Brian Sabean’s Job in Jeopardy?


Brian Sabean,

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The general manager of the San Francisco Giants, Brian Sabean has brought 2 World Series titles to the residents at Willie Mays Plaza in the past 4 years. How can one argue that Sabean’s job could even remotely be in jeopardy? It’s actually quite easy.

Sabean is excellent at coming up with a “Plan A”. Over the course of a baseball season, no team gets through unscathed however, and Sabean has not adjusted for any injuries, even with players having prior history.

Last season the Giants were derailed by injuries to key players, mainly Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan. Before this season there were clouds of doubt on whether Scutaro would even be able to play again with the amount of pain he had been suffering. Over the course of his career, Pagan has had a knack for missing significant time, playing over 100 games (yes, just 100) in three of his eight career seasons entering 2014.

With an aging and highly questionable Scutaro set to miss an unknown amount of time entering the season, Sabean decided to bring in Brandon Hicks, a career .153 hitter. Yes, Hicks was able to capture some lightening in a bottle for a couple of months to start the season, much like his midseason run in Oakland two years prior, but Hicks now resides in Fresno.

Joe Panik took over for Hicks, a player that Sabean himself said, “isn’t ready” for the big leagues. This just stinks of Michael Kickham all over again. Yes, the Kickham whose first two ML starts were in Oakland and Los Angeles, the team’s two biggest rivals. Way to ease in the kid. Kickham struggled, and is now a teammate of Hicks.

Back to Pagan. The secondary plan for him has been Gregor Blanco. I rest my case.

Back in 2011, Sabean traded away Zack Wheeler to the New York Mets in exchange for two months of Carlos Beltran. The Giants failed to reach the playoffs that season, meaning that trade was a waste. The 24-year old Wheeler is now pitching fairly well, with a 3.64 ERA. Funny, the Giants could use a pitcher like that right now. He’d be their number three starter in terms of ERA and close to being a #2 with Madison Bumgarner struggling of late with a 3.41.

Micahel Morse was brought in to bolster the offense, and to a degree, he has. He leads the team in home runs with 15. Three of those have come in the past two months. Last season, he faced a similar power outage as the season progressed, partly due to injury. There is also his defense to fret over, which is magnified when he isn’t producing at the plate.

The point that I am trying to make is that the decisions Sabean has made over the course of the past few seasons have been either shortsighted or easily avoidable. Knowing your own team’s strengths and weaknesses is pretty basic. Having a contingency plan that isn’t a career below-Mendoza hitter would be another.

This all being said, at the time of this writing, Brian Sabean has done one thing recently that I will applaud him for. He acquired Dan Uggla for nothing and also traded for Jake Peavy. These moves aren’t going to improve the team by any means, but it is a sign of good faith to the fans that he’s “trying” to improve. Peavy could end up having a decent last couple of months that propels the Giants into the Wild Card game.

The bigger picture here is that Sabean didn’t trade either of his big-name talents away this time around. Andrew Susac was forced up due to an injury to Hector Sanchez, and Kyle Crick is dominating Double-A. These are two players that the Giants will need going forward. I applaud Sabean for (so far) not squandering the future for a pipe dream in 2014.