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Brian Sabean And The Case Of The ‘Unproven’ Hitter

October 17, 2011

"What's that? I shouldn't stuff two fingers in my nose simultaneously? Did you notice the ring, muthafukka?"

I don’t have many love-hate relationships. Generally, I’m an either/or kinda guy. I love Buffalo Bleu Kettle Chips and I hate people who block an entire row of parking spaces while waiting for the old lady who’s fumbling for her keys and is obviously going to take twenty goddamn minutes to pull out and Jesus shit there’s an open spot RIGHT fucking there!

But there’s no other way to describe my relationship with Brian Sabean. Time was I defended him. Mad about the Matt Williams-to-the-Indians trade? Well, Jeff Kent. Pissed we got Michael Tucker instead of Vlad Guerrero? Blame ownership. Think Bonds should have been cut loose a year (or two) sooner? Um, he’s Barry Bonds.

Then came the Nathan/Liriano/Boof for one year of nut-kneeing-no-chin-lunatic debacle and I grabbed a flaming pitchfork and joined the message-board-dwelling angry mob. Then, ahem, last year happened and it was like that “friend” who you’re always eager to badmouth and who you totally didn’t invite to your party but who shows up out of nowhere to help you change your tire in the rain and follows you home to make sure you’re OK and tells you how he loves what you’ve done with the place, and don’t you feel like the asshole.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not blaming 2011 on Sabean. No one could have predicted the tsunami of injuries and even if one had, what the hell would one have done about it, short of going back in time and castrating Scott Cousins’s father?

No, this post isn’t about last year (or, technically, “this” year if you’re a Rangers or Cardinals fan, in which case what on earth are you doing here?). This post is about Sabean’s (and the Giants’) attitude toward young players — specifically hitters — which can be summed up as follows: “Be awesome instantly or prepare for the yo-yo ride of your life, augmented by long, inexplicable periods spent rubber-cemented to the bench while a crumbling veteran who has no place in this team’s present or future steals your at-bats.”

Or you could listen to Sabean, (in a piece about Gary Brown and Joe Panik, the Giants’ most recent first-round picks) who apparently believes the team has the opposite problem:

“I will say that we’re all learning that we’re probably moving players too fast now, even the ones like Brandon Belt that fly through the Minor Leagues…All of a sudden, in the National League especially and in our division, there’s some pretty rugged pitching you face every night. It’s very difficult to protect a young player that doesn’t have a lot of Minor League experience. … The pitching up here is so good that you better be sure that someone can pull their weight in the lineup.”

Yeah, wouldn’t want to leave anybody who can’t handle that “rugged pitching” in for too long. Certainly you wouldn’t want to bat him (or him, for that matter) leadoff.

I don’t know if Brown and Panik are the next Sandoval and Posey, or the next Torcato and Linden. Neither does Brian Sabean. Clearly, though, we have different opinions about the best way to find out.

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