The San Francisco Giants possessed the worst offense in baseball this season. For outstanding efforts in offensive offenses, Brian Sabean was given an extension today. Manager Bruce Bochy was also extended — more on him in a bit.
Sabean’s team-building abilities are hard to get a read on. Sometimes he looks solid, like last off-season when he maneuvered quickly and concisely to land Jeremy Affeldt, Bob Howry, and Randy Johnson. He would also give Edgar Renteria a decent-sized contract which seems to be the lasting impression of those signings. During the season he likely overpaid for both Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez. The latter turned out to be injured all along, pouring salt on the open wound known as the collective fan base’s heart. Historically he’s signed some real stinkers: Aaron Rowand, Barry Zito, Dave Roberts, and Matt Morris; made a really poor trade for A.J. Pierzynksi, and also found some nice young talent.
It’s easy to excuse one year of down play, because bad breaks happen, but Sabean has never been able to build a strong lineup, even when he had Barry Bonds carrying the team on his back. Their .305 team wOBA in 2009 is supposed by a .309 wOBA in 2008; .311 wOBA in 2007; .319 wOBA in 2006; and .312 wOBA in 2005. That’s one heck of an ineffective offense despite the presence of the aforementioned Bonds.
The Giants main off-season goal is to eradicate the suck and implement some talent. Odds are, this plan includes Matt Holliday or Jason Bay (or, in the nature of Sabean-loves-old-player jokes: Ken Griffey Jr.) and depending on the contracts given, maybe adding an additional bat. It’s probably going to take more than one incoming talent to improve the lineup, but Pablo Sandoval, Holliday (at least, he should be the main target), and Buster Posey isn’t a bad start. Factor in the likely return of Sanchez and there’s some definite room for improvement.
On to Bochy’s return. It took him nearly half the season to figure out Pablo Sandoval was a better fit in the third slot than Randy Winn and even longer to realize that Aaron Rowand (boasting a .319 OBP for the season) was not the best choice at leadoff. Not that one can place all of the blame on Bochy — after all, he can only work with what he is given — but Carson Cistulli seemingly received more plate appearances for the Giants in September than Posey. Gaining trust in the young backstop is going to be vital to Bochy’s success, because like it or not, Wiki Gonzalez isn’t walking through that door.
If the Giants fail to address their run-scoring issues it would painstakingly represent another missed opportunity during the Tim Lincecum/Matt Cain era. Those guys and baseball as a whole deserve a shot to see what they can do in the post-season.
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