Letter from Sabean... your thoughts?

Here's a letter that B.R. Sabean just sent. I still haven't renewed my season tix - the deadline passed and I just couldn't justify feeling like a sucker anymore. If anyone wants to buy a quarter or half of the season, I could change my mind, but I just can't get my head around shelling out thousands of bucks for a loser plan-- I don't seek or need guaranteed wins and a guaranteed post-season berth (we're not Yankees fans, for god's sake). But if I'm going to throw real money into something, I have to see that it's going to some intelligent effort, and I don't see that with the Giants.  Am I wrong here?

Anyway, here's the Sabean letter of today, January 28.

Dear Richard,

With three weeks until the pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale for the start of the 2008 season, I want to take this opportunity to give you a state of the Giants message. This off-season has been an exercise in patience, both on your part as our loyal fans and from the club's standpoint in acquiring the right type of impact players who will help the Giants not only in 2008 but into the future.

In recent years, you have become accustomed to us building our teams with an influx of veteran players, in many cases on a one-year basis. Moving forward, we are looking to build our teams with solid all-around players from within our system and supplementing them with high-integrity, impact players who will play major roles on our club for years to come. We have seen this formula work for clubs such as the Atlanta Braves of the early-1990s -- whose strength much like the Giants was strong starting pitching -- and we all know that they went on to win an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles.

One of those players who will make a huge impact not only on the 2008 team, but over the next five years is our new Gold Glove center fielder Aaron Rowand. As we stress pitching, speed and defense in the new era of Giants baseball, the 30-year-old All-Star embodies those three attributes while also coming off the finest offensive season of his career in 2007. Perhaps his most marketable trait to us as we look to change the culture around our team is his "all-or-nothing" attitude once he takes the field.

When Rowand takes the field, he will be roaming center field at AT&T Park behind one of the top starting rotations in the National League. This winter our assumptions that Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are two of the top arms in the game today were confirmed by all of the teams which wanted to acquire them. While off-season acquisitions often make headlines, I think our best moves have been the ones we did not make. In holding onto Cain and Lincecum, they combine with Barry Zito and Noah Lowry to be the foundation for a very strong rotation for years to come.

While the game starts on the mound, having a solid defense is crucial especially if you have to manufacture runs. The baseball axiom of having a strong defense up the middle applies with this team, as Rowand combines with catcher Bengie Molina and shortstop Omar Vizquel for 14 Gold Gloves. Our outfield defense will be much improved this year, as we could possibly have three center fielders covering the gaps at AT&T Park this season in Rowand, Dave Roberts and Randy Winn. That trio, along with youngsters Rajai Davis, Fred Lewis and Nate Schierholtz, will be an asset to our pitching staff as their speed will allow them to cover a lot of ground and hold runners from taking extra bases as they have in the past. In turn, that will keep the doubleplay in effect and help lessen pitch counts for our pitchers, allowing them to work deeper into games.

While pitching and defense will be key ingredients in our formula for success in 2008, we are also going to have to execute effectively at the plate and use a speed game to drive our offense. Bruce Bochy wants to instill an aggressive, selfless style in 2008 in which each player will be asked to do the little things and play for one run in an inning. The Giants have traditionally been a team that has relied on power, but this year's edition will be one that will need to execute the fundamentals and use aggressive baserunning to thrive.

Going into Spring Training, we are definitely going to give our younger players a chance to compete for significant playing time this season. Daniel Ortmeier and Kevin Frandsen embody the type of players who play an all-out brand of baseball. To not give a fair shot to players like them, who seem ready to play on a regular basis after what they showed down the stretch last season, would be counterproductive to getting our club on the right track.

One of our major downfalls last year was losing close games, as we played the most games in the majors decided by two runs or less (39-55). We expect to close the gap in those tight contests with an improved outfield defense, better situational hitting and a bullpen with young arms who have another year of experience.

I'm heartened to know that we have three viable candidates to close games in Brian Wilson, Brad Hennessey and Tyler Walker. As we all saw in September, Wilson has made great strides and appears to be ready to take the next step towards being an extremely valuable man in the late innings. Hennessey is a valuable commodity for us, as his versatility really give Bruce and Dave Righetti many options on how to use him -- starting, middle, setup or closing. Remember, he led our club with 19 saves last year. I am definitely intrigued by the return of Tyler Walker from Tommy John surgery at the end of last season. With even more time for his arm to recover, I look forward to seeing him help us close out victories with his late inning efforts.

Even with Spring Training just around the corner, I assure you that we are not standing pat with our club. We are always looking to strengthen our team for both the present and the future. With that said, it is quite possible that the team that reports to Scottsdale in three weeks will not be the same team that opens the season March 31 at Dodger Stadium.

Not only are we taking a new tact on the field, but we also made three major new additions to the front office to help supplement our baseball operations staff. To add the baseball knowledge of former White Sox GM Ron Schueler, longtime Dodgers' scout John Barr and former Pirates scouting director Ed Creech to the decision making process can only strengthen our personnel moves, both on the major- and minor-league levels.

As we enter a new era in Giants baseball, I think that you will enjoy watching a core of energetic players who will leave everything on the field in pursuit of victories when you come to AT&T Park. Like any time there is change, there is the potential for growing pains, but watching a group of young players grow into established major leaguers that lead a winning team can be even more rewarding. I look forward to seeing you at AT&T Park this season to watch the dawning of a new era in Giants baseball.


Brian R. Sabean
Senior Vice President and General Manager


Gotta say that I don't love seeing the phrases "the little things" or "will need to execute the fundamentals" (emphasis added).  Um, yeah, they will need to execute the fundamentals... is there any reason to think they, you know, will execute the fundamentals?

I appreciate that he's saying Ortmeier and Frandsen are going to get a "fair shot" (whatever that means). Does that mean Durham is expendable or become bench material... or does it just mean that Frandsen is going to get to play a lot in spring training and then ride the bench all year, not getting any better, not getting any experience, etc.?

Over to you.  Help me decide whether to renew my season tix, or rather become the Ex-Mayor of 311.

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