Fu Panda” will no longer don the Orange and Black. After much speculation and a minor bidding war that involved the Giants, Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres, it was the team from Boston that won out – with a similar contract, no less – in the Sandoval sweepstakes.
This much was confirmed early on Monday, to the dismay of Giants fans everywhere. Sandoval ultimately agreed to a 5-year, $100 million contract with the Red Sox, according to CBSSports.com. Additionally, according to various sources, he will join friend and fellow slugger David Ortiz on the team as his eventual replacement at the DH position. The Red Sox also added former Los Angeles Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez to help bolster an offense ranked 18th in runs and 22nd in batting average.
While the Giants organization was unsuccessful on bringing back their main priority in free agency – even going so far as to offer a sixth year to their deal – they were gracious in losing Sandoval to Boston, releasing the following statement shortly after he informed them of his decision:
Pablo Sandoval has been a key member of the Giants since breaking into the Majors with us in 2008. He has been with us through some of the greatest moments in San Francisco Giants history – including all three World Series Championships. We will never forget his World Series MVP performance in 2012 and his numerous contributions to the 2014 Championship. His connection with Giants fans – young and old – is truly special and he will be greatly missed. We wish him nothing but the best in Boston.
We are extremely proud of what our team accomplished in 2014 and we look forward to continuing to invest in and strengthen our team for next season.
So, how does one feel when a beloved member of a franchise chooses to leave, for whatever reason they deem justifiable? Especially when Sandoval reportedly felt disrespected by the club regarding negotiations for his return?
Well, obviously, the easiest ways to feel about it would be betrayed, heart-broken, angry and bitter. Again, Grant Brisbee kind of sums it up nicely here. (Yes, it’s the same article as the one I linked to above, but, still – it bears repeating.)
I know that’s the reaction a lot of Giants fans are feeling right now. I’ve seen it from friends and family that have, let’s say, strongly disagreed with Sandoval’s decision, and the reasons behind it. From “how could you” to “good riddance”, it’s a natural response to a situation in which someone you loved unconditionally has spurned you – or, at least, the team you root for – for another.
And, I get it – the Giants are losing the only major home-grown offensive player they have had since Matt Williams, who last played in the 1990s. Even with the weight issues and the unimpressive numbers during the regular season, San Francisco says goodbye to the 2012 World Series MVP, the third player in World Series history to hit three HRs in a game, and a guy who could deliver clutch hit after clutch hit when the season, and the championship, is on the line. He will, no doubt, be difficult to replace.
Then again, it’s time to put a positive spin to all this. Because Lord knows we could use some:
1) Maybe it was time for the organization to NOT retain a fan favorite. Cody Ross. Aubrey Huff. Tim Lincecum. Marco Scutaro. All were key players in the Giants’ first two World Series runs. Ross, with his two home runs vs. Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the 2010 NLCS, stole our hearts – and he was a late-season pick-up. Huff was one of the offensive keys to the 2010 World Series, with his lucky “Rally Thong” in tow. Marco Scutaro, 2012 NLCS MVP, was also a midseason grab. And Tim Lincecum … well, was Tim Lincecum.
All were valuable. All were paid – partly because the organization felt they could still greatly contribute, but partly because they were beloved by the fan base. Other than Lincecum, though, none contributed very much after they were retained.
Not to say that Sandoval would have gone the way of a Huff or Ross. But paying upwards of $100 million for five years on a guy who was somewhat of a question mark in the regular season in terms of consistent production may have been a mistake for the organization, moving forward. As blasphemous as this may be for me to say for much of the fan base … maybe we dodged a bullet by letting Sandoval head to the Northeast.
2) With Sandoval no longer on the books, consider who they can go after, now. Rumors have long been placing the Giants well within the Yasmani Tomas Sweepstakes. Tomas, the talented 24-year-old slugger from Cuba, is now thoroughly in play for the Giants. Conventional wisdom had them out of it due to the fact that they would have likely signed Sandoval to a nine-figure deal. However, San Francisco can make a strong play for the international star, to possibly replace the one they lost to Boston.
Then, there are the rumors abound that the Giants are also major players in the Jon Lester bidding war. With the money they didn’t spend on Sandoval, the Giants could certainly use the services of a potent “hired gun” arm like Lester, if the team hopes to repeat as World Series champions. Even with the lofty price tag on Lester’s head, imagine the possibility of Madison Bumgarner at the No. 1 spot in the rotation, Lester at the 2 spot, and a healthy, possibly rejuvenated Matt Cain as the third starter, and Tim Hudson – or even Yusmeiro Petit – at the 4. It would be a formidable rotation, to be sure, any way you slice it.
And those are the most obvious moves the Giants could make. With their front office savvy, they could also make a variety of smaller moves – like, say, retaining Michael Morse to a longer-term deal, or going after a cheaper third-baseman in free agency with comparable regular season numbers to Sandoval – that could help the team win another World Series title.
3) Don’t think of this as a disillusioned fan favorite looking for organizational respect. I know that’s what it seems like, and it would be a lot easier to be bitter about that. But, at the end of the day, it was his (and his agent’s) decision to leave. And, again, maybe this is for the best – not just for the Giants, but for him and the rest of his career. He could be a great DH for the Red Sox – something he simply couldn’t do in San Francisco.
And if he just focused more on his hitting without having to trot out to third base every day – especially in the latter part of his career – it might extend his career by leaps and bounds, and help his offensive numbers in the process. After all, he’s got one of the best in the business to look up to in Ortiz. In that case, this was a guy looking at his career trajectory dead in the face, and knowing what would be best for him.
4) No bitter thoughts of “good riddance” will, at the very least, go through my head – and, maybe they shouldn’t go through yours, either. And honestly, I don’t think bitterness and anger will help ease the pain of him leaving, anyway. Personally, I greatly appreciate what he did in helping the Giants win three World Series titles. And, as corny as this sounds, I will keep those memories of his time with the Giants as something to be treasured, and not tainted by the way he left.
I believe Grant Brisbee said it best, in response to those in the fan base that greatly resent Sandoval for leaving (and I promise this is the last time I will refer to his article):
I bring up 2008 a lot around here because it’s impossible to describe how awful that team was. They had a Cy Young winner, sure, but the future was so bleak that the Giants were actually considering trading that Cy Young winner for Alex Rios before the season started. The only way the Giants were going to get hitters — the absolute only way — was if the Giants traded Lincecum or Matt Cain. People were so, so adamant about that.
Then a prospect jumped up all the way from A-ball and started hitting. He wasn’t on Baseball America’s list of the 30-best Giants prospects, but he never stopped hitting. He was the first homegrown hitter to make an All-Star team for the Giants since Matt Williams. It was a long, uncomfortable ride between Williams and Sandoval, with stops in Dantepowellsburg and Giuseppechiramonteville. Finally, here was a hitter the Giants could call their own.
Then that hitter helped the Giants win three World Series.
[…] Sandoval was the 2012 World Series MVP, and in this postseason, he set an all-time record for hits. He is a Giants legend, even if he gets 2,000 hits with the Red Sox or retires tomorrow. Pretending that he’s anything else requires some serious cognitive dissonance. It also takes a short memory. If you can’t remember the feeling of 2008, you should probably sit this one out. It was hopeless, and then there was Pablo.
That’s for damn sure.
Good luck in Boston, Kung Fu Panda.