Monday, June 21, 2010

It's not easy being B.S.

Brian Sabean that is.

The Giants general manager has his share of haters in the Bay Area.  Just peruse the comments section on and you will see a number of comments at any given time that do anything but support him.  There is even a website dedicated to getting him fired.

Sabean (B.S. from here on in), along with Giants manager Bruce Bochy, is a polarizing figure among Giants fans.  He made a huge splash in his first weeks as GM of the Giants in 1996 by trading one of the Giants most popular players at the time, Matt Williams, to the Cleveland Indians for a bunch of nobodies headlined by a journeyman second baseman named Jeff Kent.  The move was extremely unpopular at the time with many of the Giants fans at the time wanting Sabean to turn in his resignation papers back then.  One guy went so far as to say "They have traded a rock for three bushels of stubble. In two years, I would be surprised if the Giants still have one of the three" Well I wonder how surprised Mr. Gaetjens from Berkeley was when that Journeyman second baseman became a future hall of famer.

Since that trade Sabean has brought some memorable players to the Giants via trade or free agency: J.T. Snow, Benito Santiago, Ellis Burks, Robb Nen, Moises Alou, Jason Schmidt, Brian Johnson (even if it was for only one Homerun), Andres Galarraga, David Bell, Kenny Lofton, Benito Santiago, Bill Mueller, Randy Winn, Bengie Molina, and Freddy Sanchez.  He has made his share of blunders as well: Marvin Benard, Matt Morris, Shea Hillenbrand, Dave Roberts, Edgar Renteria, Armando Benietez, Aaron Rowand, and the biggest mistake of all Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser for A.J Pierzynski.

After that trade, Joe Nathan's subsequent transformation into an all-star closer, Francisco Liriano's 10-1 start to his career, and the complete disaster that Pierzynski was in San Francisco.  B.S.'s status as one of the best GMs in all of baseball took a massive hit. (at least among the San Francisco fanbase).  It no longer mattered that he was right.  It didn't matter that he got Jason Schmidt for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong, that he pulled Benito Santiago, Andres Galarraga, Ellis Burks, and Reggie Sanders off the scrap heap to become major contributors to this team.  Now, Sabean was known for that trade and that trade only.

The Nathan - Pierzynski trade, since those are the only two that after the passing of 7 years even matter, was the beginning of the end of the love affair with Sabean.  Follow that up with BALCO, Bonds retirement, and the implementation of a rebuilding period and Giants fans have become impatient.  Throw 50 years of no World championships on top of all that and the fans want blood.

B.S. has slowly started to win the fans back, though many of them will stick knives in their eyes before they admit it, through great drafting, a farm system ranked 3rd in all of baseball by Baseball America, and a couple of free agents that were pulled off the scrap pile yet again. 

Yes B.S. is the guy who oversaw the drafting of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, and all of the other guys who are making the Giants fans look towards the future.  He is also the guy who OKd the free agent signings of a young Pablo Sandoval, Jonathan Sanchez, Juan Uribe, and Aubrey Huff.  He is the architect of a team had a winning record last season and is on track for another one this season.

B.S. does have a chance for redemption.  He could go for the jugular and get a guy like Paul Konerko.  A move like that makes so much sense it's disgusting.  Not many Giants fans can really argue against a trade like that, though they will. 

But this is where it turns out that it is not easy being B.S.

Two weeks ago the White Sox GM, Kenny Williams said that the White Sox were open for business.  At the time it looked as if that meant they would be sellers at the trade deadline since they were 9.5 games out of first place.  But then a funny thing happened.  They caught fire.  They went on to win 10 of their next 12 games and are currently only 5.5 games games out of first place.  This would seem to indicate that they would be buyers at the deadline.  They could fall back in the standings again but certainly none of their big names are going anywhere right now.

The rest of the guys out there are either hitting with ridiculously low averages, have seen a huge dip in their power numbers over the last few years, or are hurt.  So there is no gaurantee that there is even a big bat out there that they could get.  Any move that B.S. could make right now, apart from a Konerko deal, would be a huge risk.  Gambling with the prospects that the Giants have been meticulously accruing is not something many would advocate and B.S., rightfully so I might add, seems to be loathe to do.

It doesn't get any easier for B.S. after this season either.  Next year will likely be that last that the fab 4 of Lincecum, Cain, Zito, and Sanchez will stay together.  Lincecum doesn't have a contract after next season and could easily carry an asking price of $20 million per year at that point, they will still be paying Zito $19 million, and Cain's contract jumps from $7 million to $15 million.  If you add to that whatever Dirty Sanchez gets in arbitration after this season and what Madbum could possibly command as a super two if he's half as good as we think he will be and the Giants could realistically be paying close to $100 million to the starting rotation in 2012.  Their ENTIRE PAYROLL for this season is $96 million.  Oh, did I mention that Aaron Rowand will still be earning $12 million tin 2012?  (At least it will be the final year of his contract)

It doesn't get any easier to be B.S.

The Giants have to win this year or next year in order to have a realistic shot with their rotation because there is no way that they can take on that kind of payroll.  You can't even say that, other than the contract of Zito, the money being paid to the starters is a B.S. mistake since they would all have earned their money as Giants.  it's a tough job being GM of the Giants. 

After looking at what he has to deal with I think that B.S. is really dealing with the reality of baseball the best way that he can.

A last note on Zito.

I didn't include Zito as one of B.S.'s bonehead deals and I didn't put him in there as a good deal on purpose.  After a disastrous start to his Giants career, Zito seems to have found the form that got him the monster contract he has.  If he continues the way he is going right now through the remaining years of his contract it will turn out to be a good deal for the Giants performance wise.  Since he had a pretty good track record before his struggles it is not unrealistic to think he could keep it up.

It has already been a good deal for them financially because of all the Barry Zito T-shirts, bobbleheads, and posters etc. they have sold since his arrival and will continue to sell especially after his resurgence.  So the jury is basically still out on whether or not this was a good deal.

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