Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Men Behind the Champs

In Monday's SF chronicle, John Shea had an insightful article showing just how a "team" works. And we all know, this "team" pulled together and took all of the help coaches and scouts could afford them and made it work out for the best possible results. Let's reflect back on an article that points out just how well the San Francisco Giants pulled together as one big "team."

Brian Sabean is baseball's longest tenured general manager. He came up through the scouting ranks, dating to his NY Yankee days, and several of his top men are old Yankees, including Steve "Bye Bye" Balboni and Jim Lefebvre, who were teammates of Sabean in the 70's at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The pair spent the regular season one step ahead of the Giants. The two scouted upcoming opponents, chronicling strengths, weaknesses, tendencies and quirks.

During the postseason, most of the Giants' other 11 pro scouts followed playoff teams and passed info to Lefebvre and Balboni, who accompanied the Giants throughout October to report to the coaches in person after packaging the scouts' reports and examining a ton of video.

Pitching coach Dave Righetti said the coaching staff referred to the scouts as "Brian's merry band of Robin Hoods." Righetti called them "immeasurable" and added, "They're all ex-players who understand what we want. We don't want a bunch of junk. We need simple things. I want to get it to Buster so he could keep it simple and take it from there."

"I would say Buster is the knowledge man," said Dick Tidrow, the Giants vice-president of player personnel. "He was right on. He has a really good feel for what the hitter wants to hit. It's pretty enlightening how good a brain he's got to be able to do it under pressure and understand what the hitters can handle and the pitchers can do.

We haven't seen too much of that at that age. Most teams don't have an awfully young rookie catcher lead them to a World Series." (Yogi Berra did it for the Yankees in 1947.)

"We could tell them what the playoffs and World Series were like as far as media coverage and hype," J.T. Snow said. "You're so amped up, it was about trying to get these guys to relax. Just another game. Control the adrenaline. I wish I had somebody telling me that. It's a different animal."

For all that's accumulated outside the lines, what's done between the lines is what makes everyone, including scouts, look good.

"You have to give the pitching credit," Sabean said. "You could have the best scouting report in the world, but you still have to do it in real time. That's the nuance between the pitcher and catcher as the game develops."

(very informative article by John Shea. Thank you Mr. Shea.)

Kevin J. Marquez