Is Melky the answer to the Giants offensive woes?

Melky Cabrera is the new bat in town for the Giants. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The San Francisco Giants traded their often erratic, gun-slinging lefty Jonathan Sanchez along with a minor-league pitcher to the Kansas City Royals for switch-hitting outfielder Melky Cabrera. This, so far, looks to be the biggest offseason move for the 2012 Giants, so let’s take a closer look.

Most remember Sanchez for two things: his time in the spotlight in 2009 when he pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres, and the game he won on the last day of the season in 2010 to lock up a postseason spot for the Giants. Since then, he has been a mixed bag of injuries and letdowns. Well, like it or not, those days are behind us. Now we have (yet another) average-ish hitter to somehow squeeze into our already crowded outfield. Here’s how this trade shakes out for the most part:

Cabrera had career numbers last season in terms of runs, RBIs, home runs, and batting average. As someone who is entering only his seventh season, and attributes his recent success to a stricter offseason program, Cabrera has a lot of upside and is potentially poised for a big year. On the other hand, his stat lines were average at best before last season, and in 2011 he took a career high in strikeouts and only walked 35 times in 706 plate appearances.

Sanchez, at his best, has ace-like stuff. His no-hitter in 2009 was truly impressive and was one Juan Uribe error from a perfect game. During the Giants championship season, he posted a respectable 13-9 record with a career-high 205 strikeouts and turned in more than a few clutch performances towards the end of the season and throughout the playoffs. Also, as some may have already realized, less Sanchez means more Barry Zito, which is never a good thing. But last season was a different story for Sanchez. When he wasn’t injured, he was having trouble making it through the fifth inning. He posted an atrocious 66 walks in only 101 innings pitched and had a 4.26 ERA.

Overall, this is a good thing for both players and teams. Sanchez was wearing out his welcome, and with the emergence of Ryan Voglesong, the Giants were able to shop Sanchez to improve their league-worst offense in 2011. And who knows what a change of scenery could do for his confidence? Meanwhile, Cabrera comes into one of the most difficult ball parks for a hitter, but with that comes the fandom of San Francisco and the potential motivation of a deep playoff run pushing him to play at his highest level. It is tough to say that Cabrera will be the “answer” to San Francisco’s offensive incompetence, but it is a start, and that’s all we can really ask for.

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