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.

Mike Trout has been really good at baseball lately

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“Water wet,” “Sky blue,” “Dog bites man” and “Mike Trout good” are not exactly newsworthy sentiments, but once in a while you have to state the obvious just so you can look back later and make sure you were, in the moment, aware of the obvious.

And to be fair, “Mike Trout good” is underselling the Angels outfielder lately. He’s on the greatest tear of his great career lately, and dang it, that’s worthy of a few words on this blog.

Last night Trout went a mere 1-for-1, but that’s because the Diamondbacks were smart enough not to pitch to him too much, walking him twice. There was no one on base the first time he came up and he got a free pass. There was a guy on first but two outs the second time, so he was once again not given much to hit and took his base again. Arizona was not so lucky the third time. The bases were loaded and there was nowhere to put Trout. He smacked the first pitch he saw for a two-run single. They probably shoulda just walked him anyway, limiting the damage to one. The last time up he reached on catcher’s interference. Maybe Arizona figured that literally grabbing the bat from him with a catcher’s mitt was the best bet?

If so you can’t blame them, really. Not with the month he’s had. In June, Trout is hitting .448/.554/.776 with five homers. He currently leads the league in the following categories: home runs (23), runs (60), walks (64), on-base percentage (.469), OPS (1.158) OPS+ (219), total bases (179) and intentional walks (9). He currently has a bWAR of 6.5. WAR, in case you did not know, is a cumulative stat. When he won the 2014 MVP Award, he “only” had 7.6 for the entire year.

Sadly, one man does not a team make, so the Angels are only 9-8 in the month of June and have fallen far back of the red-hot Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners in the division race. For this reason I suspect a lot of people are going to do what they’ve long done and overlook Mike Trout’s sheer dominance or, even more ridiculously, claim he is overrated or something (believe me, I’ve seen it even this month).

Feel free to ignore those people and concentrate instead on the greatest baseball player in the game today, who has somehow managed to up his game in recent weeks.