Well it’s April. I know that not because of the fool’s jokes being played, but because I can’t stop thinking about baseball.
I also can’t help my blood pressure from rising over the smallest things, like this: Why the hell isn’t it Opening Day already when the World Series is already played into November??? Who are the mensa schedule makers that started the season even later this year? Fire them all. Baseball should start by March 31 and end by October 20. End of story.
But the real story here is not these minor irritations but my massive, coronary defarctualizing, fury inducing, appal meter rising abhorrence of San Francisco Giants General Manager Brian Sabean.
Even as I write this I know it is pure insanity. The GM has brought us THREE world championships. He made mediocre teams around Barry Bonds perennial contenders. He deeply loves the team, the city and the character of all things that contribute to the San Francisco Giants. I can’t help but admire him and respect he’s one of our great city’s leading citizens. He is also likely headed to the hall of fame someday.
But… I simply hate him. I think he’s awful. I know for a fact what he won’t and will do long before he does it and I hate it all. Yep, it’s April. Baseball’s back and with it my daily gnashing of teeth over Brian Sabean.
Why do I despise thee, let me count they ways.
1) He tried to give Pablo the Fat $90 million. Thank God Pablo is nuttier than a filbert farm and feigned insult so he could rush to Boston and join his buddies Big Papi and Hanley Ramirez. Still, Sabean wanted him back. Sigh.
2) He was willing to spend $125-$135 million on Jon Lester when the only thing the team has are pitchers. Does Sabean see just how awful the offense is? I’m reminded of Bill Simmons one-liner after Sabean gave creaky, old Edgar Renteria $18 million to play shortstop. “Does Sabean watch baseball?” Simmons cracked.
3) He overpays old guys (see Renteria, Tim Lincicum’s last contract, Barry Zito, the Jon Lester attempted signing, Jake Peavy, etc. etc.) and overvalues old guys (see Zach Wheeler in a Mets uniform for a few months of Carlos Beltran).
4) He ignores the obvious needs in the lineup by trying to find value in the scrap heap. It actually works sometimes for a few months like Brandon Hicks first couple of months, about half a season of Michael Morse, Pat the Bat and Cody Ross in 2010. But then we get stuck with contracts like Pagan’s $40 million for what will likely be about a season and a half of play, Marco Scutaro’s millions for nothing, the dude that came over from the Pirates before Scutaro, etc. etc. etc. We have no payroll space because Sabean squanders it and then we can’t get guys who can actually help, like say, ANY OUTFIELDER???
Which leads me to today’s vitriolic screed about what seems so obvious I can’t even imagine why it hasn’t happened yet. We are about two real games away from Angel Pagan’s next back pain layoff, which means we will have an outfield of Nori Aoki, Blanco and Justin (who?) Maxwell. Not in August when the season’s grind has set in, but in April when the GM’s plans are most evident. That outfield will hit less than Madison Bumgarner combined.
MadBum should be shagging balls because in this lineup he could hit fifth if he can play even a little left field on his off days.
Solutions abound, but all we hear is Sabean is content to wait it out. For what exactly, since we have no major league ready outfield talent in the minor league system anywhere?
Fact 1: His minor league system ranks among the worst in baseball. The Giants have exactly ZERO prospects in the top 75. Not a one.
Fact 2: The Giants system’s players that even have a sniff of being starters in the majors are pitchers (with the exception of Andrew Susac for some other team), of which he has impressively stockpiled many arms with future potential.
Fact 3: He has only three healthy outfielders so they’ve had to keep Maxwell, a 31-year-old castoff who has a lifetime batting average of .224 and designate first round pick Gary Brown for assignment.
Fact 4: IF there is ONE thing the Giants HAVE NEVER during Sabean’s tenure its a bonafide lead-off hitter who draws walks, plays stellar defense and can steal bases blind. Since proven by Maury Wills, Lou Brock, Rickey Henderson, et. al. the leadoff hitter creates havoc from the game’s start and gets better pitches to hit for the power guys that followed. Angel Pagan, when healthy is a poor man’s leadoff hitter and yet the G-Men are much, much better when he bats lead off.
SO… Can someone tell me why Jackie Bradley Jr., who may be the best defensive centerfielder in baseball right now, who can steal 50 bases in a season without really trying, who draws walks like a veteran, and who appears to have corrected his long swing that killed his one shot at being a starter last year is NOT being acquired by trade? Anyone?
Sabean gave up TWO quality arms to the Red Sox last year for Jake Peavy. It will likely take only one and some parts to get Bradley, especially if they paired him with one of the Red Sox contractual problems like say Allen Craig, who could be a dynamic bat off the bench. The Red Sox have Bradley, Craig, Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino not starting because their OF and 1b and DH are set in stone with all-star potential players.
The Red Sox love young arms like the Giants can offer. Any of the above mentioned players would RIGHT NOW beat out ANYONE in our OF other than Pence (who is hurt) and Pagan (who is already taking injections in his back). Conceivably we could take Bradley, Craig AND Victorino and ALL three could start games for us. Imagine Craig as simply as right -handed pinch hitter, first baseman. If we have one of those we may not have had to play five lefties against Gio Gonzalez (a lefty killer) in the playoffs against the Nationals last year (Thank God Gio couldn’t field his position allowing us to win on throwing errors, because that was the worst playoff lineup I’ve ever, ever seen). The hole in the bench was so obvious that it is unconscionable that Sabean didn’t fix it this off-season, and yet he still can!
But Bradley is the key. He is cheap, he can be controlled for several more years and if he doesn’t hit, he is still better than Blanco, Perez, Ishikawa, Maxwell or anyone in our system as a backup, defensive OFer who can steal a base. If you give up Zach Wheeler for three months of Carlos Beltran, you have no excuse for not giving up whoever for six years of JBJ even if he turns into nothing more than a better Gregor Blanco.
Yet, just as I knew Sabean would come up short in the bidding in all three of the recent Cuban all-stars who each could have plugged in as a starter for the Giants (Castillo, Moncada, Tomas), I also know Sabean won’t get the needed right-hand 1b/ph bat and even more won’t get a vital player in Jackie Bradley Jr.
Brian Sabean will be in the Hall of Fame someday. When that happens I will still think he’s the worst Hall of Famer ever.