Sabean, Bochy give 'state of the franchise' press conference

Sabean: We need to get better talent, including re-signing our own

Sabean, Bochy give 'state of the franchise' press conference
September 27, 2013, 5:15 pm
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Brian Sabean: "It's safe to say the window, with the group at hand, is closed. Now we've got to create a new window immediately. And that's the task at hand." (AP)

Editor's note: GM Brian Sabean and head coach Bruce Bochy addressed the media for 25 minutes in their yearly "state of the franchise" press conference on Friday. Below is a transcript of their comments.

What went wrong this year?

Sabean:
I think its pretty simple, we didn't have enough depth. Last year, we seemingly were able to overcome injury and lack of performance. We didn't do that this year. We didn't get any kind of life from the minor leagues, whether that was the fifth starter or what we went through in center and left field. Lack of depth became an issue, other than having our team on the field or the best team we could get on the field.

On ability to acquire more experienced role players:

Sabean:
We'll explore that. But you have to do the heavy lifting first. We have to get better talent, including re-signing our own talent. So that's where we'll start.

Is Timmy on offseason to-do list?

Sabean:
Definitely. That mindset hasn't changed. That'll be our next course of action. As you know, we're talking to Hunter's folks now, and Timmy would follow suit.

Would you like to keep him?

Sabean:
Absolutely. That's why we would be talking to him. Nothing has changed since the deadline, when we didn't trade him. And that's the mindset.

Which call-ups impressed the most?

Bochy:
We had a few guys that showed some good things out there. Hembree, the times he's been out there, I think he's done a nice job. Juan Perez was up here earlier, but he looks more comfortable up here now. And he's been getting better at-bats, and playing well on defense. So that's encouraging with the young guys. He's not a young guy, but Petit, he does have some experience up here, but he's been impressive. And he's doing what you hope from these guys, that you show that you belong up here. And that's how he's pitched. You look at a guy like Noonan, he hasn't got a lot of playing time, but he's done a nice job -- whether it's second or third base -- defensively. He looks more comfortable. Now some of these guys haven't gotten the playing time -- the Pegueros the Kieschnicks -- but I do like some of the things the guys I just mentioned have done. Dunning, I'd like to get him some more work. I think he's done a good job up here, not just in September, but earlier when he came up. It's going to be competitive in the spring, and these guys are doing what you're hoping -- some of them -- and showing that they belong here.

Sabean:
I'd say Hembree is the most intriguing to me. He's come a long way in a year, a long way.

Petit to rotation?

Sabean:
I think he has a chance to be on our staff next year. That'll be on our team at hand, the depth we have, and/or with the manager and pitching coach. I think our best interest is with the talent. I personally would not want to see him pitch winter ball, but we'll discuss that.

Progress with Pablo?

Sabean:
You're amazed when you look at the scoreboard and see the stats. It hasn't been a full, or complete, or good year for him. So the sky is still the limit and we're still waiting for that. It's up to Pablo. We've seen the good, the bad and the ugly. He's on the last year of a contract and that either means stepping up for this organization and doing enough for us to want to keep him here, or get himself ready for free agency and move on. It's in his court now, we've done everything we could.

Minor-league evaluation:

Sabean:
We've got as much pitching talent in the lower minor leagues as anyone in baseball. I'm really encouraged by that. And we found that out during our trade exercises at the deadline. The dilemma is that they're at the lower level. And as you know, no matter where they finish, usually the formula is not to add more than 30 or 40 innings into the next year. We've got some guys that could move fast. I'm a big believer that if you're a strike thrower and you have a competent ability to use all your pitchers, that you might not have to pitch in Triple-A. Triple-A is not a good read for us, given the PCL. So our goal is to get some of these guys to Double-A and build their innings. And we may get a surprise. But it's more geared toward 2015 than it is towards next year.

Assessment of the rotation:

Bochy:
Well, when you look at our season, it's probably been an issue for us as much as anything, as we didn't quite have the stability from our starters as we're accustomed to. We had some guys have some rough years, some injuries. Vogeslong going down, Barry Zito had a tough time getting on track. I am encouraged by Matt Cain, and how he threw from the second half on. He just got better and better. I think, overall, it's been a pretty good year for Timmy. I don't think the numbers are indicative of how he threw. He's had some tough luck, and thrown some nice ballgames, where we couldn't get him a win. And you look at bum, probably our most consistent start, was good from day 1 all the way through the season. And that caught up us. Earlier, we were scoring enough runs to overcome their struggles, but even as we got into early June, they hadn't hit their stride and gotten on track and our offense slowed down. So I think, overall, you look at it as somewhat of a down year for our five guys.

