Sabean Strikes Back: Non-Tenders Ryan Garko

This move is flabbergasting.

Ignore, for a moment, that the Giants essentially gave away Scott Barnes. Brian Sabean acquired Ryan Garko in late July. Up until that point, he was hitting .285/.362/.464 with 11 homers and a .361 wOBA in 273 plate appearances. With the Giants, he would experience some legitimate struggles, batting .235/.307/.330 with two homers in 127 plate appearances. That’s a bad spell for anyone, but this is a 28-year-old who batted .283/.353/.480 in the American League over his last three seasons. Odds are, Garko will rebound towards his career numbers more so than his career Giants numbers.

This move comes down to two things. Either Sabean and company have absolutely no plan to speak of, or this was their plan all along: shipping off their ninth best prospect – a left-handed starting pitcher with an impressive performance in a hitter-friendly league – for what amounts to a month of plate appearances. I’m not sure which should terrify Giants fans more, but I’m leaning towards the latter. At least the promise of no plan is exciting and leads to unpredictably and spontaneous bouts of anger. That beats the heck out of a constant dull roar of anger because your favorite team’s front office considers long-term potential for extremely short-term gains an equal trade.

What may be the worst part about this – and mind you, that’s saying a lot – is the Giants are probably going to sign a free agent first baseman now. Maybe they’ll lock onto Jim Thome or Carlos Delgado – the jokes about Sabean’s obsession with old players would write themselves – but it’ll probably be someone like Adam LaRoche. Why Adam LaRoche? Because getting marginal upgrades like this when it costs you one of your top 10 prospects and millions more is exactly the type of move that caps this massacre of foresightedness with one violent stroke:

Ed Wade and Dayton Moore need to be on notice. Sabean’s not letting you take that crown of most silly off-season move without a fight.



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NEPP
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NEPP
6 years 9 months ago

While Bill Bavasi will always be the standard upon which to judge a terrible decision, this one was impressive.

BTW, what’s Bavasi been up to for the last year or so? Sabean and Wade might want to think about that.

Zach Sanders
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6 years 9 months ago

He’s a special assistant to the GM with the Reds.

Matt Klaassen
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Member
6 years 9 months ago

Awesome. So perfect that I looked it up to make sure it wasn’t a joke.

NEPP
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NEPP
6 years 9 months ago

Scary that no matter how bad you do as a GM, you can still get a job like that.

Travis
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Travis
6 years 9 months ago

The ability to manage something as large as a baseball franchise is still a skill that is valuable. Still having input on how to construct the lineup, on the other hand, is nothing short of preposterous.

BX
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BX
6 years 9 months ago

If you REALLY want to berate Sabean, throw Travis Ishikawa into the equation. Even throw out Garko’s fluke numbers with the Giants.

They’re pretty much worth the same.

Pretty much, the difference between Ishikawa and the ’09 Cleveland version of Garko over ~300 PA was about half a win.

The difference b/w Ishikawa and LaRoche, is maybe about three quarters of a win. Maybe one win if lucky.

Nice work Sabean.

philosofool
Member
Member
philosofool
6 years 9 months ago

I don’t have a problem with nontendering Garko, actually. He was basically a sunk cost and there’s not anything to be gained by continuing to play a marginally above replacement level player. One of the things that baseball managements often do that drives me nuts is treat sunk costs like they’re recoverable. It’s dumb.

Of course, this move does a lot to show that Sabean is inept.

oldjacket
Member
oldjacket
6 years 9 months ago

It might also be Nick Johnson. The Giants have offers on the table to both LaRoche and Johnson.

Garko kinda sucks. His defense is pretty atrocious, and a good amount of his hitting comes against lefties. That was a terrible trade.

Rut
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Rut
6 years 9 months ago

Are we sure Garko isn’t hurt? I don’t watch Giants games but that could explain his dreadful performance. If he’s not though, Sabean and co seem to be overlooking his career numbers a little bit too hastily.

Steve
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Steve
6 years 9 months ago

where was Garko in the arb process? how much did he stand to make?

just trying to get a feel for how crazy this really was.

Dave
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Dave
6 years 9 months ago

First year arbitration eligible. Probably will get around $2+ million.

What kills me is that they apparently view Garko as a backup, and don’t want to pay a backup that kind of money. Which is fine, but underscores how incredibly stupid: a) trading a top-10 prospect for a backup is; and/or b) management is for changing their opinion of a player based on 127 PA.

