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.
Go read Mark and Dan’s writeup of Brian Sabean here.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.