Comfortable with No. 3 starter?

Sabean:
We need to add depth. I don't know how the market will play out. But we have another starter on our wish list -- per se -- with or without Timmy.

Wish list: One or two starters and a left fielder, in addition to returning Pence?

Sabean:
That's a good start. As you know, the market is not very friendly in terms of depth. And our budget is the budget. I would, to my point earlier, like to get the heavy lifting out of the way, and then fill it out as best we can. But conventional wisdom tells you we need more talent and we need more depth, and however we accomplish that, we're going to try to do that. I don't know how realistic the trade front is going to be. We got real lucky with that the year before. I don't know if those options will present themselves, but we'll be just as diligent that way, too. And not rely on a free agent market that's going to be very difficult to navigate.

Future for Gaudin?

Sabean:
Chad's pretty banged up right now, so we have to asses where he's going to be this offseason and what that means going into the market.

Future for Zito?

Sabean:
Barry, it was good to see him get that start. It was kind of a twist of fate with Bum not being able to go. And as crazy as this sounds, it might to you folks, if I had to do it over again, I would have done what we did to sign Barry Zito. I think we've learned a lot from his time here. And our pitching staff has. And quite frankly, when we needed him the most, he helped us win the World Series. I find great satisfaction and solace in that. He is a great person, he was a great professional in a Giants uniform and he's going to be missed for a lot of reasons.

Lopez fit into heavy lifting?

Sabean:
Well Lopez, we still want to re-sign, so that hasn't changed. He's very key to our bullpen in his flexibility and how Bochy can use him late in the game in leveraged situations.

Vogelsong fit into heavy lifting?

Sabean:
We're still discussing -- maybe more so because of the budget, nothing to do with Vogey's next start, what it means and to the questions earlier -- how we can build the best and strongest pitching staff, because of what we're up against with the Dodgers staff or with the other four teams that made it into the playoffs from the National League.

Close to making international splash?

Sabean:
I don't know about a splash. It'd probably be a longshot, more the homework being done and getting more immersed in how that market works and how we can get involved.

2012 season in general?

Bochy:
We're all disappointed in how the season turned out for us. We're disappointed were not heading into postseason. And the guys are too. Especially with what's happened here the last three years and the success we've had. Brian touched on some reasons why, I think it's a combination of a lot of things. You know, our pitching not being quite as consistent, our offense struggled, we had trouble catching the ball there for awhile. Now why? These are thing we're working on to get better as we go into the offseason and spring training. The grind that these guys have been through the past three years, it might have caught up with them. They've really been going after it hard, you know, maybe mentally and physically it caught up with them at times here. But I will say, they never stopped. Pence hasn't missed a game, you see the intensity he's playing with. And all of them. I like the way we've been picking it up here in the second half. We have played better ball. We've caught the ball better. We just came off a good series. We had a pretty good road trip our last trip. So it says a lot about them, that they want to finish this up on a good note, a positive note as we go into the offseason. So I do thank them and the fact that what they've been used to, and playing games that haven't quite had the meaning that they have in the past, I like the way they've gotten after it.

Will Hector be back in 2014 to back up Buster?

Sabean:
That's up to hector. He's certainly come a long way, he's had a good second half. I don't know how much winter ball he's going to play, and he maybe could use some playing time. It's really up to him. He's certainly got the talent. And we could use the games behind the plate to spell Buster. It worked terrifically in 2012 and it got better for us in the second half when he was locked into being the backup again.

When did you realize the season was going south?

Sabean:
I think it was pretty apparent. For some reason, June 1 felt like Aug. 1. The professionalism never waned, the effort never waned, but the execution was lacking. There was a lack of performance, and I think that had to do with the physical and mental fatigue. Having said that, we got resourceful and we were able to get better as we moved along through the second half schedule. And if we win this series, it might not sound like much, but we'll finish .500 for the second half because we finished the first half 10 games under.

Bochy:
Similar to what Brian said, I think you look at June. Not to make an excuse here, but it seemed like once Pagan went down. I've always said this, that it's easy to recover from a position player going down than it is for a pitcher, but we had a tough time recovering from that. And with Scutaro -- dealing with his aches and pains, his back -- we missed that one-two. Those were the guys that we really fed off last year -- our catalysts -- guys that really ignited our offense. And we had a tough time overcoming that. We're not a team that relies on power, so that's when it became hard to stop. And we tried everything, we tried some different things in how we prepared, we just had a tough time stopping it.