Kampfer
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Kampfer
6 years 9 months ago

Sabean is not acquiring Johnson, it is too good a move for a GM of his caliber.

PL
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PL
6 years 9 months ago

I agree, Nick Johnson makes a lot of sense for SF, which is exactly why he wont end up there.

Sabean is still hands down the dumbest GM in baseball. Moore has really worked his way into the top 5 over the last 2 years, Wade’s long-term wide-spreading absurdly stupid moves are stuff of legend, and Kenny “the Baffler” Williams needs mentioning too, but when it comes to just downright lunacy that makes the armchair fan at home tear his hair out because they KNOW they can do a better job, and actually COULD, no one comes close to setting a textbook example of ineptness than Brian Sabean.

oldjacket
Member
oldjacket
6 years 9 months ago

Maybe they won’t offer the money to get it done, but the beat reporter says an offer is on the table:

http://blogs.mercurynews.com/extrabaggs/2009/12/12/giants-cut-ties-with-garko-remain-aggressive-looking-for-first-baseman/

felonius_monk
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6 years 9 months ago

Williams matches some occasional sensible moves in with some really boneheaded ones. Wade, Moore, and Sabean are all way out of his league in terms of ineptitude.

I’d actually go with Omar Minaya being in the top 5, certainly ahead of Williams.

PL
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PL
6 years 9 months ago

KW seems to be hell-bent on decimating his farm system to try and just be competitive, which is another problem of his: he thinks his team is a LOT better than it is. Its perfectly sensible for a team who is a legit contender, such as the Phillies, to raid the farm to try and get someone like Lee, or even potentially Halladay. They are a great team already and need to make moves to become the best. The White Sox are basically the same boat as Houston, but with marginally better players. Both the Astros and White Sox really need to tear down everything and rebuild, but they wont out of some absurd notion that they might have a chance at the playoffs. A smart GM like Billy Beane sees his farm looking very poor after a lot of success and goes the rebuild route, KW and Ed Wade cannot see the forest from the trees and still live in 2005.

I knew KW was lacking intelligence when he put the World Series win on the shoulders of Scott Posednik, instead of his pitching staff which featured career years from every single pitcher on it. It was the pitching that won the it for Chicago, not its offense. KW never stopped praising his “grinders” which was infuriating to see. Him taking on the Rios contract was another giant blunder too, Peavy was an unnecessary acquisition as well, they had pretty good pitching to begin with.

Im not putting him in with Sabean, Wade or Moore yet, but Kenny Williams is certainly on the tier immediately under those guys, along with Omar Minaya.

Facebook Status
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Facebook Status
6 years 9 months ago

As a Yankee fan, I appreciate the Swisher trade. Thanks Kenny Williams!

PL
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PL
6 years 9 months ago

I wonder what White Sox fans think of the Swisher trade, seeing as they traded Ryan Sweeney, Gio Gonzalez and Fautino Delosantos for him, and have nothing at all to show for it.

BX
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BX
6 years 9 months ago

1- I can see, and actually agree with, the case for Minaya being above Williams. He’s done less with more resources, for one. Wright-Reyes-Beltran-Santana is an awesome core, but Wright/Reyes are not going to stay cheap for much longer, and the flaws of Omar’s plan will be further exposed.

2-Picking Rios off waivers is the type of move a big market team SHOULD make. Its a WAY smarter move than signing Bay will be. His career numbers are a WAY better indicator of future performance than anything he did in ’09. I can very easily see Rios rebounding as a 3+ WAR player.

Wade/Sabean/Moore/Minaya have to be well above KW in terms of ineptitude. And, why isn’t Jim Hendry in this discussion?

bigfun
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bigfun
6 years 9 months ago

PL, I agree that KW undervalues the farm system, but you’re not giving him enough credit as a GM. The White Sox have one of the best pitching staffs in the AL right now, and they got John Danks and Gavin Floyd for free. Matt Thornton (one of the very best relievers in all of baseball last year) and Bobby Jenks, free. Lots of other great transactions to balance out dumb moves, and his dumb moves haven’t hurt him as much as they should (the Nick Swisher trade? Oakland hasn’t exactly seen a great return on those prospects). They have guys like Gordon Beckham and Tyler Flowers coming out of the minor league system – definitely a bottom-third system but hardly a wasteland like Houston. And they just won their division in 2008 so it’s not like they’ve been floundering for four years like Houston.

