Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sabean Tirade Followup

A number of blogs jumped on the I-Rod rumor the other day, and railed on the Giants and Sabean again.  This reminded me of other such reactions every time a rumor comes out this off-season.  For example, a few months ago, there were some that said that the Giants are uncomfortable with Sandoval at 3B, and that this discomfort is evidenced by how many 3B-men have been rumored for the Giants.

And that is exactly what Sabean was railing about in his tirade against the reporters a while back:   the impression that the Giants are "doing" something, that they are "pursuing" Cantu, Encarnacion, Atkins, Wiggington, I-Rod.   This is the attitude that I've seen in many posters complaining about the Giants, this off-season, for many off-seasons. Every time there is a rumor about a lousy 3B-man (or 1B), they bemoan, "Oh, that Sabean again! What about youth? What about young players?"

As far as I can see right now, it has been mostly the other way around, those teams/agents are looking to unload their player so they throw out the Giants and Sabean into the rumor mill. And maybe there is a kernel of truth in that Sabean possibly did call them to "kick the tire" (as he noted, when you are losing like they are, you have to be open to all possibilities), if you want to use Sabean-isms, and it ended at that from the Giants end, but then the other party leaks the rumor that the Giants are interested.  

That appears to be true again with I-Rod.  The Giants did contact his agent, Scott Boras, earlier, but the Mercury reported that in talks with Giants officials about the I-Rod rumor, it was untrue that they had any recent contact regarding I-Rod.  Of course, Boras is the king of the false rumors, so it's hard to tell what's real and what's publicity when one of his free agents are in a rumor.

And this follows up on last year's offseason, there were a SF Bay-full of rumors that the Giants were interested in Crede, Tony Clark, etc. Many players who fitted a Giants need had the Giants attached to the rumor, and yet nothing happened for the vast majority of them, especially all the trade ones.

Just because there is a rumor out there does not mean the Giants and Sabean are doing that, in fact, given his penchant for not releasing any type of information (or allowing anyone in our organization to leak such info), this suggests that it is normally the other interested party trying to drum up interest in their player, whether opposing team or agent, who are leaking this information.  

That people jump on the rumor to take a pop at Sabean shows that they just take any opportunity to take pot shots at him, that they are Sabean-haters.


  1. Complaint valid for this current off-season. Complaint completely off-base for most of the past off-seasons. Most recent evidence/consequence of this? The 40-man roster spot formerly held by Dave Roberts.

    One must ask why Sabean keeps on being put in the role of the straw man in these talks. Possibly because of his proven past interest in the I-Rods of the world.

    I see no point in bashing Sabes right now. He's got the job for the time being. Let's see how the crew he's put together performs.

  2. Hi Martin,

    I think some of the Sabean bashing comes from the front office's engimatic announcements. One moment they are saying they are definitely going to acquire a big bat, and the next they are content with stenghtening the pitching staff. They'll say they're going to get "younger" yet "kick the tires" on every late 30's veteran du jour (last week Ivan Rodriguez).

    From Bochy's and Sabean's latest comments, I gather they're not completely confident in Sandoval's ability to handle 3B on an everyday basis. The dilemma, however, is that Sandoval is the best young bat who has proven himself in live action (versus vogue projections). That is, Sandoval WILL (and absolutely should) play regularly and should NOT be taken out early for a defensive replacement.

    So,this begs the question: Where should he play every day? His other positions: Catcher and 1B. Here is where the fans are left to speculate because Sabean et al prefer to remain vague. Do you trade Molina early to open up the catcher position? Posey looks like the real deal, so do you really want to bounce Sandoval around? Is Ishikawa's defense a viable trade off to Sandoval's superior hitting?

    Reagarding future trades. The front office indulges the public on politician-like hypotheticals: If they are in contention, then this etc., etc..; if they are out of contention, etc., etc..

    But what are their guidelines for determining "out of contention"? By the trading deadline? by the end of May? By the middle of August? Out of first by 10 or more games? Conventional wisdom has it by the end of the trading deadline if you're out by 10 or so games, but that's the problem: the Giants can't decide if they are the convention wisdom types or the bold-Billy Beane types.

    Sabean is NOT the worst GM out there. He's probably one of the best when you consider how the manipulation of talent is really a game of educated guesses.

    However, a tangible game plan from the Giants versus wishful-thinking pronouncements would be really nice for the fans.

  3. DProfessor, you just proved my point. It was not the Giants who did all the things you said, it is the media giving the impression that they are.

