Thursday, July 27, 2006

Interesting Question: Sabean's Trade Record - Getting Worse?

In the many years Sabean has been GM, the only really bad trade, and it was a doozy, was the A.J. trade. Most have been laughably one-sided or neutral at worse but some wonder if he has lost his touch since the Giants lost the World Series in 2002 because of that trade and the Edgardo Alfonzo and Ray Durham problem contracts. The San Jose Mercury, in an article, discussed his record and listed his moves since that fateful series in a side-column.

Lefty Malo also beat me to the punch and posted something similar. He has better explanations than I had come up with for why some trades were better than fans thought. But since I had about 90% of this post done already, I ain't throwing it out! :^) And I had been wanting to do this for a while anyway, only over his full tenure, but this would be a good start. So here it is, forthwith:

I thought it would be interesting to review each move one by one. However, I'm skipping over some of the moves where there was nothing worth noting (like the Damon Minor trade). And I will go over all the moves, not just trades, so I'm actually covering more than the trades below but will discuss mainly his trades at the end.

I will rate each move based on how the move rated at the time of the trade and how it rated when all was said and done. Because some moves might have made sense at the time but then turned out to be not so great afterward, and other moves look stupid going in and worked out well. The five ratings are: 1) Good move; 2) Good then Bad; 3) Bad then Good; 4) Bad!.


Oct. 31: Declined mutual options on David Bell and Reggie Sanders, who elected free agency.
First, the Giants did not decline David Bell's mutual option, he declined his option and took off for free agency, but mainly because he wanted to be with Larry Bowa in Philadelphia and the new ballpark, even though the Giants were in the ballpark for his services (one article I recall reading said he was offered more by the Giants but chose the Phillies but I recall another person posting that Bowa was offered less by the Giants). Either way, his leaving the Giants forced Sabean to pursue and sign Edgardo Alfonzo. It is debatable which deal was worse, Bell's or Alfonzo's, both did horribly after signing their contracts; I'll leave that to other people (with more time on their hands). I will call this one not re-signing Bell and that was a good move, looking at what he did in Philly.

Sanders' contract was for $5M, if I remember right. He was not a clutch guy and not an RBI guy, he really should have been leading off but hit too many homers so that confused Dusty. He and Shinjo should have been batting in each other places and the Giants would have done a whole lot better, Sanders hit well leading off, Shinjo hit well 5-6-7 in majors, plus did well hitting there in Japan as well. This affected the future because Shinjo then wanted out when he could have been our CF on the cheap (probably $1-2M per year) for the next 3 years instead of Grissom, who while he did well, Shinjo would have been just about as good offensively but a lot better defensively, plus Grissom didn't hit RHP particularly well except for 2003. But just looking at how things ended in 2002, this was a good move, we got Cruz to replace him and he did about as well. Good moves.

Nov. 21: Awarded Neifi Perez on waiver claim from Kansas City. Good move, a typical Sabean move to cover himself, in this case, if the Giants don't sign 2B, but then after signing Durham, they first released Neifi (good move) but then signed him to a 2 year contract for something like $4.5M (bad move; the list did not include this atrocity). It kind of worked out OK the first year because Durham was injured so much and Neifi was adequate as his replacement, but then he was released the following year, upon which he joined the Cubs and started mashing the ball around, which would have been great for us, but made the sting that much more worse. Bad move all around.

Dec. 8: Signed free agent Ray Durham to a three-year, $20.1 million deal, plus $7 million player option for 2006 season. Great move at the time. He was a leadoff hitter that we needed, one of the premier ones at that. Long history of no injuries, it was the perfect signing, it fit in so many ways, it was the right move. Unfortunately, he suddenly became a poster boy for the DL after he joined us. I would still count this as a good move, because things never really got bad and he boosted our leadoff position to be tops in the NL, but I wouldn't call this a great deal either because he was gone so much. The main thing is that he probably was still better than any other 2B we would have picked up (don't remember who else was available though). Good move but it's time to move on unless he's signing for $2-3M for 2007 with $2-3M option for 2008.