BX
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BX
6 years 9 months ago

bigfun:

“(the Nick Swisher trade? Oakland hasn’t exactly seen a great return on those prospects).”

I’m not going to call Sweeney a superstar, but a 4.1 (!!!) WAR season, along with a 1.8 WAR season last year, that trade’s definitely paying off for the A’s.

Depends on what you think is his true talent level defensively, but he doesn’t need to develop a plus bat in order to be an above average player with his 30+ UZR/150 in RF.

I agree that KW has put together an awesome pitching staff, although it is sorely lacking in depth and the Peavy trade is still lacking logic.

bigfun
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bigfun
6 years 9 months ago

BX-

I’m sure Sweeney’s a plus defensive player but that’s, what, under half of the innings you would need to make a reliable defensive judgement? I don’t think that’s his true talent level, he’s probably a 2 win player. Sweeney might be one of the few cases where KW didn’t sell high on a guy – most of the young players he’s traded away have been at their peak perceived value when they went and many regressed after that time.

Trading Swisher away for nothing was a worse move than trading for him. The first Swisher trade was bad and the second terrible, some of the worst of Williams’ tenure, but hardly indicitive of his overall performance. Putting him in Sabean/Moore/Minaya/Wade territory is silly unless you conveniently forget Reed/Olivio for Garcia, Loiza for Contreras, Young for Vazquez, Garcia for Floyd, McCarthy for Danks, the first Jermaine Dye contract, the Alexei Ramirez contract, etc etc etc.

B
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B
6 years 9 months ago

The real problem – that’s been documented time and time again by Giants fans – is that Sabean doesn’t understand sample size. That’s what it comes down to. Garko comes over here and hits like a bum in a small sample – so Sabean now believes that’s legitimately his ability level. If you go into it with that mindset, Sabean is actually making the correct decision and cutting ties with someone he believes to be awful…but again, it’s the problem that shows up time and time again with Sabean & Co. – they treat small sample numbers (whether that means bad or good) as true talent.

If this clears the way for signing Nick Johnson, I can’t say I have any complaints. As someone else noted, Garko is a sunk cost – giving up Barnes should not factor into tendering (or non-tendering) Garko at this point. If we sign some other bum….well, then this is a terrible process. We’ll see what happens. I’m withholding judgment until I see the final moves. Sabean will probably do something dumb….but it’s not set in stone yet….

oldjacket
Member
oldjacket
6 years 9 months ago

>>Sabean doesn’t understand sample size.

Boy howdy. Six great games in July, and welcome to Eugenio Velez, starting left fielder.

Fergie348
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Fergie348
6 years 9 months ago

The evidence continues to pile up – 2 months of above average performance got Marvin Bernard a fat contract and the same could be said for Randy Winn’s last Giants contract. If you’re an agent, you try to get your guy traded to the Giants around the trade deadline of a contract year. If your guy performs above average for 2 or 3 months, you’ll get a fat contract from Sabean. The man doesn’t understand regression to the mean in the slightest.

NEPP
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NEPP
6 years 9 months ago

Considering his splits, Garko will easily end up as the RH side of a 1B or LF platoon.

Career vs. LHP: .313 AVG,.392 OBP,.887 OPS

I could easily see someone like Minaya jump on him to platoon with Murphy and there are plenty of other spots where he could end up as well.

CaseStreet
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6 years 9 months ago

That’s a very interesting idea considering Murphy has been pretty poor against LHP.

cmd600
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cmd600
6 years 9 months ago

How hard is it to find a right handed stick that can only play 1B, and poorly at that? LF is out of the question for Garko. 59 guys had at least 100 PAs and put up a 887 OPS against lefties last year. There isnt much use on a 25 man roster for a guy who can only pinch hit against lefties.

Steve
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Steve
6 years 9 months ago

There is another interpretation, one that is hardly more flattering. But it’s simply that the Giants were on the verge of contention at the time of the trades (Alderson for Sanchez being the other) The Giants had a terrible offense and these trades might have been a way to appease Giants fans without sacrificing any of the major prospects, depending on what you think of Alderson.

I think there is a lot more to running an ML team than fans see, much of it related to PR and politics.

PL
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PL
6 years 9 months ago

Even still, Sabean traded 2 of his top 10 prospects for Garko+Sanchez.

