Giants

Brian Sabean - a man amongst bloggers

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Brian Sabean - a man amongst bloggers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brian Sabean is the notorious hidebound ageist Luddite who will never change what he does, the way he does it, or explains in his own specific idiom how it is done to only a precious few. Thats the M.O. that has defined him to the outside world, to his convenience and his detriment.Thus, when he spent some time at the Giants Media Day in a question-and-answer session with a number of bloggers, the representatives of the constituency who tolerates his methods least willingly, an eyebrow or two went up. This is not the Sabean who leads with his face, P.R.-wise, the Sabean who doesnt matter who says what or why. This is a sea change in how he views the business of explaining his business.

Actually, it was a lot like talking to the beat guys, the Giants general manager said Saturday, the day that the pitchers and catchers reported. They asked pretty much the same questions, by and large. They seemed pretty knowledgeable for the most part.Now maybe he expected different. Maybe he expected more savagery-based-on-stereotype. Maybe he thought the questions would be dominated by decimal points and impenetrableacronyms. Maybe he thought...Well, I really didnt give a lot of thought about it one way or another, he said. It was just a Q-and-A with reporters, is the way I looked at it. Our P.R. department thought they were a part of the fan base that we could reach better. It was fine.And while the effort involved was not particularly onerous, or the gesture overly magnanimous, there is reason to think one or several of the old Sabeans would have dismissed the idea as preposterous, a spectacular waste of time.But this Sabean and there have been several over the years, be quite sure saw no harm and acknowledged that there might be some benefit to expanding his audience, and by extension the baseball operations department. Its an admission by someone who have never worried much about perception that no segment of the perception class can be taken for granted.Honestly, I wasnt really sure how much of the fan base these guys reach, because Id never given it that much thought, he said. I know they were talking to Boch (manager Bruce Bochy) earlier, and that seemed to go well. In the end, it wasnt a big deal at all, and if it helped some, fine.Sabean has been pigeonholed over time as the anti-youthanti-numbers guy; the first is palpably false simply by looking at the pitching staff, the catcher, two of three first base candidates, the shortstop, the third baseman and the right fielder. The second is not easily disproven, except for the fact that he has the same level of numbers-crunchers as any other front office.He does not speak numbers-crunching, though, and therein lies much of the misperception about him. He speaks as a scout would, because he was a scout. But he doesnt think solely as a scout would, and he doesnt ignore the metrics of the day. Others in baseball operations do the metrics, and bring their findings to him.And it all is part of the process of making decisions, along with the bottom line, and the clubhouse fit, and a lot of other things, he said. Most decisions get made by time and space, to be honest with you. Whats going on at the time a decision has to be made, and how much space (money, contract length, roster flexibility) there is to make it.Sabean, in fact, has been different operators at different times for different people. As the second-longest serving general manager in one place, he has survived 15 years of ebb and flood tides, with the best divisional record, third best league record and sixth best major league record interspersed with down years in the mid-90s and late 2000s.He has changed managers twice, had two ownerships changed above him, and for the most part kept the bulk of his baseball ops department together. And he has been, if not the most reluctant public speaker, then at least one who picks his spots more judiciously than most. Hes never viewed the audience as his I figured the players in the room and what they do on the field explains what we do better than anything else.But with an information glut that needs constant tending and feeding, he has been forced to consider other outlets for advancing the organizations methodologies. So he had a Q-and-A with bloggers, and though nothing is scheduled, he is willing to expand the conduits to the audience more in the future.Its what you have to do in this day and age, and like I said, it was like to talking to the beat guys, he said, squinting into the sun as players came and went in front his dugout perch.He did not say whether that comparison flatters, flat-lines or shames beat writers, bloggers, or the media en masse. Some views of the outside world he continues to keep to himself.

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

SAN FRANCISCO — After the final out Monday night, a round table was carried into the corner of the home clubhouse at AT&T Park and surrounded by chairs. Eleven players were sitting, eating, drinking and laughing as Chris Stratton prepared to address the media. 

It was a rare sight for the Giants these days, a very rare sight. But then, so was Monday’s result. Stratton led the way in a 2-0 win over the Brewers that was the first home shutout of the season and motivated the joyous post-game scene. 

