Saturday, June 9, 2007

We Talk Back To The Pundits, They Talk Back To Us

Damon Bruce, the host of KNBR's "Sportsphone 680" show, emailed me regarding my post yesterday where I took issue with his comments last Wednesday night that Brian Sabean "doesn't get it" :

Rich - I'm glad you understand that I'm a one man show and need to get the conversation going by working up a froth, but come on ... this isn't working. You'd get better odds on having a 3rd straight losing season, than winning the West.
Bochy has to give Frandsen an outfield start? Only Roberts is on the DL? How is that even possible?
Thanks for listening, D.

First off, thank you, Damon, for the direct response. And I agree with you that "you'd get better odds on [the Giants] having a 3rd straight losing season, than winning the West." In fact, as I noted before, since Spring Training, most baseball pundits put the Giants' chances of winning the NL West at somewhere between slim and none.

Part of the point I was trying to make is this: Brian Sabean has put together a very good body of work with the Giants. Since he took over as GM, the Giants have had winning seasons 8 out of 10 years (8 straight winning seasons until 2005.) Every year except '05 and '06 the Giants finished in either 1st or 2nd place in the West. To put that in perspective: prior to Sabean's arrival, the Giants had winning seasons in only 8 out of the previous 27 years (1980-2006). In short: Brian Sabean turned the franchise around and made the Giants into a consistent winner -- in fact, he's been the architect of the 2nd winningest period in San Francisco Giants history (the best being the 1958-1971 years). And as I pointed out in my post, it's not (as is sometimes alleged) that "any GM could have won with Bonds in the lineup" -- for the four years leading up to the Sabean era, the Giants had Bonds, plus Matt Williams, and still had four straight losing seasons.

Longtime Giants fans know what a front office that "doesn't get it" looks like. And I think we want to be really careful what we wish for. Clearly, these last couple of "transitional" years have been disappointing. But to call for Sabean's ouster based on a couple of down years just doesn't make sense to me. I'm concerned that if ownership gets impatient, if they start listening to the pundits and impatient fans who have gotten comfortable and imagine winning seasons are some kind of god-given right, that they will jettison Sabean impulsively, and the club will be worse off, not better, for it.

Sometimes subtraction really is subtraction.

Also: divisions aren't won in early June.

On the other hand, I do understand that sports radio is about expressing opinions and giving the callers something to respond to and riff off of. And I give Damon Bruce a lot of credit: he does a real good job on "Sportsphone 680" handling the callers and making the show an interesting post-game event. Add to that he had a tall order, taking over as the permanent "Sportsphone 680" host shortly after the whole "hacking at slop" meltdown (after Bruce Magowan's interim stint.)

So maybe we'll just have to agree to disagree on Brian Sabean's acumen. In any event, I do appreciate that Damon Bruce wrote back to the Cha Cha Bowl, and yes, I will keep on listening to "Sportsphone 680" after Giants games.

And I'll keep the hope alive that, come October, the callers and Bruce will be celebrating the fact that the Giants have made the playoffs, in defiance of the gloomy predictions of the oddsmakers.

And at least one pundit -- Ken Rosenthal of Fox sports -- seems to agree with my take on Sabean: Giants could can Sabean, but shouldn't . [hat tip: LeftyMalo]

Also, some people have been asking for the link to the Sports Weekly story which ranks organizations by how many of their early-round draft choices have reached the major leagues. (The Giants were ranked 4th, ahead of the Diamondbacks (5th), A's (17th), Dodgers (24th) and Padres (28th)). You can read the whole story here.