Dec. 8: Signed free agent Marquis Grissom to a two-year, $4.25 million contract with a club option for 2005. I was one of the few who thought this was a good move at the time at the board I was going to then, before I started blogging. If I couldn't have Shinjo, this was an OK move. As I noted in that post, Grissom's decline was strictly related to playing in that hellish stadium called Dodger Stadium. His road numbers while with LA basically matched his career numbers and his PBP stats were good, so I thought he would do well with us. He had two good seasons before crapping out in 2005, so we essentially paid him $3.2M per year for 2003 and 2004, but he delivered 20 HR power, OK defense, and was a good clubhouse influence. Good move.

Dec. 16: Signed free agent Edgardo Alfonzo to a four-year, $26 million contract. It was a good move at the time, I thought, but obviously the end result was that it was a bad move. He, Grissom, and Durham together was suppose to replace Kent, Bell, and Shinjo/Lofton, and in theory and on paper it did, but Alfonzo never really held up his end of the bargain, except for the last half of 2003 plus the playoffs. It is an all-time bad signing. But going in, despite worries about his age and injuries, he was coming off a good year offensively so it didn't seem to be that bad a risk. The only saving grace is that Sabean was able to squeeze a little lemonade out by trading Alfonzo to the Angels for Steve Finley, who has done OK for us and certainly much better than what Alfonzo has done this year, but even at that, Finley's not worth $7M right now either, thought it is much better than Edgardo Alfonoso would have. Good move then BAD, in capitals.

Dec. 17: Traded Russ Ortiz to Atlanta for Damian Moss and Merkin Valdez. I was OK with the trade, whereas most people blasted the trade. And ultimately, they were right, so far. I thought it was a risky but smart move because Moss had done well for the Braves that year and Valdez was dazzling, so Moss would cover Ortiz' production close enough, particularly with Ainsworth joining the rotation, which would be a boost over Ryan Jensen, so Moss/Ainsworth would equal Ortiz/Jensen approximately. Ortiz would not have been the 20-game winner he was with Atlanta for us, but he would have been good for another two years before we lose him to free agency, whereas Moss had a nice half year with us then disappeared off the MLB radar. However, the unknown factors here are that if Ortiz wasn't traded, then where else would Sabean have had to chop out the $4-5M we were paying Ortiz, and could we have possibly signed Ortiz to that huge contract instead of the D-backs? But those are imponderables and what we can see is that it was a bad move overall. And Valdez is still a silver lining in the trade (thought very thin silver lining, as poorly as he has been pitching) and still only 24 years old with closer potential, so this move is not done yet. However, for now, I would say bad all around unless Valdez becomes our closer.

Jan. 29: Signed free agent Jose Cruz to a one-year, $2.8 million contract with a $4 million mutual option or $300,000 buyout for 2004.
It was a good move all around, he replace Sanders at half the price and did about as well as Sanders would have done plus probably played better defense. Good move.

March 24: Acquired Jim Brower and a player to be determined (Matt Blank) from Montreal Expos for Livan Hernandez, Edwards Guzman and cash considerations.
As well as Livan did for the Expos, it is again one of those imponderables because there's no way in hell he would have done that for us, he was a slacker the time he was with us and he was a slacker with the Expos until late in the season when he finally realized that he was going to be a free agent and suddenly decided to start pitching like he could, instead of like he felt like doing. Livan was a good trade because you knew that if he stayed he would have dogged it again, he needed the kick in the pants of being traded again to get him moving his fat behind. Plus Brower was a nice addition to the bullpen for 2003 and 2004. However, Livan did do very well plus we paid almost his entire salary to the Expos, so this has to be rated Good then Bad, despite zero likelihood that he would ever have done that for us.

July 13: Acquired Matt Herges from San Diego for Clay Hensley and future considerations. Herges was great for us for the rest of 2003 and I thought he would be a key component of the bullpen for the near future. But he suddenly imploded and hasn't looked good since then, really, until the past month or two. Meanwhile, Hensley is starting for the Padres right now, though not doing that great. While Herges was a great addition for the rest of 2003, he was not really that necessary, we had the title since the beginning of the season essentially. Given that Hensley is starting in the majors, this rates as good then bad.

