Brian Sabean has no excuse not to lock up Matt Cain long-term

San Francisco Giants’ pitcher Matt Cain celebrates after winning the 2010 World Series after defeating the Texas Rangers 3-1 in game 5 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas on November 1, 2010. The Giants won the series 4 games to 1. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

“But he won the Giants a World Series.”

That’s the response I get whenever I criticize San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean. As if his one improbable World Series victory erases the blunders that the man has made before, after, and even during the Giants’ title season.

Yes, the Giants won a championship in 2010. But what does it say about Sabean when four of the top five players on his payroll were Barry Zito (who didn’t even make the postseason roster), Aaron Rowand (who shouldn’t have made the postseason roster), Edgar Renteria and Mark DeRosa (who didn’t make the postseason roster because of his wrist, which was held together by Elmer’s Glue when Sabean signed him in the offseason)? Sure, Renteria wound up being worth every penny of his $10,000,000 salary that year when he hit the eventual game-winning home run off Cliff Lee in Game 5 of the Series. But thanks to injuries and poor play, he was largely a non-factor in two seasons before that memorable home run.

Remember Cody Ross? Phillies fans sure do. Ross hit two home runs off of Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the 2010 NCLS and also hit a solo shot off Roy Oswalt in Game 2. If it weren’t for his bat, the Giants may not have reached the World Series that year, nevertheless won the whole shebang.

And Ross would have never made the postseason roster had Major League Baseball not conducted an investigation into Jose Guillen’s potential use of performance-enhancing drugs. Sabean acquired Ross that year in efforts to block any semi-productive player from going to the Padres, who at the time were leading the Giants in the NL West race. The fact that Ross wound up turning into “Ross the Boss” was more a product of luck than Sabean’s shrewd maneuvering. At one point, the Giants were thinking about putting Guillen (who ran like he had Oakland tied around his legs) on the postseason roster instead of Ross.

That spectacular pitching staff that the Giants currently boast wasn’t exactly all Sabean either. It was scouting director Dick Tidrow that gave such glowing reports on Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner. (Not to mention closer Brian Wilson and former top prospect Zach Wheeler, whom we’ll get to in a moment.) Granted, Sabean deserves praise for pulling the trigger on this players during the draft, but too often he receives credit for “finding” the talented arms that the Giants currently have in their starting rotation.

Which leads me back to Cain. It’s embarrassing to read some of the reports out of ‘Frisco these days about Cain’s contract situation. The 27-year-old right-hander is set to become a free agent after the 2012 season unless the Giants can hammer out a long-term deal, which apparently is more difficult than correctly picking every winner in the NCAA tournament. It was only recently that Cain suggested that he’s considering testing the market. Before then, he stated how he wanted to remain a Giant but Sebean has yet to come to terms with the soft-spoken starter, who has meant as much to the Giants as Lincecum. (Had Cain received more run support from that putrid thing Sabean calls a lineup every year, maybe he too would have challenged for a Cy Young by now.)

There’s simply no good reason for Sabean not to lock Cain up to a long-term deal. If the righty wants $100 million, then the Giants should oblige. I mean, why not? Sabean had no problem overpaying Zito, Rowand, DeRosa, Renteria and Miguel Tejada, but he’s going to balk at signing a productive player? Are you kidding me? If Cain doesn’t get $100 million from the Giants, he’ll find it on the open market next winter. Thus, if he truly wants to stay, then all Sabean needs to figure out is if he wants to see Cain in a Giants’ uniform next season, or in Yankee pinstripes. And while there’s plenty of time to hammer out a deal before now and November, players usually don’t like discussing their contract situation during the season. Thus, Sabean’s window to sign Cain is closing.

Let’s not forget that Sabean was also the professor who traded Wheeler to the Mets at the trade deadline last year for a two-month rental named Carlos Beltran. Then Sabean didn’t even attempt to re-sign Beltran this past winter, even though the Giants had the second-worst offense in terms of runs scored last season.

Granted, not every decision Sabean makes turns to sulfur and he does have to worry about surpasing Cain’s deal when Lincecum because a free agent after the 2013 season. But the philosophies behind some of his moves are absolutely mind-boggling. It’s almost like the guy wakes up and says, “What’s the least logical thing I can do today while running this baseball team? Trade Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser for one miserable year of A.J. Pierzynski? Yes. Yes that sounds good.”

If Sabean loses Cain in November after already dealing Wheeler for what amounted to nothing in return, then Lincecum turns around and heads to Seattle to play for his hometown Mariners (which is a distinct possibility), maybe then people will drop the whole “But he won the Giants a World Series” bit.

Because if Cain isn’t in a San Francisco uniform next season, there will only be one man to blame.

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Quick-Hits: The two players that cost the Rockies Ubaldo Jimenez

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez waits on the mound just before being pulled from the game in the fourth inning of their MLB National League baseball game against the New York Mets in Denver May 12, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

In Monday’s Quick-Hits, I discuss the two players that cost the Rockies their ace, Randy Moss’s decision to retire, yet another perplexing decision by Giants general manager Brian Sabean, and Braylon Edwards’ shrinking market.

