Thursday, August 16, 2012

Your 2012 Giants: The Melky Aftermath: Survalist Mode

Brian Sabean was interviewed today (transcript of highlights via Schulman).  First the news about roster moves.  Justin Christian was brought up to take Melky's roster spot as 4th OF and Eric Hacker to take Brad Penny's spot (I guess Otero is back down too) as long reliever.  Here is the interview parts with my comments, as I usually do it.

He said he learned of the suspension Tuesday morning then informed manager Bruce Bochy. Sabean said the Giants had no idea was coming.

ogc:  I still think that they had to have gone to Melky's agent to check on the Baggarly rumor.  This is what a GM has to say publicly, I believe.

Asked if he had any anger, Sabean said, “Not at all. If anything, I was so taken back it was deflating. I was actually in the meeting when Bruce (Bochy) talked to the players and I kind of got emotional because I didn’t see this coming. We’ve all been around the game a long time. We’re used to making changes and adjustments. All been around game long time. Used to making changes and adjustments, as we do in life. This is one of those things where you’re punched in the stomach, but you no choice and you’ve got to move on.”

ogc:  Usual stuff that a GM has to say.

He said there was nothing “too compelling or interesting” on the waiver wire and that Gregor Blanco will be the left fielder for the immediate future.

ogc:  Whether not compelling or too costly in prospect, either way, it means Blanco is our starting LF.  Hopefully playing regularly will return him to May goodness.

Though Sabean said he was not angry, the disappointment in his voice was clear when he discussed the suspensions of Cabrera and Guillermo Mota and said, “We’ve got two players who should know better.”

ogc:  Amen to that, Brian, amen.

On whether he can envision Cabrera in a Giants uniform again: I can’t answer that now. There’s a lot of blanks to fill in as a result of this.

ogc:  Got to keep the door open, see what falls out in the aftermath after a few months, more importantly, see what the market is for him, hopefully means that if he is fairly priced, the Giants will still pursue, but if someone is bidding stupid money (I'm watching you Magic!), then adios.  It is just too early for the team to say anything without hamstringing future moves they might take.  They need to see how things work out.

On the late-July rumor that Cabrera would be suspended: When it first came out I think we were all taken aback if it was rumor or had any substance. After that I can’t speak to it.

ogc:  Ah, can't speak to it, could mean don't want to speak to it because they found out the info via other channels.

Denying that the Hunter Pence acquisition had anything to do with fears the Giants would lose Cabrera: We tried to acquire him at the deadline last year and he was was going to be a Giant if we could find a way to do it this year.

ogc:  Well, it would be deflating to a player if Sabean said that he only got the player because we were losing a player later.  Just stuff a GM has to say, whatever the truth is, and most probably truthfully, they did pursue him last season. 

But looking at it from a realistic viewpoint, once the rumor came out, I don't see how the Giants could not have contacted Melky's agent and ask if there was any truth to this matter, or at least ask if the team should worry or not.  Once known, you double your efforts and offer more than before, which is the way negotiations work, you start low and offer more until both sides agree.

How the Giants can win the division without Melky: It remains to be seen. If you had told me we’d lose (Brian) Wilson, lose Panda twice, lose Mota out of the bullpen, now losing Melky…We’ve got a survival instinct. It’s seemingly a good group. They don’t lack for effort and they don’t lack for character. Right now it’s about winning series. The Dodgers are 5-1 in their last six games and we’re 3-3. They’ve won their last two series and we’ve won one. It’s greater than just the lineup. We’ve got to pitch better than yesterday and win more games at home, which we haven’t been doing lately.

ogc:  A GM of a contending team has to be positive, but he also pointed out the negatives that the team has to work on, as well.  Pretty much standard GM stuff to say here, not the greatest question to ask, though I guess it had to be asked anyway.  And he pointed out the issues of the team, so he didn't whitewash it either.  But this is pretty much my point on my prior post, we have survived a number of losses this season already and still did well, so why not this one too?  This is the Survalist Mode that I was addressing the title.
On calling up Double-A center fielder Gary Brown: I don’t see it in the short-term, no. He’s still learning in Double-A. He’s more proficient against left-handed pitching and he’s struggled from time to time against righties. We also know he’s a center fielder at this time. That’s not on the front burner of our thinking.

ogc:  This makes sense too.  Why not try Blanco, who has had success in the majors, first?  If he's struggling for two weeks, at that point it's basically September, so you bring up Brown for the September expansion of the roster and see if you can catch lightening in the jar.  Otherwise, he can be a great asset off the bench.  Plus, this is a sign that they prefer to leave Pagan in CF for now, let him be (hopefully) comfortable and thus productive, leading off for us in CF.  They could be trying to be careful not to upset things too much, right now, given what just happened.  But if Pagan and Blanco are both riding cold bats come September 1st, it would not surprise me if Brown came up to be our starting CF, and they would share a platoon in LF.

On recent hitting upticks for the Brandons, Belt and Crawford: I think they’ve got a lot to be proud of. We stuck with them. We gave them as much playing time as they can handle. Now they’re seeting th fruits of their labor. It was just a matter of time. We hope that time is now. It’s good for their sake, too, because they put a lot into it. Both of these guys are kids who want to do well for the team. It bodes well for them now and for us in the future.

ogc:  Good that they recognize that both are doing well.  Good to show public that the Giants have been supporting both of them and not holding them back as some in the Giants fanbase seem to think.