July 31: Acquired Sidney Ponson from Baltimore for Kurt Ainsworth, Damian Moss and Ryan Hannaman. This was a good move, the Mercury columnist rated this as one of the worse trades but I don't think it was, it is probably as good as they come. Ainsworth, Moss, and Hannaman haven't done anything since the trade and we got a couple of good months out of Ponson and insurance in case Rueter didn't return back in time (he did) and in case Schmidt's balky arm gave out (it didn't). So Ponson was a good trade IMO, people (including BP, hence the problem with non-fans writing the analysis that I found with buying the Street and Smith mags when I was younger) forget the full circumstance of when he was acquired - Schmidt's arm ready to fall off, Rueter just went on the DL, leaving Williams, Brower, and Correia (I believe) as the starting rotation of the playoffs had it started that day and Schmidt went down as feared. Then to make it all good, we didn't sign Ponson, the Orioles did.

The only bad thing, and it is an imponderable, is if we didn't make this trade, would the Twins have accepted any of these players instead in the trade? But we can't know that, what we do know is that we got two good months of pitching from Ponson plus insurance in case one of our main starters were out, and that is more than anyone has gotten out of the the other three since then.

And for those who thought we should have kept Ortiz if we were going to get Ponson (let alone the fortune telling aspect of how they would have known that Ainsworth would break his bone and Foppert would need Tommy John work, and necessitate such as move), Ponson did no worse than Ortiz did in his first start of the 2003 playoffs. And these people forget that Ortiz was all over the place in the playoffs in 2002, while he did win us the first series, and without that, there would be no World Series, his ERA during the playoffs that year was 5.76! And that includes the stellar pitching he did in the Atlanta series, which shows how bad he was in the subsequent series. As I have said often, if Ortiz had pitched his 6th game instead in the 2nd game, there would have been no 6th game, there would have been a Giants victory parade going down Market Street.

Nov. 14: Acquired A.J. Pierzynski and cash for Joe Nathan, Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano. One of the worse trades ever in the history of the Giants and that takes some doing with trades as bad as Orlando Cepeda, George Foster, Jack Clark, Gaylord Perry, Dave Kingman. And it was made worse to see him go off and get the World Series win we all have ached for so many year. Enuff said, all I can hope for is that there is some karma involved and Pierzitski gets his eventually. BAD MOVE!!!

Dec. 2: Re-signed free agent Dustin Hermanson to a one-year, $800,000 contract. Good move all around, he did well for us the season before, then did well for us again, I wish we could have kept him another year, though he's been out all this year so that doubled his 2005 salary had we signed him to the same 2 year contract.

Dec. 3: Re-signed free agent Jeffrey Hammonds to a one-year, $1 million contract. It seemed like the right thing to do then for a cheap price. He did OK for us, had done pretty well previously in his career. However, his injury bugaboo came up again and he was dropped before he did much of anything for us. And I would hesitate to call it good first because the risk of his getting another injury was strong in my mind (anybody's mind) but it wasn't BAD, like Alfonzo Albatross. But bad move it is, should not have taken the risk on him, if we needed a right-handed hitter, they could probably have gone with Linden and he would have been OK, or even Ellison, who finally made the big show in 2005 and did very well against LHP, he probably would have been just as good in 2004.

Dec. 7: Re-signed free agent J.T. Snow to a one-year $1.5 million contract with a $2 million team option or $250,000 buyout. The list forgot to note that the Giants declined Snow's option, allowing them to re-sign JT for much less than his $6.5M option. Somebody on the board I went to back then said, and I quote (pretty much accurately), "JT Snow is like a one-eyed man among the blind, there are few quality 1B out on the free agent market so we should pick up his $6.5M option". Amazingly, I was the only person willing to point out that the Emperor had no clothes on (and was brutalized by him later in other discussions). In addition, not only that, but he also thought picking up the option was better than signing Vlad - he and I had battles over whether to sign Vlad or not - I think time has proven who was correct here. But I will admit that he was right that Snow was the best option around, which I never disagreed with. But here is where my economics/business background paid off and his film school major didn't, I only thought that we could still re-sign Snow for much less because the market was not going to value what Snow had done for you very highly.

