Brian Sabean isn't the GM of the San Francisco Giants. There was a day when that sentence would have filled me with mirth, such mirth. As of last Thursday, that was a sentence that would have filled me with resigned skepticism and sadness. Considering that he's sticking around and getting promoted, we can just skip right to piqued curiosity.
What will Sabean do, then? John Shea of the Chronicle has the scoop:
"It gets me out and about more. I know the shop’s being tendered to. Boch, in his own right, could almost be like Whitey Herzog as a de facto general manager. And Bobby’s more than ready. It’s his turn to shine. Now I don’t have to be married, per se, to the major-league schedule. The international schedule is moving fast. I don’t see enough of our minor-league teams to draw my own conclusions. I hardly see any games before the June draft, which I used to do. Selfishly, I’d like to see some guys who could be in play trade-wise and free agents to be.
We like to joke about the Giants finishing second for international talent. Well, I wouldn't say we like to joke about it, but it's become something of a meme. They didn't get Rusney Castillo after pursuing him, nor did they get Jose Abreu, Hector Olivera, or Yasmany Tomas. There were probably 30 other minor international free agents they were curious about, but didn't nab. They're sitting in a corner with Daniel Carbonell, like a kid with a GoBot watching his peers play with a full-sized Devastator.
What if Sabean were more heavily involved in the scouting of some of those players? What if he were the lead guy on Jose Abreu for the months leading up to his signing? Maybe nothing would have changed. Or maybe he would have felt more comfortable telling ownership that Abreu was clearly one of the better baseball players alive, and that he would be a steal at $60 million. Maybe his ultimately authoritative voice would have pushed the Giants over the tipping point, whereas it came from anyone else, there was just enough trepidation to stop everything. We're talking about spending scores of millions on enigmatic unknowns, after all. If Sabean could feel comfortable with the report from his own peepers more, maybe the Giants stop finishing in second or third every time.
If Sabean really got to watch Gary Brown and Zack Wheeler in the months before the 2011 deadline, maybe things would have been different. Of course, the Giants might not win the World Series with Zack Wheeler and Jose Abreu, so these are all silly hypotheticals to make an example.
Sabean did have a substantial part in the Yankees dynasty, after all. It almost seems cheap to mention those contributions two decades later ... except when you're around for Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, and Andy Pettitte, you don't ever have to remove that from your resume. It's sort of pinned to the top, forever and ever.
Larry Baer had a relevant quote in the above-linked article, and it's worth emphasizing.
"Ultimately, he'll be involved in all the big decisions, of course," said Baer, saying all baseball people still will report to Sabean.
Sabean's still the boss. He's just not going to be as worried about the Justin Maxwell/Juan Perez Sacramento shuffle. He's going to just walk the Earth, like Caine from Kung Fu. Walk from place to place, meet people, get into adventures. Oh, and scout the bejeepers out of baseball players when he needs to. If it ain't broke, don't fix it ... unless you can really jury-rig the sucker and make some sort of rocket car. That's the idea, anyway.
It's not like we're that far removed from Jose Guillen playing on purpose, so let's not get goofy with the unabashed praise for this shuffling. Still, whereas the press release sounded vague, as if the Giants were inventing new positions because you can't promote someone already at the top, this makes more sense. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Things went pretty well under that last guy.