When the news broke that Brian Sabean was leaving the Giants’ GM position to walk around the earth, like Caine from Kung Fu, and get back to his scouting roots, it’s possible that I didn’t make enough about it. I figured since Bobby Evans was in the front office with Sabean for all those years, that the front office was going to retain the same hive mind from the championship years, just in a different permutation. Nothing had really changed except for a few key assignments, no big deal.
The ownership group of the Giants didn’t see it that way, however. And after last year’s 98-loss debacle, they want Sabean back in a day-to-day role instead of overseeing the entire organization, from instructional leagues to the majors. From Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic:
Sabean is back in a hands-on role.
“I will be more involved with Boch and the major league staff and the major league team, and whatever else I can get to — the draft, travel in the minor leagues — will follow suit,” Sabean said in an interview with The Athletic.
As a confirmed Giants outsider™, it’s hard to write about this and not speculate wildly. I was uninformed enough to think that Sabean’s new role wasn’t a big deal in the first place, after all. But what I do know is that he wanted to focus more on the organization, traveling around, sharing his particular brand of baseball genius at every level. He wanted to “get back to his roots” and use those Jeter-spottin’ eyes to help the franchise develop and thrive.
And I also know that if there’s one thing that was worse than the Giants’ 98 losses last year, it was the Giants’ 98 losses combined with the absolute dirigible accident that was their farm system. Almost nobody took a step forward. There weren’t players who pushed their way to the major leagues, except for maybe Christian Arroyo and Austin Slater, and then they were kicked into the volcano by forces beyond our comprehension. Top prospects were hurt. Fringe prospects disappeared. There were disappointments, stalled developments, and small fires.
Now, I’m not saying that any of it is Sabean’s fault, necessarily. It’s just that there was an absence of any evidence that his new role was helping the system. All we know is that the major league team melted into a puddle of goo at the same time the minor-league system melted into a puddle of goo, and it wasn’t really a puddle of goo before the switch. So the owners would like things the way they were, thank you.
At the risk of repeating my past mistakes, I don’t think this is a change that’s going to have substantial, noticeable effects from our vantage point. Whatever Sabean does that’s so valuable on a day-to-day basis is largely obscured from us, and that’s just the way he likes it. But Evans is going to continue being the GM and the negotiating wizard, so it’s not as if we’re going to get a flurry of transactions to reshape the team in Sabean’s image. As Baggarly notes, this offseason looks like it was the product of a lot of cooperation and synergy already, so we might have already seen what the effects of his return might look like.
But if you want Giants news from this offseason, here’s a rundown: There’s a new pitching coach and hitting coach. There are old coaches in the front office, and the front office also has an old GM to help support the new GM. They aren’t giving up, and they’re very interested in resetting the luxury tax threshold for next year, when they’re going to tease us for at least four weeks before absolutely not getting Bryce Harper. They have a roster that is somehow fascinating to statistical projection systems and the regular ol’ fans at the same time.
It’s been a boring offseason around baseball. Sure hasn’t been boring for the Giants, though.