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Brian Sabean’s Giants had to lose to win

Nov 2, 2010, 2:12 AM EDT

APTOPIX World Series Giants Rangers Baseball

What did these Giants have that the Yankees, Red Sox and Bay Area rival A’s didn’t? Three recent top-10 draft picks making a huge impact this season.

There was a time not too long ago that Giants GM Brian Sabean thought a first-round pick wasn’t worth what it’d cost to sign him. After the 2003 season, the Giants inked free agent Michael Tucker hours before the Royals would have declined to offer him arbitration, forfeiting the 22nd overall pick in the process. It wasn’t an accident: Sabean thought he was better off spending the $1.5 million or so it’d cost to sign a first-round pick on someone who could help him right away.

The Giants lost both their 2004 and 2005 first-round picks in signing free agents. Nevertheless, the team got worse, even with Barry Bonds shouldering a massive load. In 2005, Bonds got hurt and the team faltered, beginning a run of four straight seasons under .500.

It turned out to be a massive blessing. The Giants kept signing free agents and trying to plug holes, but since the first 15 picks in the draft are protected, they kept their first-round picks. In 2006, they drafted Tim Lincecum 10th overall. In 2007, they got Madison Bumgarner in that same spot. In 2008, they picked Buster Posey fifth.

And make no mistake, Sabean deserves a ton of credit for those choices. It looked like Lincecum might go as high as second in the 2006 draft, but concerns about his build and delivery made him too risky in the eyes of some. Posey slipped because of bonus demands, but the Giants felt he was worth the investment coming out of Florida State.

But if Sabean’s offseason moves in those years had gone the way he hoped, the truth is that he never would have been in a position to get any of them. The Giants never made a choice to rebuild. In 2007, their youngest regulars were 32-year-olds Bengie Molina and Pedro Feliz. They were trying to win the NL West; they just failed miserably.

No, there’s no blueprint for success to be followed here. The Giants won in large part because Sabean and his scouting department have a knack for knowing which young pitchers will pan out. I’d still argue that Sabean makes more mistakes than most. But a Lincecum and a Matt Cain can make up for any number of them.

  1. burtkauf - Nov 2, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    They had some other help, too
    Top 10 Reasons Why San Francisco Giants Stole the World Series
    1) Giants suddenly went from a .500 team at all-star break to .800 rest of season , with most victories in league the second half of season with only additions of Jose Guillen* and Cody Ross* ( Buster Posey was brought up from minors, though Molina was having a good season) and then there was also a new ‘throwaway’ third baseman. Mike Fontenau(sp) from the Cubs.
    2) Giants team went from among the teams with fewest home runs to most homeruns in league during September, after Jose Guillen joined the team, and this coming at one of the worst ballparks in which to hit homeruns.
    3) Jose Uribe has hit the most homeruns of his career this year ( 25 ) at age 33 , playing in a unfriendly-hitters ball park. He also defended latin players on steroids in an interview May 2009.
    4) *Cody Ross* hit 7 homeruns in less than 100 at bats since coming to the Giants in August, including three homers in his first 6 at bats in the playoffs. These are Bonds and McGwire –like stats of homers per at bat, roughly 1 home for every 12 at bats since joining the Giants.
    5) Giants pitchers had their best month in September across the board, with only Sanchez showing some fatigue at the end. Matt Cain had his best month of year and maybe career. Previous no-name pitchers like Ramirez, Lopez and Casia have been nearly invincible
    6) *During his short month time with the Giants, Jose Guillen* had several key hits to win games, probably more than enough to close the two game gap between the Giants and the San Diego Padres to give the Giants the NL championship. The acquision by the Giants of the known-steroid user (in 2002 and 2005, Mitchel Report) may alone have propelled the Giants into the playoffs and potential World Series.
    7.) If GM Brian Sabean was willing up pick up a known ‘dirty player’ like Guillen – with a bad attitude to boot, and then deride the media for bringing it up, there’s no telling
    who , among the other cast-offs-or regular players- might be dirty. Sabean has had a 10 year-plus track record of bring in players ‘ at any cost’ that other teams didn’t want, for obvious reasons.

    8.) A weak-hitting Giants (until the last month) manhandled the American League’s top pitcher, Cliff Lee, not once but twice in the WS, in their park, after he never lost a game to better hitting teams in nearly 10 previous playoff games? Same holds true for the Giants beating virtually every other top pitcher they faced lHaliday, Oswald, Hamils, etc.)

    9.) Body changes and unusal habits: In addition to the aforementioned Cody Ross’s stats, we are told Ross gained a significant weight recently. This is hearsay, as I haven’t really seen a picture of him as he doesn’t do many interviews; sudden weight gain can be a sign of steroid use, especially in sports figures where normal weight gain is unusual; some reports on same thing happening to Edgar Renteria; the latest hitting star of the Giants and WS Most Valuable Player had been dead in the water the past several seasons, and at an advanced baseball age suddenly hits two homers in World Series after hitting only one all season!. And, what about Jonathan Sanchez going to his mouth on a regular basis while pitching?

    10 .) The Giants are the only team to win the World Series after only being in first place as few as 37 games during the season. You may be able to fool stats in short series but the numbers clearly favored the Rangers over Giants in the 7 –game World Series – by a lot; same for Philadelphia over the Giants in the 5-game playoffs. In a short three game series , or even five, luck can play more of a part, but in a seven game series the better team almost always wins, yet the weaker team
    won this time, and by a big margin in only 5 games – and in the opponents home park.
    Bonus #11) RENTERIA – Just as we were about to bring up Renteria as the next possible Giants user, based on his sudden improvement during September and October, after a totally lackluster several years with the Giants and object of much derision and trade bait. One homerun all season. Then, suddenly a good ‘Guillen’ last month and then he hits not one but two homers in the world series including the winning homerun! Too much.
    Just too many factors above pointing at a world series stoen by the giants. It’s not a scientific fact yet, other than Guillen’s use but a little more investigation could and should bring out the facts.
    Could there be a connection between Guillen’s joining the team and the Giants stepped-up performance in September? Could he have shared his stuff with his Giants friends, much like Bonds did before? Maybe other Giants already had theirs. There have been allegations on the internet that Ross was a steroid user, -not to count that as fact, but often where there’s smoke there’s fire. We’re just adding up all the pieces and when you put them together it doesn’t look good for the Giants and baseball, unless you’re one of those Giants fans who never cared that Bonds was using and probably don’t care now.

    San Francisco has become an Sanctuary now for wayward ballplayers just as it is for wayward people, homeless, drug users, etc. But that doesn’t make it right.
    The contrast between the cities of Dallas and San Francisco is startling.
    More Giants steroids @

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