Monday, May 10, 2010

Triple-A and Sabean

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.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post... insightful, humorous, and very true

Anonymous said...

Amen, Garrett! That was just crazy!


Sharon

Anonymous said...

The world, and Giants fans in particular need more Garrett Broshius.

kumar said...

Garrett,

Sorry you had to play for such a jerk! I'm enjoying rooting for the newly-freed Fred Lewis, and while I love the Giants, I eagerly await a change in management.

debbieduncan said...

I thought that was a really stupid statement when I read it. Good for you for sticking up for the minor leagues & minor leaguers. Brian Sabean can be SUCH a downer. This latest put-down goes along with his CONTINUED practice of acquiring veteran players WHO GET HURT (surprise! surprise!) while overlooking and thus not promoting home-grown, minor league talent - something that was supposed to end when #25 left. As a fan it frustrates me to no end.

hitnrun said...

Well spoken Garrett. Sabean showed his ignorance with his comments, and he indeed is insulting not just Giant minor leaguers but ALL minor league players. I think that it is no coincidence that the Giants have not developed many position players from their minor league system, with idiots like Sabean and his crappy attitude in place. Sounds like he looks down on any minor league player with his arrogant and conceited personality. He is an embarrassment for the organization.

gbroshuis said...

Thanks for reading everyone! I'm still just shocked that he actually said that.

David said...

I don't want to bash Sabean, well, actually I do and have been for awhile, but I'm not getting into it here. There are many, many reasons why I think he is not a good GM. I will just add this comment to my vast list. Thanks for talking some sense, and defending these kids who are living the dream.

Galen said...

There's an old saying that goes something like this, "You don't defecate where you eat." It's a bit discouraging to hear someone with this much authority make these claims. Why would anybody willingly play for such a fool?

bacci40 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bacci40 said...

gb

here is the entire quote...if you havent seen it

here is the entire quote

“Triple-A baseball isn’t very good,” he said. “I’m going to tell you that right now. Especially from a pitching standpoint. Anybody who can pitch is in the big leagues. Most of the prospect arms, the stuff that really can neutralize hitters, are at Double-A. You look at what some of our (struggling hitting) prospects are doing there.

“So these guys (like Posey) are facing Four-A pitching, and you better have a lot of people see ‘em at different times and write their reports and almost have a straw poll of private ballots. Because I don’t know what it means anymore, in the PCL. It’s almost like years ago.”

Andy said...

It is an insult to all Giants fans that such a moron is our team's general manager. Thanks for calling him out.

Ryan said...

hey gb,

I too, am still shocked. I knew the giants seemed to more or less operate that way (discounting minor league stats, which is disparagement of the minors). But for both Sabean and Bochy to flat out say is stunning.

It is one thing for stupid biases to inflict their damage unconsciously, but for it to be conscious and admitted?

Anyway, out of this baseball bermuda triangle. Sir Broshius, you will forever have the odd but real honor of being favorably remembered (both your play and your person)by a small but tenacious group of Giants fans--who happen to be among the more knowledgeable of the sort. While the dream of the majors never happened (quite a few times I was puzzled that my projection of 'broshius to aaa' was wrong), at least a part of it--the same part a longtime mlb player enjoys, is yours.

Anonymous said...

Luckily this is not a popularity contest, because I actually have to defend Sabean in one small way: he did not say that all pitching in the minors sucks; he said that pitching in AAA sucks. The distinction does matter, and I think it's disingenuous for GB and the commenters here to act like he was disparaging all minor league pitching.

It was still a ridiculous statement, but no need to create an additional straw-man angle.

Ryan said...

c'mon now anon.

This isn't really a straw man. In fact, it is the most favorable interpretation of Sabean's words. If he thinks that A, and AA pitching is better than AAA (which is what your reading would imply), he is utterly incompetent beyond all comparison--and he isn't that bad.

The far likelier reading is that aaa is a stand in for the minors as such, in this case. Unless you think posey was demoted to aaa along with bumgarner, etc.

E Ticket said...

