Posts Tagged ‘Brian Sabean’
Thursday, August 16th, 2012
There might have been people around baseball who were shocked by yesterday’s news that Melky Cabrera had been suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but the San Francisco Giants were not among them. No one knows whether Giants’ G.M. Brian Sabean knew when baseball was considering taking the action, but it might have been before the Giants swung a deal with the Phillies for the services of Hunter Pence.
What a deal, we all said — now the Giants have two solid outfielders, and could be headed to the post-season. But in reality, and particularly after yesterday, they still only have one: Sure, Cabrera might be able to come back this year, but only if the Giants make it to NLDS. Otherwise, he’s done.
Cabrera didn’t exactly argue the point. After the league office announced the suspension, Cabrera issued a statement apologizing to the Giants’ organization, its players, and its fans. “My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used,” Cabrera said. The substance in question is testosterone, which not only enhances performance but is hard to detect.
An article written by Bob Nightengale that appeared in this morning’s USA Today quotes Victor Conte, the founder of “the infamous Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO),” as saying that Testosterone has become the PED of choice in the MLB, because “it significantly reduces the risk of being caught.” It’s possible to take Testosterone the night before a game, and have only a small amount of it in your system the next day.
The Nightengale article is interesting (once you get past his patented faux outrage), because it raises fundamental questions, though not about baseball’s drug testing policy. Rather, it raises questions about whether we’re entering an era where it will be possible to take PEDs that cannot be detected. If you take Conte seriously, that’s possible.
Thursday, July 28th, 2011
The Nationals mounted a furious rally against the visiting Florida Marlins during the ninth inning last night at Nationals Park — but it wasn’t furious enough to top the Hanleys, who snagged the Nats, 7-5. As in his previous most recent starts, Nats’ righty Livan Hernandez was inconsistent — as opposed to the normally shaky Javier Vazquez, who was able to hold down Nationals hitters through seven innings of competent, if not brilliant, work.
The Nationals’ bottom-of-the-ninth rally came on a triple from Ian Desmond, a Jerry Hairston single, an Alex Cora walk, a Ryan Zimmerman triple, a Michael Morse single — and a Laynce Nix fly ball to the warning track in right field that was just feet away from being a game-tying home run.
The Nationals have reached the dog days of the season in the doldrums: Livan Hernandez pitched only four complete innings, reliever Todd Coffey gave up three hits and a run in 1.1 innings, and Drew Storen gave up a two run home run in the ninth inning to newly arrived Marlin Mike Cameron. “The bats just woke up too late,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said after the loss.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Carlos Beltran is going to the Giants, in exchange for wunderkind-to-be Zach Wheeler. While everyone is talking about how Beltran is going to help the McCoveys (providing a big bat in the middle of their anemic hitting line-up), the Mets were able to get a young and formidable arm. This was a good trade for the Metropolitans.
Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
Yunesky Maya finally pitched like he belonged in the majors on Wednesday, throwing six complete innings and giving up only four hits — but the Nationals fell to the Giants in San Francisco, 3-1. Maya looked confident, a significant change from his first two outings, when he was tentative, and struggling. But against the Giants he commanded the strike zone, with his off-speed pitch setting down enough McCoveys to keep the Nationals within a run of the lead.
The game was lost on the arm of reliever Sean Burnett, who continues to struggle. In the 7th, after a Cody Ross single, Burnett gave up a deep gapper to Brandon Crawford (scoring Ross) and an Eli Whiteside single, that scored Crawford. That was enough for Matt Cain, who dominated the Nationals in a complete game. The big righty threw 110 pitches, 78 of them for strikes. The Giants’ win gave them their home series against the Nationals, as the Nats head to San Diego to take on the Gwynns. (more…)
Friday, June 3rd, 2011
Jordan Zimmerman was finally rewarded for pitching a good game, as the Nationals’ righty shut down the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Nationals toughed out thirteen hits and went on to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix, 6-1. Zimmermann, now 3-6, held the D-Backs to six hits and single run, commanding the strike zone and striking out four in seven complete innings of work. The Nationals have now won three in a row.
