So, the Mayor invited me to go to the game with him tonight and also to the "Chalk Talk" before the game with a couple of the most important people in the Giants org, namely Brian "At the End of the Day Doin' his Due Diligence Kickin' the Tires" Sabean, Dick "I Has a Mustache" Tidrow and Bobby "They Don't Actually Let Me Talk Because I'm Smarter Than Both of Them" Evans.
It was, well... I don't think illuminating or educational is the right word. Frustrating, yes. Hilarious at times. And mildly interesting. I took notes, which I will now write up for the pleasure of you all.
WARNING: LONG POST IS LONG.
Sabes started off the proceedings by rather hilariously comparing this year's team to the '97 and '00 teams, in that he thinks the 2009 Giants will be remembered as a "springboard" of sorts for bigger and better things. He said a lot about trying to build from "within" and around pitching and defense and he thinks we're on the right track to do both those things and improve next year, after addressing our shortcomings (though based on what he said later on, I'm not sure how we're going to do that, but I'm getting ahead of myself.) Oh and he just had to mention that we've "distanced" ourselves from the Bonds era.
Then Bobby Evans said we had a successful minor league season and that our coaches in the minors do a great job. That was all he got to say the whole time. Thanks Bobby!
Dick Tidrow talked about how great our pitching is, which really took me by surprise, because I had no idea before this that that was the case.
So after those little opening spiels, they opened it up to questions. Some questions were interesting. Most were kind of aggravating. A few were bizarre. The highlights:
- The first guy they called on rambled for like ten minutes about what a great year the Giants had and then told the GIANTS BRASS!!! that they need to do a better job of regulating the strike zone. Yeah, I don't think that's up to them, dude.
- At this point, my notes say the following: "Sabean [censored]ing off the veterans. Brian Sabean is full of crap. FFFFFFFUUUUUU." I think he was talking about how invaluable all the contributions from veterans have been this year. The only guy he mentioned who really deserved the accolades he got was Uribe.
- We might have to entertain the thought of trading one of our pitchers for a hitter (INB4 CAIN 4 FELDER!)
- A question about Brandon Crawford turned into an impassioned defense of Edgar Renteria and the fact that he's been playing with four broken limbs and hemorrhoids and a brain tumor since the All Star Break and so you can't blame him for how he's played (if he's that injured, why was he playing at all?) As for Crawford, both Sabean and Tidrow said that he put up a good OBP this year (.294 in Conn). Okay. Other than that, nothing we didn't know about him already.
- They talked briefly about Angel's legal situation and Sabes said that it "doesn't look good". He also said something about young players like him being targets back home in the DR or in Venezuela.
- He mentioned Velez and Torres having an OF spot and the leadoff spot more or less sewn up for next year again. He sounded pretty definite on that, fwiw.
- "We have to improve OPS, OBP and home runs.": A Hard-Hitting Investigative Report
- He and Tidrow said you can preach patience all you want but if you have a team full of aggressive hitters, they're going to be aggressive.
- Tidrow said that people often forget that "the last step of development" is in the majors - not AAA. Most hitters do need some sort of adjustment period when they're called up. They are aware of this. THEY KNOW. And yet. You all see what I mean by frustrating?
- They will *undoubtedly* pick up Freddy Sanchez's option. Sabean used the word "undoubtedly". So, there's that.
- I got a chance to ask a question and I chickened out on the tough questions I wanted to ask about the Sanchez/Garko trades and Bumgarner's velocity and asked my Thomas Neal softball question. They did a nice job of telling me everything about him that I already know (first fully healthy season, injured, draft&follow, etc) and then said that they took it slow with him this year because of the injury and that next year they'll be a lot more aggressive with him if his production warrants it (he will likely start in AA).
- Now, this was interesting. Sabean talked for awhile about how much he hates Free Agency because you end up paying a guy for what he's done in the past and not what he's likely to do in the future. He said something about how it's much easier for young players to fulfill expectations - but only if you're patient (and he implied several times that it's the FANS who are impatient with young players, not the org.) This whole point will come up again later.
- Sabean never expected Zito to live up to his contract - WTF???
- My favorite: they spent a good 10 minutes doing nothing but heaping glowing praise on every aspect of Posey's game - including his defense. Tidrow was going on and on about how quickly he picks up on the nuances of catching and how fast he's gotten the hang of the mental aspect of it and game-calling and how he's got all the tools both physically and mentally to be a great catcher. (Couldn't he have, like, sent a memo about this to Bochy?) At this point, I was ripping my hair out.
- By the way, they have no thoughts whatsoever of moving Posey to a different position. \o/
- They said some interesting things about how Bumgarner is actually behind in his development because they started him off so slowly last year - that they've only really made him throw breaking pitches a lot recently. Not sure how much of this is true and how much is bullshit but there you are.
- Whether or not they should bring Bengie back is "a tough decision." OTOH, Sabean seemed to show no interest in a long-term commitment to him and said that it might be a moot point because Bengie might be wanting a more long-term deal.
- And then my favorite, they talked about the Sanchez trade. Oh my. Remember earlier when I talked about how Sabes doesn't like Free Agency because you're paying for the past? Well, he said that you couldn't pass up the opportunity to trade for Sanchez because he won a batting title. In 2006. Yep. Said that they liked Alderson still, but saw some warning signs that he might be at the peak of his value and so they had to be willing to give him up to get an "All-Star Player". No mention of the injuries. Oh man, I would have loved to get the microphone back after that answer.
So yeah, not very much that we didn't already know, but some things were interesting to hear from the horse's mouth, so to speak. Afterward, I realized that I should have, like, prepared a question about "At the end of the day, do you think that, this offseason, you're going to do your due diligence on players and kick some tires?" but it was like when you think of the perfect comeback like two days after the fact. It was an interesting experience and it made for some good ranting by the Mayor and I afterward and during the game.