Dec. 7: Signed free agent Michael Tucker for two years, $3.5 million and a compensatory draft pick to the Royals. The signing that was the tipping point for the anti-Sabean movement among Giants fans that was started with the Nathan trade. Over a draft pick that most likely would have turned out to never have made the majors, very likely would never be a good major leaguer, and almost certainly will never be a star - but many Giants fans apparently are SuperLotto players because they want to win the baseball prospect jackpot with those missing draft picks. But as my research suggests, losing the pick is like losing your lottery ticket: yes, maybe you just lost the big jackpot, but most likely you lost the money you spent.

Also, people failed to remember that Tucker only got an average $1.75M per season. He is what he is, a journeyman OF, who actually had a pretty good OBP. He had poor stats on the road while with KC, but that was all skewed by all the pitchers' parks in his division. He basically reverted back to his career road numbers once he move here. So it was a good move, he replaced Carlos Beltran and KC had that great run at the start without Beltran, and the thought was that he and Hammonds would platoon and share 1B duties. And he was great the first season but his second season, for some reason, being the 4th OF did not suit him even though that was what he was all the other seasons (or maybe age finally caught up with him; he couldn't earn a position with a team this year to start the year), so we basically paid $3.5M for his 2004.

For that I would label this a bad move. Plus the fact that Dustan Mohr played well for us that season, perhaps he would have done more if he started the whole year (though he didn't do that well playing for the Rockies the year after or for the Red Sox this year). So I go back and forth on that one, but I think after all is said and done, Tucker saved our OF situation in 2004, so inspite of his decline in 2005, he was a good move, overall.

Jan. 9: Signed free agent Brett Tomko to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with $2.5 million team option or $300,000 buyout for 2005.
This was a good move because we needed a starter and he was coming off a good second half, giving the hope that he finally turned the corner in regards to his career. He didn't, he found another excuse for why he didn't deliver and another "solution" that solved everything for him and allow him to do well, each year. But despite our problems with him, at his price, he was a relative bargain and did adequately for us. Good move to sign him, good move to let him go into free agency at the end of the contract.

July 30: Traded Felix Rodriguez to Philadelphia for Rickey Ledee and Alfredo Simon.
I did not like this move because I thought it would cost us the playoffs that season, but he was declining, we saved some salary, and we got a prospect (Simon) for him (plus Ledee but he was useless, he did a lot better for the D-gers; he must have grew up a D-gers fan). Simon has not shown anything since he joined the Giants, they immediately changed his pitching motion and everything plus made him a reliever, and he has stunk ever since. If Simon ever become a useful player, my opinion might change. But it was a bad move and stays bad.

Nov. 14: Signed free agent Omar Vizquel to a three-year, $12.25 million contract. People questioned the signing because of his age and then recent surgery plus the length of the contract, but he was not only been a great defensive upgrade, he has also delivered good offense from the position as well, though obviously not to the new era, homer hitting SS standard. Looking at his stats, it was clear he was an OBP machine, no power, but gets on base like nothing - near .400 - and can steal bases at a good pace too, what we had been expecting Durham to do. So while I understood why people didn't want to sign him, I was cautiously optimistic that he would serve our purposes - to win the World Series - the first year or two and possibly be a sinkhole his last year or so. And he has been wonderfully better than all that. My one problem is that he probably should be the leadoff hitter because of his lack of power, then Durham's and now Winn's power would be better utilized in the 2-spot by driving in Vizquel with their homers but that's a quibble. Good move.

Nov. 29: Signed free agent Armando Benitez to a three-year, $21.5 million contract. Lots of people didn't like the move because of his choke label. But I did not see any choice but to pony up to the bar and pay the tab for a top reliever like Benitez. He was the elite reliever of that free agency class, there was no choice among the free agents if you are serious about making the playoffs, because the alternative was to use one of our unproven pitching prospects or to rely on Dustin Hermanson, and is that who you would have wanted to tie your World Series hopes to (ironic since the ChiSox did). But obviously, it has been a total bust for the most part, he has not been the Benitez that he was before we got him, he has been either injured or still recovering from his surgery. Good then BAD...

