Goodbye Pablo: "How the Panda became too big for his own name"
When the last out was caught in foul territory by Pablo Sandoval, this process started. The agent tells the player to keep his emotions in check. Reminds him not to allow the moment to get in the way of the big picture. As soon as ball met glove, the Panda was gone. His smiles will be missed and his passion for the game will never be forgotten. He is, was, and always will be a "good Giant". But now we are going to move on. But do I feel a slight anger over why a player who just won the world series would choose to leave that team? My team? (Well, the answer is simple, skip to the last paragraph if you just want the answer.) Thank you Panda for keeping third base warm, now let's all move on. P.S. Don't let me catch you saying, "I've always bled Dodger Blue" if you sign or are traded to them in the future!
Sandoval's time with the team was about right. He had a chance to really step on the gas this year and show the Giants' brass that he was a true superstar. But he didn't. Fortunately, he will always be seen for his glorious games in the postseason. And I love him for that. But throughout the season, he just did not have the impact on the game that a true superstar has. His defense at third has always been underrated. I believe that he should have won a gold glove at least once. He gets more praise from being able to "move so well for a bigger guy" than the fact that he actually understands the game and plays it at a very high level is rarely acknowledged. His time at third is at question moving forward and I believe that is the main reason why he decided to go to Boston. He will DH there eventually and therefore his weight issues will not be as important. His ability to play first base also makes a difference. With the Giants having Brandon Belt and, perhaps at some point Buster Posey manning first, Sandoval was never going to have a choice but to continue at the hot corner. So ultimately for Pablo the choice was pretty simple. Either play for the Giants for five years watching my weight and keeping my body in great shape, or go to Boston and know that there are other options once the body starts to break down. And Boston it is.
One can say "I wouldn't have made that choice". Everybody's priorities are different. Pablo Sandoval is a grown man playing a kid's game. And he plays it like a kid. Hunter Pence is a grown man playing a kid's game. And he plays it like a kid as well. That is where the similarities end. Both those players play with passion, but how they get there is totally different. Pence prepares like he is in the movie . He is a warrior, a person who you wouldn't want to mess with while they are working out. Sandoval is more of a....panda bear. Thanks for the nickname Barry Zito, it fits. He is the player who goes out and plays whatever position the coach tells him to. He wants to pitch, he's always keeping things light. He's a different player than Pence. Do you invest in Pence or Sandoval? Gladiator
Did Pablo Sandoval make the right decision?
Sandoval as a brand was more valuable than as a player to the Giants. His play has been steady at the plate, but not overwhelming. He is a fifteen homer third baseman. Not the type of power you would like from that position. He just never found the proper stroke for that down-and-in fastball to launch them into McCovey Cove. So if they bring in another fifteen homer third baseman, what do they really lose. If it's only the time and effort to promote panda hats then the Giants made the right decision. You don't overpay for a player whose brand is worth more than his play. They have found out the hard way with Tim Lincecum. Sandoval is going to be in for a rude awakening when it comes to the media as well. In the Bay Area the fans generally tell the media what to write. In Boston it's the other way around. That means that when a player is in a slump, they need to be ready to talk and give good sound bites or there will be backlash.
Ultimately the San Francisco Giants and Pablo Sandoval get out of this marriage as clean as possible. Sandoval gets the contract he desired, a future where he can shift positions to allow for some "expansion" (wink,wink), and he gets to hit off the green monster and get singles that would have been lazy fly balls to left at AT&T park. The Giants get the benefits of his services up to now at a discounted cost, a replacement who may hit better than Sandoval, and no public relations backlash since they made a concerted effort to retain him. I know secretly they are thanking their lucky stars that they are able to move on. Up to now Sandoval's been like a closer. He shines in the spotlight of the playoffs, as a closer does in the ninth inning. But if you don't get there, he is just another guy on the team. Hopefully the two teams meet in the world series and we will see who truly made the right choice. But I would guess that if Boston and San Francisco were to get that far, both teams would be satisfied with the result.