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.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Edgar Renteria feels disrespected by the Giants? Please.

San Francisco Giants Edgar Renteria watches the action from the dugout against his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals in the second inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on August 20, 2010.   UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

Edgar Renteria apparently needs a reality check.

With his contract set to expire at the end of the year, Renteria turned in an outstanding postseason both offensively and defensively. He won the 2010 World Series MVP trophy and helped the Giants win their first-ever championship in the city of San Francisco.

Now he feels disrespected.

The Giants offered him a one-year contract worth $1 million, which he believes is a slap in the face.

“That offer from the Giants was a lack of respect. A total disrespect,” Renteria told ESPNdeportes.com Thursday from Colombia.

“To play for a million dollars, I’d rather stay with my private business and share more time with my family,” he said. “Thank God I’m well off financially and my money is well invested.”

Although his comments above are incredibly smug (One million dollars? Ha! I wouldn’t get out of bed for a million dollars!), Renteria is a class act. He’s a consummate pro, he gives to charity and he’s great teammate according to those who have played with him.

But is he serious? He has one good postseason and now he wants the Giants to pony up? One million may look like a slap in the face after he helped them win a World Series but let’s keep in mind that the Giants already gave him a two-year, $18.5 million contract in 2008 and he did absolutely nothing until the 2010 postseason. He couldn’t hit, the team was constantly forced to move guys around because he was never healthy and his range at shortstop was a joke. (Hit one to Edgar’s left and consider it a base hit.)

In 460 at bats in 2009, Renteria hit .250 with five home runs and 48 RBI. In 2010, he played in only 72 games because he was hurt all the time and finished with just three home runs, 22 RBI and 26 runs scored.

Now he feels disrespected? Come on. Look at those numbers above and keep in mind that he was the third-highest paid player on the Giants’ roster over the past two years behind Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand. He stole money from them for two years before finally putting on a show in the postseason and while the Giants should be grateful for that, they shouldn’t bend over and take it up the rear end from a 35-year-old shortstop who’s on his last legs.

He’s fortunate he got hot when he did or else he wouldn’t have the right to feel disrespected (not that he does now).

Lee should have listened to Molina on Renteria’s home run

San Francisco Giants Edgar Renteria (2nd R) hits a three-run home run off Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee (R) as Rangers catcher Bengie Molina (L) and home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg (2nd L) look on in the seventh inning during Game 5 of Major League Baseball's World Series in Arlington, Texas, November 1, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Sharp (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Hindsight always rears its perfect head when a deciding moment in a sporting event takes place. A player always should have done something differently when his team loses.

In the case of Cliff Lee, he should have listened to his catcher Bengie Molina in the seventh inning on Monday night with Edgar Renteria at the plate.

Molina played nearly as many games with the Giants this season as he did with the Rangers. He knows the Giants’ hitters and their tendencies. He knows Renteria is a smart hitter and he knew his former teammate was hot. He also knew that Aaron Rowand had been picking splinters out of his ass for most of the season and was starting in only his third game since early September.

That’s why Molina wanted to pitch around Renteria in the top of the seventh with runners on second and third and go after Rowand. But it’s not in Lee’s nature to walk anybody and he certainly wasn’t going to walk Renteria when all he needed was one more out to end the inning.

So Lee fell behind Renteria 2-0 while missing with his cutter and changeup. Molina, knowing that pitching around Renteria was the only solution at that point, called for a cutter outside. Lee threw the cutter, but he drifted into the zone and Renteria crushed the mistake to put the Giants up 3-0.

With the way Tim Lincecum was pitching, three runs may have well been 30. Everyone in the ballpark got the sense that the game was over and even after Nelson Cruz cut the Giants’ lead to 3-1 in the Rangers’ half of the seventh, the game was still San Francisco’s to win.

Part of what makes Lee so good is that he throws strikes. He attacks hitters – all hitters. He knows that with his control, he’s going to get the best of most batters. But in that situation, he was better off listening to Molina.

Granted, who’s to say that Rowand wouldn’t have hit a grand slam in his at bat? Depending on the situation, a single to the outfield could have scored two runs so maybe Lee and the Rangers were just destined for failure.

But Lee never put himself in position to get Rowand out in that key situation. He stayed true to himself and it would up costing him and the Rangers in the end.

Team of destiny or just the better team? Giants finish off Rangers, win 2010 World Series

Following their 3-1 win in Game 5 of the World Series on Monday night, somewhere in this country someone started writing about how the 2010 San Francisco Giants were a team of destiny this postseason.

But their status as 2010 World Series Champions has nothing to do with destiny. They were just the better team.

In the NLCS, people expected the Giants to lose to the Phillies, who had the better offense, the better pitching, more experience, etc. But when the Giants knocked off the defending NL champs to reach the World Series, people expected them to succumb to the mighty Rangers, who had the better offense, a pitcher in Cliff Lee who never loses in the postseason, etc.

