BY TED SILLANPAA
Tap the brakes a little, OK? I read that the world champion Giants have the best organization in baseball, that Brian Sabean’s the best general manager in baseball.
Like I say … tap the brakes. Let off the gas some. Sloooow down!
Sabean did a great job building a world champion in San Francisco, but it seems an argument can be made that he’s not the best builder of baseball teams in Northern California. I admire his work and have praised him when others were calling for him to lose his job. The work he did building two world champions is simply tremendous.
But, um, Billy Beane did a pretty nice job turning a bunch of kids named Joe (or Yoenis) into American League West champions in Oakland this year, without near the resources available to Sabean.
Woa! Don’t come after me with those collector’s edition baseball bats with a Giants’ World Series stamp on them I see selling, incredibly, for $99. It’s certain that Sabean doesn’t care how fans and media types rate his work. His team just won the World Series. He doesn’t care. Really.
Look, nobody got higher on the Giants’ run through the postseason than I did. I waited decades for the Giants, my team, to win a World Series. So, to go from imagining my dying without being able to savor a world title to their winning two in three years is pretty heady stuff. So, I get the “San Francisco is the best … the Giants are the best … Sabean’s the best GM … the smell of fish at the wharf is like perfume … black and orange are the best colors in the world … Bruce Bochy’s the best manager around … the parade was the best parade ever … the rain in the ninth inning of the NLCS clincher was the best rain in history …” (I’ll go along with Bochy being the best manager in baseball. That’s a no-brainer at this point.)
I get how people drunk on the Giants’ success can rush to coronate Sabean the best GM when, really, he’s the best builder of baseball teams in 2012 who has access to something close to piles of cash. Beane doesn’t have access to piles of cash, although the Athletics penny-pinching ownership did let him sign franchise stud Yoenis Cespedes and make some trade deadline deals to bolster a lineup that was really, really (really, really) young. (The sales job Beane must’ve done to get Cespedes fresh out of Cuba … man!)
Beane built a tougher than leather, never-say-die team of kids that featured a keystone combination (shortstop Stephen Drew and second baseman Cliff Pennington) that hit about .200 — combined. Beane wanted to fix his middle infield at the deadline so he got .200-hitting defender Drew and moved .200-hitting Pennington from short to second.
That’s considerably more impressive, given the results that followed, than sending a prospect nobody cared about to the Rockies for Marco Scutaro — who has been traded to more than one contender and helped every one.
The Giants had to trade a frontline catching prospect in Tommy Joseph to get right fielder Hunter Pence. Beane got right fielder Josh Reddick from the Red Sox for always-injured relief pitcher Andrew Bailey. Reddick won a Gold Glove after hitting 32 homers and driving in 85 runs.
The parade is long over, so I don’t feeling like I’m raining on it by pointing out that the Giants have a hole in left field and aren’t entirely certain whether Pence is worth what they’re paying him to play right. The A’s have Cespedes in left field and Reddick in right — anchoring the middle of the batting order.
It’s next year already, so … whose corner outfielders you like better? (It’s November and no time to go through the entire lineup or 40-man roster.)
How Beane dismantles one talented, young starting rotation after another and replaces it with another group of talented starters is mind boggling. And, yeah, everybody loves Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum again (now), but the A’s had far superior starting pitching down the stretch. Far superior. And, to my knowledge, no one is as worried about Jarrod Parker or A.J. Griffin like people who can remember past Game 2 of the World Series are worried about Madison Bumgarner.
Hey, I love the Giants. I’ve always liked the A’s. I’m not one of those love one-hate the other Bay Area baseball fans. So, tap the brakes and let off the gas because everything connected to the Giants isn’t necessarily the best in baseball.