Brian Sabean’s fondness for over-the-hill hitters has made him the butt of more than a few jokes during his 16-year run as the Giants’ general manager. What is undeniable, though, is that the man knows something about pitching, particularly young pitching.
Four of the five starters the Giants used this year and in the postseason were drafted by San Francisco, though Ryan Vogelsong circumnavigated the globe before making his way back to the team. Only the costly Barry Zito was acquired through other means.
Now, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner were all first-round picks, but other teams had their shots at them. Cain went 25th in the Moneyball draft in 2002. Lincecum and Bumgarner were 10th overall picks.
New closer Sergio Romo was a true Giants find, getting picked in the 28th round in 2005. Of course, the guy he stepped in for, Brian Wilson, was another Giants draft pick.
Those five Giants draft picks — Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Vogelsong and Romo — combined to post a 0.98 ERA in 27 1/3 innings in the World Series. Only Cain, the Game 4 starter, gave up any runs at all, and if the wind hadn’t been blowing out to aid the home runs of Miguel Cabrera and Delmon Young, perhaps he wouldn’t have allowed any runs, either.
Of course, the Giants had help from a couple of homegrown hitters, too: probable NL MVP Buster Posey was the fifth overall pick in 2008 and World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval was signed by the Giants out of Venezuela in 2003. There certainly haven’t been many success stories like those two from position players during Sabean’s reign, but as the 2012 Giants demonstrated, it doesn’t take a whole lot of hitting with arms like these.
The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.
It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.
Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.