Pence's impact? Willie Mac Award winner?

Bochy:
A guy that wins the Willie Mac Award is the most inspiration, and that's what he is. He's really amazing, I don't know another player that I've ever had that's played every game, and not just played, but the way he plays, the intensity he plays with when he shows up every day. He's so popular in the clubhouse. He's full of energy. He's a baseball player. He just loves the game. The passion is there every day. He doesn't back off. There's a pop up yesterday, I don't know who else scores from first base on that but Hunter Pence. He didn't slow down a step. You know, he hits a routine two-hopper to short, and you can probably get the same time going down the line. This is a well-deserved award. It will be an honor for him, I hope he's not listening, because i don't think he knows he won this award yet. But I really haven't been around a player that can do what he does on a daily basis, every day.

Can you count on bounce back seasons from Scutaro, Vogelsong?

Sabean:
I don't worry about Scutaro. We really have to fill in the blanks with what went haywire with Vogey. He was so good for us last year, and that's the whole team. The effort that they put forth, and the energy they expended, you wonder the residual effects not only into this year but next year. And he's got some mileage. But this guy is a warrior. He's forever found a way to re-invent himself. And if anyone should get a pass about what didn't go right this year, it's certainly him. But I think Scutaro is going to be fine, I really do. We've talked long and hard about what we can do different in spring training to get ready for the season, because this coming spring training, it's really important for us to get it right and to come out of the gate fast and furious and become a factor again.

Assessing Belt:

Bochy:
He's done what you hope your young players do during a season, and from year to year, and that's improve. That's what he's done. I think from Aug. 17 or 18, he's got the third highest batting average in the National League. He's made some adjustments and he's a better hitter because of it. And he's only going to get better. Now, as far as left field, it's nice to have a player like this that gives you flexibility. He's a good athlete -- he can run, he has a good arm, he played the outfield in college. So if that is something that can help this club, that's a nice option to have. You don't have too many first baseman who you can even think about doing that. Now I can't answer if he'll do it or not now, but as far as the future, this guy is a three-, four-, five-hole type hitter. I think his power is going to increase with these adjustments and I think he's really happy with where he's at right now. He still has some things to work on, but I like where he's at right now.

Future for Crick?

Sabean:
The problem with someone like Crick is that he finished here with 68 innings, not counting what he did in the playoffs. Even though he'll go to the Arizona Fall League, he'll be in the 100-plus range. Arguably, the next step would be Double-A next year and get him to 130-plus innings. Whether it's him or someone else at the lower level, that next wave is probably 2015.

Thoughts on murder at 3rd and Harrison:

Sabean:
It's sickening. I've got six boys of my own, some of them in their mid 20s. I just can't understand how -- sporting event aside -- society has gotten like this. It was away from the ballpark, but it seemed to be confrontation because, I guess, Giants fans of some form -- even though these guys were not the example of what we think of our fans to be, and probably didn't even go to the game -- got involved with somebody that happened to be a Dodgers fan coming back from the game. It's bizarre to me. I really feel, and we all feel, that it's senseless, and anything we can do as an organization, more so as an industry, the sports industry in general, to get people to realize that this is lunacy. From what I understand of the case, these folks were not part of our fan base and just looking for trouble, and you're going to have that element. That's pretty scary, because I live across the street. I walk these streets 24-7. I always thought San Francisco to be safe, so what's to prevent, as I'm walking alone at midnight or one of my boys are walking back from somewhere, something else couldn't happen. So, very disturbing.

How do you balance overhauling the roster?

Sabean:
The longer you do this, at least in my position, you're forever surprised or scratching your head. I thought our chance to repeat in the short team was 2011. And that got sidetracked with Buster going down. I might have been the most surprised person in the world, or in the organization, that that we won last year, maybe more so in the fashion we won. And that team was retooled or redefined from the 2010 team. I didn't go into this year blindly, because what we were trying to do was get one more year from the group at hand in the window we were in. And it just didn't work, for a lot of reasons. So, to your point Baggs, we're going to look at any way and every way to not only get our people back who we think are important going forward and more so get a fresh look for this. And if that's someone from the outside that is within the budget, we'll do that. And if that means pushing some of the younger players, we're prepared to do that too. It's safe to say the window, with the group at hand, is closed. Now we've got to create a new window immediately. And that's the task at hand.

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