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 firstname.lastname@example.org.