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San Francisco Giants: Time may be approaching to chase Headley

By Mark ONeill
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Without conceding defeat in the Pablo Sandoval Sweepstakes-not yet, anyway-and recognizing that there are no ready-made replacements in the San Francisco Giants’ farm system, the time has come for Brian Sabean to cool the controversy at the hot corner, and consider chasing Headley, Chase Headley, that is.

Remember him? While a member of the San Diego Padres, for the first five seasons of his Major League Baseball career, Headley plagued the Giants by seemingly always getting the clutch hit that put the Orange and Black on the ropes. Ironically, his monster season in 2012, when he hit .286, clubbed 31 home runs, and had a National League-leading 115 RBI’s, has actually worked against him, when it comes to attaining a long-term contract.

Even though he also garnered his first Gold Glove in that 2012 season, and placed fifth in the voting for NL MVP, his star has dimmed over the past two years, and when he was unable to negotiate a contract extension prior to the trade deadline last July, he was traded to the New York Yankees.

The problem is that Headley’s numbers dropped in the two subsequent seasons, to the point where his 31 homers from 2012 totaled more than his 26 dingers from ’13 and ’14 combined, and his 99 RBI’s from the past two seasons, COMBINED…well, you get the idea. When a player’s stats fluctuate so dramatically over a three-year period, it makes it hard to justify taking a chance with anything more than a one-year contract.

Will that suffice? It’s all relative, depending on what other clubs do.

Stop me if you have heard this before: The baseball world is waiting on Pablo Sandoval.

Headley is still very much in the plans of the Yankees, but nothing is being done about it in New York for the same reason that nothing is being done in San Francisco: There’s a Panda on the loose, and until he is caged, the rest of the zoo is shut down.

Is Headley a valid choice to take the Panda’s place? You better believe it. The man can play and the fact that his numbers have been inconsistent has little bearing. For six-plus seasons, he tried to provide offense for  Padres teams that were pitcher-rich and power-poor, and that’s a lot to take on by yourself.

Having climbed to the top in 2012, the expectations extended far beyond what Headley could produce in the next two seasons. And then to get traded to the Yankees? New York is a place where it doesn’t matter what a player does on Sunday, when Monday rolls around. Numbers from two disjointed seasons, with a medley of special circumstances involved, must be downplayed.

Aug 12, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) throws the ball to first base against the Chicago White Sox during the third inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the factors that tilt the scales in the Giants’ direction:

  • Gold Glove winners may only win the award once, but their defense will always be golden.
  • Headley has talent and power and even though AT&T Park will not induce home runs, there’s a lot of room out there in Triples Alley for balls to bounce around.
  • The Giants do not need a savior; they only need Headley to do one-ninth of the work. Leave the role of savior role to the San Diego Padres.

* Headley won’t cost as much as Pablo Sandoval.

  • Finally, Headley is ideal because he has already established himself in the NL West, and a return with the Giants would provide him with enough protection in the batting order, that he should be able to reestablish himself as a force with which to be reckoned.

Rest assured, that if the San Francisco Giants end up having to replace Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley would get the job done. After all, when you compare Sandoval’s sixteen home runs for 2014 with Headley’s 31 from 2012, almost exactly half, and compare Pablo’s 73 RBI’s with Headley’s 115 from 2012, you can see what anyone can see.

Sandoval’s strength is in being clutch, but if my doddering memory isn’t too distorted, Mr. Headley is no lightweight in that department either.

If Pablo Sandoval is determined to flee the zoo, then so be it. There are plenty who would be only too happy to come to San Francisco, especially those who are tired of having to carry the load by themselves.

Should he opt to sign with the San Francisco Giants, Chase Headley would not have to do it by himself, not with Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt in the lineup.

Why continue to weep, wail, and gnash your teeth, at the thought of the Panda escaping, when there is a more-than acceptable replacement in the form of Chase Headley?

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