Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.
Brian Sabean has experienced a pretty big change in the public perception department. He’s a scout-turned GM who, at least by some, was described as slow to adopt sabermetric principles and whose early success was attributed more to Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent than to any of his own brilliance.
But then Bonds and Kent went away and, after a brief fallow period, the Giants won three World Series in five years. A lot of that winning is attributable to the fact that Sabean is not, by damn sight, as one-dimensional an executive as his detractors (including this writer) once mistakenly claimed. He has an analytics department. He has drafted well. He has improvised on the fly. He has made good trades. Yes, he has made some bad trades and some really bad free agent signings, but any GM who has been on the job for 18 years is going to have those.
The thing about Sabean: he appears to be open to just about anything and seems to be less beholden to philosophical stances and prejudices that color the thinking of even the best GMs. If he thinks it’ll help him win games, he’ll do it. And the Giants have won a lot of games during his tenure. Including 12 games in three World Series that any GM in the game would anything to have won.