Zimmermann was not the only Nat on fire: Michael Morse continued his hot hitting streak by going 4-5 and raising his average to a torrid .319. But Zimmermann was the story of the night: “When I needed a double play, I got the double play,” Zimmermann said of the win. “It was a little bit of a battle for me tonight. It might not look like it. There were guys on in the middle of the game. I had to really make some pitches. I made the pitches when I needed to make them and worked out of it.”
The win marked one of the Nationals’ best efforts of the year — a combination of great pitching, dominant hitting and great defense. Morse seems to have settled in at first base, where he saved Zimmermann from tough innings with two great plays. Jayson Werth also got to three sinking liners in right field, keeping the Snakes off the bases and pacing the game. The Nationals win defanged the surging D-Backs, who fell back to within a half game of the top the N.L. West.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The San Francisco Giants are breathing easier. The N.L. West’s hitless wonders broke out for eleven hits and 12 runs in downing the St. Louis Cardinals, 12-7. As important was the fact that the struggling Aubrey Huff registered three homes runs — a nearly unheard of total for a player who has looked confused at the plate. Huff”s struggles might not be over: he’s hitting just .233 and the McCoveys, now in first place in the West, are 13th in the N.L. in hitting.
The Giants have been struggling: last week they were swept at home by the Marlins, then promptly lost two of three to the Brewers. The injury to catcher Buster Posey gave the clubhouse that sinking feeling and the team was struggling, even though they had put in a good month, registering impressive wins against the Dodgers and A’s. The Giants’ quiet bats seem to have awakened in St. Louis, as the team has scratched out impressive 7-3, 7-5 and (now) 12-7 wins. There are only two teams standing now in the N.L. West — the Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It was only a matter of time, we suppose, before the Posey collision became a matter of controversy. Deemed a “clean hit” by nearly every baseball commenter, San Francisco G.M. Brian Sabean issued a different judgment yesterday. Sabean said that the hit at the plate by Florida’s Scott Cousins was “unnecessary” and “premeditated.” Cousins apologized for the hit (though we’ll be damned if we know why), but Posey has refused to respond.
Sabean called the lack of a response from Posey “hard nosed,” but refused to say the same thing about Cousins: “If I never hear from Cousins again or he never plays another game in the big leagues, I think we’ll all be happy,” Sabean said. That makes it official — Brian Sabean is still the jerk we all knew him to be. Here’s the full interview (and it’s worth listening to). Cousins says he’s received death threats, presumably from Giants’ fans. Sabean’s interview, which should have made the situation better, has made it worse.
Monday, November 1st, 2010
The San Francisco Giants are 27 outs from a World Series win, the first since the team moved from New York to the west coast. If Sunday night is any indication, the send-em-to-the-golf-course triumph will come as a result of stellar pitching and situational hitting: Giants specialities that have flummoxed (in turn) the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and now, the Texas Rangers. Madison Bumgarner is the latest example of how the Giants have dominated the series — throwing 8 innings of three hit baseball (106 pitches, 69 strikes) in shutting down a potent Rangers’ offense. Bumgarner was nearly unhittable, becoming the fifth youngest pitcher in baseball history (21 years and 91 days) to start in the Fall Classic. “He was as good as I’ve seen him,” San Francisco catcher Buster Posey said after the win. “He was in and out, really. The first couple of innings he might have yanked a couple of fastballs, but after that he was unreal.”
The Rangers, stymied by San Francisco’s arms (Bumgarner struck out Vlad Guerrero three times and Michael Young twice), will attempt to get back into the series on Monday by sending uber ace Cliff Lee to the mound to face-off against Tim Lincecum. So while a Giants’ win in the Series is far from guaranteed, San Francisco has to be confident that it can do to Lee what it did on Sunday to Tommy Hunter — and last week to the Rangers’ bullpen. And yet, Texas sounded anything but confident. “We still have to find a way to score runs,” Texas third sacker Michael Young (.250 for the series), said after the Bumgarner outing. Young’s view was seconded by Nelson Cruz — who’s hitting a Willie Harris-like .188 against Giants’ pitching: “We need more hits and more people on base.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Not only is San Francisco’s pitching good, it’s home grown. Tim Lincecum was a 2006 (tenth overall) San Francisco draft pick, Matt Cain was selected by the Giants in the first round (25th overall) in 2002, Jonathan Sanchez was picked up by the Gigantes in the 27th round in 2004 and Madison Bumgarner was a Brian Sabean favorite in 2007 — when he was drafted tenth overall. It’s the first home-grown rotation to reach the World Series since 1986, when Boston trotted out Bruce Hurst, Roger Clemens, Oil Can Boyd and Al Nipper to face the New York Mets. The San Francisco model (draft pitching, buy hitting) is followed throughout baseball, but few teams have had as much success in following it as the Giants. The Giants follow two other principles: they don’t dilly dally in moving their best young arms to the majors (Lincecum and Bumgarner each spent two years in the minors), and they don’t trade them for hitting — Sabean pushed aside a proposed Lincecum for Alex Rios deal, turned down a Cain for Prince Fielder deal and spurned numerous suitors (including your Washington Nationals) for Jonathan Sanchez . . .
