Sabean's Savvy Lifts Giants to Brink of a Title


Sabean's Savvy Lifts Giants to Brink of a Title


ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Forget everything that might have seemed wrong with how Brian Sabean ran the Giants at times.

An NL championship powered by a homegrown pitching rotation and a shot at the franchise's first World Series title out West may make people realize Sabean had a solid plan all along -- even if it took awhile, seemed chaotic along the way and needed a few misfits as a finishing touch.

"The bigger pride is the place in time. We're in a unique place in time," Sabean said before his team took a 3-1 World Series lead over the Texas Rangers on Sunday. "The opportunity presented itself and this group seized it. Our angst now is we really hope that these guys can pull it out because they deserve it. This group has been all in, in some form or another, starting back in spring training. We've been playing full out since the All-Star break. That's one of the reasons we've gotten this far."

Sabean endured the craziness of the Barry Bonds era and the home run king's 2007 pursuit to break Hank Aaron's record. He resisted the constant temptation to trade top pitching talents Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. He provided second chances to castoffs like Pat Burrell and Cody Ross, and it has paid off in a big way.

And Sabean will never take any credit for it, always quick to praise the players, manager Bruce Bochy and his coaches, then Sabean's own staff and scouts.

"Brian's a great credit deflector," Giants President Larry Baer said. "I think anybody would be hard-pressed to find a better performance by a general manager from beginning to end than what Brian's done."

San Francisco's postseason rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and rookie Madison Bumgarner is the first homegrown foursome in the World Series since the runner-up 1986 Boston Red Sox. There's also rookie catcher Buster Posey, the Giants' fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft, and this season's majors saves leader, closer Brian Wilson. Both have come through San Francisco's system.

"The timing's good. The organization needed it and the fan base needed it. I don't worry about myself," Sabean said. "It's rewarding because of the process. Every sector of the organization chipped in."

Across San Francisco Bay, Oakland general manager Billy Beane gained national acclaim for his statistics and numbers-oriented sabermetrics analysis, inspiring the best-seller "Moneyball" but not winning the A's a title.

Sabean, however, has found success doing things his way -- relying on his eyes, and the expertise around him. He is a regular in the stands during postseason workouts and batting practice, just watching and observing his players at work. He rarely takes his eyes off the field, even with his front-office mates sitting around him.

"You go back to his Yankee days, he's got the eyes," Baer said. "He's got the scout's eyes."

After most games, Sabean stops by Bochy's office and they discuss everything from the roster to who might play the next day. Bochy appreciates Sabean's hands-on approach and daily interaction.

The 54-year-old Sabean is the longest-tenured GM in baseball, about to complete his 14th season with San Francisco. He became the Giants' GM in 1996 after three years in player personnel. He was in the Yankees' organization from 1985-92 as a scout, scouting director and player development director.

"I've had a pretty good career and I think I'm balanced without this happening," Sabean said. "I'm pleased that the fans are excited, everybody's family is excited, including my own. I'm happy for our ownership group. I'm very fortunate and honored to be as long tenured as I have been. It's a blessing."

Yet a year ago in October, Sabean's future with the Giants wasn't certain. Then, he and Bochy each received two-year contract extensions with a club option for 2012 from managing partner Bill Neukom.

Neukom saw enough positive signs from a club that stayed in the wild-card chase until mid-September in 2009 but missed the playoffs for a sixth straight year. Even after Bochy's first season -- and Bonds' last -- in 2007 ended with a 71-91 record, some fan message boards called for his firing. Others figured Sabean deserved a shot to turn things around with Bonds finally out of the picture.

He has done that at last.

Sabean, who has long said he'd like to stay in San Francisco forever, isn't ready to proclaim the Giants a perennial contender after one breakthrough season.

"I don't want to put us in that category yet," he said.

Sabean guided the Giants to the 2002 World Series as the wild card and NL West crowns in 1997, 2000 and '03, their last year in the playoffs before this remarkable run.

