Did Brian Sabean suffer a brain stroke recently?
From the Chron
…Sabean sees a San Francisco team that can contend.
Not in two seasons, not next season, but in 2008.
“As long as we’ve got a chance to stay in and around third place, why not?” Sabean said as he stood along the dugout rail and watched his players take batting practice. “Why wouldn’t you want to think that way? These guys think that way.
These guys are gamers, gritty gamers. They’re rough, tough, dedicated, and can’t really hit all that much. Or play defense that well, either. I know that GM’s like Sabean like to stay positive — or maybe it’s blindly ignoring the obvious — but I can’t help but get twisted the wrong way when I read stuff like this. The Giants haven’t been the worst team in baseball — Seattle or even the Padres might deserve that dubious honor right now — but the Giants have an enormous amount of deficiencies and talk of contention, no matter how starry eyed and whimsical it might be, is just, how do you say, insane?
The formula for success before the season started was three parts. One part speed, one part defense, and one part pitching. Add to a shaker, gently toss, and pour over ice with a marciano cherry on the side. I call this drink ‘Optimistic Failure’ or the ’08 San Francisco Giants. It might go down smooth the first time, but after a few you’re feeling sickly and wanting an actual third or first baseman that can hit.
Speed? Check. The Giants are 3rd in the majors in stolen bases with a team total of 40. But, even with the large amount of base thievery, the Giants’ offense is still a bottom dweller in the major leagues. Their EqA puts them at 5th worst — ahead of powerhouses such as San Diego, Kansas City, Washington, and Cleveland — out of all 30 teams. This team can steal a base but it can’t necessarily get on base all that well. The Giants are 25th in OBP.
Defense? No-check. In the early parts of this season the Giants have been one of the worst defensive teams in the majors. As a team they are converting 82% of balls, hit into their respective zones, into outs. A league average defensive team in the NL is converting at 83% and what is really hurting the Giants is their infield D. The Giants have the worst infield defense in all of baseball. Read that again if you have to, the-worst-in-baseball. The infield is only converting 73.2% of balls hit in play, into the infield zone, into outs. This is what happens when you give Jose Castillo significant playing time. Castillo is only converting 57.7% of balls in play, in his zone, into outs. 71 balls have been hit into his zone, he’s gotten to 41 of them. That’s amazingly bad. More on Castillo in a bit.
Pitching? Incomplete. We’ve had some great pitching so far in the season. Lincecum has been otherworldly. Cain has gotten better lately. Sanchez has struggled with consistency even though his promise is high. Barry Zito is still trying to learn to pitch with 83mph gas. And a series of injuries and setbacks have hurt SP depth. Correia and Lowry are both injured and can’t be counted on for significant contributions. Pat Misch looks nice but isn’t much more than a 5th starter right now. The league average FIP in the NL is 4.23 and the Giants have a team FIP of 4.32 which while is pretty solid, isn’t the world beating pitching staff that many expected before the season. The way I see it, the Giants have two really good pitchers in Cain and Lincecum and a potential very good pitcher in Sanchez. And then a bunch of question marks after that.
Another quote from Sabes, from the same article. Emphasis mine.
“You’re seven games under .500. That’s where you don’t want to be, but I really feel good about the energy around the club and I feel good about some of our choices. We’ve now got a solution at first base. We’ve got a solution at third. We’ve gotten Omar (Vizquel) back. Freddie Lewis has come into his own and (Emmanuel) Burriss has been a real factor lately.
I don’t think Jose Castillo is actively solving anything at third base. He’s a below average hitter with league worst defense. Once again, the Giants are deferring to intangibles such as “good energy” in a weird attempt to defy scientific logic. The numbers don’t lie, the Giants are probably a 4th place team in the NL West with the collapse of the Padres. Furthermore, the Giants’ standing is really helped by the crash and burn of the Padres and Rockies. Both teams have just fallen completely apart. The Giants might be in third place right now but it’s not because this team is on the rise and making moves. Rather, two other teams in this division have fallen off the charts and whether or not they right themselves is another question but I think mistaking the Giants current position as the byproduct of strength, and not the weakness of the other teams in this division, is bad news.
Freddie, I can agree with. He’s been outstanding and I hope he stays a starter year-long. The Giants would be supremely dumb to give any playing time to Dave Roberts at the expense of young Fred when he comes back. Lewis is the stronger hitter of the two and his defense has been solid — 2nd in the NL for left fielders. You can’t platoon Roberts with Lewis because both have issues against lefty pitching, making Roberts not very useful in the outfield. I can think of at least 2 guys I would play ahead of Dave Roberts right now.
Puff piece or not, I get a little scared at the thought of us sitting around 3rd place — of course, probably 15 games under .500 — near the trading deadline. Will Brian attempt to trade for a playoff push? I can’t tell you because I have a hard time figuring out crazy people. He could very well trade prospects for a crappy 1B or smear himself in grape jelly while running down Lombard Street. It could happen.
With that in mind, Sabean said he does not contemplate moving his most marketable experienced players before the trade deadline, as many rebuilding teams do. Catcher Bengie Molina and outfielder Randy Winn, both signed through 2009, might yield the most in return. But as of now, Sabean plans to keep them
Ugh. I can see the argument for keeping Molina. We have little-to-no depth at catcher right now and if he doesn’t break down, he heads into 2009 as our starter. Fine, I’m cool with that. But Randy Winn? Really, Brian? We’ve got 18 billion outfielders and Randy Winn will be 35 years-old next year. He’s the definition of a guy you should move. A surplus at the position? Check. Semi-valuable commodity that a team could be interested in at the treading deadline? Check. Randy Winn does nothing for the team in this year or next, besides blocking someone like Nate Schierholtz who should be given a shot. Or, I can use the common argument among fans online. Will Randy Winn be on the next good Giants team? And the answer is no. Move him.
Brian Sabean needs to understand that this 2008 team isn’t a good team. And that without changes, the 2009 team won’t be good either. You’ve got to start the process at some point, regardless of how “energetic” this team is playing, it still has major problems and if you can’t evaluate them properly, how good of a job are you doing? I can only hope that as Magowan is on the way out, Sabean goes with him. Or that the new owner has the cojones to deviate from the franchise game plan of the last 10 years. It’s time for change and until someone can frankly and honestly examine this team, change will never come. Instead the Giants seem perfectly happy with selling $15 crab sandwiches and fielding a bad team. At what point do the fans stop coming? It’s already starting to happen and I’d rather not turn into Baltimore West.