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Sabean: No blockbusters coming
Small tweaks more likely before deadline
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
A move to the bullpen should boost Kevin Correia's stock. (Ben Margot/AP)
DENVER -- Giants senior vice president and general manager Brian Sabean isn't bullish on the baseball marketplace.
No big boppers for sale. No supercharged pitchers on the trading block this month. No players, Sabean says flatly, that will instantly turn a contending team -- i.e., San Francisco -- into a runaway winner.
If you orange and black flag wavers are thinking blockbuster, think smaller. Like a good upgrade. Think a veteran pitcher -- a reliever or a starter -- with a decent track record, or a consummate hitter.
On a seismic scale, any move the in-contention Giants make before, or after, the July 31 trading deadline will likely be a dish-rattling 3.5 rather than a shake-the-earth seven-pointer.
"There aren't that many difference-makers out there," said the veteran GM in his midseason assessment. "Lord willing, they'll all go to the Red Sox and Yankees anyway."
And it's the ballplayers, not the front office brass, who will be the key to a team's successful second half, Sabean noted.
"I don't think there's any number of deals that any one team in our division of baseball is going to do that is going to cement anything for anybody," he said. "Personally I think it's a lackluster group of players that could be available. I think there are far too many teams that think they are still in [the races] that are going to glut the market."
Besides, last season's Sidney Ponson trade fiasco still lingers, and the Giants aren't about to mess with their passle of young hotshot pitchers in the minors -- Merkin Valdez, Matt Cain, Craig Whitaker, et al -- in a bold but risky move to obtain a slugger or front-line starter.
Left-handed stater Noah Lowry is all but untouchable, too, and is on the verge of sticking with the club, while closer David Aardsma will have to sharpen his game before being a Giant. A move to the bullpen should boost Kevin Correia's stock.
They're all keepers.
Still, Sabean has never been one to balk at moves to improve his club, and the longtime dealmaker has once again had his cellular phone surgically attached to his right ear -- all the better to chat constantly with his GM brethren.
His track record, while not perfect, is outstanding. Since he took over the GM reins, the Giants have won a National League pennant, three NL West flags and been a Wild Card club, and they have finished either first or second in the West in each of his seven seasons.
He's never allowed the team to become adrift. And he won't now.
"We're looking at all areas," Sabean said. "I don't think we're going to turn our back on any one thing that could help marginally make a difference. So we're looking at starters, relievers and position players, but it's going to have to be at a reasonable price player-wise and it's going to have to be a definitive upgrade."
The Giants raged through the National League West last season like a buzzsaw from beginning to end, but predictions that it would be a tighter race this year proved correct.
Heading into the second half, San Francisco is a half-game behind the division-leading Dodgers, with San Diego right behind. The Giants' torrid surge in June and early July made it a three-horse race, and Sabean believes that won't change.
The club had a mild dip before the break after holding a three-game West lead, but it has won three of its last four games and 24 of its last 36 contests.
"I don't know what the other clubs feel or what our players or the people in uniform feel, but it seems that way," he said of a three-team race. "We all have our relative strengths and we all have our chinks in our armor and I don't know that it's going to change much but I've been wrong every year since '97. I have a hard time thinking it won't be three teams down to the wire."
To that end, the Giants will try to keep their latest hot streak going. They'll keep hoping that ace starter Jason Schmidt and his rotation comrades remain healthy, that Barry Bonds continues to intimidate hurlers with moon shots, that A.J. Pierzynski and Deivi Cruz don't cool off offensively, that Marquis Grissom will be revived after the break, that the bullpen's arms will be fresh and strong.
A lot of ifs and hopes.
"It's not who you are or how well you're constituted, it's how well you're playing against who and when," said Sabean of the West chase. "More than any other year it's going to be won on the field, so that's why it's so critical to do well in the division, to make sure we start off on a big note in the second half and we beat the teams we're going to need to beat."
Easily said, but difficult to accomplish.
Certain areas have to improve, according to Sabean. The starters need to throw more quality innings to give the bullpen breathers, while the defense is still too sporadic.
But if those pieces fall into place, and the offense remains sizzling, the Giants have a good chance of fighting off the Dodgers and Padres and defend their division title.
Sabean is proud of the club's maturity and resilience, especially at the way they did not panic despite being in last place in early May.
"I think you've got to be satisfied with the effort," said Sabean. "They came off the deck. Most of our teams are like that, though. We've been challenged by rocky starts in the past -- 2000 is indicative of that. To see how far they've come, especially with the amount of baseball they've played whatever it is 45 out of the last 48 days or whatever it is, has been pretty impressive."
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
badass32 wrote:i cant wait until this happens, giants win nl west dodgers win wild card, giants and dodgers meet in post season,2-1 game(in favor of dodgers), 9th inning, they walk barry Mike Sweeney goes yard off of gagne , giants win on a walk off hr gagne starts a consecutive blown save streak and never closes another game in the mlb. man that would be great, unless ur a dodgers fan.
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