Garko’s WAR over the last years: 1.5, 0.5, 0.8
Sanchez’s: 3.8, 0.4, 2.3

Im pretty sure if he offered up Scott Barnes and Tim Alderson as a package on the open market, a rebuilding team would bite pretty hard and give up a better 1B than Garko. Then SF goes with Sandoval-Renteria-Uribe-1B via trade they become a much better team. This is simply a case of a GM have no idea about the market, or player value.

quincy0191
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quincy0191
6 years 9 months ago

You know what’s great for PR? Winning and postseason appearances. Making trades to show you’re trying to contend is good, but making unpopular trades that produce a better, successful team is even better. For example, Sabean would be nuts to trade Tim Lincecum; the guy is the face of the franchise, the fanbase loves him, he seems happy and open to a long-term deal that would keep him here, and he’s a stud pitcher. Trading Lincecum would be a bad PR move, almost no matter what you got for him, because of the sentiment Giants fans feel. But if the Rangers offered Smoak, Feliz, Andrus, and Borbon for Lincecum, that would be a great deal that would yield a lot of great, cheap talent and would make the Giants a better team overall. It’s a bad PR move in the short-term, but leads to a much better and therefore more marketable team in the long-term.

And that right there is again the problem: Sabean isn’t concerned with the long-term, and there’s a mound of evidence to support that (see: the myriad of stupid trades and signings during the “win now” pressure of the Bonds era). Good GMs need to know how to make the team better in the short term without destroying the future, and they need to know how to back away from a deal that is great for a few years but burns for a decade. And Brian Sabean is not a good GM.

SharksRog
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SharksRog
6 years 9 months ago

The very best thing about non-tendering Ryan Garko soon after acquiring him is that he isn’t A.J. Pierzynski.

ThePat
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ThePat
6 years 9 months ago

White Sox fans agree. Thanks for dumping Pierzynski.

cpebbles
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cpebbles
6 years 9 months ago

Just to echo what many are saying here, Garko is replacement-level or close to it at 1B, so while this can serve to remind us of the terrible trade Sabean made for him, non-tendering him isn’t a terrible move and probably isn’t even a bad one.

B
Guest
B
6 years 9 months ago

Well, it all depends on future moves. If we don’t acquire a worthwhile 1B, it’s a pretty bad move, because Garko is better than the other options, but if we go for a good option like Nick Johnson (assuming we don’t overpay), then it makes sense because Garko taking up a roster spot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense…

Bhaakon
Member
Bhaakon
6 years 9 months ago

If they opt for Nick Johnson, I’d say that they need a competent backup (ie: Garko) just as much as ever. If they sign LaRoche, as dumb as that would be for other reasons, then at least an expensive backup 1B is legitimately a waste of resources.

B
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B
6 years 9 months ago

Ishikawa can fill that role. Why pay $2M to Garko when you already have a guy that can only play 1B on your roster as a backup for cheaper, who’s overall a fairly comparable player, you know? All this is predicated on Sabean making a smart followup move, though. I’m not holding my breath, though I will withhold judgment for now…

Bhaakon
Member
Bhaakon
6 years 9 months ago

Because most of Ishikawa’s value is a SSS UZR, and also because Andres Torres is now the team’s only right handed pinch hitter (ignoring the backup catcher, as NL managers generally do).

B
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B
6 years 9 months ago

Right, but by all accounts Ishikawa is a good defensive player, and if we have Nick Johnson, we’re talking about a limited amount of games. Even if Garko is 2 wins better than Ishikawa as a player (he isn’t, I’m exaggerating for effect), if you expect Johnson to log 100-120 games or so you’re looking at what, a half a win difference from the remaining PT the backup gets?

I guess the biggest thing is your bench players need some position flexibility – 1B’s don’t have this. Ishikawa and Garko can really only play one position defensively – if we get another RH PH for the bench he has to be able to play a couple positions for the inevitable injuries, rest and whatever else happens over the course of the season. Carrying 3 1B’s just doesn’t make sense in the NL. Going with the cheaper one as a backup who won’t give you much less value does make sense…

Peter
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Peter
6 years 9 months ago

Bhaakon: looks like you’re caught up in the lefties can’t hit lefties meme. Very unMcCoven of you. Check Nate Scheirholtz’ splits against lefties.

jpdtrmpt72
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jpdtrmpt72
6 years 9 months ago

could we do a vote on the worst GMs in baseball?

