Despite not having thrown a pitch or taken a single at bat the entire season, San Francisco Giants’ General Manager, Brian Sabean deserves a lot of credit for helping build a team that has now won its third World Series ring in five years. The majority of the credit, and deservedly so, will go to the 25 men on the roster. Even with Sabean’s excellent signings, and Manager Bruce Bochy’s Nostradamus-like decisions, without the performances of the players, nobody wins anything. However, with everybody marveling at the World Series performances of Madison Bumgarner, (21 IP, 0.43 ERA) Hunter Pence, (.444 BA, 1.167 OBPS) and Pablo Sandoval, (.429 BA, 1.002 OBPS) someone needs to take a look at some of the key trades and signings that Sabean has made these last five years.
Lefty Specialist, Javier Lopez, was picked up from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline in 2010. He has since become a staple in the Giants’ bullpen, and a key cog in the championship teams in 2010, 2012 and now 2014 (1 run allowed in 9 1/3 innings during the playoffs).
Brian Sabean also picked up Cody Ross off waivers later that season. Initially done as a defensive move to prevent the San Diego Padres from getting him, the move proved brilliant as Ross would earn NLCS MVP honors en route to a World Series Ring
The savvy General Manager’s 2010 season also included one, initially frowned upon, trade: sending fan-favorite Bengie Molina to the Texas Rangers. The move pushed rookie Buster Posey to the top of the catching depth chart. Buster Posey has, in just five years, (one of which he missed due to injury) earned three World Series Championships, a Rookie of the Year Award, a Comeback Player of the Year Award, a Batting Title, and an MVP trophy.
For the 2012 season, Sabean traded for Marco Scutaro. The journeyman not only shored up second base for the Giants, he was awarded the NCLS MVP, and followed that up with an All-Star 2013 season.
Trading for Hunter Pence, a surprising move considering the General Manager’s inclination to shy away from the bigger targets, hasn’t resulted in any solo awards for Hunter Pence. Nonetheless, Pence has been perhaps the most important trade in Sabean’s tenure. Pence has acted as a clubhouse leader for their two most recent championships, and his fiery speeches are credited with helping the Giants rally to win six elimination games prior to a sweep in the 2012 World Series.
For their most recent championship, Sabean can be credited with three key moves. Starting in the offseason, the Giants signed pitcher, Tim Hudson, to a two-year contract. Although, most of Tim Hudson’s postseason left something to be desired, (4.29 ERA, 21 IP) his performance in the regular season was a huge part of why they got there (3.57 ERA). He’s still got one more year left on his contract, so this tale is not quite finished.
The Giants also signed Outfielder, Michael Morse to a one-year contract. Suffering from an oblique strain, Morse could not be part of the final playoff push or the Wild Card and Divisional round. However, a pinch-hit, game-tying homerun in the eighth inning of what would be the clinching game of the NLCS, more than earned the contract. Add in Morse being responsible for driving in two of the Giants three runs in game seven, (including the game winner) and the contract became a bargain.
Brian Sabean’s final marquee move was to trade for struggling pitcher, Jake Peavy. Under the wing of his former manager, Peavy turned his season around at San Francisco, bringing some stability to a rotation that watched its two former aces leave the starting rotation. Matt Cain underwent season-ending surgery in July, and Tim Lincecum’s performance moved him into the bullpen in August.
Baseball’s longest-tenured General Manager is not without his mistakes The name’s Barry Zito and Carlos Beltran come to mind (although one could argue Zito’s 2012 postseason redeemed him). In baseball, decisions are based on outcomes. Not since the Yankees of the 1990s, has a team been so successful, and Brian Sabean has a lot to do with it. The General Manager deserved his share of credit for the three rings that San Francisco Giants’ fans have been celebrating.
Commentary By Ernest Richmond
Photo by Michael Marconi – Flickr License