Ah, time to assess a trade: Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera.
Here's the thing...first, it's pretty obvious to all (as Steve Rubio noted and quoted) that Sabean is trading away a guy at his lowest and trading for a guy coming off a freak good season. But of course in some ways that doesn't matter; the goal is to maximize wins in 2012, not to get the best trade value. Sure, in hindsight Sabean should have traded Sanchez earlier if he was going to trade him, but that's yesterday's mistake, not this week's.
What it all comes down to, really, is whether Cabrera can handle CF. He just had a fine year, with an OPS+ of 121 at age 26; even if it turns out that he's really no better than a league-average hitter or a touch below (and his lifetime OPS+ of just 93 isn't encouraging, but then again he's only 26), then as long as he can play CF he's not really going to hurt the team. One way to think about it is that going into the off season Sabean had vacancies at SS, CF, and one corner spot, and now he's filled one without spending much money. If, that is, Cabrera can handle CF. If not, he's more of a 5th OFer than anything else.
As far as Sanchez, what I'd say is this: he was heading into his last year of arbitration. His value was low. So, I think there are two reasonable ways to go. One is to trade him for whatever you can get, as Sabean did; the other would be to sign him to a three or even four year deal while he's cheap. I don't know which way I'd have gone, but I could see arguments either way. Both are ways of cashing in on his current value; both entail risks.
Now, the problem for me is that on the raw numbers it makes a lot of sense that the guy who spiked up last year at age 26 is a much better bet than the guy who spiked up in 2009 at age 32 and then collapsed back down at age 33...but I've been a Torres fan for a while (pre-success, that is), while I've never much thought Melky was worth anything. So my gut feeling is that Torres would actually be better next year. But I'm sure the numbers don't say that, and I can't really blame Sabean for letting Torres go. And without him, there's really no other CF option, so again as much as my instinct says that this is a lousy deal and Melky isn't really a regular CFer, I'm really not sure that the numbers say that.
I do know that going in, I'm not looking forward to rooting for him. Ah well; there are plenty of guys I do like, and if you don't have a CF, you're going to give up an awful lot of inside the park HRs.