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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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.

Just one more reason for Giants fans to loathe GM Brian Sabean

If you’re a Giants fan and you’re eating while reading this, stop immediately. For those general baseball fans checking this post out, you might find this extremely interesting and damn near hilarious.

ESPN’s Buster Olney conducted a poll recently where he asked “a dozen general managers” about making trades with other GMs. Below are the five poll questions.

1. Who is the easiest GM for you to make a trade with?
2. Who is the toughest GM for you to make a trade with?
3. Who is the most open, as you go through the process of making a trade?
4. Who is the biggest poker player, as you go through the process of making a trade?
5. Of the other 29 general managers, who would you hire to be your GM?

As Olney points out, the results were fascinating – or nauseating for Giants fans.

The point of the exercise was not to rip anybody; rather, it was merely to get some sense of the style of various general managers. Without a doubt, however, the GM who got hammered in a way I never expected was the Giants’ Brian Sabean, for one simple reason — rival executives say they cannot get him on the phone. They cannot get him to return messages. In a couple of cases, some GMs say they don’t even bother calling Sabean, they just go straight to assistant Bobby Evans.

The feeling of the other GMs is that beyond the issue of simple etiquette — “It’s just flat-out disrespectful to not return a call,” said one GM — Sabean isn’t putting himself in position to hear trade ideas that could benefit the Giants. “What happens if somebody calls to offer Brock for Broglio?” said one GM. “That’s what I get nervous about — what if the other team is shopping a really good player and he gets traded without me getting involved? That’s why I return all calls.”

In 14 years (dear Lord, has it been that long?), a general manager is going to have some ups and downs. It’s not realistic for a GM to have never been burned by a signing or a trade. But Sabean’s resume reads more like a horror script than someone who has kept his job longer than any other current GM in Major League Baseball.

You want bad trades? Try Jeremy Accardo for Shea Hillenbrand and Vinnie Chulk, or Russ Ortiz (in his prime) for Damian Moss and Merkin Valdez, or of course, the mother of all bad trades: Joe Nathan, Fransisco Liriano and Boof Bonser for one miserable year of A.J. Pierzynski (and cash!).

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Report: Manny’s too expensive for Giants

Apparently Manny Ramirez-to-the-Giants was all just one big c*ock tease for San Fran fans that were hoping the club would add some offense.

According to one source familiar with the Giants’ thinking, just about every recent rumor connecting the Giants with Manny is “unfounded” or “baloney.”

“If a million things came together over the next few weeks, would it be possible? Maybe,” the source told ESPN.com. “But for where [Boras] is right now and where the team is right now, it doesn’t make sense economically and it doesn’t make sense for how the team fits together.”

And the Giants, according to multiple sources, have no interest in pursuing Ramirez or any other free agent looking for large dollars and multiple years. Even reports connecting them with free-agent third baseman Joe Crede, another Boras client, have been exaggerated, sources say.

Industry sources estimate that the Giants’ payroll, with no other additions or subtractions, is already likely to be north of $85 million — and would be more than $90 million if you include deferred money owed to Barry Bonds. That’s already significantly higher than last year’s payroll (about $77 million) and close to the highest in team history.
So signing Ramirez would push them well beyond $100 million. And multiple sources indicate there is virtually no scenario that would allow them to maintain a payroll in that range.

“They fit because they need the bat,” one NL executive said. “They’re one hitter away from being a real good team. But how do they go to $100 million to add that bat? I don’t think there’s any way that happens.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: how does Brian Sabean still have a job? The guy developed some of the best young pitching talent in the ML, yet successfully combined it with the worst offense known to mankind. And the reason why the Giants’ payroll is so high is because the goofball (I’m referring to Sabean here) gave ridiculous contracts to Barry Zito, Dave Roberts ($18 mil, Sabean? Really?) and Rich Aurilia two years ago.

The guy must have dirt on every person in the Giants’ front office because he should have been gone years ago. And Manny’s going back to L.A. It’s the only logical fit at this point.

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