01/30/2004 4:35 PM ET
Brian Sabean chat transcript
Giants senior vice president and general manager Brian Sabean, The Sporting News and Baseball America's 2003 Major League Executive of the year and architect of three division-winning teams and the 2002 National League championship squad, participated in an online chat session with fans on MLB.com.
Brian Sabean: Hello, fans. This is a new experience for me -- I've never done anything like this online, so let's go.
luckyguyindublin: Brian, Are there any trade possibilities between now and Opening Day that you would like to accomplish?
Sabean: Our roster is always a work in progress, including through Spring Training and throughout the season. Trade talks are something that's ongoing throughout the baseball offseason and onseason.
pwdrtrns: What are you going to do if [Robb] Nen is not healthy like we think he will be?
Sabean: Pure and simple, it's up to Felipe [Alou] and his staff, especially Dave Righetti.
jbartz0716: What was your very first job in baseball?
Sabean: Technically, it was a college baseball coach for the University of Tampa, and then professionally it was as a free agent scout for the Yankees.
Ryan_Meagher: I think you're the best GM in baseball because you always make the best teams in the league with comparatively little money. But why is the budget so small when the Giants have a huge fan base, and are constantly a top ranked team?
Sabean: Well, contrary to popular belief, the budget isn't small. Last year we were ranked 11th and this year we're ranked ninth.
Benjamin_Farone: How content are you with the makeup of the team as it is right now?
Sabean: I feel this team is similar to last year's or years past in that it has the depth and experience including playoff experience to weather a tough schedule, including in our division.
Ryan_Meagher: Are the Giants currently looking for a person to fill the shoes of Barry [Bonds] once he's gone?
Sabean: We address our needs on a year-to-year basis but are aware of potential free agent possibilities before the fact, given their contract status.
sashroxx03: Mr. Sabean, why does management feel that Barry Bonds needs no protection? All you are doing is taking the bat out of Barry's hand. What are the Giants going to do when teams start walking him three times per game?
Sabean: First of all, it's not that we don't think Barry needs protection, everybody in the lineup needs protection -- obviously him more so than anyone in baseball.
But the best protection any team can give a player is its balance in front of AND behind the hitter. Also, there is no concrete evidence that 29 teams are going to literally walk him three times a day.
As Felipe has stated in the past, there probably is no hitter, past or present, that can protect Barry, given the opposition's fear of facing him.
nick_gee: Can you elaborate on the reason for signing Michael Tucker just hours before the deadline for offering players arbitration expired, thus forfeiting this year's first-round draft pick. Was it a mistake? Or was it just a way of saving money?
Sabean: We were able to use the first-round draft pick money to apply to our Major League payroll and figured, by where we pick in the first round, we can get the same type of player or pitcher for half the price with our second selection.
1965giantfan: What are the Giants and [Ryan] Jensen doing to get him back on track?
Sabean: Ryan was able to pitch in Puerto Rico as he has in the past. Hopefully staying in shape year round will give him a leg up in Spring Training to compete for a spot on the staff.
nick_gee: Do you regret using the term "Lunatic Fringe"? And just who were you referring to?
Sabean: Contrary to popular belief, I was not referring to our loyal fans, especially our paying customers.
The statement was made as a product of my frustration feeling that the popular belief is to simply sign a big-name free agent to a big contract, thus wrapping all your hopes, present and future, on one player vs. the strength in numbers theory.
Also, pure and simply, those who follow us closely know that we weren't in the position this offseason to do so, but this line of logic seemed to take a life of its own in almost rotisserie fashion.
stupendousboy: Brian, are you aware of the Giants message board on the Sfgiants.com site? You have been a big time topic of discussion! If you could add another player to the mix now, before Spring Training starts, would you go with a position player or a pitcher?
Sabean: You're always prepared to add one or both depending on injury or the possibility of expanding the depth of your roster.
nick_gee: Who, if anyone, out of this year's crop of non-roster invitees do you think has a genuine chance of making the Opening Day roster?
