With the 10-year anniversary of their last championship, the third in a magical five-year run, around the corner, the San Francisco Giants’ World Series era is only fading further into the rearview mirror, and now the architect of those clubs says he no longer roots for the organization.
“Do I have any ill feelings? No. But do I root for the Giants? I can’t say that I do,” Brian Sabean said during a recent appearance on “The Krueg Show.”
Sabean, 67, joined the Giants’ front office in 1993 and spent the bulk of his career running their baseball operations, overseeing the club’s first World Series title in San Francisco in 2010 and delivering two more in a span of four years, until Farhan Zaidi took over after the 2018 season.
Sabean departed the organization last January to become an adviser to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, an opportunity he said “was always on the table” and “should’ve seen … sooner.” Transitioning to an executive vice president role in Zaidi’s front office, Sabean’s official responsibilities were described as “working on strategic initiatives as a senior advisor and evaluator,” but he said upon taking the Yankees job that he had “expected to be more involved” than he was.
“I probably overstayed my welcome,” Sabean said on the podcast. “I didn’t see the forest through the trees. New regime. I didn’t see as things developed, a path to being wanted and needed. … I was kind of becoming irrelevant and I didn’t like that feeling. I had to move on.”
While there are a few holdovers from the previous regime — most notably assistant GM Jeremy Shelley and VP Yeshayah Goldfarb — Sabean said that “I really don’t have much contact with hardly anybody there because, really, nobody’s left. They’ve pretty much pushed the people that were involved in building our situation there either to the side or have retooled.”
The one current member of the front office Sabean named was scouting director Michael Holmes, whom he described as a “rising star.” Sabean spent his final four years in San Francisco primarily assisting Holmes with amateur draft prep.
When Zaidi took over, the Giants were coming off consecutive losing seasons, and they added a third in 2019 in Bruce Bochy’s final year as manager. They had traded away prospects such as Bryan Reynolds and Zack Wheeler, and Baseball America ranked them 26th out of 30 teams in organizational talent at the start of 2018.
Sabean said it was “understandable” that the current regime had moved on in a different direction.
Of Bochy, who’s back in the manager’s seat with the Texas Rangers and in the ALCS, Sabean said, “he didn’t go out on his own terms.” But Bochy, who announced before the 2019 season that it would be his last, has never said as much publicly — only that it took the right situation to pull him out of a happy retirement in Nashville.
Maybe Bochy’s success (with, it should be noted, a ball club far more talented than the Giants’ current group) or Sabean’s comments have you yearning for yesteryear. The Giants have an opening at manager and an opportunity to go in a different direction than the analytical approach under Gabe Kapler, in lockstep with the front office.
But even Sabean understands the game has changed.
He described himself as an “old-guard GM,” and when host Larry Krueger asked about potential managerial candidates, Sabean admitted, “I don’t know that I’m current enough” to offer an opinion. That said, his candidate pool would likely look different than Zaidi’s, the four potential suitors known to have been interviewed thus far holding no past managerial experience.
“If you asked me what I would look for, I would look for strength of résumé, experience as well as a high level of integrity and loyalty to a cause,” Sabean said. “One thing you can say about Dusty (Baker) and Boch, they’re not looking for their next job. They’re not trying to climb up the totem pole. In some cases I wonder with the next generation or this current generation, what they’re in it for. Are they in it for the right reasons or are they in it to build on their personal fame or their public persona? …
“Where we got lucky as a franchise, Dusty obviously was as big a personality and as strong or stronger in the community than Barry (Bonds). Dusty was an icon unto his own. That kind of set things in motion that our subsequent hires probably needed to be named folks with lengthy résumés, and that’s what happened in landing Felipe (Alou) and ultimately Boch.”