    They never said that they are definitely getting a big bat. They said that they are looking for one. Don't mean they will find one available. So they went ahead and improved the team's pitching and SS as well. Would you rather they wait, do nothing, in hopes of a fair deal for a big bat?

    They didn't kick the tire on I-Rod this week, that's the whole point of my post, the Mercury said that the Giants management did not inquire on I-Rod, though they did earlier.

    And focusing on youth means that you don't be stupid and just focus on youth for the sake of youth, it means you give your youths worthy of a chance, a chance, and where you are weak, you sign a free agent who you think would be better. It's about putting the best team out there.

    And that's the reason why the Giants have said (all along) that Sandoval will have a spot in the lineup, either 3B or 1B. They have not given Ishikawa such assurances, and that's because he has had up and down years, whereas Sandoval only had that one bad year, his strikeout rate has been pretty good most of his professional life. But with this spring performance, Ishikawa looks to get the starting spot at 1B now.

    As a business person, you don't want to put too much of your game plan out there because then other teams will pounce on that information and try to take advantage of you. Hence why Coke's formula reminds under lock and key and only, like, 7 people in the world either knows it or have access to it.

    So I understand why they don't tell everything. But if you focus on what Sabean actually says and not on what the media tells you, then you won't have all the misconceptions you listed in your comment.

  4. Sasbean is a big boy. Yes, the media and the bloggers take things out of context and jump on whiffs of rumors, but that is the nature of sports (which is to say the entertainment business). For Sabean to whine about that is silly. He is in a high-profile, highly exclusive, well-compensated job. Ridiculous over-scrutiny is part of the deal!

  5. I don't think that ridiculous over-scrutiny is the problem he was addressing, though I have no doubt he would prefer not to deal with it either. I think he would love not having to respond to rumors.

    I think the problem he was complaining about here is that the media continually trot out things when they have access to the Giants front office to get a clarification. They - generally - run with rumor items or report them without checking with the Giants.

    Let's take the I-Rod situation. Both the Chronicle and MLB.com jumped on the story and ran with it, including some old information. Andy Baggarley actually did some journalism, spoke with some Giants officials, and reported that there was nothing to the I-Rod story, that it was old news.

    Only those obsessive enough to keep track of all these variety of sources would have caught that and knew the deal: that Boras wanted to stir the media pot with his inside guy, Heyman, by planting a false rumor, causing the Giants to have to respond to the rumor.

    Those in the south bay who are followers of Baggarley were calm, those in the north bay and elsewhere, had another tirade about how the Giants are liars, they aren't going young, they have no plan, they go back and forth, why are they doing this?

  6. This is the time of year when everyone is chomping at the bit, anxious to get started. Fans want to know if this is a rebuilding year or if their team is making a serious run at the playoffs.

    What has fans and press alike riled is that anyone that has any knowledge of the NL West knows that 2009 is a very winable division for just about all teams ( except SD ) with no "clear-cut" favorite.

    The Giant pitching surely puts them in the mix but the eight other positions on the field are filled with questions and doubt. I cannot look at any position out there, with the possible exception of SS, and feel confident.

    Sandoval @ 3B? That's an experiment both defensively and offensively. Every pitching coach in the NL has spent the winter looking for holes in his swing. How will he perform at the hot corner?

    Ishy @ 1B? What do expect? Based on what? Are we hoping, praying?

    I don't think Buriss is ready at 2B. You got Franny. Maybe a platoon but how much production?

    The catcher is another year older. He can handle the staff. Will he hold up. The kids aren't ready yet, not to play everyday as August and September arrive.

    Will Rowand rebound? Can Winn and Lewis combine to put up the numbers needed to compete in the division? If you're gonna go young do you put Schierholtz, Velez out there ?

    The front office doesn't want to waste the arms it has now because the pitching staff is ready to challenge. So many of these other questions need to be answered ASAP before Sabean can choose which way to go.

  7. "Those in the south bay who are followers of Baggarley were calm, those in the north bay and elsewhere, had another tirade about how the Giants are liars,..."

    What the ? Baggarley is read mainly online. Not a regional issue.

  8. First off, the team is not making a serious run at the playoffs. They are not ready and there was nobody on the free agent market who fit their need for a middle-lineup presence at a position that is open.

    Yes, the NL West is winnable, and I think the Giants, as is, has almost as good a chance as any of the teams in the league in 2009. They are probably behind LA and AZ, but not so far behind that they can't win the division with some good unexpected performances (and that's the infield, basically).

