Tag Archives: Brian Sabean

Sadly, Giants #everyotheryear pace will continue

It’s a day of worshp… tomorrow. We celebrated Easter on Holy Saturday (much like how Black Friday shopping leaked into Thanksgiving gluttony, which first seemed like an afront, but actually makes sense of what Thanksgiving has become if you think about it… bottom line, in this impatient culture we’d have never stood for Jesus in a tomb for three days. You get two-and-a-half and then get your live ass out here, thank you very much). I think God allows me a fair amount of sacriledge when it comes to baseball. She’s a fan too, and likely a Giants Fan. How else can you explain the 2014 playoffs? More on that to come.

No, the holiday I’m now focused on as we enjoy the other side of Easter today (chocolate, family, fun and a teaser night baseball game, which too is early and out of place, but we’ll take it!) is Opening Day!

Opening Day is something of a holiday for me, far more than the Super Bowl or even some of the three-day weekend holidays that crop up expectedly unexpectedly each year. When Opening Day finally arrives each year, I try to turn on the early day games and keep watching until the last one on the West Coast is played. After several months of absence I’m ready for the background music of baseball to re-enter my life.

I also make predictions each year though nobody but me has much invested in the picks. But writing about baseball while watching baseball is about as good as it gets. Come tomorrow as Opening Day launches, I’ll be happily doing both.

Before the pitch is tossed on this season, lets put the last historic and exhilarating season to bed, with a final look at my predictions.

My picks last year were a strange brew of very right and very wrong: I picked all five NL playoff teams only getting the Dodgers and Giants mixed up as division winner. The American League was more of a mess.  I got three of the five playoff teams in the Angels, A’s and Orioles, but none in the right place. The Indians pick was a year premature and the Rays a year or six too late. Eight out of ten is pretty strong but like the rest of the free world, I went 0 for 2 picking in picking the World Series teams and eventual champion. As a Giants fan, I’ll gladly admit I was wrong.

Here’s the rub though. I picked the Nationals to win it all. Had the Giants not pulled off what history will show as one of the great upsets in baseball, the Nationals would have been champs. This is the missing story from the 2014 season and deserves a book of its own to cement the legacy of that incredible turn of events that gave the Giants a third, #everyotheryear crown. They were, at best, the 8th best team in the playoffs last year. Yet they ran the gauntlet of three straight series as the decided underdogs and won by a single run in the 7th and final game. Shoot, I need to write that book.

The Nationals were the best team last year. They far outmatched the Giants at virtually every position. Had Bruce Bochey not schooled Matt Williams like an old Kung Fu master, my pick would have turned out correct. Had the Giants not somehow won an 18-inning game because Williams didn’t let the dominant Jordan Zimmerman finish the ninth, the series would have been over right there. Anyone seeing that lineup of five lefties against the Nationals Gio Gonzalez should know how badly the Giants were over-matched and outgunned. They had huge holes throughout and Triple A guys all over the bench, their highest paid pitcher and their lead-off hitter were injured and yet, they still won. Amazing. Move over ’69 Mets, I think the Giants will take that title now.

And let’s set the record straight over the shibboleth that great managers don’t impact the game in baseball? Look back the records of a Davey Johnson, Buck Showalter, Mike Scoscia, Joe Maddon, Tony LaRussa, Terry Francona and a handful of others who simply win where ever they go. None of this cast of greatness though can match The Boch come playoff time.

Bochey is simply a shaman. He’s the best, which is why the Giants have won a World Series #everyotheryear this decade.

But those holes, that mediocre lineup, the lack of talent on the field at AT&T Park, the lack of depth, the aging, overpaid guys, well their all mostly back which means sadly, the Giants are in no position to repeat. I blame Brian Sabean as much as I exalt Bruce Bochey. The Giants won’t win this year. That much I’ll bet the house on. Their will be plenty of room on the water this October in McCovey Cove.

As for my predictions this year… check back tomorrow. As I said, I love to write about baseball on Opening Day, so I’ll be writing all day as I watch the games that will add so much to the next several months of my life.

Brian Sabean is the worst HOF GM ever

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.

Build a SF Dynasty: Quality over quantity

What would be off-season baseball without playing a little general manager. I don’t play fantasy baseball, but I do spend a ridiculous amount of wasted time thinking what I would do if I had the single best job in the world: General Manager of the San Francisco Giants.

This envy is probably why I am certain Bruce Bochey is the greatest living manager and yet Brian Sabean, who by all rights built this team from the ground up, rates barely above George Bush’s approval ratings. I try to be fair, but I can’t help it. I’d sell my soul to the devil to come back to this life in Sabean’s job.

Truth be told I’ve spent a fair amount of my life second guessing the great ones like Terry Francona during Boston’s historic run and Bruce Bochey during every torturous decision over the past five years. But right about the time Bochey put a lineup that couldn’t win a Triple A game, chalk full of lefties against a lefty flame thrower, against the powerful Washington Nationals and won is the time I realized the Bochey is a warlock, shaman and zen master rolled into one. I vowed to never again think I could do his job.

