San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean has been catching a lot of flak across the country for his brutal comments on Derrick Cousins and his collision with Buster Posey. For those who aren't familiar with Sabean, a lot of it is warranted.
For those of us who know his history, this is honestly a nice surprise. Far away from the tire-kicking, wait-and-see, not-speculating-on-that Brian Sabean that we've seen for the past years, this guy comes out and honestly says what a lot of us have been thinking.
And you know what? He's earned it.
Sabean is the longest-tenured GM in the Majors, surviving (15) years, two World Series, two 90+ loss seasons, and an almost seamless ownership transition.
He's had his share of travails that have alienated him among many Giants fans. He's not the most popular guy on campus. But last year, everyone kind of shut their mouths and watched. Because the Giants had a new philosophy: build that farm system. And it worked.
The 2002 World Series roster boasted such homegrown names as Rich Aurilia, Pedro Feliz, and Russ Ortiz. Everyone else? Not ours. Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, JT Snow, Kenny Lofton, Reggie Sanders, David Bell, Livan Hernandez and Robb Nen all came via trade or free agency.
The 2010 World Series featured a homegrown rotation of Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner. The setup man (Sergio Romo) and closer (Brian Wilson) were both drafted by the Giants.
And finally, there are position players coming up to match. Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt, Nate Schierholtz, Manny Burriss, Brandon Crawford. And of course, Buster Posey.
This isn't just any catcher that Sabean is protecting. It's BUSTER POSEY. Tim Lincecum may be "The Franchise," but Posey became the remaking of the Giants philosophy made flesh. He was the savior, the symbol of the good things to come.
And Sabean needs him. Buster Posey is the reason that Sabean's house isn't a pile of ashes with a "Torcato in '02!" sign planted in it. And now he's out for the year.
Sabean has never been of the inflammatory sort. He's more of the "WHY CAN'T HE SAY ANYTHING DEFINITIVE" kind of guy.
So maybe he's not used to this whole taking-a-stand thing. But he took a chance and did it. The Giants needed a boost.
Pablo went down. Zito's out. DeRosa is out. Ford and Fontenot are on the DL. And, before St. Louis at least, all those heroes that Sabean looked like a genius for bringing in for 2010 were failing to recapture that magic.
Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Andres Torres and especially Aubrey Huff (until last night) are nowhere near the level of play that made last year so great. Miguel Tejada hasn't exactly been...satisfactory.
Posey wasn't just the catcher. He was the handler of the staff. He was the cleanup hitter. He led the Giants in HRs and RBIs. And he's still leading all National League catchers at the All-Star ballot.
And really, even though we all know Sabean has been curt at times, at the very least, does he ever say anything clearly without thinking it through first? Even when you do get a straight answer, you're not really satisfied.
So when he calls out Cousins, it has a purpose. It's not to belittle the rookie, or browbeat or threaten him. Sabean is simply saying, you took out MY guy, and I don't really care what happens to you.
For those who interpret the comments to be wishing a career-ending injury on Cousins, that's a little extreme. Is someone going to buzz Cousins when the Giants and Marlins play next? Probably. Are they going to run out to right field and cleat him in the face? Epic, but no. Death threats to Cousins? Also a little extreme.
Sabean isn't an idiot. Shrewd, frank, kind of an asshole, yes. But reckless? Not really his style.
So I can't help but think that 1) that's how much Buster Posey means to everyone up and down this organization, and 2) Brian Sabean has other motives.
As you can see, Sabean is getting a call from Joe Torre, so maybe that was his endgame all along. The Giants also played pretty damn well against the Cardinals too. It may not have been conventional, or popular, but Sabean is getting what he wanted, which should come as no surprise.