Here is a link to my Tuesday column about Pablo Sandoval’s contract request. The full text runs below:

Pablo Sandoval has a lot of nerve.

As you know, 2014 is the final year of Sandoval’s contract. In baseball parlance it is his contract year. His representative and the Giants have been talking about an extension, and that’s where things get sticky and that’s where Sandoval has a lot of nerve.

His agent has asked for — demanded, actually — a five-year extension totaling, get this, $90 million. That’s a lot of moola. It also happens to be the Hunter Pence deal — five years for 90 big ones.

The Giants have made their own offer, a sane offer — three years at $40 million. According to my arithmetic there’s a $50 million chasm between what Sandoval wants to get and what the Giants want to give.

As Batman’s Robin would exclaim, “Holy chasm!”

Sandoval has some nerve to compare himself to Pence. Last season, Pence hit 27 home runs. Sandoval hit 14. No comparison. Last season, Pence drove in 99 runs. Sandoval drove in 79. No comparison.

And here’s the whopper. The past three seasons, Pence played 476 games, and that includes all 162 games in 2013. Sandoval played 366 games. No comparison. Three seasons equals 486 games. Figure out Sandoval’s percentage of games played if you care to. Not a great percentage.

For this Sandoval wants the Pence deal.


Another thing. Pence waited for the Pence deal. The Giants made him play out his contract year before rewarding him with the big contract at the end of the 2013 season. He succeeded in 2013. He got rewarded. If Pence could wait, Sandoval can wait.

Question: In whom do you have more confidence, Pence or Sandoval?

The answer is obvious. Pence always is in shape. He’s a maniac about staying fit. He eats right. He is an athlete. Sandoval has terrible weight issues, weighty weight issues. I am no shrink, but I bet there’s a psychological component to his problem. Has to be. He has embarrassed himself publicly and no one without a problem does that. I feel sorry for him, but I also know it’s difficult to rely on him, to believe in him.

Even if he stays slim in 2014, even if he has a monster year, you wonder if he’ll duplicate that in non-contract seasons when the pressure is off. You wonder about the wisdom of five years with him at third base pulling in big dough. You just wonder.

Sandoval’s agent swore his client has beaten the weight issue. “His weight is going to be perfect,” the agent told the Chron. “He’s going to have a trainer 24 hours a day, seven days a week — not just this year, not just two months.”

It’s easy to say Sandoval’s weight will be perfect. Mere saying doesn’t make it so. It’s worrisome that a world-class athlete needs a trainer 24/7, doesn’t have the self-discipline to be like, well, Hunter Pence.

Something else is troubling about Sandoval. And this is strictly a moral issue, not a baseball issue. Why should the Giants reward a player who has been careless and slovenly with his body? Rewarding Sandoval would seem immoral and just plain wrong.

He needs to earn the big salary he wants — just as Pence earned it. He has done nothing to earn it so far, unless you count showing up for spring training in shape — although he has told no one in the media, as far as I know, how much he weighs. I asked him and he just shook his head. He needs to show he is serious for an entire season.

I doubt the Giants will cave in. I expect and hope they will make him play his contract year with no new contract. See who he is. What he is. What he weighs. What he brings.

If all goes well in 2014, offer him three years with a club option for the fourth year. Put in a weight clause. Weigh him on a regular basis. Show him you are serious.

If he doesn’t play enough games, if he doesn’t stay in shape, let him walk. Understand he is on the DH track. He eventually will end up in the American League as a designated hitter. He already is headed that way. He committed 18 errors at third base last season, third-most in the big leagues. Late in games manager Bruce Bochy took him out for defensive reasons. Which means his defense is offensive.

Of course, Sandoval has the Giants in a bind. This is what rankles. He becomes a free agent after this season. If he has a good year, he can go to the highest-bidding team. Or he can demand — and probably get — a monster contract from the Giants, even bigger than the Hunter Pence deal. So if he plays well, the Giants risk losing him to another team, or the Giants risk paying him a fortune for five years with no guarantee he will keep the weight off and play lots of games.

The Giants are in an awful position. Sandoval put them there. The Giants should not give him an extension now, not if it involves anything close to Hunter Pence money. The Giants should hang tough and face the consequences after the season.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.


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  1. Steve the cat rescuer

    I was with you until your last paragraph. Sandoval didn’t put the Giants in an awful spot – the Giants put themselves in an awful spot. The endless Panda promotions, coddling him for years about his weight, looking the other way when he had his issue in Santa Cruz (when he was supposed to be rehabbing from an injury), drafting pitching, pitching, pitching instead of another third baseman or a hitter with power potential (where are all those drafted pitchers?), not trading him at his peak value. I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

    Will they overpay him? Based on their recent history with flawed players (Lincecum, Vogelsong, Scutaro, Pagan, Huff, Rowand, Zito and even Morse), sadly, I think they will.

    March 25th, 2014 9:19 am

  2. dharte

    I would have thought that Sandoval’s act had worn thin years ago, but false hope does spring eternal….