The shutout was just the second of the season for the staff. Ty Blach went the distance in the other one and Stratton, a fellow rookie, did the heavy lifting Monday, throwing six strong innings before giving way to the bullpen. Matt Cain pitched the seventh, Mark Melancon pitched the eighth while going back-to-back for the first time in three months, and Sam Dyson closed it out quickly. 

There’s a chance that Stratton joins that group in a few days. Johnny Cueto is scheduled to make a rehab start on Tuesday night in Sacramento and that could put him on track to return to the rotation a turn later. That would line up with Stratton’s next start, but Bruce Bochy wasn’t ready to kick the young righty out of the rotation, not after back-to-back scoreless starts against two of the better lineups in the league. A few days after striking out 10 Washington Nationals, Stratton cut through the Brewers. He has 12 2/3 scoreless innings over his past two appearances. 

“For how we’re using him, he’s really handled it well,” Bochy said. “We skipped him, moved him back three or four days, but he doesn’t let it faze him. This is an important time for these young players coming up, whether it’s (Ryder) Jones or (Jarrett) Parker or Stratton. They’re trying to show they belong in the Major Leagues.

“You’re hoping these guys show they’re ready to play here and we don’t have to do something else because we can do it internally.”

Bochy said he could use a six-man rotation when Cueto returns, or a starter could be skipped. That will all sort itself, but the manager made one thing clear. 

“We’d like to pitch him as much as we can,” Bochy said of Stratton.

That’s the same thing Bochy used to say of another right-hander, one he compared Stratton to before Monday’s game. Bochy was asked about Yusmeiro Petit, and he smiled and fondly stated, “He was so good. So good.” The Giants see some Petit in Stratton. He is unaffected by long layoffs and he’s capable of starting, relieving, or even pumping his fastball up a couple ticks for short outings. 

Petit was a mainstay in San Francisco for years, a key cog in a championship team. Bochy has been looking for that piece since Petit departed in free agency, and Stratton seems like he might be suited for the role. He will want more, of course, because all pitchers do. The Giants will give him five more weeks here to try and earn that. 

For the moment, Stratton’s focus is elsewhere. He turns 27 on Monday and the celebration started early. As Stratton answered questions, veterans at the table heckled him about striking out just one Brewer. 

“I left all the strikeouts in Washington, I guess,” Stratton said. 

Nick Hundley walked up with a TV remote and held it up between the cameras. 

“What was your thought on the punchout?” he asked. 

“I’m glad he swung,” Stratton said, smiling. “It was a ball.”

“Did you think about getting any more?” Hundley asked. 

With that, he smiled and ducked back behind the cameras to return to the celebration in the corner. A few minutes later, Stratton joined him.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Ty Blach has been a bright spot in this losing season, giving the Giants a young, cost-controlled lefty who can potentially fill a huge role next season. Chris Stratton is trying to do the same thing from the right side. 

The 26-year-old continued his August surge, throwing six dominant innings against the Brewers in a 2-0 win that was the staff's first shutout at AT&T Park this season. 

It was the kind of night that's been so familiar over the years. The Giants had six home shutouts last season. Here are five things to know from this year's first ... 

—- The Brewers are first in the league in homers and the Nationals are third, so Stratton had his work cut out for him the last two times out. His results: 12 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s quite the statement. Stratton’s scoreless streak is the longest by a Giants rookie starter since Chris Heston threw 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in July of 2015. 

—- Matt Cain was used as a short reliever to protect a two-run lead in the seventh. He had a 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout. 

—- Mark Melancon pitched back-to-back games for the first time since May 19-20. He struck out Neil Walker and Ryan Braun in a perfect inning. 

—- Jarrett Parker reached base his first three times up. He’s hitting .385 at home this season but he’s just 4-for-35 (.114) on the road. Weird splits for a Giant slugger. 

—- Brandon Crawford is finally finding some traction. His double in the fourth was the big hit in a two-run frame that gave Stratton a lead to work with. Crawford is 7-for-17 on the home stand with three extra-base hits and four RBI.