As any reader of my blog knows, I'm very happy over keeping Sabean, but not so much Bochy. Maybe he can learn to be less diplomatic when he needs to make the hard decisions during any playoff-pressure situation - which is where I finally decided that I don't want him around anymore - or one of his coaches can get him to think that way, I don't know. Maybe he can learn. But I'm worried that Bochy could hurt our chances in the playoffs, should we ever make it with the Sabean/Bochy team.
I was mostly neutral before on Bochy, so it's not like I don't like him as a manager. I think that he is a good manager overall, which I consider to be one who does not get in the way of the talent and cost them games, but neither is he a good manager who can win more games with his moves, which I think Tony LaRussa can do. I just don't think he has what it takes to get us to the World Series finish line, which is what we Giants fans want.
I have so many issues with what people have been saying about Sabean that I've been frozen as to what to say, I just focused on one particularly galling statement, I think, in commenting on the public boards. Here are short snippets of things said and my thoughts:
- I think it's ridiculous that people say he doesn't know how to build an offense when the Giants offense from 1997 to 2004 was in the Top 3 most seasons, plus a couple of 4-5 seasons, all above average. That was after three straight (1994-1996) seasons of below average offenses, all with Bonds in it.
- They complain that the team was losing, and when he delivered a good team this season (86 wins and counting), they complain that he didn't win enough, when they didn't even expect a .500 team, let alone a playoff contending one.
- They think that they had the answer to the offense - whether trading Cain pre-season, or Bumgarner or Posey mid-season - but never addressed the big problem with their recommendations: the consequences. If Cain is gone, who takes his place in the rotation, Joe Martinez or Ryan Sadowski? They forget that trades are zero sum games where you only improve if you steal the other team blind, else you get what you give up, fixing one problem but creating another problem to replace it.
- And trading Bumgarner or Posey would have had huge future implications: if the Giants had done that, they still most probably would not have made the playoffs. We are five games back. Nobody we are going to get for Bumgarner or Posey would have made up five games. So not only would we lose one or both of our top prospects, we wouldn't even make the playoffs, and get at best two lousy picks for the guy we traded for. Plus now, we won't have Bumgarner or Posey coming up to boost the team in 2010 or 2011.
- Some think rebuilding mean using only prospects for every position, that there is no veterans. Teams don't rebuild that way. No team can have good prospects at every position. They need to fill in gaps in talent with veterans, particularly if the prospect is not proven enough.
- Some are bemoaning the loss of Alderson and Barnes, and neither profile to be a top rotation guy, Alderson is at best a middle (i.e. average) starter - and his minor league stats suggest back of rotation at best now - and Barnes is at best a back of rotation guy. That's nothing when we can boast two ace-level starters in Lincecum and Cain, and two above average starters in Zito and Sanchez. Sure, I would have preferred that the Giants not trade for Garko or Sanchez, but you need to be able to distinguish the moves that hurt the Giants long-term from the ones where, if it fails, it's no big deal. These are no big deals.
- Really bad are the people who hold long-term grudges for past and present trespasses. Again, there is the element of being able to distinguish the moves that hurt the team long-term vs. the ones where you have to take a risk and if it fails, at least you tried. No GM is perfect, and certainly not Sabean. You have to look at the big picture, but people just nurse their grudges.
- To me, GM's need to take risks, they need to be willing to fail with their moves, whether trades or free agents. But I don't like stupid risks. I don't recall any stupid risks that really rankles me, other than passing up trying to sign Vlad (though supposedly Vlad hated Felipe Alou, so perhaps that was a factor). The thing is that fans tend to forget about the context of the move made, they don't remember that at all, remembering just the final results. Evaluation is not all about final results, though that is part of it, you need to take the thinking process and decision making into account as well.
- People also worry about the money too much. The team took risks and spent the money. I would rather they tried - for the most part - than to sit back and wait for the "right" deal. GM's who do that end up with an empty basket.
The big picture, to me, is that the team is primed to be a serious contender next season. We control Cain and Sanchez for another two seasons, Lincecum and Wilson for another four, Sandoval for five. Posey and Bumgarner are poised to join this group and contribute. Hopefully Zito is over his problems with the contract and can continue to pitch like this season, but I think we just have to take each season one at a time and continue to hope for the best. That is a great core group to have.We can also expect to get improvements next season over this season. In particular, Sandoval and Sanchez should hopefully put together a full season instead of a half season of excellent performance. And we got so little from 2B and SS, that it won't take much to get improvement there. 1B should be an improvement, whether Ishikawa or Garko or both there. Rowand is apparently this average with us, but right now, I would take average, at least that is consistent. I think either Schierholtz or Bowker can deliver more offense in RF than what Winn did this season, he was pretty bad this season. And while I hope Bowker would be the LF (with Velez and Lewis as backup), it sounds like Velez will be the starting LF next season, and LF was so bad that he should be able to match that. And while Posey can't replace Molina's 20 HR, I think his batting can be good enough to replace his OPS with a much higher OBP, which I think would be key for making our 2010 offense better.
I think we are set up nicely for the future, and thus that is why I am glad Sabean will get the extension.