If the thought of a failed drug test had anything to do with tabling extension talks in mid-July: It was a conceptual conversation and it never really went anywhere They pushed for doing something at the end of the year. I don’t know the timing of that against the question.

ogc:  Again, Sabean and the Giants must have known, but as an agent, if you want to be viewed as ethical and trustworthy by MLB teams, once you were aware of the drug suspension looming, you tell the team that you are tabling the discussion until after the season, so that you don't stick the team with a huge contract with a drug-tainted player.  That would pretty much hurt any future negotiations by this agent in the future if he treated the Giants in that way, every other team would be leery of dealing with such an agent. 

As Shankbone noted in the comments on the other post, this "conceptual conversation" implies that the Giants never talked dollars and cents, per se, with the agents.  I still think that the 3 years, $27M was purely a media member's educated guess presented as rumor, though I suppose it could be that Quentin's contract was brought up by somebody and turned immediately by Melky's agents. 

ogc thoughts

No really big news, that's the way most Sabean interviews are, mostly PR stuff a GM has to say, to standard questions that the media feels they have to say but know there is a snowball's chance in hell that the GM will ever answer the question truthfully.

Christian and Hacker were obvious choices based on the players we lost (Cabrera and Penny).  Also pretty obvious that Blanco would get the first shot, he did so well in May playing that position.  Someone in the news noted that perhaps Cody Ross is available again:  could lightening strike twice?  We'll see.

Most interesting answer was regarding Gary Brown, though that was expected as well.  He noted Brown's issues, so that was interesting.  Also interesting is that they are giving Blanco another chance.  There are always someone interesting on the waiver wire, though maybe that team is asking for too much, and still the Giants would rather give the unproven guy a chance, belying the image of Sabean and Bochy being tied only to veterans (though Blanco as a long enough history already as a major leaguer, but not as a starter, recently).  And while they didn't see Brown as the answer right now, his answer leaves the door open to Brown being brought up and being the answer later, as needs change.

Also interesting is that the Giants have not automatically written off Cabrera for good.  He's now maybe a part of the puzzle in 2013, but the Giants will take a look at how the offense works with Cabrera and with a productive Pence and Belt, hopefully, and maybe decide that they can live without his bat after all, or maybe realize that they need him.   It will take time to see better what's up.

2010 vs. 2012

A commentator (Ratto) notes that the Giants are different from two years ago, but forgot to note one huge difference:  the team is only one game out now, whereas they were a few more games out back then (at roughly same games, same time of month), but roughly 6 games back in a matter of days, roughly 5-6 games back to the end of August.   They had a lot more to make up, they also had a lot more parts not working.

So yes, there are a number of question marks - Lincecum, Belt, Sandoval, Pence, Casilla - but at his moment in 2010, we didn't have 4 pitchers as Ray noted, Lincecum was in the midst of a pretty bad stretch where he was completely lost and we had no idea what type of pitcher he would be in September.  Heck, Bumgarner, Zito, as well as Lincecum was horrible in September, there were a lot of question marks (remember, Madison was still an unproven rookie at that point, maybe the league figured him out) with the pitching than one might think, if we were told we had Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Sanchez, and Zito.  The team was very unsettled and not looking ready for the playoffs, let alone the World Series.  Especially since nobody had won it before at that point.  Then they went on that great streak in early September.

He also lists Posey's leadership as a question mark.  I find that hard to believe of a player who publicly answered, "Why not now?" when asked if the Giants could win after all the losing tries before, and at the victory parade, exhorted his teammates, in the midst of a celebration, to "lets get back to work and make another run again".  Then again, the media is privvy to the clubhouse environment, and I know I saw such a question from another media member before, so maybe there is something to that. 

Still, he seems like a leader to me, one that would be forceful when he sees necessary.  He clearly didn't back down when the media asked him about the catching situation with Lincecum, when he could have let it slide with no comment or one of those generic team-friendly quotes.  He was team-friendly yet very forceful that he can handle anyone at any time.  So maybe he is not leader-ish enough to be noticed in the clubhouse, but maybe he is in privte moments with his teammates.

And I would think, he must be some kind of good leader to take over as a rookie catcher and lead the pitching staff to that historic run in September, then lead the team in the playoffs and World Series.   Not everybody can do that, and I would think that only a natural born leader can do that.

3 comments:

  1. I think you covered it there, OGC. Got nothing to add, but wanted to say good post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. “We’ve got two players who should know better.” - exactly. It's kinda funny, the mainstream media has PED users as evil, more sober heads have them as just stupid. Not sure which I'd rather be called. Yahoo et al is doing a lousy job of pillorying players.

    And yeah, I have to laugh - read Schulman before this, and "can't speak to it" rang just as obvious to me. Primo lingual gymnastics - Sabean gets a hand for that one. Can't say whether it determined the acquisition of Pence, but they knew. Cracks me up.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great summary OGC. You corrected me on Christian not being with the big club a couple days ago, and look, here he is again.

    Sabean does a good job of keeping things low key. Never gets any credit for it, just the classic quotes that get blown up. I like the "We've got two players who should know better" one.

    I think its a little doubled edged truth, I bet they did really want Pence last year. Sabean does not trade for rentals, they just didn't have the horses. And damn that trade is looking extra extra good right now.

    Pagan is warming up, having a nice August. I have read a couple places that he is pissed at Melky big time. Two things on that - one, he is a very comparable player (at the beginning of the season nobody knew which guy would put up better #s and they have similar profiles) and two, he translated the denials and was pretty close to Melky. Obviously Melky was looking at 40-60MM and above, Pagan is looking at something much smaller. I can see a little resentment on that level, if he is playing it straight. Glad we have Pagan right now, and the hedge for next year. He finishes well, maybe that qualifying offer is back on the table.

    Your Cody Ross item - I love it, its a pipe dream, but I love it. That would be an all time kick.

    ReplyDelete

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