San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean has had his share of criticisms over the years, so manifold that it would take too long to list them all here.
But, to sum up quickly, in terms of this year's problems: Mark DeRosa is hurt (2 yrs/$12M), Edgar Renteria is hurt (2 yrs/$16M), and Aaron Rowand is on the bench (4 yrs/$60M).
Yet his construction of the 2010 Giants has been greatly underestimated in terms of bringing together a core of outsiders that has really defined a team that is still in the heat of the playoff race.
The obvious is there and worthy of praise.
Aubrey Huff was only going to pan out for the Giants if he returned to his 2008 form, and some might argue that he has even improved upon that. So far in 2010 he's got a slash line of .295/.390/.523, has blasted 22 homers and driven in 77 runs.
Remember how he was supposed to be Dr. Stonehands after DH-ing in the American League for ten years? He has played solid defense at first AND in the corner outfield spots for Bruce Bochy's "Water Buffalo" outfield.
Not only has Huff produced on the field, but his leadership in the clubhouse has been unquestionable. His carefree attitude that has effervesced throughout all of the players on this team disappears when it needs to, and his emotion in the dugout is such that the TV cameras are constantly trained on him for his reactions.
Huff's old college teammate from the Miami Hurricanes Pat Burrell has also been a surprising asset to this team. Burrell struggled greatly in Tampa Bay after winning his World Series ring with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, so much so that he was cut by the cost-conscious Rays with $9M left on his 2010 contract.
But since coming home to San Francisco, Burrell has pounded out 12 homers and 36 RBIs, while posting a line of .270/.383/.505 and playing a part in the winning run in six straight Giants games in July.
Andres Torres was (finally) inserted into the starting lineup when Aaron Rowand went down with a facial fracture, and since then is leading the league in doubles (42). He's also got a line of .287/.369/.502, and has 13 homers and 59 RBIs, most of which are coming out of the leadoff spot.
Freddy Sanchez has been streaky this year, charging off the disabled list but then letting his average drop significantly before raising his average 20 points over the last six games.
I almost have to count Buster Posey in this group, because without the trade of Bengie Molina he would never have been on this team. Sabean and the Giants realized very early on that their decision to re-sign Molina and keep Posey in the minors was not the right choice. When Posey came up and started playing first base, almost everyone knew that was only temporary.
No need to go into Posey's stats, so here's the quick hits: 21-game hit streak. Slash of .329/.372./505. Player of the Month AND Rookie of the Month in July. Oh and he's hit FIVE times as many homeruns (10 to 2) and has almost twice as many RBIs (49 to 29) as the man he replaced, Bengie Molina.
Sabean also did a job on the bullpen this year, adding Guillermo Mota and Santiago Casilla for almost nothing, and creating one of the nastiest back ends in the game. Mid-season pickups Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez have also performed very well since they came to the Giants.
It's a little early to be throwing Cody Ross in there, but he has been a solid pickup since his waiver claim a couple weeks ago.
Yet there is still one addition that simply doesn't fit the equation.
José Guillen arguably won the game for the Giants yesterday. His two-run single put them back ahead after a horrendously horrendous inning by the bullpen and they went on to win from there. And honestly, his stats aren't that bad (.372 in 13 games).
But after a first half (and second half) that has seen both the clogging of the basepaths and the unclogging of the basepaths with and without Bengie Molina, adding Guillen just doesn't make sense.
Guillen is an outfielder (if you can call it that). The Giants already had four and a half on their roster when they picked him up (Torres, Rowand, Schierholtz, Burrell, Huff), and have since added another (Cody Ross).
Guillen is a right-handed hitter with some pop. Again, Burrell and even Rowand to an extent fit that mold, and Juan Uribe provides utility pop around the infield.
I'm not too concerned with the stories about Guillen and his attitude problems, because the Giants clubhouse is very tight-knit and will not let anyone disrupt that chemistry.
But his being on the team doesn't help at all. The Giants have pieces in place, and Guillen seems to be extraneous. Until he starts hitting homers at a Pat Burrell rate or heating up like Pablo Sandoval, Guillen is simply a sub-par outfielder who's clogging the bases.
The other guys on this list have all at least convinced us that we as fans might want to see them around next year. Guillen is another story, and he's got a lot of ground to make up but not much time to do it in.
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