"I think he really wants the attention to go to the players," said John Barr, a special assistant to Sabean who is with his seventh big league team. "He's been phenomenal. He's been relentless in bringing us to where we are. He's been relentless in doing whatever he can to make this team better, and that's 24 hours a day. We're all happy that he allows us to be part of it. I feel fortunate to be able to work for him. He's one of the best general managers I've worked for."

Sabean has taken heat at times for signing players to big contracts like pitcher Barry Zito's 126 million, seven-year deal through 2013 with a club option for 2014, and a 60 million, five-year contract for center fielder Aaron Rowand done in December 2007. The acquisition of Freddy Sanchez from Pittsburgh at the 2009 trade deadline seemed to be a disappointment last year when Sanchez couldn't stay on the field because of injuries. But he has been a reliable, healthy option most of this season after beginning the year on the disabled list following December shoulder surgery.

Sanchez has come through with his bat and glove this World Series.

"No. 1, he has operated on a budget that is not a slam dunk, killer budget," Baer said. "The key thing is, you get temptations. In '08, especially, we weren't winning, '07 was a rough year. The temptations for a quick fix ... those temptations are real and between the eyes. Brian sucked it up and had the thinking we could come out on the other end. And here we are on the other end."

Lowrie, Melvin ejected, Holliday's late homer dooms A's in loss to Yankees

Lowrie, Melvin ejected, Holliday's late homer dooms A's in loss to Yankees


NEW YORK -- Oakland rookie Jharel Cotton held the Yankees hitless until Matt Holliday launched a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning that sent resurgent CC Sabathia and New York to a 3-2 victory Saturday.

Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was in the right spot for a pair of key catches to boost the AL East leaders, who won with just two hits.

Sabathia (5-2) has won three straight starts for the first time since April 2013. The 36-year-old lefty pitched into the seventh and struck out nine.

Dellin Betances escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth, an inning that included the ejections of A's hitter Jed Lowrie and manager Bob Melvin for arguing strike three calls. Betances closed for his fifth save.

Cotton (3-5) was promoted from Triple-A Nashville before the game. He began the season in the Athletics' rotation but was sent down to the minors May 11 to refine his game.

Cotton's work on mixing his repertoire and throwing inside paid off. The 25-year-old righty hadn't come close to giving up a hit when he retired the first two batters in the sixth, yet he had thrown a lot of pitches.

After Gary Sanchez walked, Holliday homered. He connected on Cotton's 105th delivery, sending a drive to nearly the exact spot where Frankie Montas was warming up in the Oakland bullpen for a 3-1 lead.

Starlin Castro followed with a sharp single that finished Cotton, who struck out five and walked three in his 13th big league start. Cotton made his debut last September.

The last pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Yankees all by himself was Hoyt Wilhelm in 1958 for Baltimore. In 2003, six Houston pitchers combined to no-hit the Yankees.

Ryon Healy hit an RBI double with two outs in the sixth that made it 1-all and took third on the throw home. Trevor Plouffe then lofted a fly to shallow right that Castro chased back from his second base spot - the ball popped out of his glove, right into Judge's mitt.

The 6-foot-7 Judge collided with beefy first baseman Chris Carter while swooping in to grab Chad Pinder's foul fly leading off the seventh. Judge's sunglasses went flying and Carter went down, but everyone was OK.

The Yankees scored in the first on a walk, a hit batter and Castro's sacrifice fly.

Josh Phegley homered off Sabathia in the seventh, pulling the A's to 3-2.


Athletics: 1B Yonder Alonso missed his third straight start because of a sore right wrist. Melvin said he hoped Alonso could play Sunday.

Yankees: Closer Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) made 25 throws from 60 feet, his first baseball activity in two weeks. He said he felt fine after the workout and that he will throw again Sunday. ... Slumping 3B Chase Headley will get a day or two off. "He's just frustrated and trying too hard," manager Joe Girardi said.


Athletics: RHP Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77) is 1-2 with a 3.97 ERA in four May starts after going 4-1 with a 1.84 ERA in five April starts.

Yankees: RHP Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35) has given up no more than three earned runs in his last eight starts.

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.