There is a notion amongst the long lived and wise that success and stature in life cannot be measured by the totality of one's material assets, the social status attained, the positions of authority commanded, and the number of sycophantic followers accumulated. Mr. Sabean's latest unguarded revelation does nothing to dispel that notion; as has his entire misanthropic career.

You and all those who have toiled in the Giants Organization deserved and continue to deserve better.

By your writings here and during your baseball career, you have demonstrated, at least to this commenter, that you are far the better man than he.

TripleAsucks said...

I just attended a Triple-A game in Sacramento where the Colorado Springs Sky Sox starter (Kurt Birkins) gave up six runs in the first inning without getting an out. The Rivercats' starter Clayton Mortensen (in the top of the first) gave up a grand slam.

The final score: Sacramento 16, Colorado Springs 5. There were 25 hits in that game and it lasted over 3 hours. It was brutal.

In this case, I have to agree with Sabean. Triple-A pitching is NOT as good as the Majors.

gbroshuis said...

Bacci40--

Thanks for the two comments! Unfortunately I removed the initial one at the request of another person. Nothing offensive in it, but they felt it made reference to a specific person.

Thanks again! And yeah, I read the whole quote. I don't really think including the entirety makes it any better though. In fact by saying "I don't know what it means anymore, in the PCL" he's basically admitting to not knowing how to evaluate players.

Not exactly what you want to hear from your GM.

E-Ticket-- Thanks. And that was very eloquent.

Ryan and others-- Thanks as well.

bacci40 said...

oh ya...shouldnt have done that

i got upset

thx for removing the post

bacci40 said...

TripleAsucks

ever watch games at coors before they used the humidifier?

have you been watching what is going on with the dodgers?

last week, one of their starters didnt record an out in the first before giving up 6

bacci40 said...

gb,

i didnt think that the full quote made things better, i thought they made them worse

if all the elites are in aa...why do aa players get paid less than aaa

why arent stats in aa weighted more than aaa (fred lewis stats in aa kept him there for an extra season, and made the org question whether nate would ever have pop in his bat)

why do scouts basically discount pitchers era in the eastern when evaluating them?

and after your record of last season, why werent you made the giants ace?

sabean is insane

drd said...

Right on Garrett. The Jint brain trust (sic) need to wake up and make changes. The Jints will never win a World Series under Hasbeen & Blotchy. Garrett for GM in 2012

Anonymous said...

lots of support for your comments at mccovey chron site. But you state it more...judiciously...gathering momentum for law school already

Swalshee said...

why is brian sabean so rude? it's so embarrassing to have such a classless idiot in our offices. i, for one, am very excited to attend my first AAA game (fresno @ zephyrs) this week.
you're getting much well-deserved support, garrett. behind you 100%.

gbroshuis said...

DRD: If one can be elected as GM, then you have a job as my campaign manager. Let's get some signs and buttons together.

I like it.

Kristina said...

Nice job GB it's great to see someone calling Sabean out for the rude things he's said. I get tired of hearing these stupid comments and get frustrated with Sabean and his attitude...especially when these beat writers don't call him out. He just dissed his top two prospects in a single sentence and this on top of what he said about Bumgarner not being focused and his priorities straight when his sister died and he got married is just incredibly frustrating beyond anything. I wish there were more writers like you out there that say what needs to be said regardless of how others may perceive it. Excellent job.

Geno Espineli Fan said...

Many people on the inside have said that in recent years the giants have been one of the best teams at developing young talent. they've also been called one of the worst run minor league systems. For example: they have an east coast affiliate who they barely keep track of.

Anonymous said...

First time commenting, lots to say.

Great blog, and great post. Sabean's comments here blow my mind. Not that I expect the guy to say anything insightful, but he continually lowers the floor for my expectations of him.

How messed up is this: The Giants have the best SP in baseball, probably the best rotation in baseball (top 3 if not best outright) and I'm scared to death that we won't be able to win a WS under this regime.

P.S.- Your 'Thank-You Blanket' post was beautiful. Keep on keeping on, and I'll look forward to reading more from you.

M. Cabrera said...

Garrett! loved your BA atricles! saw you play at San Jose. I couldn't agree with you more. Me and my friend Lou Zabbia have discussed the article over and over and just don't get it!

