> ESPN.com reported today that the San Francisco Giants and second baseman Freddy Sanchez have agreed to a $6 million contract extension through 2012. Sanchez came to the Giants from Pittsburgh in a 2009 mid-season trade that sent RHP Tim Alderson and outfielder John Bowker to the Pirates. The Giants picked Alderson second in round 1 of the 2007 First Year Player Draft; Madison Bumgarner was the team’s #1 pick.
The Giants signed Sanchez to a two year $12 million contract prior to the 2010 season. Throughout his tenure in San Francisco Sanchez has missed a number of games with knee and shoulder injuries, but he is an accomplished hitter and an above average defender at second base. In 2006 he won the National League batting title with a .344 BA in 157 games for the Bucs.
Although San Francisco has several promising second base candidates in the Minors, this is a solid move by the team to insure consistency in the infield and in the second spot in the batting order until a legitimate replacement rises to the top. In-house second base candidates Emmanuel Burriss and Nick Noonan have been in the Giants’ farm system for several years, and Charlie Culberson has impressed the front office at the plate and on the field over the past year.
> The first game of the 2011 season featured a Giant-Dodger pitchers’ duel, with LA’s 23-year-old LH pitching star Clayton Kershaw dealing strikes and controlling the game for 7 shut-out innings. Kershaw took the 2-1 win over Tim Lincecum by allowing only 4 hits and 1 walk with 9 strikeouts in a masterful 96 pitch effort. If the Dodgers can build even a little more quality pitching around Kershaw, and find a consistent closer, they could think about contending.
Lincecum threw a decent game, giving up no earned runs in 7 innings with 5 hits, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts. He threw a total of 103 pitches. The problem for the Giants was the epidemic of sloppy defense breaking out all over the diamond: outfielders Aubrey Huff (right), Andres Torres (center), and Pat Burrell (left) all looked tentative and slow, with Burrell charged with an error for allowing Tony Gwynn to get to second base on a single in the 3rd inning. Shortstop Miguel Tejada threw a ball away, and catcher Buster Posey contributed an error and a passed ball.
Note: Giants’ rookie Brandon Belt got his first Major League hit in his first Major League at bat in this game. Belt also handled several dicey plays at first and managed to get 27 pitches out of three plate appearences against Kershaw and one against reliever Jonathan Broxton. An outstanding effort.
After the loss, panicked Giants fans flooded the local sportstalk radio cloud with apocalyptic doom-saying, and many had to be talked back into the building from the 30th floor ledge. Luckily, the National League will pretty much insist that the remaining 161 games be played, and the expectation continues to be that the Giants will win the majority of those games.