Brian Sabean, Bruce Bochy

Some thoughts on Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean

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Given that we’re only 11 hours out from the Giants winning the World Series, it’s probably no surprise that there’s euphoria in the Giants’ front office. And there’s no surprise that the front office is telling the Merc’s Andrew Baggarly that they’re planning on extending the contracts of manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean. Each of them are under contract for 2011 with options for 2012, but you figure those deals will be torn up and replaced with new ones, befitting their new status as bosses of the champs.

Certainly a no-brainer on Bochy. Even without the title, there’s a reason he stayed on so long in San Diego: he’s a steady manager whose players respect him who has the confidence of his superiors. His performance in the playoffs was pretty damn good too, and there’s little question that he’s one of the better managers in baseball.

I’ve certainly taken my shots at Brian Sabean over the years. So many that I got no less than ten emails from people after last night’s game asking me if I was going to write a mea culpa regarding my criticism of the guy.  Thankfully Matthew put a lot of my thoughts into words overnight. Short version: much of this Giants’ team’s success was built on Sabean’s previous failures. This is not a sharp criticism in my mind, and should even be seen as praise of a sort. How many people refuse to learn from their mistakes, or to even fail to acknowledge them in the first place? Sabean believed that Barry Bonds would play forever and was responsible for the team failing to rebuild for years. But he was also responsible for drafting very, very well in recent years to make up for it and for making a number of shrewd moves during the season that kept a team that a lot of people were writing off in the middle of the summer — myself first and foremost — in the hunt. As reader APBA Guy wrote in a comment thread overnight, this is a results oriented business, and Brian Sabean brought home the title. You can’t argue with that.

But at the same time, you can’t get too carried away. While it’s hard for some to resist calling good luck genius after the fact, I won’t be doing that with Brian Sabean. Most of the time depending on the waiver wire to patch holes midseason is going to backfire on you. Most of the time going into a season counting on aging sluggers like Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff isn’t going to pan out. Most of the time if your two most expensive players — Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand — are non-factors in your playoff push and postseason, you’ve failed as a general manager.  Thanks to the pitching staff and some lightning in a bottle these things didn’t mortally wound the Giants, and while Sabean gets credit for the staff he shouldn’t get credit for the lightning.

Does Brian Sabean deserve a contract extension? Sure he does, because he got the job done that most general managers — including those who are constantly praised by people like me — don’t get done.

But let’s not hand him a book deal for “Success 101: Winning the Brian Sabean Way” either. Because while he made a lot of good moves, a lot of this happened in spite of his biggest decisions.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.