beer garden
friday random ten, 1977 edition

the idiot opens his big mouth

Hey, just because I'm in Germany doesn't mean I don't know when Brain Sabean opens his big yap.

Sabes just traded away Armando Benitez, and no one is sorry to see Armando go. But that's not what caught my eye. He also had a few things to say, about Benitez, about the fans, about the press. On my trip, I'm rereading The Best and the Brightest, and it's fascinating how much of that book has new relevance today. But I never thought I'd find a baseball parallel. In the early 60s, it was clear to most unbiased observers that Vietnam was a quagmire in the making, and the few reporters on the scene stated so. The Kennedy administration's response wasn't to reevaluate their position on Vietnam, but rather to blame the press for negativity.

Well, baseball ain't war, so I don't want to stretch this analogy too far. But listen to Sabean's comments yesterday:

In an extraordinary conference call with reporters, Sabean left no doubt he was unhappy that he was forced by public opinion to consummate a trade that leaves the Giants with no experienced closer.

"The type of person or professional I am, I don't take any satisfaction in anybody's demise or inability to do his job," Sabean said. "I'll say one thing about Armando. He was strong enough to be a whipping boy.

"The first game here (in New York) we had three players who were not available. That was not Armando's fault. Tonight we had three hits and looked dead as a doornail. That was not Armando's fault. We are at a crossroads in my mind, and apparently the fans, the press and some people in the clubhouse felt he needed to go.

"Now we're going to find out what they're made of. We'll see who's strong enough to be the whipping boy now. ... We're going to find out who, when and how we're going to step up. Right now, as we speak, we're heading closer to last place than first place. I don't know that that was Armando Benitez's fault."

Let's break this down, and see if the right person is ready to be the whipping boy. Brian Sabean's job is to make the Giants as good a team as he can. His job is not to act on the basis of public opinion ... I may think that he'd be better off listening to me, I have in fact been quoted in public about my negative opinions of Sabean, but the idea is that Sabean use his noggin to reconsider his methods, not that he whines like a baby and says "ok, HAVE it your way!"

"We had three players who were not available." From a distance, I can't be sure who the three players were, but it looks like he meant Bonds, Durham, and Klesko. The common factor in those players? They are all old by baseball standards. If you build a team of old players, they will, all else being equal, be unavailable more often than younger players. Looking for a whipping boy? Who put together a team of old hitters?

"Tonight we had three hits." Looking for a whipping boy? Who put together the team that only got three hits.

"We're heading closer to last place than to first place." Looking for a whipping boy? Who put together the team that is headed for last place?

Armando Benitez is a better pitcher than the boo birds seem to realize, but he plies his trade as a closer, the most overrated position on the roster (not the most worthless, but the most overrated, meaning the position where the player is likely to be overpaid relative to his contributions, meaning the position where an astute GM can make a difference, meaning a position where a more traditional GM will overpay). Benitez was signed for $21.5 million. He has now been traded when his trade value is v.low, with the Giants having to pay $4.7 of the remaining $5 million on his contract. Looking for a whipping boy? Who signed Benitez to that contract?

Now we're going to find out what Brian Sabean is made of.

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