Brian Sabean believes it's 'almost like (Giants have) forgotten how to win'

Brian Sabean believes it's 'almost like (Giants have) forgotten how to win'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants fans aren't the only ones confused about how a $200 million team can go into the break 27 games out of first place. In a lengthy interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Brian Sabean, the team's executive vice president, noted that it's "almost like we’ve forgotten how to win." Sabean also said this first half is something the front office is having "a difficult time coping with."

"All of us are scratching our heads at how we’ve flatlined like this and fallen off the map," Sabean said. "It’s beyond frustrating. The break couldn’t have come at a better time. Now having said that, I’ve been around this game a long time with two organizations and I don’t know what to expect to start the second half. I really don’t have a good handle on what our trajectory is, if any."

The Giants came into the season expecting to be buyers at the deadline. Instead, they'll try to shop Eduardo Nuñez, Johnny Cueto and others before July 31. Sabean noted in the interview that the Giants are already mixing youth in, calling the last few weeks "a tryout camp of sorts." Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones, Austin Slater and Kyle Crick are among the prospects who have seen action. The focus now is the trade deadline and trying to figure out what to do with this roster going forward. 

"I know Bobby and Jeremy are way ahead of schedule as to their preparation for trade deadline," Sabean said. "Needless to say, we’re going to be strategic. We’re not going to be buyers unless it would be an investment into the future, which rules out (Bryan) Reynolds. I would doubt that, given our current payroll situation, we would be willing to take on more payroll, but within that, I would think we can be as creative as any team that we’ll have players available at the deadline, and I think we’ll be a lot more open minded to more names than we have been in the past."

The Giants tried a similar approach last year, trading Matt Duffy and prospects for Matt Moore, who was supposed to help the 2017 team and then be a fixture in the rotation going forward. Moore has instead had a disastrous first half. When asked which aspects of this season are particularly disappointing, Sabean said among other things, "quite frankly, the starting pitching has been a huge disappointment."

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Eight years ago in this very space, I postulated that Brian Sabean had done a lucrative deal with Satan.Co to win the Giants’ first World Series in 56 years. He never denied it, so I took that as silent affirmation.

Now, it seems Beelzebub has brought the bill, to be paid in full on receipt of same.

The San Francisco Giants, who needed as few things as possible to go wrong to start this season, just got two full-on groin shots in the space of less than a week, the second of which was delivered when Madison Bumgfarner fractured his hand trying to repel a line drive from Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield during Friday’s Cactus League game.

The injury did not look serious at first because, well, because Bumgarner pretends to be made of adamantium, but an X-ray revealed the fracture and though no time for recovery was listed, Bumgarner may return to health before the Giants do.

And yes, I know spring training is no time for fans to lose hope for a cheery season, but you take the fact as they present themselves, and the Giants are already 40 percent down from their projected starting rotation. Jeff Samardzija is already on the disabled list with a hinky pectoral muscle, and as the Giants know all too well, things like this tend to come in sixes, if not eights.

The 2010 Giants hit on every midseason trade and parlayed that good fortune and the assets already on board to a storied October run. A year later, Buster Posey got Scott Cousin-ed, and his broken ankle snapped the team’s hope of repeating.

The Giants then won in 2012 and ’14 without too much incident, but starting midway through 2016, continuing into last year when Bumgarner flipped his dirt bike, and now down to today, it’s been nothing but seeds and stems for Giantvania.

The rumor mill has been quick to offer up possible replacements for the Bumgarner vacancy (though not for his expected results), but at a time in the game’s development when the best and most progressive-thinking teams are talking about four-man rotations and Staff on every fifth day, a strategic development that requires strength in numbers, the Giants have neither that strength nor those numbers.

Their best internal choices are veteran Derek Holland, who might already have been penciled in as Samardzija’s replacement, and phenom-in-training Tyler Beede. But that essentially uses up the in-house bank of usable goods, so Sabean can either buy something very off-the-rack or hope he and Bruce Bochy can fake it long enough for Samardzija (three to four weeks) and then Bumgarner (six to eight, according to ESPN's Buster Olney).

This seems awfully daunting, especially for a team that has buzzard’s luck and a rotting bat rack for a season and a half. But with six days before the regular season starts in Los Angeles against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers...oh, the hell with it. If you’re a Giant fan, start drinking, and continue until further notice. The evil lord of the netherworld will tell you when it’s time to stop.

Bumgarner fractures bone in pitching hand in final tune-up before season

Bumgarner fractures bone in pitching hand in final tune-up before season

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after the Giants lost one of the game's most durable pitchers, they took a much bigger blow. 

Madison Bumgarner fractured the fifth metacarpal in his pitching hand when he was hit by a line drive Friday in what was to be his final appearance before facing Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Opening Day. The Giants did not have an immediate timetable for how long their ace will be out, but he is expected to miss a significant portion of the season for a second straight year. The rotation is already without Jeff Samardzija for the first month of the season because of a strained pectoral.

Bumgarner told reporters he will have surgery on Saturday to insert pins into his hand. He expects the pins to be removed in four-to-six weeks, and that he'll be able to pitch before the All-Star break. ESPN's Buster Olney reported that, in all, Bumgarner will be out for six-to-eight weeks.

Bumgarner looked poised for a huge season, and he threw well all camp. He was injured when hit by a liner off the bat of Kansas City's Whit Merrifield. Ironically, Bumgarner and Merrifield grew up close to each other in North Carolina, and Merrifield has told a story about getting beamed by an intimidating 11-year-old Bumgarner in little league.

The Giants had little rotation depth coming into the season, and the group is now in shambles. Derek Holland, a non-roster invitee, may be the No. 2 starter. The Giants will also have to lean heavily on young pitchers Chris Stratton and Ty Blach. Johnny Cueto is the de facto ace, but he's coming off a down year and at times has struggled this spring. 

There are not many appealing options left in free agency and the Giants likely would have to go into the tax to sign one. Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez are the top in-house options.