– If Rockie fans are upset with the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, they might as well direct their anger at the club’s flubbed selections in the 2006 and 2007 MLB drafts. Colorado selected Greg Reynolds with the second overall pick in the ’06 and Casey Weathers with the eighth overall pick in ’07. Neither right-hander has developed and while there’s plenty of hope for LHP Tyler Matzek, he’s not projected to help the big league club until 2013. That’s why when GM Dan O’Dowd received an offer from the Indians of Alex White and Joe Gardner in exchange for Jimenez, the deal was too good to pass up. The Rockies aren’t rebuilding their farm system: they’re restocking. Granted, Jimenez may right the ship while White and Gardner fail in Colorado, which would obviously make O’Dowd look like a fool. But at the end of the day, this is a deal O’Dowd felt he had to make after blowing the first rounds in ’06 and ’07. He’s essentially trying to make up for past mistakes.

– I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Randy Moss is now the posterchild for what not to do when you’re seeking a new contract in the NFL. Early last season, Moss whined about how the Patriots hadn’t discussed giving him a new contract. When New England told him to be patient, he pouted even more and became a distraction. Worst of all, he stopped playing hard, which is always a fast ticket out of New England with Bill Belichick running things. So he winds up in Minnesota, where he’s a distraction there, too. Finally he lands in Tennessee, where the coaching staff apparently realized that he was done as an NFL-caliber receiver. And now? Instead of continuing his career as a role player, he has decided to retire. Moss has been one hell of a player. He ranks eighth in career receptions, fifth in receiving yards and second only to Jerry Rice in touchdowns. But there will be a debate about whether or not he’s voted into the Hall of Fame after he quit on the Raiders and got himself traded out of New England and Minnesota. It’s amazing what kind of numbers Moss could have put up if had possessed Rice’s attitude.

– SF Giants GM Brian Sabean has some explaining to do after the Phillies and Braves landed younger outfielders under team control (Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, respectively) without giving up their top prospects, while he traded for a 34-year-old free agent-to-be and had to give up his best farm arm. Oh, and Orlando Cabrera for Thomas Neal? Does Sabean have to overpay for every veteran talent that he wants? It’s like if he walks into an electronic store, sees a TV he likes and then asks the salesman if he could purchase said TV for triple the cost. Meanwhile, competing general managers walk into the same store and purchase newer models with comparable features for three-fourths of the price. I just don’t get Sabean’s philosophy when it comes to trades but then again, he has a World Series ring and I don’t so maybe I should shut my mouth. (Of course, when he overpays to keep Beltran this winter, I’ll be sure to open it again.)

– It took a while, but teams are finally starting to stay away with Braylon Edwards. At 6’3” and 214 pounds, he certainly looks the part of a No. 1 receiver. But his inconsistent hands coupled with the fact that football isn’t real high on his priorities list makes teams stay away. He’s on the verge of signing a one-year deal with the Cardinals because the receiver market is essentially dried up. Considering he’s only 28 and once caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in one season, he shouldn’t be accepting one-year deals. But teams aren’t stupid and know he’s a huge risk.

Giants GM only making Posey situation worse with comments about Cousins

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey reaches for a ball in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during Game 3 of their Major League Baseball NLCS playoff series in San Francisco, October 19, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Who can blame Giants general manager Brian Sabean for being a little sensitive these days when it comes to the topic of Buster Posey? A little over a week ago he lost his star catcher for the season when Scott Cousins blew him up during a collision at the plate. From the GM down to the fans, many folks are a little touchy right now in ‘Frisco.

But Sabean seems hell bent on making the situation worse. His club is coming off a successful road trip – one that saw the Giants take three of four from the first-place Cardinals – and yet all anyone can talk about today are the comments Sabean made on KNBR radio.

On Thursday, Sabean said that he didn’t blame Posey for not wanting to hear from Cousins following the play. Then he got personal.

“I don’t blame the kid,” Sabean said of Posey on his weekly KNBR radio program. “Why not be hard-nosed? If I never hear from Cousins again, or he doesn’t play another day in the big leagues, I think we’ll all be happy.”

Ouch. At first, you almost can’t blame Sabean for protecting his young player. But suggesting that “we’ll all be happy” if Cousins doesn’t play another day in the big leagues is a bit much. When asked if he was being harsh with his comments, Sabean didn’t back down.

“No,” Sabean said. “He chose to be a hero, in my mind. If that’s his flash of fame, that’s as good as it’s going to get, pal. We’ll have a long memory. We talked to (former Giants catcher) Mike Matheny about how this game works. You can’t be that out-and-out overly aggressive. There’s no love lost and there shouldn’t be.”

Cousins’ agent Matt Sosnick was quick to respond to Sabean’s criticism of his client.