Dec. 13: Signed free agent Mike Matheny to a three-year, $10.5 million deal, plus $4 million club option for 2008. The anti-A.J., many fans were upset over his lack of plus offensive talents but, really, most starting catchers are not that good offensively, fans seem to think a catcher is a failure if they don't hit like I-Rod, Piazza, or A.J. Matheny is actually not that bad offensively for a catcher and is a plus defender plus probably could teach all our young pitchers something that they will carry with them for the rest of their career. It was a good move and stays a good move, as long as he recovers from this concussion injury.

Dec. 14: Waived A.J. Pierzynski. The players he was traded for was a sunk cost, and thus did not alter the equation of getting rid of him: they did not like him, he did not like them, he, to steal from Hillenbrand, has a "unique sense of humor" that other people did not get and he rubbed people the wrong way. Because Colletti screwed up the previous arbitration hearing - A.J. should only have been making $2.75-3.0M, not the $3.5M he got, not the $2.25M that Colletti low-balled him with - A.J. was probably looking to make $4-5M for 2005, his side probably would have submitted $4.75-5.0M and Colletti would have been forced to bid at least $4.0M. Without that screwup, we probably would have been looking at $3.5M instead, a whole $1M, maybe $1.5M less than expected. So he was waived, both for personality conflicts as well as costs, with the plus that Matheny would improve the defense as well. Good move.

Dec. 27: Signed free agent Moises Alou to a one-year, $7.25 million contract plus $6 million player option for 2006. For his production but lessened by his fragility, which he has had all his career, the salary is fair. The problem is that with Bonds out most of 2005 too, when Alou is out, the offense really suffered greatly. This year has been better with Bonds back and Finley chipping in when Alou was out. Not a great move, but gotta love the father-son connection, it has been a good move overall, he has been great when he was healthy and in the lineup. Good move.


Jan. 18: Pedro Feliz re-signs for two years, $6.1 million. As maligned as he has been, he has been a better than average 3B, both offensively and defensively, this season, and he was very useful in his utility role last season. Good move.

May 28: Acquired LaTroy Hawkins and cash considerations from Chicago (N.L.) for David Aardsma and Jerome Williams.Hawkins I know people don't like but I liked the trade. In addition, I am OK with the trade based on what had been whispered about the two before the trade. Williams talked a good game of maturity but he could not control his weight very well and his K/9 rate had been declining for a long time as well. Aardsma just seemed to have so much problems adjusting after his initial mastery of A-ball, nothing seemed to work. It was obvious that the Giants were trading two problem childs for Hawkins, who was a high quality reliever for the Cubs, despite his boo-birds problem there.

June 3: Traded Matt Herges and cash considerations to Arizona for Doug DeVore. Just to dump Herges with someone willing to give him a chance. Doubt DeVore will ever make the majors. Good addition by subtraction move. Good move.

July 30: Acquired Randy Winn from Seattle for Jesse Foppert and Yorvit Torrealba. After initial reservations, mainly about losing Foppert, I thought that this was a good trade. Lefty covered most of what I was thinking, about how people overrated Torrealba's potential as a starting catcher and Foppert is at best a project now. I still don't see why people are still so enamored with Yorvit, he had that one good year hitting RHP but clearly that was a fluke, though he did mash LHP with us before. And not to cast aspersions but this is the era for it, he was pretty tight with Santiago and we all know that Benito was called into the BALCO grand jury to testify.

Aug. 4: Exercised $18 million club option on Barry Bonds for 2006 season. Looked like a good move at the time but then he missed most of the 2005 season, meaning the Giants probably could have signed him for peanuts (relatively) for 2006. Good then bad.

Aug. 8: Released Marquis Grissom. He did well for us his first two seasons but was just useless his last season, it was a mercy killing, plus we picked up Winn. Good move.