It’d be interesting, because that seems to be what all of the articles the past week have been about.

Kevin
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Kevin
6 years 9 months ago

Where does Frank Wren end up?

BX
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BX
6 years 9 months ago

Wren?

I actually think he’s on the better half on the GM spectrum.

I actually like how he rebuilt the Braves’ pitching staff better than how the Yanks rebuilt theirs, which is awesome. Renteria/Jurrjens, the Vazquez trade, Kawakami signing.

The Lowe signing was questionable, but justifiable and not awful. Only “bad” signing was Anderson, but that was such a small commitment.

I don’t see any major moves that were “awful” at the time of execution. A few minor moves, but nothing huge.

BX
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BX
6 years 9 months ago

and for the record, I am not a Braves fan (or a fan of any NL East team)

Franco
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Franco
6 years 9 months ago

I think too many voters would be homers for their GM. Depending on what day of the week it is, I think Minaya is the worst. But he’s really maybe like 7th or 8th worst.

Ivdown
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Ivdown
6 years 9 months ago

I would have voted for Colletti at the beginning of last season, but I think it’s been McCheap pulling the strings for trades over the last 2 seasons, really handicapping the Dodgers farm system and ability to trade for and afford a top starter.

Ivdown
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Ivdown
6 years 9 months ago

Also, Dayton Moore would get my vote 99 times out of 100.

markdash
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markdash
6 years 9 months ago

I agree with previous posters who stated that the real bonehead move was trading Barnes for Garko, not the non-tendering itself.

Pete
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Pete
6 years 9 months ago

I for one would like to see fan projections style voting on who is the dumbest GM

DunceCap
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6 years 9 months ago

Fellow Giants fans: Over/under on how long ago Sabean would’ve been fired had we retained Colletti? As for McCourt, as much as it pains me to say this, let’s cut him some slack: If your longtime wife was eyeing your fortune after getting caught banging her bodyguard RIGHT after you’d been burned with Andruw Jones, Schmidt, et al., you’d be a tad more tightfisted as well.

ElJimador
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ElJimador
6 years 9 months ago

I’ll go against the grain and say that the dumber move was not trading for Garko but non-tendering him. Garko may not be anything special but the fact is he’s better than any other 1B the Giants currently have and $2-3 mil to keep him would hardly have broken the bank. Now sure, if the Giants can sign Nick Johnson AND he can stay healthy, I won’t mind the loss of Garko more than anyone else. But those are 2 very large “ifs”, aren’t they? Last I heard there were 6 other teams interested in Johnson. And given how little the Giants seem to value OBP when it comes to their own player development, anyone want to guess how competitive the Giants offer even is?

Here’s what I see coming: the Giants are going to wind up signing or trading for someone to play 3B and move Sandoval over to first, and that new 3B will either be the most marginal of upgrades (Uggla) or worse (Kouzmanoff, DeRosa) than what Garko would have brought offensively, while costing either a lot more money or a useful young player or 2 going the other way.

And BTW, 1B/3B isn’t even the Giants biggest need. Why haven’t they been thinking about using the resources it would take to upgrade there to upgrade the OF instead? Seems to me that any team that has Velez, Rowand and Schierholtz penciled in as their starting OF has bigger problems to fix than Ryan Garko.

BabySpittle
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6 years 9 months ago

Bowker in left, schierholtz in right and we’re good.
Velez can shag flies in BP.

ElJimador
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ElJimador
6 years 9 months ago

I’m with you on Bowker. But will he actually get a shot? Reports are that management is a little peeved that he didn’t stay in winter ball down in Venezuela. For that matter Fred Lewis deserves another shot over Velez. But same thing. He probably won’t get it. And I like Schierholtz’ D in right but his plate discipline is atrocious and he’s given no sign yet that he’s ever going to fix that gigantic hole in his swing on breaking balls down and in. With Velez and Schierholtz they are probably looking at .300 – .320sih OBPs from both of the corner outfield spots. But the first thing they have to do is find a replacement for Garko? Makes no sense to me.

TBone
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TBone
6 years 9 months ago

Until Sabean goes this team will never be much better than .500. Why he got a contract extension I will never understand. Apparently the “Giants Way” is mediocrity.

StevenAM
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StevenAM
5 years 10 months ago

So… less than one year later… I think many people on this website owe Brian Sabean a massive apology!!!

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