The Norris Nine? We’ve received a ton of mail from readers following up on our little ditty about proposed Texas Rangers’ nicknames. One reader divided his list into two parts — “old ones” and “new ones.” Among the old: the “Spurs” (an old Dallas-Ft. Worth baseball team), the “Strangers” (a 1970s nickname given the Rangers because of their relocation from D.C.), and the “Hambones” — which is Josh Hamilton’s nickname. Hmmmm. This reader lists as new ones the “Ex-Senators,” the “Re-Arrangers,” and “the Bushies.” This last makes sense, given the prominence of the Bush family, who have found themselves (with Nolan Ryan), in camera range during the Series. But the best nominee from this (anonymous) reader is “The Texas Walkers,” named for the “Walker, Texas Ranger” television series, starring (quick intake of breath) Chuck Norris. This has potential (this reader implies), because it can be morphed into “The Norris Nine” — which has a certain ring. This regular CFG reader (and who isn’t) isn’t the first fan to put the Rangers together with the aging kick boxer. Back in August of 2009, when the Rangers were contending for a Wild Card spot with the Boston Pedroia’s, a Red Sox fan (with entirely too much time on his hands), gave us this . . .
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Back in June of 2009, rumors circulated among Giants fans that G.M. Brian Sabean was fed up with San Francisco’s inability to score runs and was discussing a trade of righty Matt Cain to Florida for power bat Dan Uggla. The rumors were more than believable — the Giants were suffering from a traditional lack of run production and Sabean (described on the S.F. website as a “brilliant” and “shrewd” G.M.), was known to do more than just dabble in the trade market. Nor was it the first time that Sabean considered trading pitching for hitting; the same kind of rumors were then circulating about lefty Jonathan Sanchez, with the young southpaw rumored to be headed to any number of teams — including the Washington Nationals. As it turned out, Sabean didn’t pull the trigger on any of the trades, settling instead for keeping the Giants’ formidable front four (Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Zito) intact. And it’s a good thing he did.
As the Giants scrambled to score runs through all of 2010 (and as Giants fans watched with increasing skepticism) Sabean kept his front line pitchers and nibbled at the edges: he signed Rays’ outfield bust Pat Burrell, traded for lefty reliever Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez, claimed Cody Ross off of waivers from Florida (but only, it was speculated, to keep him out of the hands of the San Diego Padres) and — in August — obtained Chicago Cubs second sacker Mike Fontenot from the Cubs for a prospect. Giants’ fans whined: when was the team going to get some hitting? Sabean ignored the pleas and forged ahead, with the help of Bruce Bochy, who juggled his anemic line-up to support his hurlers. His moves were controversial, and costly: San Francisco icon Pablo Sandoval was benched, former heavy hitter Aaron Rowand was replaced by journey slapster Andres Torres, and Barry Zito was told his place in the rotation was being filled by rookie Madison Bumgarner. In all, the Giants have some $30 million riding the pines, but Bochy’s moves worked, bringing the Giants an N.L. West title and a 2-1 lead in the N.L.C.S.