Lou has follow the Giants since they played at the Polo Grounds and I since the Candlestick days.

To see how hard a minor leaguer works to get to the majors makes his comments all the more inept.

It's great to see that you didn't spend all your time playing baseball, your have a great future!
Espn or the Mlb network would be lucky to have you.

Keep up the great work!!! hope to join you on face book.

M.Cabrera

george said...

in fairness to Sabean (although i am not necessarily a fan), the second half of the quote makes sense. Many teams will leave their best and brightest in AA, where they can focus on achieving success and working on whatever needs to be worked on. AAA pitchers are truly the farm club for the majors. In case of injury or whatever, they are hauled back and forth from the big leagues, which really takes as much emotional maturity as it does physical skills. Plus, a pitcher who goes up and down a lot will use up his options...which is not the way to handle a potential star. Sabean exaggerated of course, and i agree with many of the posts, but he's not a total buffoon. I have no problem with his eye for young talent; it's his free-agent signings that have me pulling my hair out year after year.

Anonymous said...

as much as a triple a player doesnt want to hear it, wut sabean says is true. triple a is made up mainly of guys who never made it, sprinkled in with some top prospects who need more seasoning. that why you have 36 yr old mimor leaguers hitting cleanup, hangin on to a fading dream hoping for a september callup so they can say they played in the bigs.

to those players who said there isnt a big difference between aaa and the bigs? what is that a joke? mlb pichers locate with more than 1 pitch. consistently. mlb hitters can hit more than just the fastball. consistantly. that seems like big difference in skill level to me.

speak truth sabes.

Jimmy Changa said...

Triple A pitching is so good that Bowker and Ishikawa tear up triple A but can't hit in the big leagues. I can see why Sabean would be frustrated with hitters coming from the PCL. Most pitchers that are major league quality don't stay long in triple A, if they go there at all. Most clubs keep the talent with the most upside in double A. I understand if you disagree, but that has been general knowledge for a long time. Every player from Fresno has struggled at the big league level. What does that say about triple A?

Anonymous said...

Right on!

rweiler said...

Sabean couldn't say what he wanted to say; that Posey is in AAA because the Giants don't want him to be a super 2 player.

Tobias said...

There are two issues here: 1) Was Sabean correct in what he said? 2) Should he have said it?

In some ways, it's true that a team's top prospects tend to be kept at AA more than AAA. But it certainly isn't always true. For Sabean to think it is really shows a shallow, facile understanding of the minor leagues. No surprise there--simple-mindedness has been a Sabean hallmark for many years now.

And even if AAA is "bad baseball", I see no good purpose served in Sabean saying something like this. It just seems gratuitous, and makes Sabean come off looking arrogant, ignorant and ungracious.

Jesse said...

I can understand how the comments might be hurtful from the perspective of players striving to make it to the big leagues. But as a fan, I thought the comments were insightful.

Sabean has a blunt (NY?) communication style, and in this case he used hyperbole. But the point was well taken: currently, much of the young major league pitching talent is either pitching at the major league level or at AA (relative to at times in the past).

BudBear said...

Sabean should heed some old advice "Better to be silent and have others think you are a fool than to speak and remove all doubt".

In regards to Posey, all he can do is perform at the level he's playing and against the competition he faces on a daily basis. If Sabean thinks the pitching is better at AA and that would serve as a better place to evaluate Posey, then why isn't he there?

Any GM that misses the playoffs this many years in a row should not be employed. The organization has been willing to spend enough money to win, but Sabean has no clue what to do with those resources.

Anonymous said...

humorous article but certainly not insightful...sure sabean didn't say something that would be considered advisable and he may not be my favorite GM, but this is blowing a comment out of proportion

gbroshuis said...

Thanks everyone for reading! Feel free to ask questions via a comment, a tweet, or an email.

GB

Anonymous said...

when sabes hopefully gets fired this season, could you assume the GM duties Garrett?

Gregory said...

garrett- good comments i urge you and every one else to google "raing baseball general managers" you will see three articles by independent national journalists ( neither is Giants fan). All rate Sabean at the bottom over over 30 GMs These were written before this season. One stated how Sabean treats his employees in a 'loathsome' fashion.

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