Editor - It seems that Brian Sabean doesn't recognize how poorly the team performed last year and how many needs they must fill to become competitive. He's in a tweaking mode when there are fundamental flaws across every part of the club except at No. 1 starter.I was going to respond to the Green but thought there's probably a low probability that it would get printed, they probably get a lot of letters. Plus, I don't like giving personal information when I don't feel that it is necessary.
This is a team that lost 90 games, didn't hit 100 home runs and had huge difficulties scoring runs. One bat isn't going to do it - you need at least two, maybe three additional ones, and the middle relief is awful. Putting Matt Cain in an untouchable category is ridiculous. He is a sub .500 pitcher who pitches well enough to look good losing. If he can be traded for one or two bats (Prince Fielder?), do it in a heartbeat!
It seems that Michael didn't seem to understand that 2008 was a rebuilding year. Yes, there are holes, there are always holes when you are re-building, that's part of the definition. Rushing a rebuild would be implementing the strategy of the previous 4-5 seasons of getting the best available free agent (no matter how mediocre they are). In a rebuild, you only want to add premium players and not feel forced to acquire veteran players to fill spots.
Plus, even if the Giants were to open their checkbook and sign the 2-3 big bats to boost up the team, most probably we'll be lucky to get one of them. And, of course, he says sign big bats without considering what that might mean, a lot of them are strictly OF (or poor 1Bmen), and there's no way we should sign any free agent OF. In addition, it could kill our budget, for example, there's no way Mark Teixiera signs with us without us totally overpaying for him for years because there will be so many teams pursuing him.
Also, he complains about the bullpen but apparently he missed Sabean's annual post-season press conference where he stated that the bullpen needs help and he'll be looking for it among free agents.
Then he ridicules making Matt Cain untouchable. First, as a seller with desperate needs, no sane businessman would say, "Here's one of my most valuable assets, please give me your best offer." The Padres show this lack of business knowledge by having open bidding for Peavy, there was no reason to sell him now, particularly with a deadline of the winter meetings when teams are still contemplating signing CC Sabathia instead; this looks like this will be a repeat of the Fred McGriff trade where they got totally ripped off by the Braves. And look at what happened to the Twins last year with Santana, they ended up with a pretty poor package for arguably the best pitcher in the majors.
Second, he calls Cain a sub-.500 pitcher who pitches well enough to look good losing. Matt Cain has had above average K/9 every full-season he has pitched for us, plus has his K/BB above the 2.0 that is the mark of good starting pitchers. And his ERA has been among the best of the NL each year as well, so it is the team offense that is scoring just short enough for him to lose than the other way around. He should get his facts straight.
Third, even if the Giants were to trade Cain for Fielder (which was always just a media rumor, I've seen nothing to believe it was a real rumor), that would just fill one hole while creating another hole. That's just spinning your wheels in terms of rebuilding plus you take on the risk that the 300 pound Fielder, who has refused the team's request that he keep in shape, implodes on you much like how Jerome Williams did when he couldn't or wouldn't keep his weight down. Excess weight can ruin a career just like that, no matter how good or promising.
People still have a hard time discerning the difference between having to sign a player when you have a hole versus deciding whether to keep a prospect or not. There has been very few prospects whom the Giants have traded during the Sabean era who have had good careers, and they are only nice relievers and one good closer, Bob Howry, Scott Linebrink, Keith Foulke, not front-line starters.
Meanwhile, he kept minor league prospects Rich Aurilia, Bill Mueller, Russ Ortiz, Shawn Estes, Noah Lowry, Matt Cain, and Tim Lincecum. In all cases, they could have been traded in order to bolster the team at the MLB level to contend for the title but were not.
The only prospects to really register on the regret meter are Francisco Liriano and Jeremy Accardo, and both, while pitching well since, have also missed significant time with injuries. Neither have pitched long enough to bring huge regret to me yet, though I suspect that Accardo eventually will (Liriano is an injury magnet and pitchers who are like that are not going to pitch very long).
The only player traded away who had over a year's worth of MLB experience who should not have been traded away was Joe Nathan. But compared to what we have received in terms of Jeff Kent and Jason Schmidt, I would say that Sabean is still comfortably in the plus side of the trade ledger there, even without considering Robb Nen, Livan Hernandez, JT Snow, Kirk Rueter, Ellis Burks, Shawn Estes, Andres Galarraga, David Bell, Sidney Ponson, Randy Winn, Kelvin Pichardo.
Has he been perfect? If he were, he wouldn't be human. But on the whole he has been very good as GM in terms of evaluating talent in terms of acquiring them via the draft or via trades.
People forget that his hands where tied regarding signing free agents because, if you expect to be a contender, you can't go into the season with so-so prospects lined up at a position, you want to man each position with the best you could afford. Unfortunately, the Giants budget was not a bottomless pit like the Yankees where they can afford to eat a $20M contract and not blink, and they had to make compromises, particularly in the latter Bonds years, in terms of signing veteran players to fill positions.
Still, Sabean has not been perfect and thus why I say don't give him Carte Blanche but to give him a couple of years to show that he can still do the GM position proud. I think he did really well for the 2008 season and am looking forward to 2009. I would hope they stick to signing only premium players strategy and mainly let the young players play and making 2009 another re-building year, though with higher expectations. I think they should be close to .500 in 2009 with an good chance of being over .500 if Sanchez and Zito can pitch a whole season like they did for long stretches of 2008.