“What Cousins did was not malicious,” Sosnick said. “A statement that anyone makes implying that he did something on purpose to be hurtful or malicious to Posey is untrue. Those people are misinformed. You can’t determine on a replay if there was a sliding lane for him to get into. It’s impossible.”

Something that always happens in situations like these is that fans choose sides. There are many people who believe Posey was trying to block the plate and therefore was fair game. Furthermore, it wasn’t Cousins’ hit that caused the injury, but Posey’s improper footing. (There are also many people who feel as though this wouldn’t be a story if it didn’t involve Buster Posey and they’re probably right. But it did involve Buster Posey, so discussing whether or not it’s a story is a waste of time.)

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In the wake of Posey’s injury, will the Giants bring back a familiar face in Molina?

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey reacts after the Philadelphia Phillies scored their third run in the third inning during Game 5 of their Major League Baseball NLCS playoff series in San Francisco, October 21, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

In the eyes of the Giants and their fans, the Marlins can’t get on a plane to vacate San Francisco fast enough.

Before Florida came to town on Tuesday, the Giants were riding a five-game winning streak. Sure, luck was a big reason they swept the A’s last weekend but their pitching was also dominant and they had enough clutch hitting to take all three games. It was the same recipe that allowed them to bring the first World Series championship to San Francisco last year.

But two losses and one massive injury insult later and the Giants are wishing the Marlins were left off their schedule this year. After Florida dumped them 5-1 on Tuesday, the Giants rallied from five runs down in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday to tie the game 6-6 and force extra innings. Too bad they didn’t just take the 6-1 loss in the ninth.

In the 12th, Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins was tagging from third base and, knowing that there would be a close play at the plate with Nate Schierholtz throwing from right field, slammed into Giants catcher Buster Posey. The 2010 Rookie of the Year couldn’t hang onto the ball and worse yet, his left ankle/foot got caught underneath his body in gruesome fashion. As he lie on the dirt withering in pain, it was all the Giants and their faithful could do but to wince right along with him.

Posey will undergo an MRI on Thursday in order to determine the severity of the injury, but a trip to the disabled list seems inevitable. If he’s out for an extended period of time, you can’t help but to feel for the young man who carries himself well beyond his 24 years of age. Without their young catcher, there would have been no championship in San Francisco last year and that’s a fact. That’s how much he has meant to the club since being called up in June last year.

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Giants’ Sabean throws all logic out the window, acquires Jose Guillen

April 12, 2010: Kansas City Royals' Jose Guillen (6) during the MLB baseball game between the Kansas City Royals vs Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

Jose Guillen can’t play defense, can’t get on base and he can’t hit for average.

So naturally Giants’ GM Brian Sabean had to have him.

On Friday, the Giants acquired the 34-year-old former Royal, who is well known for having a poor clubhouse reputation. That’s something the close-nit Giants don’t need right now heading into a huge weekend series with the first place Padres (the team the Giants are trailing by 2.5 games in the NL West).

Clearly hypnotized by his 16 homers this season, Sabean felt the need to add the outfielder despite the fact that Guillen is more useless than a chair with only two legs. Plus, his acquisition means that Aaron Rowand, Travis Ishikawa (assuming Aubrey Huff moves back to first base) and Nate Schierholtz will receive less playing time than they already are, which is befuddling when you consider that Guillen isn’t a better option than any of them.

If I punch myself in the side of the head enough times and squint hard enough, I might see the need for Guillen as a pinch hitter. But there’s no way that the Giants actually believe this schmuck is a starter. Do you know how much ground there is to cover in right field at AT&T Park? Guillen would be an absolute train wreck and for what? A couple of home runs down the stretch? I thought that’s what Pat Burrell was for? Didn’t Sabean already acquire Pat Burrell already? I’m confused.

The worst part is, Sabean traded away two capable outfielders earlier this season in Fred Lewis and John Bower – two homegrown players that were better defensively than Guillen and who came with zero baggage. How does trading Lewis and Bowker and trading for Guillen make any sense? Tell me what the difference is between those players, or how Guillen makes the Giants better than Lewis and Bowker? And what happens to Schierholtz? The kid entered spring training as the favorite to start in right field and after a poor couple of weeks at the plate, he became Lewis’d, Bowker’d and Kevin Frandsen’d in the blink of an eye. If I were a Giants’ farm player, I’d want to be dealt immediately because Sabean will eventually block my position with a crusty old vet. It’s only a matter of time.

Sabean doesn’t have the slightest clue what it takes to build an offense. For every Burrell, Huff and Juan Uribe, there’s a Rowand, Edgar Renteria and Mark DeRosa (who clearly wasn’t healthy when Sabean decided to hand him a two-year deal this past offseason). For every Bengie Molina trade, there’s a Guillen, Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez deal right around the corner.

I’ve never see a man make so many stupid decisions and yet retain his job for 14 years. If Brian Sabean were the President of the United States, half the nation would be underwater right now.

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