Aug. 19: Released Kirk Rueter. He had a good career with us but was just useless his last couple of seasons, it was a mercy killing. Good move.

Aug. 27: Traded Michael Tucker to Philadelphia for Kelvin Pichardo. We didn't need Tucker, so we saved money and got a young promising prospect, it was a good move and could get better if Pichardo can advance.

Aug. 30: Traded Deivi Cruz to Washington for Benjamin Cox. Didn't need Deivi either, so we saved money but don't know much about Cox. Good move no matter what Cox does.

Oct. 7: Exercised $10.5 million club option on Jason Schmidt for 2006 season. Great move all around. We owed him $3M anyway as the buyout, so we in essence paid only $7.5M in addition for Schmidt this year. That's the price of getting a mediocre starter today. Schmidt was not up to his standards last season but pitched well from mid-May on, certainly better than Loaiza, Byrd, Weaver, pitchers who got around $7M to pitch this year (on average). And if Schmidt returned to form, which he appears to have done, he is a true bargain plus hopefully he will still consider re-signing with us after the season, whereas if we had let him go, he would probably not have considered doing that. Good move.

Dec. 1: Signed free agent Tim Worrell to a two-year, $4 million contract. It was a good move at the time and for the first four weeks of this season. He had a very low ERA for 6 years, except for his meltdown with the Phillies in 2005 when he went through personal problems and even afterward, he returned to form with a sub-3 ERA. He looked like he never left the first part of this season, taking over the closer's spot and doing well in April but then had his neck problem, which appears to have affected him for the rest of this season. Good move initially, but now it looks bad, very bad.

Dec. 6: Traded LaTroy Hawkins with cash considerations to Baltimore for Steve Kline. Saved money with the trade and got a reliever whose stats would appear to be a mirror image of Worrell's stats over the past 6 years, he has been very good except for his year with the Orioles in 2005. He has been great so far, low 3 ERA (high 2 ERA until recent blips) and been our dependable LOOGY, particularly since Taschner was unable to continue his good season from last season, so good move.

Dec. 7: Declined to offer J.T. Snow and Brett Tomko salary arbitration. Good moves, it was time to move on for both.

Dec. 8: Signed free agent Mark Sweeney to a two-year, $1.8 million contract. Good move, even if he never set up the Giants Idol competition that gave us indelible memories of Bonds dressed up as Paula Abdul and Travis Ishikawa looking too sexy in his undies. He has been a good stopgap given all Niekro's injuries plus he has helped out in the OF with all the injuries and rest going on. Hopefully with Hillenbrand here, he will get to do what he was hired to do, be a deadly LH bat coming off the bench. Good move.

Dec. 12: Signed free agent Matt Morris to a three-year, $27 million contract plus $9 million club option for 2009. Despite his poor start and recent struggles, I still think it was a good move though obviously there is still a lot of years left on his contract. He brings a competitive fire that I like to the Giants. He brings a lot of knowledge about pitching that he is willing to share with the young pitchers on the staff, so that is an added plus. I was hoping he would be more consistent but I still have hopes for a good second half, but if he repeats 2005's pattern and do poorly in the second half, this move would definitely move into the bad. So good but incomplete for now, too soon to tell.

Dec. 21: Traded Edgardo Alfonzo to the Los Angeles Angels for Steve Finley. Great move, no extra cost, got a useable player in Finley, who has been a god-send with Alou injured so much this season and Bonds taking so many games off, even if it is more than people thought we would get from Bonds. And no matter what Finley does the rest of the season, good move.

Dec. 23: Signed free agent Jose Vizcaino to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.
We needed a backup middle infielder and Frandsen wasn't ready yet. And as much as I would like to see Frandsen do well and start - he grew up a Giants fan in the area - most prospect books I have seen only see Frandsen as a backup infielder, so perhaps hence the one year deal for Vizcaino. Hopefully Frandsen will, once again, show the pundits that you cannot measure yet what's in his heart and man second base for us for a long time a la Robby Thompson.

