Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Schulman Q&A with Sabean

Hank Schulman interviewed Brian Sabean the other day for the Chronicle.  It follow below with my comments:

Q: What has surprised you during the first part of the season, positively and negatively?

A: The most positive thing is we're only (3 1/2) games out in the division. It's obviously a muddled division. All the teams in it are flawed to a certain extent. It's only May and we really haven't had our 'A' lineup out there.

"The flip side is, if you look by categories there's room for improvement everywhere. The starters need to throw some more strikes. When we attack the strike zone, we're fine. But we've been prone to some free passes. The relievers are still getting used to their roles and we've needed to make some adjustments on the fly. They have a losing record at this point. Defensively, we're ranked first but we've had a hard time turning double plays. That has to improve. And our baserunning in some games has been shoddy and cost us an inning or cost us a run or even a game.

"Each area is still evolving. I didn't make too much of a 7-2 start as much as I take notice that right now we're playing like a .500 team, and that certainly is not going to be good enough. We have to get our act together. We got Edgar Renteria back today, and hopefully we'll get Mark DeRosa back next week and get the lineup we thought we were going to have in the offseason most days or five days a week, and there'll be more of a semblance of order to everything.

ogc:  Nothing to pick at here, stated the obvious for the most part, a Sabean staple of interviews, not giving out a lot of information.

Q: How concerned are you that Pablo Sandoval's struggles are not a slump, and more that pitchers have figured him out and he is not adjusting?

A: It could be a slump. Who's to say you're not susceptible to that at any given point of the season, including early in the year? But we've seen how good he is. I do agree that adjustments have been made in how they're attacking him. But he's got a lot on his plate. He's a young kid. He has high expectations on his own and from people inside and outside the organization. He's a guy at a young age (who) is in the middle of our order for a reason, which is what we saw of him in the past. It's a game of adjustments and he's in the process and he's trying to do that. The one thing I'll say, his defense couldn't be better. If anything, he's one of the better defensive third basemen we've seen. He's made virtually every play.

ogc:  The key bit of info here is Pablo's defense.  Both UZR and Dewan's Plus/Minus has him providing positive defense, very good prorated out to a seasonal basis, roughly around a win per season.  Those numbers were not good last season, not by a long shot.  So despite his slump, which he appears to be slowly getting out of, he has been contributing greatly on defense.

Q: There's a perception in a tight division that the guy who wins it might be the general manager who makes the best move by the July trade deadline. Do you agree?

A: I don't necessarily buy that. There are not enough players to go around. It's more what you can do today to keep your team moving forward, knowing the cavalry might not come and you might not be in a position to secure a player in a trade. Teams are less apt to trade for free agents-to-be, especially with premium talent. It's really a matter of how you tweak your roster and try to solve your problems internally. That doesn't preclude us being involved in trade possibilities looking forward to the deadline.

ogc:  Sabean is basically saying that the Giants will not be saved by a trade mid-season.  This is basically true because as long as Posey and Bumgarner are around, the other team will be demanding them in return for any significant hitter and that is not going to happen for a rental.  This is why Sabean built the team with a lot of moving parts who can shift around when someone is not pulling their weight in the lineup.  We have seen this at work all season long, and again should they do the Uribe shift and domino that into Huff in LF.

Q: What do you make of the team's start against San Diego, which is at the heart of a 4-12 record against the West?

A: They've pitched extremely well against us. They've gone right after us and we haven't responded. Some of that goes back to last year. Their confidence level against us is high, and we're going to have to find every way possible to change that. The fortunate thing is that it is May and we're (3 1/2 games out) being 1-7 against them. There's plenty of time to turn that around, and we know we're going to play them later in the year when hopefully it really will count.

ogc:  Slip of the tongue there.  Games count now as well as later in the season.  The key thing is whether we can stay close enough so that when we play them again, winning would put us on the top of them.  I think that they can, this was just a bad stretch of hitting, precipitated, I believe, by teams adjusting how they approach the Giants given how poorly Sandoval was hitting.  We need Panda to get hot, like June 2009 hot.

Q: You were an 88-74 team last year. Do you still feel with the personnel you have you can be better than 88-74 this year?

A: I really don't know that. If the division plays true to this, we have four or five teams with a chance to win and there's a good chance to beat each other up a lot, and maybe 88 wins is the best you can do. The goal is to win the division. That's what it takes. San Diego won the division with, what, 82 wins (in 2005)? St. Louis won a World Series after winning 83 games? We know that we're challenged in certain areas and we're going to have to improve.

"I know we're probably not going to have the, quote, best team in the division per se. That doesn't matter all that much if you find a way to play the best. That's all we're trying to do; play to our potential, play the best baseball we can and see where that takes us. The effort's been there. The attitude has been there. Again, we've been challenged because we have not had all our pieces in order. We need to do that because we have a bear of a stretch before the All-Star break that may define exactly what's going to happen to our season. We play 18 of 24 on the road. Before that part of the schedule hits, we're going to have to have a lot of things in better shape.


ogc:  I'm surprised he would say that.  Despite how tough the NL West might be, I think beating 88 wins should be possible.  