The new King of San Francisco is Cody Ross — but the other band aids and rusty struts have also paid dividends. Despite an error at third (where he doesn’t usually play), Fontenot has been a steady defender and his arrival has given Bochy a great late-inning defensive fill-in. Pat Burrell, meanwhile, has revived his career, which took a hit when he couldn’t hit in Tampa Bay. Javier Lopez (Giants’ fans scratched their heads when they learned he was headed their way from Boston), has been the perfect bridge to Brian Wilson — one of the most effective closers in baseball. Lopez threw in 77 games for the Giants, accumulating a measly 2.34 ERA. Don’t tell Ross, Burrell, Fontenot and Lopez that they’re a bunch of retreads who have finally found a home — check with the Phillies, who can’t match San Francisco’s steady defense, stellar starting staff and punch-and-judy offense. So with the Giants’ taming of Philadelphia (well, at least so far), Brian Sabean is finally starting to live up to his reputation as a “brilliant” and “shrewd” general manager. Giants fans would have never guessed it.
Friday, July 9th, 2010
Pablo Sandoval is still all the rage in San Francisco — “Kung Fu Panda” as Giants fans call him (or, more properly “The Round Mound of Pound“) is the life of the McCovey clubhouse, devising a handshake for every player and starring in self-directed Youtube videos that extol the virtues of playing in the Bay. But after a stellar ’09 season that featured a .330 BA and 25 home runs, the rotund sometime-third-baseman (he now plays mostly at first), has cooled off. He’s hitting just.270 with six dingers in 2010, a far cry from his all star-like assault on NL pitchers last year. Frisco fans know the problem — “the panda” is so impatient at the plate that the Giants’ in-dugout brain trust has to regularly remind him to wait on pitches. And his weight is ballooning. The official stats show him at 245 pounds, but that’s probably more of a wish. When the season started, Sandoval (“with a heart full of napalm“) predicted he would hit .350 with 30 home runs.
The Panda has struggled — and Giants fans noticed, criticizing his “quirky ways,” lack of mental preparation and “top heavy” swing. They weren’t alone. Bay manager Bruce Bochy raised a hue and cry when he pinch hit for Sandoval at the end of June, a hint that Giants’ management was less than enamored of his free swinging habits and lack of production. But that’s not all: Sandoval’s mental mistakes were (and continue to be) exasperating for his teammates who, after one gaffe (he overran second, and was picked off), isolated him on the Giants’ bench. He shrugged: “Yesterday is yesterday,” he said in Spanish. “Today is another day.” Maybe. But the Panda’s early season struggles, and the eclipse of a whole set of Giants hitters, sent San Francisco G.M. Brian Sabean in search of hitting.
The most recent and important addition was the signing of Pat Burrell, whose free agent stint with the Rays was less than what Tampa had wanted. San Francisco welcomed the former Phillies’ slugger with open arms — and an apparently open wallet. Burrell has responded, adding pop to the anemic line-up. The front office made other changes: dealing fan favorite Bengie Molina to Texas for reliever Chris Ray and (not incidentally), freeing up the space behind the plate for waiting-in-the-wings Buster Posey. Posey is a kind of anti-Sandoval, a no-nonsense mature-beyond-his-years sleek piece of clay. Posey is a trimmed down version of Sandoval, a star in the making, a team tiger to Sandoval’s weighty bear.Â The Molina-for-Ray trade not only shed a veteran presence, it lopped about 45 pounds (or more!) off the team’s collective weight. Sabean’s Molina message was clear: if you want to stay in San Francisco you have to produce. Bruce Bochy is with this program — he has benched slumping Aaron Rowand and built a new, younger and faster outfield that is anchored by a revived Aubrey Huff.
The result? Ask the Milwaukee Brewers. The Giants breezed into Milwaukee for a four game series against The Crew on July 5 and dunked the guzzlers in four straight. This was not your normal sweep, but a San Francisco blitzkrieg: the Giants outscored Milwaukee 36-7, notching 50 hits in four games while showing off one of the major league’s best pitching staffs: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and “oh-my-god-he’s-finally-arrived” rookie Madison Bumgarner. Which is not to mention that “other” Frisco arm, Jonathan Sanchez who, since his no-hitter last year, has turned into a top-of-the-rotation (in San Francisco that term means “behind Lincecum and Cain”) starter. Sanchez (once viewed as trade bait to, among others, the Washington Nationals), is now a mere 7-6 with a 3.50 ERA. For most teams, those kinds of numbers would have a G.M. salivating, in San Francisco they’re only passable. Now, as a part of their midwest and east coast road swing, the once punchless Giants are headed into Nationals Park. The match-up starts tonight, as “The Kid” faces off against the savvy and relentless Matt Cain.