But it was the Giants who came up with the clutch hits. It was the Giants’ Bruce Bochy who outmanaged the Rangers’ Ron Washington. It was the Giants’ pitching staff that turned in one of the most dazzling performances that we’ll ever seen in a Fall Classic.

A team of destiny? The Giants were just flat out better. The Rangers, with all their power and with all their Cliff Lee, were absolutely dominated in four of five games. And that’s a good Rangers team, mind you. They didn’t get to the World Series by accident and something tells me that this won’t be this group’s last crack at a championship. They’re also a classy bunch from their manager (who heaped tons of praise on the Giants in his post-game presser), down to the grounds crew that let San Francisco fans celebrate on the field hours after the game.

But back to the Giants. It was rather humorous to listen to people use the term “lucky” when it came to this club in the postseason. Do you know what they had to do in order to get to this point? First off, they had to beat Mat Latos and the Padres on the final day of the regular season to clinch a playoff berth. There’s nothing lucky about winning 92 games, I don’t care if San Diego choked over the final two months or not.

There’s also nothing lucky about beating Derek Lowe (twice), Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, C.J. Wilson and Cliff Lee not once, but twice, including once with the series on the line.

Think about that for a second. The Giants, with their cast of misfits, went through some of the best pitchers from this decade in order to win a World Series. Luck had nothing to do with that. Luck also had nothing to do with this team being able to clinch every series on the road (Game 4 at Atlanta, Game 6 at Philadelphia, Game 5 at Texas).

Read the rest of this entry »

Somebody notify the Rangers that the World Series has started

San Francisco Giants Edgar Renteria (R) watches his solo home run in front of Texas Rangers catcher Matt Treanor (L) and umpire Sam Holbrook (C) in the fifth inning during Game 2 of Major League Baseball's World Series in San Francisco, October 28, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Here’s a six pack of observations following the Giants’ dominating 9-0 win over the Rangers in Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night. San Fran is now up 2-0 in the series.

1. America, meet Matt Cain.
Because the Giants play on the West Coast, there’s a good chance that the majority of the country hasn’t seen Matt Cain pitch. If you caught Game 2 of the World Series, then you realized what Giants fans have known for years: He can be every bit as good as ace Tim Lincecum. If baseball had a stat for hard-luck losers, Cain would be No. 1 on the list. He’s been a victim of horrendous run support for most of his career, but he’s stayed patient and is finally getting his due. Cain hasn’t allowed a run in three postseason starts this year and completely shut down the Rangers on Thursday night. He pitched 7.2 innings of shutout ball while allowing just four hits and striking out two. These weren’t the Mariners or Pirates he was facing; the Rangers led the league in batting average this season and finished fifth in runs scored. They’ve only been shutout six times this year (including Thursday night) and can beat you 1 through 8. But they couldn’t hit Cain tonight if they were notified what the pitch and location were going to be. He was brilliant.

2. What an embarrassing performance by the Rangers’ bullpen.
With his team only down 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth, Darren O’Day struck out Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez to start the inning. But then rookie catcher Buster Posey singled to shallow center and O’Day was pulled for Derek Holland, who proceeded to walk Nate Schierholtz and Cody Ross on eight straight pitches, then walked Aubrey Huff to score Posey. Despite the first two walks, Rangers’ skipper Ron Washington failed to get another pitcher warmed up and by the time Mark Lowe came in, the Giants already had a 3-0 lead and the bases still loaded. Lowe then walked Uribe to score Schierholtz and gave up a single to Edgar Renteria (more on him next) to score Ross and Huff. Michael Kirkman, who was the fourth pitcher used in the inning, then relieved Lowe and promptly gave up a bases-clearing triple to Aaron Rowand and a double to Torres. By the time Sanchez came back around to strike out, the damage was done and the Giants had built a 9-0 lead. It was an inexcusable performance by the Rangers’ bullpen, which has looked horrendous two nights in a row now.

3. Edgar Renteria still has some postseason magic in him.
Renteria has certainly frustrated Giants fans over the last two years with his minimal range at short, his weak at-bats and his stints on the disabled list. But for at least one night, nobody is going to complain about how much money GM Brian Sabean foolishly gave the aging veteran two offseasons ago. Renteria hit an absolute bomb off Texas starter C.J. Wilson in the fifth to break a scoreless tie and then added a two-run single in the eighth, which essentially put the nail in the coffin. He’s also played tremendous defense thus far and has given the Giants’ professional at bats every time he walks to the plate (which is something they haven’t been getting out of more heralded hitters like Pat Burrell). Renteria won the World Series as a rookie back in 1997 and if he decides to retire at the end of the year, winning another championship would certainly be a sweet way to go out. He’s a class act and while his game has deteriorated over the years, he proved tonight that he’s clutch when it matters most.

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts