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Brian Sabean and the Baer Market

"We're just looking at other things, some utility players and some other opportunities, but we're not … we're not, uh, necessarily 'shopping,' per se."


The Giants pursued Willie Bloomquist, because he can play short and outfield, before he re-signed with Arizona for two years at $3.8 million ...

… Baer said season-tickets prices will rise an average of 5-6 percent, though he acknowledged that a handful of customers will see double-digit increases because the team determined that those tickets were undervalued.

Operation Weird Way To Excite Fans While Raising Prices continues. 

Maybe you're still of the mind that this is all a smokescreen, and that the Giants are going to pursue all sorts of quality hitters, but they don't want to tip their hand. Okay, fair enough. I remember that argument when the Vlad derby was going on. In retrospect, the Giants were right to avoid that contract. Four years later they were able to get Aaron Rowand for $10 million less. Win/win, amirite?

This is the reality. The Giants aren't going to spend anything in free agency until Zito, Rowand, and Huff are off the books. I've accepted it. It's tough to complain -- really tough -- about a $130 million payroll. For all the histrionics, which I've indulged in at times, it's not like they're the Rays. They're not the Marlins of last year. They're still going to be a top-ten payroll team. There are worse fates.

Brian Sabean has his strengths. It's easier to poke at the things I don't like, but I've never been a fan of the idea that the Giants won the World Series despite a GM who was completely oblivious. It's an unfair abstraction -- judging Sabean on his obvious faults is like focusing on Pat Burrell's defense when evaluating him as a player. The Giants started the season with a lineup of Rowand/Renteria/Sandoval/Huff/DeRosa/Molina/Bowker/Uribe. Sabean made a bunch of moves to turn that into an okay offense for the playoffs. Sure, a lot of the things he had to fix were his fault to begin with, but adapting is one of Sabean's strengths.

But one of his weaknesses -- one of his horrible, horrible weaknesses -- is that he is miserable at sifting through that second tier. Miserable. The Giants were actually bidding on Juan Pierre. To play center, if I remember correctly. They were actually bidding on Gary Matthews, Jr., and when Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee somehow got tickets to the First-Tier Ball, Sabean was right there to chase them down with a glass slipper.

Aaron Rowand.

So when I complain about the Giants not increasing the payroll, its not necessarily because I think that a $130 million payroll is far too low. Rather, it's because picking from a group of second-level guys who will get moderate to semi-expensive multi-year deals is not one of Sabean's strengths. Not even close.

Picking up cheap hitters? He's pretty okay at that. Aubrey Huff was a super-productive hitter for the money at one point. So was Mike Fontenot. Andres Torres worked out better than planned, obviously, but he was still a nice minor-league gamble, as is Gregor Blanco. Juan Uribe was great for the price. Sure, there's a Jose Castillo mixed in every so often, but that will happen.

Given the choice of giving Sabean $30 million for Albert Pujols -- just to pick a free agent star at random -- and $10 million to spread between 10 open roster spots, or $40 million to spread around evenly between a bunch of mid-level guys, I think Sabean's strengths are much better suited for the former. The infamous Vladimir Guerrero quote is the perfect example. Most of the guys he named were ridiculously replaceable.

The Giants need a guy who can spread limited money around well and stay away from top players. That's sort of the exact opposite of what Sabean does best. To keep up with the Burrell analogy, it's like sticking Burrell at third and making him bunt. And I'm a-feared Sabean's going to Dave Roberts this team silly over the next few seasons, and Matt Cain will never get over .500 for his career.