Great Article About Sabean
New Name Mentioned for his Inner Circle
The article mentioned his cabinet of advisors, his inner circle. Most names I either know or have heard of: Dick Tidrow, Pat Dobson, Ted Uhlaender, and (formerly) Ned Colletti. But there was a new one there, Joe DiCarlo. And, surprising to me because I saw their names put out when Ned was hired away as possible replacements, Jack Hiatt and Bobby Evans were not mentioned. I guess they are more administrator types, but one would hope that your Director of Player Development and Director of Minor League Operations, respectively, would be held in higher esteem by the GM.
Looking in the Giants 2005 Media Guide, I had to dig to find Joe DiCarlo's name: he is mentioned simply as one of our major league scouts. There is no other detail, other than he hails from New Jersey; perhaps they met when Sabean was head of player development for the Yankees, that's how Uhlaender got close to Sabean, I believe.
Sabean Pulled Off Nathan Deal Without Magowan Input
Wow, that is huge, particularly since his contract was up soon after that, if I recall correctly. Most people who do something like that usually would have something happen to them, some sort of public reprimand. DeBartolo demoted Walsh - Walsh! - after he had a great season but lost in the League Championship Game leading up to the Super Bowl. Most other people get fired for such a bone-headed move. And this trade only looks exponentially worse and worse with every season. Instead, he not only gets an extension, but he gets a contract of undisclosed length.
I still wonder who engineered that trade - according to Colletti in one of the article after he joined the Dodgers, he praised Sabean for allowing others to work out trades with other teams, among other duties. Was it really Sabean, then, who engineered the trade (though certainly he was the one who pulled the trigger)? Or was it Sheriff Ned? Or someone else?
Vocal Detractors who said his success due Solely to Bonds
That's one of my big problems with detractors. To me it is a big red herring. Of course a GM's success is related to the success of his best players. If you take the best player off of almost any team, that team will not "look pretty" either. But until 2005, when Bonds was out for most of the season, there was no comparison point so these people point to 2005 and say "see, that's what I mean!"
And sure, Bonds has outperformed for a while now, even for his prior standards. But without Bonds, the Giants are a $65M payroll team. That drops them to the middle of the pack payroll-wise, which makes it that much harder to compete. And these people conveniently forget that the team fell apart almost across the board in 2005, which drops them even further down, as high priced players underperformed for even what they did the prior two seasons.
The starting rotation was off. Schmidt was MIA for the season, subtract another $7M off. Williams appears to have ate his way off the team. While Rueter and Tomko did about what could be expected. Only Lowry did reasonably well and Hennessey was up and down but at least showed a lot of potential (at least he'll be a cheaper Tomko for the most part in 2006, at minimum).
The bullpen imploded. Benitez went on the DL almost immediately (and should have been on it sooner the way he was pitching). Brower, Christiansen, and Herges went MIA. Only Fassero and Eyre was doing it while Walker was hanging in there, pitching well enough as a closer but horribly otherwise.
The lineup was also hit. Grissom, who had performed well the two previous seasons, particularly for the money, just fell apart. As bad as Alfonzo had been with the Giants, he was a decent performer the two previous seasons, but in 2005, after he had one last gasp the first two weeks of the season, he then turned into a high-priced pumpkin for the rest of the season (at least you could get seeds from a pumpkin). There goes three of the main offensive contributors in Bonds, Grissom and Alfonzo. And Tucker, who had been a reliable 4th OF his whole career, and did well the previous two seasons filling in for Carlos Beltran and when Hammonds went lame (again). The team as constructed could have survived missing Bonds for the season, but not half their offense and half of their pitching.
Now these detractors would say, well, he got these lousy players, that's why he sucks. Well, these are the same players who contributed to a 100-win season two years before and 91-win season the year before. You can't say they are lousy players in 2005 if they were good players in 2003 and 2004, contributing to the team's success, you cannot have it both ways.
Sabean Does Not Bow to OBP, Therefore He Sucks Mentality
There are those who say he is SO not a saber, because of the low OBP players he has gotten or used, like Vizcaino, Russ Davis, Dunston, Grissom, Santiago, Feliz, Neifi, and Deivi. But you cannot judge how he is by how he choses relatively minor (i.e. cheaper, under $3M players) players because every team (except for the Yankees) is forced to make sacrifices with the edges of the starting lineup when you allocate a lot of money to your best players. Or do these fans really think that he can get a high OBP hitter, particularly a starter, for a couple of million?
You need to look more at his bigger acquisitions, particularly via contract extensions and free agents. Of course, Bonds you cannot count, the best players are typically high OBP hitters. You could apply similar logic to Kent if you wish on his extension. However, if you look at his other acquisitions, he looks a lot more like a saber than sabers would think.