But Sabean… well, I truly believe I could do better so the second-guessing will continue long after both of us are gone.

We dispensed of the bad news in the last post: Sandoval has to go on to other adventures in other places. Take the pebble from my hand Kung Fu Panda and see you in ten years at a reunion where fans will give you the longest of standing ovations. Just don’t put on the uniform as a player again because I don’t want to pay you. No hard feelings.

That sets up the good news. If I was Brian Sabean today, I think I could actually build a team that would win a World Series in an odd number year. Next year in fact. Back-to-back. Remove all doubt about the Dynasty. Cement it.

Timmy

Here’s how:

First: do nothing. Let Panda go. Do not reach out to Jake Peavy (we already have him signed; he’s named Tim Hudson), Ryan Vogelsong, Sergio Romo or Michael Morse. Each played well, each is in line for a better pay day, and each will find suitors willing to over pay despite the flaws we saw in them over the season.

Thanks guys, see you at the reunion too. Romo is a tough one because he’s been such a staple for the Giants through this whole championship era. But he wants closer money and closer responsibilities and as we found out, he’s a right-handed specialists in closer camo and nowhere worth the $10 million a year his hometown LA Dodgers will give him. Say goodbye.

From the moment I heard Morse using the 1980s classic Ah Ha’s “Take on Me” I knew I loved the guy. His playoff at bats were probably more important than any other player on the roster not named Panda. But he’s lost in the outfield and went a better part of three months with fewer home runs than can be counted on one hand because teams busted him inside and he couldn’t adjust. His future is as an American League DH, so go forth my friend and prosper. We really will miss you.

Second, take all of that money, every last bit of savings and sign one guy. For once, go against the Brian Sabean grain to spread the wealth, win some and lose some philosophy of overpaying veterans trying to catch lightening in the bottle and find one true superstar. We absolutely need a cleanup hitter, and don’t say Nelson Cruz. We need a younger cleanup hitter. Think Giancarlo Stanton. Empty the minor leagues, load up the vault. Pay him the $25 million a year you saved by letting all those other guys go, give away your top three prospects, throw in an Andrew Susac or Matt Duffy (anybody but Joe Panik) and go get Stanton.

It’s exactly what Sabean should have done with Adrian Gonzalez four years ago but never tried.

If that fails try to raid the Kansas City Royals for Lorenzo Cain or go get Yoenis Cespedes from the Red Sox’ crowded outfield. Or if all else fails, open the check book and make sure you sign the next great Cuban, according to the USA Today:

Yasmany Tomas, Industriales in Cuba: Tomas is often compared to other Cuban outfielders like Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig, and Cuban baseball expert Peter Bjarkman said body- and strength-wise he can hold his own with Puig. But Tomas’ plate discipline is even less refined than what the Los Angeles Dodgers star showed in his early days in the minors. And while Tomas, about to turn 24, throws well, he doesn’t match Puig’s arm, speed or zest for the game. Tomas’ size and athleticism, as well as the Cuban lineage, make him appealing – perhaps enough to garner a contract in the $60-70 million range – but he figures to need some time in the minors polishing his game.

I’ll give Sabean credit. He already signed one cheap alternative, Daniel Carbonell, who might become a great outfielder from Cuba. And folks think the Giants are going to make a strong push for Tomas, who baseball writer George King says is better than the Red Sox’ Rusney Castillo.

The Giants have lacked a true cleanup hitter since the retirement of Barry Bonds. One can argue the lead-off spot has been a decade-long problem, but when Pagan is healthy he may not be Rickey Henderson, but the team wins. Signed for two more years, we have to ride with him for now. That leaves the four-spot as the one glaring need that would make everyone else in the lineup fall in place.

Pagan, Panik, Posey, XXX, Pence, Belt, Crawford and 3b.

Admittedly replacing Sandoval will be tough, but this is what Sabean does best: bargain-basement signings. He found Cody Ross and Pat the Bat and even Morse on the scrap heap. He can find a 3b for this year or even let the dynamic Matt Duffy play there despite his absence of power. Or give Adam Duval a real chance to unleash his power. Regardless of who plays there that’s a team that can can dominate with bench players like Ishikawa, Arias, Blanco and Sanchez who are proven role players.

The rotation is just fine: You have to give Tim Lincecum one more chance. Matt Cain should be back and better than ever. Petit earned a chance and is a bargain. Bumgarner is worth two starters. Hudson at 40 is the best end-of-the-rotation guy in baseball. Finally, once the off-season signing hysterics play out, Sabean will find some talent off the scrap heap or some of the talent in the minors will rise just as they did this year.

We don’t need much. We simply need one highly quality linchpin to bring this fabulous team together from overachiever to true powerhouse.

There it is. April 2015 can’t get here soon enough but for now, it’s time I become like Jimmy Fallon in Fever Pitch, the normal winter guy who doesn’t obsess about baseball every waking moment. Let the baseball diet begin. Happy off-season.