    He is transparent in this money grab, and if the Giants believe Sandoval won’t balloon to 285 or beyond in the second or third year of any five-year deal he signs, they’ve learned nothing from their previous mistakes.

    With luck he’ll get a great start, and then this team should package him for someone else. Giancarlo Stanton comes to mind, but then I have a tendency to daydream this time of year.

    They need a reliable pro at 3rd. And they don’t have one. The fuzzy hats are cute, the expanding belly much less so.

    March 25th, 2014 9:20 am

  3. Dr. Feelgood

    But then again, three HR’s off of Verlander. In the World Series. In one game. Nobody does that. Certainly not Hunter Pence.
    The Giants are smart with their money. They’ll figure this out.

    March 25th, 2014 9:24 am

  4. Brett

    As you stated, the Giants are in a tuff spot here Lowell. I think it is realy out of their hands at this point. They are not going to offer more and Sandoval has no insentive to take what they are offering. If he has an average year the 40 mil will still be there. If he has a good to great year, sky’s the limit.

    March 25th, 2014 9:35 am

  5. Jim Bancroft

    To nitpick, I believe it was 2 HRs off Verlander and one off a reliever?

    Regardless, that was one game in a series the Giants swept. Lowell’s other points remain valid. I have no faith Sandoval would keep the weight off after this season– what has he done since 2009 here that would convince us otherwise?

    Besides, Sandoval is turning 28 this season. Even a 3 year deal offered by the giants means he’d be 31 at the end of it. Would you want even a 31 year old (much less 33, if he gets his way) Sandoval on your team?

    Let him play out this year. If he’s a greedy sort he’ll keep the weight down for whoever’s dumb enough to sign him. Meanwhile the Giants get a good year of production.

    March 25th, 2014 3:00 pm

  6. Brady

    Very nice article, Lowell. I definitely disagree, but you make good points.

    Thought you might like this article by Grant Brisbee on the topic; it brings up some great points as well: http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2014/3/24/5542676/giants-pablo-sandoval-not-close-to-an-extension

    I’m definitely siding with Brisbee on this one, but again, great article.

    March 25th, 2014 5:59 pm

  7. mike

    Word of caution to organizations which sign players in the final year of a contract…..they are primed to put the best foot forward, but the year after statistically is a down year for the majority after they got the money. Sandoval’s history brings to mind the adage of “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

    March 25th, 2014 6:04 pm

  8. Stan

    Out of Pablo,The Giants got 2 World Series Championships, A All Star game MVP that because of Pablo gave the Giants home field (or was that Melky ruining a good story of mine?)..nonetheless, Pablo was MVP. They could NEVER have gotten away with paying him so little in a large market like New York for one.
    His weight? Maybe it does affect his hitting..but as a close second to Posey as the teams best hitter..and Pablo having more power,he deserves Pence money and more. Pablo can be a lifetime Giant. Something Pence can never be.
    Like not paying Mays McCovey or Marichal 20 grand extra back when. Or Perry…extra for Vaseline. Too cheap would be Sabean’s undoing.

    March 25th, 2014 6:15 pm

  9. Dr. Feelgood

    OK, so let’s say Pablo is all of the negative things that have been laid out so far.
    Do the Giants have a 3B in the organization that is ready for 2015? Someone capable of approaching Sandoval-type production?
    If not, they’d need to trade for one. What will they have to give up to replace Sandoval’s numbers?
    If I was GM, and desiring to move on without Pablo, I’d try to trade him NOW. Get an impact player in return for this year. Otherwise I either overpay next year for a player we don’t believe in, or let him walk with no return on investment.
    What’s it going to be?

    March 25th, 2014 6:56 pm

  10. Johnc

    I like the idea of including a weight clause in three year extension . That way if Sandoval insists on patronizing International House of Pancakes then the Giants will save some dough.

    March 26th, 2014 12:32 am

  11. lameduck

    Midseason trade bsit. Maybe try Posey at 3rd :) and give Hector a shot. Of course Pablo will have to be healthy which I doubt.

    March 26th, 2014 3:09 am

  12. John

    Lowell – the bottom line is marketing and dollars expendable. The Giants, at the moment, are a marketing cash machine – sold out games, in contention most of the time, and Pablo Panda Hats sold in the stands and online.
    Is he a Jim Ray Hart – probably not nor a D. Spencer. But let’s move into 2014 and beyond and recognize that dollars are what they were not back in the Candlestick days and If you wish to stick with the Dodger as competitors, then pay up.

    March 26th, 2014 9:17 pm

  13. Stan

    You really ignore Lowell one fact. If Pablo was a free agent right now..he would get that and much more. The Giants know that. How much would the Dodgers pay for him?..scary thought.
    I know it makes Sabean shudder.

    March 26th, 2014 9:45 pm

  14. Neal

    Surprised you did not mention Sabean, he has done more bad contracts, then anyone in baseball.

    March 27th, 2014 12:39 pm

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