Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Time to raise a glass to Brian Sabean
Let's tip our hats, and raise our glasses of cold, cold beer. They say we're fading, but we're still waving that flag around here...
I had to paraphrase a little Eric Church there to help express how we should be feeling both about the Giants and the job Brian Sabean has done to improve this roster.
It was not long ago that Sabes could do no right in the eyes of many-- seen as a has been, a hack, or a never was.
I'll say this. The man has swung and missed on a number of big contracts over the years. Edgardo Alfonzo, Armando Benitez, Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, Mark DeRosa, and possibly Jeremy Affeldt's 2010 off-season extension. Although these type of contracts have hamstrung the payroll, it's the little pieces that seem to even things out.
Despite Sabean's high-dollar mistakes, he has managed to outsmart and out-gamble the entire league in respect to shrewd pickups and "Aw, what the hell? Why not?" moves. What I am most impressed by, especially this season, has been the organizational ability to resurrect careers and launch others simply by giving guys a shot.
In the fluidity of the interminably long baseball season, we forget the changes that have taken place, and just accept them as normal... as if they'd been there all along. It's difficult not to. For God's sake, April was what? Five months ago? Just to refresh our collective memory, let's look at the 2010 San Francisco Giants Opening Day Roster (*Renel voice*)!
Aubrey Huff, Travis Ishikawa, Edgar Renteria, Pablo Sandoval, Juan Uribe, John Bowker, Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand, Nate Schierholtz, Eugenio Velez, Andres Torres, Bengie Molina, Eli Whiteside
Freddy Sanchez, Fred Lewis, Manny Burriss
Jeremy Affeldt, Waldis Joaquin, Brandon Medders, Sergio Romo, Guillermo Mota, Dan Runzler, Brian Wilson
Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Todd Wellemeyer
By my count, that is 4 guys either with another organization or out of baseball, 1 guy on the DL for the season, and 4 guys in the minors with no reason to be brought back up.
Then of course there was Denny Bautista, a righty out of the pen trying to make it back, whose stint with the Giants was highlighted by an asinine performance in Colorado, and a next day release.
And, look! How gross was this opening day lineup?
The mere sight of Aaron Rowand makes us sick these days, and Renteria isn't far behind. With these two at the top of the lineup, we were guaranteed a championship! Man...
So many things have happened since then! Bear with me! It's worth it!
-- Fred Lewis was traded to the Blue Jays
-- 2B Freddy Sanchez returns from injury
-- DeRosa underwent surgery, out for season
-- Bowker never got to play, even though he won the job
-- Bowker sent down to Fresno
-- Andres Torres steals starts in CF from Rowand
-- Todd Wellemeyer draws the ire of Giants fans
-- Wellemeyer begins receiving threats
-- Torres takes over full time for Rowand in CF and leading off
-- Guillermo Mota, signed for nearly nothing, becomes important bullpen arm
-- Juan Uribe and Aubrey Huff carry the team
-- Santiago Casilla, who signed for nothing, is called up
-- Wellemeyer is injured in Cincinnati
-- Joe Martinez, not Madison Bumgarner is brought up to start
-- Posey is called up after feasting in Fresno
-- Joe Martinez is not very good
-- Pat Burrell is signed for the veteran's minimum after being released
-- Madison Bumgarner is called up
-- Wellemeyer is released
-- Bengie Molina is traded to Texas for Chris Ray
-- Pat Burrell becomes full-time LF
-- Denny Bautista is brought up to the bullpen
-- Bautista sucked
-- Bautista is released
-- Dontrelle Willis picked up off scrap heap and assigned to minors
-- Brian Wilson debuts his orange shoes
-- Posey is an absolute monster
-- Torres rules
-- Burrell is a beast
-- Runzler and Affeldt get hurt
-- Bowker and Martinez traded for Javier Lopez
-- Daniel Turpen traded to Red Sox for Ramon Ramirez
-- Evan Crawford traded to Cubs for Mike Fontenot
-- Jose Guillen acquired from Kansas City
-- Guillen trade finalized. Giants get slab of ribs. Royals get a fungo bat.
-- Cody Ross acquired
Pretty incredible transformation, I would say... and for what? Next to nothing!
Not only that, but geez, look at our bench now! (excluding Sept. callups)
Schierholtz, Rowand, Ishikawa, Renteria, Ross, Fontenot, Whiteside
Is it perfect? No. But it's as deep and defensive as anyone else's. Guys like Cody Ross and Mike Fontenot are luxury items off the bench... while Rowand is more of a $60MM lemon whose warranty just expired.
I don't want to ramble here, but we need to give credit where it's due. Sabean acquired/signed Santiago Casilla, Guillermo Mota, Pat Burrell, Chris Ray, Jose Guillen, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, Mike Fontenot, and Cody Ross for nearly nothing, and he deserves some plaudits.
Throw in the callups of Posey and Bumgarner, and that's like an entirely new team, all within the framework of 3 months.
Despite Sabean's shortcomings in doling out big contracts to old losers, I don't know too many GM's that can remake nearly half a roster in 3 months for next to nothing in blood and treasure, and get that new team into first place by September 21st. Not only that, but Sabean also managed to somehow IMPROVE clubhouse chemistry. It truly is unbelievable.
So cheers to Brian Sabean. You did good buddy. You did real good.