Sabean: The most likely candidate could be Merkin Valdez, who is actually on the roster.
talllarry: What is the projected starting lineup for this year?
Sabean: That's for Felipe and his staff to decide.
nick_gee: We've heard about Robb Nen and Jason Schmidt -- how is Jesse Foppert progressing? And what are the chances of him pitching again this season?
Sabean: In speaking with Stan Conte recently, Jesse MAY have a chance to pitch competitively, probably in the minor leagues, late this year.
lillyandbatista_2: Will the bullpen be good enough with the departure of Tim Worrell?
Sabean: We certainly hope so. While Timmy was a mainstay during his time here, we feel our strength is in numbers. We'll keep seven relievers and Felipe will have a chance to use most of these guys in multiple roles.
lillyandbatista_2: Can the Giants still win the division even with Arizona bulking up this offseason?
Sabean: Absolutely. The whole division has a conceivable shot. There's a lot of parity in the National League, especially in our division.
Thomas_Richardson: [Pedro] Feliz looks really promising. Will he get full playing time this year?
Sabean: Pedro had a great Winter League season in the Dominican Republic. Felipe hopes to get him 300-plus at-bats at various positions.
sunnyd100: Is there a particular stat or ability that you weigh more than others when you are making acquisitions?
Sabean: We try to look at the player as a whole and we're interested in guys that are well-rounded, so that they can help win games not only with their offense but also their defense.
We also like to have players that are able to play multiple positions, and anyone who is a switch-hitter is an added bonus.
This gives the manager a chance on a daily basis to play the best possible lineup, given all the factors he must consider, such as the starting pitcher, relative health, resting players and keeping the whole roster involved and contributing.
poiboy101213: What was the reasoning for not re-signing or offering arbitration to the Big Cat? His indications were that he wanted to return and his numbers last year certainly didn't indicate any erosion of talent or desire.
Sabean: We felt that it was time for us to find out more about Pedro, who is a right-handed hitter and then we were lucky enough to re-sign J.T.
shaundarbie: Did you ever make an offer for Vladimir Guerrero?
Sabean: In a word: No. If we had signed Guerrero or [Gary] Sheffield, we would have been without [Jim] Brower, [Scott] Eyre, [Matt] Herges, [Dustin] Hermanson, [Brett] Tomko, [A.J.] Pierzynski, Feliz, [J.T.] Snow, [Jeffrey] Hammonds, [Dustan] Mohr and Tucker -- obviously not being able to field a competitive team, especially from an experience standpoint, given our level of spending.
norcal3: Is there any truth to the Yankees' interest in trading for [Edgardo] Alfonzo?
Sabean: First of all, [Yankees GM] Brian Cashman is one of my closest friends and associates in baseball, having worked together while in the Yankee organization. And not only have I not heard from Brian since the Winter Meetings, but he knows better than to call because of our feelings towards Edgardo.
sfgkeeper: Who's in the starting pitching rotation? Schmidt, [Kirk] Rueter, [Jerome] Williams ...?
Sabean: Our rotation will be made up of Schmidt, Rueter, Tomko, Williams and possibly Hermanson as the fifth starter. Felipe and Dave Righetti will certainly decide the exact order by the end of Spring Training.
lillyandbatista_2: Do the Giants have enough minor league talent available if all else fails?
Sabean: Our minor league system is in much better shape than the public is led to believe by media accounts. Most of our top prospects will be in Major League Spring Training and Felipe will be as excited about this group as he was with last year's crop that impressed him.
Our obvious strength is with young pitching, but we have position players that will be ready very shortly to contribute on the Major League level.
bennybonds: Are there any concerns about the pitching of the team, because it seems to me that apart from Schmidt, the rest of the starters have question marks hanging over their heads.
