Okay, Brian Sabean is back for two more years. We know that for sure, Giants fans have to live with it.
But how's the GM doing so far? Well, I think you can look at a few things that have characterized this offseason for the Giants so far.
-Bengie Molina not offered arbitration
-Juan Uribe and Brad Penny turning down contracts to become Free Agents
-Ryan Garko being non-tendered
For the first thing, I really like this. Look, Molina has probably been the best catcher the Giants have had this decade. The only close competitor is Benito Santiago, and Santiago wasn't forced to bat cleanup, he was in a loaded lineup with Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, and he was on steroids. The close third would be Bobby Estalella, but I only liked him because his at-bat song was The Rock's theme song (yes, the pro "do you smell what the Rock is cooking" wrestler).
However, the Giants have Buster Posey. Posey has proven he can play at Triple-A. He has nothing to prove except at the Major League level. If he may not be ready at the beginning of the year, he certainly would be ready by mid-season, and I think an arbitration contract would be too much for one half-year of Molina. Thus, just from what it looks like, the Giants probably will sign a low-tier veteran (in the Ryan Bard, Brian Schneider mold) to be an emergency just in case Posey doesn't have a good Spring Training or gets off to a slow start. Believe me Giants fans who love Bengie Molina, this is the right thing to do. Posey's upside is too much. The Giants can't supplant him in the minors for another year.
As for the second item, it's predictable, mainly because Edgar Renteria is going nowhere, and Sabean signed Freddie Sanchez to a two year, six-million per year deal. So, Uribe has nowhere to go, and is basically a utility infielder...again. The Giants got lucky with Uribe last year, who was coming off such a bad year. To be perfectly honest, I think the Giants could have gotten away with just signing Uribe and passing on Renteria. However, since Renteria is likely staying in a Giants uniform next year, Sabean needed to let Uribe go. Uribe is going to command some money. Some team like the Royals or Nationals is going to pay a decent buck for him. That being said, it was very fun to have Uribe for one season, even if it took Bochy half the season to realized that he was more capable of playing everyday than Matt Downs.
In terms of Penny, I was very relieved Sabean passed on him. First off, I want Madison Bumgarner in the rotation. The guy proved he could pitch last year. Did he have his best stuff? No, but he certainly proved that he could come in and not get shellacked, not to mention hold his own. When he has his best stuff, and is more under careful watch (he pitched his arm off in the minors) Bumgarner will be a lethal No. 5 starter behind Lincecum, Cain, Zito, and Sanchez. As for Penny? He had a great second half, but there were some alarming trends with the guy: low strikeout, high flyball, groundball out numbers. I guess in a park like AT&T you can get away with that, but I'm not willing to shell out big bucks for what was most likely a fluky, "F-you mode" second half with the Giants ("F-you mode" because almost everyone wrote off the pickup as a dumb move by Sabean originally, when in fact, it turned out to be Sabes' best trade deal that season).
And lastly, I just found this out today, but Ryan Garko will not be tendered a contract, according to the San Francisco Examiner Web site. Personally, I love this. One, I think Garko was a crappy pickup from the beginning. His home run numbers were incredibly slanted because he played in a home run hitter's park in Cleveland, and his choke up two-strike approach is the kind of crap you only see in Little League these days. I know Garko is a standup guy, but I'll take Travis Ishikawa, who while is more strikeout prone, gives you more bang for the buck in terms of power, and is a lot better defensively.
Of course, what could change this maneuver from a good decision by Sabean to a poor one is if he does one of two things: a.) he signs Adam LaRoche or Nick Johnson. b.) he moves Sandoval to first.
First off, I would hate Adam LaRoche to be in a Giants uniform. I know I actually campaigned for him before on Bleacher Report, but the guy stinks, and his swing is not tailor made for AT&T Park. Nick Johnson I do like though. He's a high OBP guy (which the Giants desperately need) and he's good defensively. Does he have power? Only if you consider eight home runs last year power, but I think his ability to draw walks is something that the Giants need in order to be contenders. My only concern is Johnson is injury prone, but with Ishikawa as back-up (along with Jesus Guzman, perhaps) I think that will be fine. I would rather have Johnson and Ishikawa and Guzman platooning than Johnson and Garko.
As for the move for Sandoval. I guess it makes sense (because the Giants' best offensive lineup [when they were forced to play Renteria] consisted of Uribe at third and Sandoval at first). However, I don't like the move. Sandoval has a glove, and a cannon, the problem is that his cannon is too wild. That will eventually be molded with more time. It's not the Miguel Cabrera problem with Sandoval where he doesn't have any range like Cabrera. He surprisingly has range for a guy his size. He just need to get his arm accuracy under control. I sincerely think he can do that, and when he does, he will be a solid third baseman for the Giants for years to come.
Okay, so those are the issues so far with Sabean. My analysis? I like what he's doing. He's giving Giants fans what we wanted when the season ended (passing on aging veterans, and being conservative with money). Now, are Giants fans out of the woods with him? Oh heavens no! There are plenty of moments for Sabes to be Sabes (Adam LaRoche would be the dagger). Yet for now, I think Giants can breathe easily, knowing that Bill Neukom wasn't a complete moron for re-signing Sabes so far.