    What's wrong with Winn and Lewis? I don't have much doubt there. Rowand I can understand but he still hit better than most CF in the NL, just not as good as we thought we would get for $12M. I think he'll win over people in 2009, but I understand that doubt.

    And what is wrong with questions and doubt? That is what you get when you have young players trying to make the team. If you don't like questions and doubt, then we go back to the sign the best free agent way of running the club.

    Sandoval at 3B is not that big an experiment in my opinion. He has hit everywhere he has played except for that one year. And even that year his strikeout rate was decent. Overall, his strikeout rate has been good, even in the majors. He's going to hit.

    The question is will he hit with enough power to make up for the fact that he probably won't walk much? Carney Lansford seems to think so, pegging him for 15-20 HR in 2009 and comparing him with Vlad Guerrero as a one in a million hitter who is capable of squaring up and hitting balls that other hitters would flail at and strike out. And his defense, if you look at his numbers in the minors and majors, are not that bad, hardly cringe worthy, so I see why people are so worried (some worry, yes, but not this much worry).

    I'm more worried about Ishikawa, only because his career has been up and down. But I still feel good about him playing firstbase.

    Based on what? His great season in 2008, plus his great seasons before he hit AA, where Dodd Stadium seemed to do a job on his confidence.

    Of course, hope is part of the equation for any prospect you have. Prospects, both good and bad, don't meet expectations. Sometimes you get a Denard Span or Mike Aviles who suddenly do well in the majors, and then you got Homer Bailey, Clay Buccholz, Andy LaRoche, Sean Burroughs, who have stardom granted them, and yet they have struggled mightily in the majors, and Burroughs is already out of the game. Even if you acquire a veteran, you have to have hope.

    Frandsen has hit in the minors everywhere he has been, and when given the chance to start regularly in the majors, did well when given the chance. Same with Burriss.

    Both have had good strikeout rates in the minors and kept them in the majors. I feel confident enough if the Giants start with Frandsen at 2B and send Burriss down to AAA to work on his SS playing.

    Again, if you are worried about the kids, then you are advocating we sign free agents galore to fill the team. Prospects are never ready, you have to throw them out there and hope for the best. It's like when the birds throw their young out of the nest, you either fly or you die, you either sink or you swim.

    The team, as I've been saying all off-season, is not ready to compete. Trading off young pitchers now would just short circuit the re-building process and set it back. We need to be patient and let the season unfold. We should, as you note, get the answers we need this season so that the Giants can make informed decisions on what to do and who to trade during the next off-season.

    I think we should be ready to contend next off-season. By then we should have a better idea about all of our young prospects in the or near the majors. We would also have a much better idea how good our lower level prospects really are, as some prospects rise and stall. But with most of them at Advanced A, we should get a pretty good idea of who are keepers and who are not. And those are the players who will be helping the Giants make a push to the World Series in the early 2010's, either playing or as trade bait.

  9. I should have also noted that Neukom and Sabean said that they were not making a serious run at the title. Not that they phrased it that way, but Neukom has clearly said that the team's goal for 2009 is to competitive (meaning around .500) and to contend in 2010 and beyond.

  10. "What the ? Baggarley is read mainly online. Not a regional issue."

    I was generalizing but good point. However, I'll bet if you run Baggarley's name by Giants fans, you will find that most of them who recognize his name are in the South Bay.

  11. Speaking of press rumors, there was a funny post on MLB Traderumors with regards to Philly's interest in Secret Agent Jack. The poster suggested Taschner for Pedro Feliz.

    Pete: now there's a guy who can play at AT&T and hit 20HR's and drive in 80 or more.

    Boy, if Dodd Stadium played with Ishikawa's mind, image what AT&T can do.

    Fans are tried of the spin from Chris Haft, Bochy et al

  12. Well, it might if Ishikawa hadn't found God. :^)

    In any case, there is a key difference. When you are in the minors and struggling to make a name for yourself, you feel forced to do desperate things when things aren't going well. Like Bocock, he's been changing his batting stance over and over again since struggling in the majors last year. Lansford recently told him to copy Frandsen's simple batting stance.

    Once you made the majors, that pressure to change what got you to the majors won't be there, it's acknowledged that AT&T will be tough on left-handed hitter.

    Such a recognition that Dodd Stadium screws up hitters power is not acknowledged.



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