To me, the players he should be accountable for were signed to salaries over $4M. Alfonzo and Durham clearly qualifies as high OBP hitters. People complain about him resigning Snow, whether via contract extensions or free agent contracts, but he is a high OBP hitter as well. In addition, Ellis Burks and Moises Alou are very much high OBP hitters. Even Vizquel counts as a high OBP hitter. On the short end, Aurilia and Benard also got big contracts but neither was not a high OBP hitter, though Aurilia was a power hitter among shortstops, which has value too, OBP is not the only game in town.
Also, looking over the league average OBP for the past five years, the mean OBP has been around .325-.345. There were a number of bigger name players who were acquired, though they didn't necessarily make the bigger bucks. Players like Sanders, Hammonds, Tucker, and Pierzynski would count in terms of players acquired who fall into that range. Kenny Lofton, Darryl Hamilton and Jose Cruz Jr. would count as high OBP hitters as well as El Gato Galarraga, though they didn't make the big bucks. Plus two of our best hitting prospects are on-base machines - EME and Ishikawa.
Kent Reconcilation Not Realistic
No way, Kent hated Bonds and his attention and attendent circus, plus his privileges (I guess he didn't react well to the bull-dance initiation :^). It was simply an untenable situation that Sabean could not have ameliorated no matter what he did.
Look at Kent's behavior after he left the Giants. He chose to make fun of Giants fans, he deliberately burned his bridges with this area, despite starring at U.C. Berkeley and with the Giants. His behavior post-Giants and "dream come true" by signing with the Dodgers makes me wonder if he subconsciously underachived during the playoffs. He wasn't even our 4th best hitter during the World Series run of 2002.
B.S. (And That Doesn't Mean Brian Sabean) on Vlad
That is such B.S. about Vlad Guererro and the Giants. First, Guerrero never expressed a desire to come to any team so what is the point that he didn't express a desire to come to SF. But he clearly said that he was willing to play anywhere, even New York. Compile that with Guererro telling a Spanish news outlet that he owes his career to Felipe Alou and one of his proudest moment as a ballplayer would be to be on the field with Alou in the opposing dugout, one can see that while Vlad may not have expressed a desire to come to SF, he surely would have greatly enjoyed it. If he got such a thrill being in the opposing dugout, imagine how he would feel in the same dugout!
Second, the Giants could have afforded the contract the Angels gave him, as I showed in an article I had written before in another lifetime. Basically, with the $6-7M the Giants were offering Maddux that same off-season plus not signing Tucker and Hammonds plus a few others and, even better, not trading for Pierzynski, the Giants could have afforded to sign Guerrero and keep the main core of players on that 2004 Giants team. They could have done that if they had kept their eye on Guererro as an acquisition target instead of jumping on the Pierzynski trade so fast.
Success With No World Series Championship
Ultimately, yes, I would share this opinion, but he has done well enough to warrant a 5 year period A.B. (After Barry) to try for this before I would say his time is up. He has a lot of interesting prospects coming up - Cain, Hennessey, Correia, EME, Ishikawa, Sanders, Sandoval, Sanchez, Frandsen, Valdez - and some already up - Lowry, Munter, Taschner, Accardo - that the post Bonds period is looking to be an exciting period of re-birth for the Giants franchise.
Sabean Deserves To Lead Us
Overall, I'm glad Sabean has been our GM and I still support him. Someone with the talent and know-how to identify and acquire so many useful and talented player over the years earned my support. He found two great players via trades in Kent and Schmidt - how many even get one? And where would the Giants have been without the two? He found a lot of good puzzle pieces off the junk heap, like F-Rod, Hermanson, Santiago, Embree, Eyre, Brower, Grissom, Tucker. He found other good pieces in JT Snow, Durham, Burks, Worrell. He stole other pieces like Livan and Nen. He shepherded others through the farm system in Russ Ortiz, Shawn Estes, Bill Mueller, Rich Aurilia, Keith Foulke, and Joe Nathan. And he has drafted nice players like Jerome Williams and Noah Lowry.
For those who point to the Pierzynski trade, I say that any GM who isn't making any mistakes in his trades isn't working hard enough or taking enough risks. Any good or great GM will make mistakes sometimes, you need to look at both sides of the ledger to judge him correctly. You need to look at the whole of his decisions, which is how well the team has performed under his guidance.
He has a .558 winning percentage, third best to the Yankees and Braves during his tenure as GM. And as one baseball stat website showed (sorry, don't recall where), the odds of the best team winning the World Series is ridiculously small given the short series plus three rounds of play. Plus Billy Beane has said that the playoffs is a crapshoot in terms of who wins it all. So winning it all is not the be all and end all it used to be before the wildcard came in. So I think Brian deserves a chance to shepherd his young draftees into the major league leagues and see how a team developed by Brian Sabean really looks like.