Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Lukewarm Seat

Unless I start a poll, it's a bit difficult to garner the overall opinion of the Giants' fan base of Brian Sabean. I tend to think, by the close of the season last year, that it was a decent one. I myself thought he was fine, the influence of Barry Bonds notwithstanding. However, over the course of the subsequent seven months, Sabean's been...questionable. I could use a stronger adjective, but I'm trying to remain objective.

When I mean questionable, I don't even necessarily mean the performance of the team he's put together, although that's obviously questionable. What I mean by questionable has been his moves. It just seems that there's a callous disregard for the Giants fanbase, and although what the fans want should have no bearing on a GM's final decision on a move, the fans opinions should be a factor in the decision-making process (albeit a small one).

Let's consider a few recent things Sabean has done:

  • Trading Jerome Williams - now, I won't even get into the ramifications of this move as far as the value of the players traded, their salaries, etc. That's already been done. However, I will bring up this one simple fact: Jerome Williams was a fan favorite. Whether it was a combination of his youth, puka shells, or whatever, most fans loved Williams and was behind him 100%. I like to think that there was a certain tolerance of his struggles in lieu of how young he was, in addition to some early success. I don't believe the Giant fanbase, in general, was very happy with his departure, and for a middle reliever no less. Strike one.
  • Acquiring Alex Sanchez - again, I won't harp on the potential (or lack thereof) of Sanchez' possible contribution to the team in terms of production and value, but I will state that this is another bad PR move. Not only with Sanchez' track record and recent drug-testing baggage, but when asked about the acquisition in regards to fan favorite Jason Ellison, Sabean had this to say: "If you think he's [Ellison] going to play every day, I don't think anybody believes that." Okay, Brian, now you've publicly slighted your CF not only by bringing in a replacement-level-at-best player to play alongside him, but you've questioned the toughness of a player that gives 110% on every play -- much like another fan favorite outfielder you let go, Dustin Mohr. Sanchez, being himself, has already estranged a large portion of the Giants fanbase by blaming Ellison for a blown play that he had a hand in, and don't think the estrangement of Sanchez by the fans can't be transferred, in part, the the GM who brought him in. Strike two.

So, two strikes in the public-relations deparment, with the potential for a third one very soon. Many rumours have placed Jason Schmidt on the trading block -- another fan favorite. Personally, while I would like Schmidt to remain in San Francisco, I cannot fault the idea that it could be time to trade him. However, with each dominant start he puts up since his recent injuries and struggles, his trade value rises -- but his standing with the fans will be re-affirmed and reinforced.

Much of the opinion of any potential Schmidt trade will lie in what the Giants get in return...or, possibly more aptly, who the Giants get to replace him. Other rumours have placed the Giants firmly in the hunt for a starting pitcher, and the names brought up have been Eric Milton of the Reds and Jason Jennings of the Rockies.

Can you imagine, just for a second, the firestorm of backlash that will ensue if Sabean not only trades Schmidt and gets questionable value in return, but then replaces Schmidt in the rotation with an Eric Milton or a Jason Jennings?

That'd be a definite strike three, and the calling for a new GM will gain copious amouts of steam. Many fans, and some in the blogging community, have already expressed dissatisfaction with Sabean's recent tenure, but were those things to come to pass, I think it's safe to say Sabean's seat will be scorching hot, not just lukewarm like it seems to be now.

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