Brian Sabean

Sabean's return: Giants want team's dominant mind to be dominant again


Sabean's return: Giants want team's dominant mind to be dominant again

Brian Sabean’s return to the con in San Francisco, as first reported by noted troublemaker and barista A. Baggarly in The Athletic, is not a turn back to the past as much as it is a demand for a better future.

That is, unless the Giants sign Tim Lincecum, in which case you never read Paragraph One.

But Sabean’s return means that Giants ownership (presumably president Larry Baer and major stockholder Charlie Johnson) wants the team’s dominant baseball mind to be dominant again.

This of course generates rich speculation about current general manager Bobby Evans’ future, but that probably is beside the point . . . at least through the current calendar year. This isn’t really about Evans specifically anyway – it’s about ownewrship’s impatience, fear of a worrisome unknown and need for the comfort of the man who succeeded.

The Giants are at a similar fork in the highway as they were when Sabean first took the job in 1997. The 1996 Giants were 68-94, older chronologically against the league average, offensively substandard and horrific as a pitching staff. A year later, they won 90, got younger, improved in both areas, and then did it again in 1998. From that turnaround, they began what can fairly be described as the franchise’s renaissance, which finally ended last year with what in the eyes of most baseball experts and all meaningful metrics was the fourth worst year in the franchise’s 136-year history.

And because Sabean actually never left daily contact with the team and its decision-makers, this isn’t your standard chase for past glories fixation. It is, however, a measure of how little patience the Giants are willing to be with their present predicament.

But mostly, this is the team understanding that its ability to identify, develop and lure young talents is what saved it at the turn of the century and will have to do so again at the turn of the decade if they intend to make 2017 a blip rather than a harbinger.

The Giants could conceivably spend their way back into relevance, but their money wasn’t good enough for Giancarlo Stanton when every other suitor would be paying exactly the same number, and for that matter neither was their reliance on “We won three rings and we have a full stadium.” That they thought their past could work more than their present with a player who is looking for a future is a sign that they have over-relied on the lure of the good old days.

So they want that changed . . . with the guy who built those good old days. If that seems inconsistent, well, it is. But impatience and fear are going to do what they do, and Brian Sabean is as good an answer as they are likely to find. Which is why they found it.

Cain, Moustakas on Giants' radar? Sabean: 'My vote would be a no'


Cain, Moustakas on Giants' radar? Sabean: 'My vote would be a no'

ORLANDO — In a world without qualifying offers, a lot of offseason moves would be easier to swallow. Put Lorenzo Cain in center, giving the Giants an elite defender at a time when outfield defense is their biggest flaw. Put Mike Moustakas at third, adding power to the worst home-run-hitting team in the majors. Many around the game, perhaps not familiar with the Giants' desire to rebuild their minor league system, think both players make sense in orange and black. 

But nine players received — and turned down — qualifying offers, including Cain and Moustakas, the former Royals stars. That’s why you can just about cross them off the winter wish list. The Giants, being over the luxury tax, would forfeit two draft picks and international bonus money if they signed either player. Asked about that possibility on the first day of the winter meetings, vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean left no doubt about where he stands. 

“If you’re asking me personally, my vote would be a no, being that we wouldn't want to get involved with somebody like that,” Sabean said.

VIDEO: Sabean -- Not a surprise Stanton, Ohtani went elsewhere

Sabean’s vote, of course, carries significant weight, but he’s not alone in his thinking. Sources said others in the front office, including general manager Bobby Evans, are just as protective of the picks that would be surrendered. The Giants would give up the second pick in the second round and the second pick in the fifth round. Because they lost 98 games and will pick second overall in every round, every pick in next June’s draft will mean a bit more. The Giants would also have to give up $1 million in international bonus pool money at a time when they are focused on becoming bigger players in that market. 

“That would be a huge hit in a year (we have) the second pick in every round,” Sabean said. “We really have a chance to make hay in this draft and we expect to do so, so that would be a stretch.”

The other players who rejected qualifying offers last month were Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Alex Cobb, Greg Holland, Lance Lynn and Carlos Santana. 

Big changes coming? Brian Sabean says Giants face 'some painful decisions'


Big changes coming? Brian Sabean says Giants face 'some painful decisions'

The Giants know they can't have another season like they did in 2017. Changes to the roster are coming, but in what fashion is the biggest question. 

While certain players like Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner will not even be brought up, are there any other players safe from trades? 

"There's going to be some painful decisions," Executive Vice President Brian Sabean said Friday on the "TK Show. "I guess the best way to say it is we've come to the realization, to do what we need to do, to be competitive to start the year and hopefully have to also roll into making some moves at the deadline, is that we're going to have to make some tough choices and may have to move some payroll, which means moving some people who perhaps we wouldn't under a normal circumstance."

Sabean has listed the team's three positions of need as center field, third base and creating a shut-down bullpen. In doing so, Sabean hopes to roll out a younger, more athletic roster in 2018. 

"We do need upgrades in certain and key positions. High on the wish list is to get younger, more athletic and play better defense overall," Sabean said. 

If you think going younger means there will a rebuild in San Francisco, think again. Sabean refuses to use that word and sees this offseason as an opportunity to create a playoff team like the Giants have done in the past. 

"I think we're prepared to do as much as we have to without gutting the team or without having to peel it all the way back from a payroll sense. It's best use a phrase perhaps like 'reset.' It's not going to be a rebuild. We don't have the time or the patience to go through something like that, so the charge is going to be much like years ago -- '96 going into '97, 2010, '11 going into '12, '13 going into '14 etc."

The Giants went from worst to first in 1997 and went on to win the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 after not making the playoffs in the previous season.