Buster Posey is mature beyond his years. Sadly, he is also mature beyond Brian Sabean’s years.
Posey felt it necessary to issue a statement saying he didn’t blame Scott Cousins for his devastating season-ending injury after Sabean had unleashed a virulent tirade on KNBR (680 AM) against Cousins, hinting strongly that there would be reprisals when the Giants next meet the Florida Marlins.
Sabean’s outburst was so outrageous that he had to call the Marlins the next day, and Cousins on Sunday. The Giants PR department put out a release saying Sabean didn’t intend to vilify Cousins, a USF product. But of course, he did.
Why did he react so strongly? Because he could see the Giants’ chances for the playoffs slipping away with Posey’s injury, and he hated that.
Nobody enjoyed the Giants’ success last year more than Sabean. After enduring considerable criticism in recent years, he was being lauded by those members of the media who write as if they’re working for the Giants. Even this year, those writers are saying Sabean will find a way to bolster the team down the stretch. Don’t bet on it.
In fact, Sabean’s run as general manager has been marked by inconsistency. There were some great trades early, which brought in Jeff Kent and Jason Schmidt, and his emphasis on building around pitching has been absolutely right.
There have also been some disasters because Sabean has an urge to overpay mediocre athletes.
The most egregious is Barry Zito. Though his career was trending down in his closing years with the A’s, Sabean rewarded him with the largest free-agent contract ever for a pitcher. Now, Zito is, realistically, no better than the Giants’ sixth-best starter — with two years left on that contract.
Before that, Sabean had signed Edgardo Alfonzo to a four-year, $26 million contract — double what any other club thought he was worth — though Alfonzo’s back problems had cut into his power and restricted his mobility at third base.
He also signed Randy Winn to a superstar contract after Winn had the best half-season of his career — because he was in a new league where pitchers didn’t know him. Winn was a good player, but not a superstar. His power numbers declined sharply after that, but he was untradeable because of that contract.
Sabean then signed Aaron Rowand, a slightly above-average outfielder whose power numbers were boosted by playing in hitters’ parks in Chicago and Philadelphia, to a five-year, $60 million contract. Rowand has now declined to a below-average player, but he has another season after this on his contract. Like Zito, he’s untradeable.
In 2009, he signed Edgar Renteria to a two-year, $18.5 million contract, though the once-great Renteria had little range left. This year, when Juan Uribe left, he signed Miguel Tejada, who hasn’t been a good shortstop for at least two years. Fortunately, young Brandon Crawford looks like he can do the job at shortstop, so the Giants will probably release Tejada.
Last year, Sabean and the Giants got lucky because some cheaper acquisitions — Andres Torres, Uribe, Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff — came through. I wouldn’t bet on that kind of good fortune again.