Sabean: To reiterate, the strength of our pitching staff is in its depth, especially in our bullpen, which Felipe masterfully juggled last year.
emo17: Brian, if Neifi Perez can't fill the shoes of departed Rich Aurilia, is there a possibility the Giants could bring up Cody Ransom?
Sabean: Cody will have a chance to make our Major League team, probably as a utility player, but we do not feel at this time that he has enough experience to unseat Neifi, who has already won a Gold Glove at the position.
sfgkeeper: Where did we go wrong in the recent playoff against the Marlins? Weak offense?
Sabean: Pure and simple, we ran out of gas. We seemingly played our best baseball the last three series of the season trying to gain home-field advantage. Losing Game 2 here was huge for the Marlins and put us in a tough situation having to go to Florida with the series tied.
shaundarbie: Do you have any comments on J.T. Snow's classy decision to stay in S.F. and take less money?
Sabean: J.T. has been a mainstay on our teams going back to 1997. He's a real anchor, not only at his position but more so as a professional in the clubhouse. We were thrilled with his decision.
jbartz0716: Who do you anticipate starting in right field for the Giants? Dustan Mohr, Michael Tucker, or will it be a platoon situation?
Sabean: Felipe certainly has expressed his excitement over the options that will be available in the outfield as a whole on a daily basis.
We anticipate Tucker, Hammonds and Mohr to not only compete for playing time in right field but because they can play all three positions, they will allow us to give Barry and Marquis [Grissom] the proper rest needed in the long season.
basketcatch24: I thought Tomko was a good choice for a good price. How do you see the fifth spot in the rotation shaking out -- [Kevin] Correia, Hermanson, or someone else?
Sabean: Hermanson has the experience, Correia pitched effectively for us last year and Valdez is our top prospect, so our choices are multiple.
bpfastball2: Are you looking to lock up A.J. Pierzynski to a long term deal and, if so, what happens to [Yorvit] Torrealba?
Sabean: It remains to be seen what type of contract A.J. will sign with the Giants. We are open to more than one year. Having said that, Torrealba is a young catcher that we feel will not only be a solid backup to A.J. but may have a future as a starter in time.
emo17: Brian, do you feel this team has everything it needs to make a run for the title?
Sabean: No team in baseball starts the year thinking they have everything they need, including us. The great equalizer is the injury factor and how consistent your team is able to play, especially at the end of the season. It's obviously not how you start and with whom, but how you finish.
jkskulls31: Who do you think is the best team in the AL and NL (excluding the Giants)?
Sabean: There is no clear favorite in each league, which is exciting. I think every division race this year will be unpredictable.
jimpick: When do you think Todd Linden is ready for the big leagues FULL TIME?
Sabean: Most Major League everyday players have the benefit of between 1,500 and over 2,000 at-bats in the minor leagues. Obviously Todd is way ahead of schedule with his development, but we feel a full year in Triple-A will probably benefit him the most. Being a switch-hitter it's very difficult to predict when he'd be competent enough from both sides of the plate to be a regular.
uribefan1: When do you anticpate David Aardsma reaching the Majors and will it be as a starter or a reliever?
Sabean: Ironically, David will be in Major League camp, so we're all anxious to see how he handles this experience, maybe giving us some insight into his short-term future.
camusn: Who do you see as the most improved opposition in the NL West over this offseason and why?
Sabean: We are certainly aware of all the moves San Diego has made and feel that the new stadium will be a tremendous boost to the team as a whole.
sunnyd100: Brian, can we expect any more acquisitions before Spring Training comes around? If so, how much money is left in the budget, and what type of acquisition can we expect?
Sabean: In all likelihood, our team may be set as we are close to our $78 million budget, which, by the way, is only $3 million shy of our 2003 Opening Day figure of $81 million.
Sabean: Please don't think that this makes me computer literate, but I promise to be available to do this again this spring and throughout the season. Thanks for your questions.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
|Brian Sabean answered questions in an hour-long online chat. (Chris Shuttlesworth/MLB.com)