He was beloved by the San Francisco faithful. He was a member of three World Series championship teams, while also bringing home the World Series MVP during 2012’s fall classic. Despite all of these seemingly good memories, for some reason, Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco’s former cuddly Kung Fu Panda, has decided to share with the world that he never intended to re-sign with San Francisco and that the only people he will miss are Giants’ Manager Bruce Bochy and former teammate Hunter Pence.
“I love Boch. He’s like my dad. He’s the only guy that I miss. And Hunter Pence. Just those guys,” Sandoval said during an interview with Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller. “But now, I feel like home.”
Does anyone else wonder why Sandoval has decided to spew vitriol and venom at the organization that gave him his start? This is a San Francisco organization that dealt with his lackadaisical approach to physical training, just like they dealt with the fluctuations in his performance on the field – with kindness and support. And the fan base, that didn’t care when Sandoval’s 2010 performance relegated him to the bench in favor of Juan Uribe, instead they cheered and encouraged his rise back to relevancy during 2011 while donning novelty Panda hats.
For some San Francisco fans, the loss of Sandoval during the offseason was expected. He was a highly-sought after player that was coveted by several teams, including Boston (who he signed with) and San Diego, for a position that has seen a decline in offensive production over the years.
The Giants, who are never one to overpay for a player (especially since signing Barry Zito to a seven-year, $126 million contract), were cautious of the asking price for Sandoval. During his seven years with the Giants, Sandoval slashed a respectable .294/.346/.465 with 106 home runs, 192 doubles and 462 RBI during the regular season. His power numbers are slightly skewed from playing at AT&T Park and some of the other pitcher-friendly ballparks in the National League West.
It was in the postseason where Sandoval seemed to shine most for the Giants. In three postseason appearances, Sandoval slashed .344/.389/.545 with six home runs, 13 doubles and 20 RBI. He batted .429 during the 2014 World Series and .500 during his MVP performance during 2012. He had only one at-bat during the Giants’ World Series title in 2010.
Sandoval’s ability to shine during the postseason leaves you wondering why he didn’t do more in the regular season. Although this is a question that Giant fans and the San Francisco front office undoubtedly would have liked answered, it didn’t stop the Giants from making a very competitive offer this offseason in hopes of retaining Sandoval, an offer that even he acknowledged was higher than the five-year, $95 million he signed for in Boston.
“The Giants made a good offer,” said the 28-year-old-former Giant third baseman about the deal. “I didn’t want to take it. I left money on the table in San Francisco. It is not about the money. It is how you treat the player.”
Sandoval added that the decision to leave the Bay Area was not too difficult.
So was he really treated unfairly by the Giants organization?
All the front office asked of Sandoval was to arrive in better shape, so he could live up to the immense potential the organization saw in him from day one. When he didn’t appear to take this suggestion seriously, the front office made him a contract offer during spring training of 2014, one that the former San Francisco third baseman thought was too low.
“I knew early in spring training last year I was going to leave,” Sandoval added during his interview with Miller. “They didn’t respect my agent. Contract talks, everything. “
He added that Giants General Manager Brian Sabean did not speak kindly with Sandoval’s agents at SPS Sports Group.
So Sandoval balked at the contract, played out the year the year with San Francisco and claimed another championship ring. He put together a solid, if unspectacular season during 2014, slashing .279/.324/.415 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI. He played good defense, finishing with a .971 fielding percentage, better than the league average of .962.
The Giants had taken the chance on losing one of the fans’ favorite players. The front office was hoping the winning atmosphere and fan base could convince Sandoval to stay. Instead, he left town for what he perceived to be greener pastures.
“If you want me around, you make the effort to push and get me back,” said Sandoval.
Well, the Boston Red Sox did make the push to acquire him. He will undoubtedly endear himself to another fan base, just like he did in San Francisco. Sandoval shirts are already on sale, and soon Fenway Park will be filled with Panda hats.
Sandoval will quickly realize there is a difference between Bay Area fans and Boston fans. San Francisco fans are more forgiving. If Sandoval goes out and hits .268/.323/.409 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI like he did during the 2011 season and the Boston fans get on him, will he tell Red Sox Nation to respect him? And if so, how does he think they will respond?
Maybe before signing his name on the dotted line, Sandoval should have had talks with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez about their time in Boston. Both players seem to have felt a weight lifted from their shoulders after being traded from Boston to Los Angeles. Or maybe he should have called former teammate Barry Zito and asked how the Giant fan base stood by him while he underperformed after signing a huge contract.
Either way, Sandoval is gone. He should quit discussing the negatives of his last season with San Francisco and focus on the positives he had during his seven seasons by the bay, because come mid-season, if he is struggling in Boston, Sandoval may be wishing he stayed in San Francisco.