My only quibble is that $1.25M just seems like too much for Vizcaino, I would have expected to pay under $1M for him, maybe in the $750-800K range, plus bonuses if he ended up playing more games than expected. But good move overall because you can not really go bad with a backup middle infielder unless you overpay him too much (like he did with Neifi), you just need a body to do the job. Minimally good move.

Feb. 28: Signed Randy Winn to a three-year (2007-09), $23.25 contract extension. I think this will prove to be a good deal, even though he has not performed as hoped for by fans, including this one, this season. Good move.

Other Moves That Come to Mind: Obtaining Scott Eyre off the waiver wire is one that wasn't captured above. That was a great move, he was invaluable the time he was here. Dustan Mohr was an OK move, though I don't know what happened to the minor leaguer we sent for him. Eric Young was a bad move, even though the prospect probably didn't do much, because we lost a prospect and didn't even use him much. Wayne Franklin and Leo Estrella was a bad move, and one of the prospects did well in AA this year (then again, the other prospects we sent them for Eric Young and Dave Burba never did anything, so I guess that evens things out...).

Sabean Trade Record: About the Same as Always

If anything, I would say that Sabean's trade record is about the same as before. If he could regularly find idiots to give him something for nothing, that would be great but not realistic: GM's are mostly competent and not idiots, to steal his line. Great deals like he found early on really depends on circumstances, having that one team who just wants to be rid of some player for whatever reasons and take a chance on your players. Trades rarely look great at the time of the trade because both sides got what they thought was fair for the deal to be made. It is afterward, when one player becomes a Hall of Famer while the other side's players all flounder and fail, that a trade suddenly looks like a steal, look like blind robbery (the Nat's/Red's deal is the exception that makes the rule :^).

As before, most of Sabean's moves were good moves to start with and good so far. As the saying goes about risk, if you aren't making any mistakes in your trades, you are not taking enough risks. High risks, if done right, carries high rewards. Being too conservative in your moves, in fear of making a mistake, will lead you to mediocrity. Hence some deals that look good going into it, like signing Worrell, turn out horribly bad.

And despite mistakes like the Nathan/Liriano/Boof trade and F-Rod, he has been chugging along, mainly making the good trades that make the Giants stronger and stronger over time, like Hawkins/Kline, Winn and now Hillenbrand. Sure, there hasn't been the Kent, Burk, Schmidt deals in a while, but, again, has there been that many of those deals happening all around the place? I feel that those types of deals are not very common, you should just be thankful if you get one and hopeful you only get one when you're on the wrong side of the deal. Sabean has rarely been on the wrong side of trades - signings yes, trades no - and despite the Nathan/Liriano deal, he has been doing the incremental improvements of the Giants over time with his trades.

Now if only he can do better with free agents signings! Maybe now that Colletti is gone....


  1. Nice analysis Martin. You and I are largely in agreement about Sabes' moves. I was pro-Hawkins, cautiously pro-Winn, anti-Alou signing, anti-Vizquel signing (my mistake), somewhat (!) pro-Benintez (my mistake), anti-Matheny, pro-Hillenbrand, etc. Reading what you wrote reminded me of all of the moves that the man's made. I can't remember many of them off the top of my head. Your optimism is always refreshing...and I've been for trading Schmidt this year and rebuilding some.


  2. I'm actually OK with Schmidt being traded if we get someone who would be a long-term fit in our roster. Like if we traded him to the Yankees for A-Rod or Angels for Vlad. Or if we got a bunch of good rookies, like if we trade Schmidt and Benitez to Boston for Lester, Hansen, and Papelbon. But that's about as likely as the Giants running away with the division because of his free agent status, so I haven't really opined on that much because it's so unlikely.

    Most teams will view Schmidt as a rent-a-player and thus we probably won't get much for him, certainly not as much as the A's got for Hudson and Mulder, and I think Schmidt is better than either of them, easily. So I would rather see what the team can do with their current roster than to trade the future away (i.e. our best prospects, not just any good prospects) in trying to "buy" the pennant.

    Even with this losing streak, particularly disappointing after the Giants obtained Hillenbrand, we're only 4 games back, still close enough to make a good run for it still.



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