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    


Great blog! I heard about the Luncheon on KNBR. Didn’t hear what was said. Just that Ralph went. Thanks for the inside information you got from there. I’m hoping Lowry comes back looking good. That way we can at least have some options of trading one of them with a package to get a good bat. Maybe Sabean is building up Sanchez so teams can think he’s untouchable so they will try harder to get him and give us someing good in return. Can’t wait to read more blogs from you.

~King of Cali

Hi Chris,
Welcome to MLBlogs! I’m excited that more beat writers are joining because I really enjoy their perspectives seeing that I myself want to go into the baseball writing industry soon. I liked the look on Sanchez and Lowry, and I’ve really enjoyed learning about Tim Lincecum this offseason.
I’d like to hear from a beat writer… what are your thoughts on Manny? I’m sure you’ve heard that one million times though.

Hey Chris if you get a chance to read my blog. Please read the Q&A I did with Damon Bruce from KNBR. Since you cover the Giants. I figured you might like to read it. =)

~King of Cali

Chris, I scour the internet daily to see what if anything is cooking with the Giants and moves they might or might not make. Do you think that the new third baseman from Venezuela, Jesus Guzman, has a legitimate shot? He did fairly well in AAA with Sacramento. He showed some power in Venezuela and was nip and tuck with Sandoval in batting….Who is better, Guzman/Sandoval or Sandoval/Ishikawa, as far as 1b/3b combos?

It seemed to me that Lowry always had an ability to get the inning ending double play, or the 3-2 curveball over the plate when needed. Sanchez seems like a streaky pitcher, even from inning to inning.
If Lowry has a good spring, would you anticipate a trade, and where would the Giants look to send him? Rangers for Blalock?

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