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!).

You want bad signings? Pick one: Edgardo Alfonzo (one of my personal favorites because even though he was in decline due to a nagging back injury, Sabean absolutely had to have him), Armando Benitez, Neifi Perez, Matt Morris and of course, the mother of all bad signings: Barry Zito, whom Sabean actually bid against himself to overpay.

There were also many, many, many unnecessary signings (ahem, Rich Aurilia in his second SF stint, Dave Roberts, Ryan Klesko, etc.) as well, but I don’t have the time or energy to go through all the times Sabean sacrificed a youth movement so he could ink another crusty old veteran to a ridiculous multi-year contract. And then, when some of those veterans broke down during the year and gave way to inevitable injuries, the Giants were forced to bring up players that weren’t ready for big league action. (Also of note: Sabean was the same man that once surrendered a first round pick so that he could sign Michael Tucker.)

Granted, there were good deals, too. Jeff Kent, Robb Nen, Ellis Burks, Jason Schmidt, Livan Hernandez, David Bell and Kenny Lofton were all well-executed trades by Sabean. But look at those names – the trade for Lofton was the last time he made a deal that helped the Giants win and that was all the way back in 2002. (The Randy Winn trade in ’05 worked out, but it didn’t help the Giants in the standings.)

And now Olney’s report. Sabean doesn’t return calls sometimes when other GMs inquire about trades? I pray the GM who said that either a) is venomous by nature and kicks babies in his spare time or b) is exaggerating. Because if it’s true that Sabean doesn’t do his due diligence when it comes to making deals, then I don’t know what other motivation Giants ownership needs to make a change.

Some will point out that Sabean has built the club’s outstanding pitching staff and that’s true. Fine, the Giants can throw him a, “Thanks for all the pitching!” party when he leaves. But the fact of the matter is that the G-Men have been irrelevant for a very long time and what good is having a tremendous pitching staff if the GM can’t build even an average offense to go with it?

It’s time for San Fran to find a more competent general manager. Someone with a better overall philosophy and who will actually be committed to building through the farm system.

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