Some folks were surprised when the San Francisco Giants, a team that's unmatched in its resolve and record for keeping their best players, announced that contract talks were being tabled with star third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the beloved Panda, and maybe even a bit shocked, too, when longtime general manager Brian Sabean suggested things weren't going especially well.

Sabean, the architect of two World Series winners and incredible organizational and player continuity, went so far as to declare in an interview with CNS Bay Area that in this case Panda and Panda's agent were “drawing a line in the sand” that the team shouldn't and wouldn't meet.

Gustavo Vazquez, the longtime agent for Sandoval, expressed surprise hearing such a characterization. While sitting at a restaurant here on the famed coast route AIA which runs along the beach, Sandoval responded to Sabean's suggestion with humor. Referring to the “line in the sand” remark, Vazquez, peering across the street to the ocean, said with a smile, “Maybe he knows I'm in Florida.”

Sandoval's uncharacteristically slow start notwithstanding -- he's hitting .165, 130 points below his career .295 average coming into the year -- the team of Vazquez and Sandoval are sitting pretty. Should the deep-pocketed Dodgers lock up superstar shortstop Hanley Ramirez, as most expect they will, Sandoval is in position to become the top free agent position player in a pitching-heavy market.

While no team in general has made a more conscientious effort to keep its stars than the Giants, and some onlookers saw enough progress this spring to expect a deal would be forthcoming, beyond the one-line return volley regarding the beach metaphor, both public and private talks between the Giants and Sandoval are dormant and are expected to remain so at least for the foreseeable future.

Neither side will discuss the particulars of the offers and counteroffers, but word is Sandoval is seeking at least $100 million on a five-year deal, which shouldn't come as a shock considering his age (27), a market lacking in big punch (among players in their prime, Chase Headley may be the closest thing to Sandoval, and he isn't the player Panda is) and a terrific talent that's seen him twice make All-Star teams, twice receive MVP votes and twice exceed a .900 OPS despite not always being in peak shape (just a great, great hitter,” one competing executive called him).