Sanchez, not Lowry, has upper (left) hand
The annual Bay Area Baseball Luncheon sponsored by Comcast, which was revived Wednesday after a one-year hiatus, was more than just a promotional affair, if you’re a Giants fan. It generated a little news.
General manager Brian Sabean, who said earlier this offseason that Noah Lowry’s experience would conceivably give him an edge over fellow left-hander Jonathan Sanchez for the fifth starter’s spot, reversed his thinking during a question-and-answer session at the luncheon.
“Really, it’s the other way around. Lowry’s going to have to unseat (Sanchez),” Sabean said.
Sabean watched Sanchez throw recently in Arizona, and indicated that he liked what he saw. “He’s bigger and stronger,” Sabean said of Sanchez, who formerly could take a shower in the barrel of a .22, as the cliche goes. In fact, Sabean liked what he saw so much that the chances of trading Sanchez for a proven hitter, which has prompted much speculation this winter, appear to be more remote than ever.
“I’d have a hard time thinking we could trade this player for (equal) value,” Sabean said.
It’s easy to follow Sabean’s logic. Sanchez, 26, possesses what talent evaluators call a bigger “upside” than Lowry. That is, he’s viewed as being potentially more productive, with his fastball that exceeds 90 mph and a decent assortment of secondary pitches.
Another hint that the Giants favor Sanchez: Sabean gave him his blessing to pitch for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, if he’s selected for the final roster. “I think it’s going to do him a world (no pun intended) of good for his confidence and maturation process,” Sabean said.
But the intangibles favor Lowry. Sanchez’s toughness occasionally has been questioned; by contrast, Lowry wouldn’t flinch if he were suddenly dropped into a boxing ring with Manny Pacquiao. The man exudes confidence, perhaps more so than any pitcher on the Giants’ staff. Lowry’s also a proven quantity, having led San Francisco in wins in 2005 and 2007.
Hence, the Sanchez-Lowry faceoff promises to add to the Spring Training intrigue.
Other nuggets from the luncheon:
* Managing general partner Bill Neukom continued to hedge politely when he addressed the futures of Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy, whose contracts expire after this season. “We’ll worry about what happens after this season after this season,” Neukom said, with Sabean and Bochy seated close by.
* Sabean named left-hander Madison Bumgarner as the “leader of the class” of the next wave of Giants talent. “When this kid comes up, he’s not going to go back,” Sabean said of Bumgarner, 15-3 with a 1.46 ERA at low-Class A Augusta last season.
– Chris Haft