Giants Thoughts

As usual, nothing really informative is gleaned from a Sabean interview.  Here are the questions I would have asked, if given the opportunity, though taking into account whether I think Sabean would truthfully answer or spin away:
  • What are the plans for Schierholtz and Bowker?  Do the Giants really think Torres is the answer or are they riding the hot hand?
  • Given that power is one area the Giants are lacking, why don't we put Ishikawa at 1B and Huff in LF, at least against select RHP?
  • Rowand has been in a horrendous slump for the past 2 weeks, why aren't the Giants resting him more often in light of his past problems with hot and cold streaks?  He could sit and give a starting opp to either Bowker or Schierholtz.  He's running out of excuses for why he slumps.
  • Why was Casilla brought up over someone on the 40-man roster?  Now there is no easy 40-man spot to bring up Hacker should Wellemeyer needs replacing. 
  • Pablo Sandoval's bat is wasted batting 3rd, he should really be our cleanup hitter, why isn't he hitting there, particularly when Huff was moved out and Molina put there?  Bochy said that he would hit there previously, but then put Huff there.  Huff might be better off 3rd or 5th, though I would go with Schierholtz batting 3rd when he is in the lineup.  
  • Why doesn't Schierholtz steal more often?  He has shown the ability in the minors plus has some speed.
  • Who among the Giants caught the cold that Jonathan Sanchez had in late April?
  • What are your thoughts about Brandon Belt?  Juan Perez?  Zach Wheeler?  Luke Anders?  Where is Rafael Rodriguez?  
  • What are the Giants long-term plan regarding signing Latin American prospects?  Is there a budget or is it an ad-hoc, case by case situation?
  • Why has there been no movement regarding Japanese talent?  Are we still trying to be active in that region?  How about South Korea?  What is the situation regarding China, is that basically like Cuba?
  • Why wasn't Dave Roberts retained to train our minor leaguers on the fine art of stealing, Maury Wills style?  When will Barry Bonds be put to work training our hitters in the minors?

3 comments:

  1. > Who among the Giants caught the cold that Jonathan Sanchez had in late April?
    Sabes: "Huh? What?"

    > What is the situation regarding China, is that basically like Cuba?
    Sabes: "Huh?, What?"

    > Why wasn't Dave Roberts retained to train our minor leaguers on the fine art of stealing, Maury Wills style? When will Barry Bonds be put to work training our hitters in the minors?
    Sabes: "He lives in San Diego and works for the Padres, until he was derailed by Leukemia. Happy now?"

    > Given that power is one area the Giants are lacking, why don't we put Ishikawa at 1B and Huff in LF, at least against select RHP?
    Sabes: "You on crack?"

    ReplyDelete
  2. •What are the plans for Schierholtz and Bowker? Do the Giants really think Torres is the answer or are they riding the hot hand?

    We haven't had any plans for them in quite some time. In fact, we really don't have a plan.....period. Obviously, riding the hot hand.

    •Rowand has been in a horrendous slump for the past 2 weeks, why aren't the Giants resting him more often in light of his past problems with hot and cold streaks? He could sit and give a starting opp to either Bowker or Schierholtz. He's running out of excuses for why he slumps.

    He's a gamer and I gave him that huge contract. Do you really think I'm going to admit I was wrong about that?

    •Why was Casilla brought up over someone on the 40-man roster? Now there is no easy 40-man spot to bring up Hacker should Wellemeyer needs replacing.

    Shouldn't be a problem. If we need someone else up, we just DFA one of them. Nobody's foolish enough to claim them anyway. If they do, then they pay the contract. It's a win-win for us.

    •Pablo Sandoval's bat is wasted batting 3rd, he should really be our cleanup hitter, why isn't he hitting there, particularly when Huff was moved out and Molina put there? Bochy said that he would hit there previously, but then put Huff there. Huff might be better off 3rd or 5th, though I would go with Schierholtz batting 3rd when he is in the lineup.

    See answer to your first question. What's a Schierholtz?

    •Why doesn't Schierholtz steal more often? He has shown the ability in the minors plus has some speed.

    It's the old baseball axiom....you can't steal first base.

    •Who among the Giants caught the cold that Jonathan Sanchez had in late April?

    Yeah.....that's the ticket. The hitters have all caught his cold. That's the ticket. It's not my fault........they caught a cold. I like it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I feel sorry for anyone who is not enjoying the Giants season this year.

    Schierholtz has a .364 OBP, I don't know what more you want from him.

    In any case, I'm guess I haven't paid enough attention to Nate, he's actually second on the team in steals with 4, which would work out to a high teens SB total over a full season. I take back my question. :^)

    I guess I have to be more precise in my questions, else I invite George Spiggott-type answers. I meant, what are the Giants planning to do with the two at this moment with Torres starting.

    Of course the plan is to ride the hot hand. When a player hasn't earned the right to play through a bad stretch, he should expect to sit.

    Though, clearly, Bochy has been willing to give Schierholtz more rope than Bowker, both last year and this year. But that's probably because Nate at least has been able to get white hot for 2-3 weeks before cooling off, which is about 1-2 weeks more than Bowker has been able to do.

    Still, Nate got to start yesterday and Bowker today, so it appears to be alternating or maybe what Bochy's gut tells him to do.

    About Roberts, I forgot about the leukemia, but still, the Giants could have put him to work on the manual while he was rehabbing from his surgery in his last season and paid him $1M per season to teach our players plus another coach his knowledge of base stealing. He's certainly not getting that much from San Diego.

    Regarding Rowand, it's been two years, and I'm not saying to put him on the bench like the lunatic fringe suggests, but rather following up on Bochy's statements that he would rest Rowand more. I suppose I could take out the last sentence though.

    Asking about the cold is legit. It was reported a few years ago that the flu went through the team a few years back, but nowadays health information, since HIPPA came around, is scarcer. I'm not saying that there was a cold, but that if that is true, that would help us better assess what was wrong with the team in May because the team was scoring easily in April.

    ReplyDelete

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