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Tuesday, February 17, 2004
sharpening the ax . . .
sorry, john, but i gotta disagree:

sabean is a popular target of sabermetric types. he routinely makes moves that contradict things statheads "know". but the truth (that's a fact!) is that he is one of the best general managers in the league.

exhibit 1: 2003: 100-61, first place, nl west
exhibit 2: 2002: 95-66, second place, nl west
exhibit 3: 2001: 90-72, second place, nl west
exhibit 4: 2000: 97-65, first place, nl west
exhibit 5: 1999: 86-76, second place, nl west
exhibit 6: 1998: 89-74, second place, nl west
exhibit 7: 1997: 90-72, first place, nl west

that's his entire tenure.

sabean's strength is that he understands the things statheads don't: defense, contact, and speed.

the west is full of contact hitters, and the giants have the defense and pitching to stop them. plus, the team is built for their park. pacbell is the most extreme pitchers' park in the leauge, tied with dodger stadium, petco (probably), and shea. coincidentally, dodger and petco are also in the nl west. not coincidentally.

the exception is coors field. but barry can handle that by himself. i kid. no one can carry a team by himself. cf: alex rodriguez, the texas rangers. the rockies aren't a problem because they suck.

we could list good moves, for example marquis grissom. but john concedes the point, so we'll leave it at that. let's discuss his "bad moves".

benard: contact, defense, speed. had one great year (1999), then bad luck with hits, and lost his starting job. a useful player for cheap.

snow: overpriced. but everyone says his defense is great, and defense at first is underrated.

perez/dunston: contact/defense/speed guys. both are near the top in all three categories. it's what sabean likes, and it's brought him a lot of success.

rueter/ortiz: rueter was worse than expected. ortiz was better than expected. still, the difference between them is tiny. it's funny to see a sabermetric type include win-loss record in an argument. strikes me as only using the stats that support one's point, while ignoring other data . . . a tactic that is anathema to bill james. sabean made the right decision. rueter's got lefty mojo.

foppert/ponson: according to the toronto star, ponson was acquired for kurt anisworth, damian moss, and ryan hannaman. either way, it was the right move. ponson made a significant contribution to the pennant drive. and that's what it's all about.

kent: sabean didn't allow jeff kent to leave, jeff left. he was not going to play with barry. and he was replaced by ray durham, a great pickup. mentioning kent is grasping at straws.

livan hernandez: the kid clearly has talent. he was a terror in the second half last year. sabean was a year early on him.

damian moss: for the price of dumping ortiz's contract, sabean got part of sidney ponson and all of manuel mateo. that's the other reason rueter was the right guy to keep. mateo is not expected to make it, but if he does, it's gravy.

in 2004, statheads will continue to whine, and brian sabean will continue to not care, as the giants once again take first place in the national league west.

class dismissed.
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