I'm going to begin this by saying that I don't really know Brian Sabean very well. For this reason, I can't tell you whether or not he has an IQ above 75, or whether or not he has a thing for 80s rock and margaritas. I'd just be making that stuff up.
Sure I played in the minor leagues for 6 years in the Giants' organization, but I never had any contact with the general manager. Why would I? I was in the minor leagues. I was useless.
Well, apparently all of the pitchers in the minor leagues are useless, as Sabean recently commented that pitching in Triple A isn't very good, and neither is baseball in general in Triple A. He did this while answering questions about the performance of Buster Posey.
"Triple-A baseball isn't very good," Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News recently.
"I'm going to tell you that right now," he continued. "Especially from a pitching standpoint. Anybody who can pitch is in the big leagues."
Hmm. I guess Tim Lincecum was never in Triple-A. I guess if he was ever there, he must have been awful. He clearly didn't know how to pitch, because he wasn't in the big leagues.
And what about this Strasburg character that everybody keeps talking about? He obviously is no good. He's not in the big leagues, he must not be able to pitch.
If Sabean had said that Triple A pitching, as a whole, on average, is not as good as big league pitching, I would have no problem with that. That's why it's Triple-A baseball and not the big leagues. If he'd said that offensive numbers are inflated in the PCL since it is a hitter-friendly league--especially in the division that Fresno plays--I would have no problem with that. That's clearly true.
But instead Sabean decided to say that Triple-A baseball is just not good period, and especially the pitchers. He managed to not only belittle the performance of Posey, but to belittle the performance of all his minor league pitchers and catchers. He did this all in a couple of sentences. It's not easy to make that many people feel like crap in so short of a time span, but Sabean managed to do it. That takes real talent.
I sort of remember not long ago having a conversation with a couple of my buddies. Some of us had been in the big leagues; some of us hadn't (I clearly was in the ranks of those who hadn't). We were talking about the difference between Triple-A and the big leagues. It was the opinion of those who had played in the majors that the difference is magnified. Sure, there's a difference, but it's not a huge difference.
Here's the thing. If you're pitching in the big leagues, you're probably among the top 400 pitchers in the world. That's pretty frickin' good. If you're pitching in Triple-A, you're probably among the top 1000 pitchers in the world. There are probably some better guys in Japan, and maybe in Korea. A few more might exist in Cuba. And then there are almost all of the MLB pitchers above you.
I'd say being one of the top 1000 in the world is still pretty good. In fact, if you took any of those top 1000 and put them in the big leagues, they might even hold their own for awhile.
Sabean could've said a number of things in defending his decision to keep Buster Posey in the minor leagues. He could've said Posey needed more time to hone his glove work. He could've said that he was happy with how both of his big league catchers were playing, as both are hitting well. Both of these things would've been believable, and they would've been benign statements.
Instead he decided to trash every minor league player in the system. And I take exception to that. Many are friends and former teammates. Some are darn good pitchers. Some might have big league careers ahead of them.
With so much of the Giants' pitching staff being self-grown--Cain, Sanchez, Lincecum, Wilson, and Romo among them--you'd think Sabean would know that sometimes there's some pretty good pitching down there. But I guess not.
Again, I don't know the guy at all, so I can't vouch for his mental stability, and I can't tell you whether or not he has a proclivity for listening to Michael Buble. But I can tell you that this was not a smart statement.