Results tagged ‘ Brian Sabean ’

Molina fine with move to fifth

SAN FRANCISCO — Did you notice the subtle difference in the Giants’ batting order Monday? Bengie Molina batted fifth in the series opener against the Colorado Rockies — marking the first time that he hadn’t hit cleanup since the 2007 season. Pablo Sandoval replaced Molina in the four-hole.

Manager Bruce Bochy explained that he hoped to re-create the magic of Sunday, when San Francisco lashed 15 hits and defeated the Dodgers, 7-2. As Molina rested, Sandoval went 2-for-4 from the fourth spot. In fact, each of San Francisco’s collected multiple hits and combined to go 10-for-17 with five RBIs.

“I like the way it went yesterday,” Bochy said before Monday’s game. “It’s not a lot of tweaking, but we put some runs on the board.”

Molina, who hit mostly sixth in 2007 before replacing Barry Bonds at cleanup, accepted the move unblinkingly.

“I always respect what Bochy has to do,” Molina said.

Molina said that Bochy didn’t consult him before making the move but noted, “He doesn’t have to. He’s the manager; [Brian] Sabean’s the general manager. They’re the ones who make the decisions.”

Many critics have charged that Molina isn’t a prototypical cleanup hitter. But he has been extremely productive, at least by the club’s standards. He amassed a career-high 95 RBIs last year and entered Monday ranked second on the club in homers (17) and RBIs (70). “I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of,” Molina said. “I probably did much more than they expected.”

– Chris Haft

Torres makes things happen; Wild Card musings

OAKLAND — At best, Andres Torres ranks as the Giants’ fourth outfielder. But he moved to the front of the line as a source of the Giants’ success in their 4-1 victory Tuesday night over the Oakland A’s.

Torres coaxed a first-inning walk on Vin Mazzaro’s 3-2 pitch and opened the scoring by rushing home on Pablo Sandoval’s double. Many runners might have held at third base. But third-base coach Tim Flannery, aiming to capitalize on Torres’ speed, waved the speedster home. Sure enough, A’s shortstop Orlando Cabrera’s hurried relay flew high and wide.

“He ignited us,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Torres. “That showed you what speed can do. He plays with a lot of energy, which you love.”

Torres helped seal the victory by making a not-so-routine catch of Adam Kennedy’s fly ball against the wall down the left-field line in foul territory. It ended the seventh inning and stranded two A’s baserunners.

“He probably saved us with that catch,” Bochy said.

Torres’ grab propelled Tim Lincecum to his complete-game victory. “I thought he was going to run into the wall, which he did, but it was nice the ball stayed in the playing field,” Lincecum said of Torres’ grab. “I was as pumped as anybody else.”

Torres, who wouldn’t boast about his skills if you paid him, explained that common sense helped him make the play on Kennedy’s fly. Kennedy, said Torres, had been trying to hit the ball to the opposite field all evening — probably a wise ploy against Lincecum. So, said Torres, “I tried to play that way a little bit.”

Encountering the wall didn’t concern Torres in the least. “I was just trying to catch the ball,” he said.

*****

I was all set to devote a sentence or two in my game wrapup to the Giants staying ahead in the National League Wild Card race. First, however, while waiting to interview Lincecum in the Giants clubhouse, I heard a player watch a televised sports report — I couldn’t tell which network was airing it — that trumpeted the Wild Card standings. This player shook his head in mild disgust. “Five years from now they’ll be talking about the Wild Card in April,” he told the Giant sitting next to him.

Translation: It’s far too early to make a big deal about the Wild Card. So I opted not to contribute to the hype.

I’ll occasionally mention it in the near future, though. It’s relevant to monitor, since the Giants’ position likely will influence what general manager Brian Sabean does or doesn’t do before the July 31 trade deadline. But getting overly worked up about it and delivering twice-daily updates is probably premature.

– Chris Haft 

 

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Sandoval’s elbow causes concern; more from Sabean

SEATTLE — Pablo Sandoval has a tender right elbow which he injured in Friday night’s seventh inning as he dove to stop a Kenji Johjima grounder. This limited Sandoval to designated-hitter duties Saturday, a role he’ll probably occupy again Sunday.

But Sandoval’s diminished ability to throw affects more than just whether he can play third base.

Manager Bruce Bochy will be forced to keep catcher Bengie Molina in the lineup until Sandoval can throw again. Molina already has started eight games in a row and might not rest again until Thursday’s scheduled off-day. Meanwhile, his batting average has taken a beating, dropping from .304 to .276 during a 1-for-17 skid entering Saturday. Bochy said he wanted Sandoval to catch Sunday, but Molina likely will have to keep toiling.

Bochy said that emergency No. 3 catcher Kevin Frandsen is not ready to start a game behind the plate.

Summoning a catcher from Triple-A Fresno is an option — it’d probably be Eli Whiteside, since Steve Holm was demoted last week and has to stay put for at least 10 days — yet neither Bochy nor general manager Brian Sabean indicated that this would happen soon.

***** 

More stuff from general manager Brian Sabean, who spoke Saturday with reporters covering the Giants (a main story is on the website):

On closer Brian Wilson, who has lost three of his last five outings while compiling a 12.28 ERA: “[He has] had some trials and tribulations, but that’s going to be natural; He’s still cutting his teeth doing that job.”

On the team in general, other than its lousy hitting: “I like the effort and I like the fact that we’re doing two things you have to do to compete, and that’s pitch and play defense.”

When asked if he has seen enough of first baseman Travis Ishikawa to evaluate him fully: “I don’t think so. … With him it’s consistency. We’ve seen him have some really good at-bats against some really good pitching and then just the opposite. In his case, while we really love the defense. … The strikeouts (29 in 93 at-bats entering Saturday) don’t help and the low on-base percentage (.298) doesn’t help.”

On Pablo Sandoval’s progress at third base: “At least in this snapshot, he’s shown that he can play that position and it’s more than making routine plays. He’s much more accomplished than I think we all thought, at least up to this point.”

Finally, Sabean squashed any speculation that he came here to get fired or discuss his job security with managing general partner Bill Neukom, who’s also in town. They did not discuss his job status, said Sabean, whose contract expires after this season. Sabean planned to spend the weekend scouting amateur players for next month’s draft, but decided to see the big club after the excruciating three-game sweep in San Diego.”I don’t want the reputation of not being around when things are a little upside down,” Sabean said. 

– Chris Haft

Neukom puts his stamp on Giants

 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The business of baseball no longer belongs mainly to businessmen, but also to traditional baseball men. At least that’s what Bill Neukom believes.

Neukom, the Giants’ managing general partner, revealed Friday that key figures from baseball operations, including general manager Brian Sabean, vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans and scouting director John Barr, have been attending meetings of the Giants’ investors — not just to hear more than they ordinarily might about ledgers and balance sheets, but also to impart some of their horsehide-oriented wisdom upon the millionaires. “Part of the Giants Way,” said Neukom, citing his now-familiar program for revitalizing the franchise, “is integrating the business side and the baseball side of our enterprise.”  

Neukom also pointedly mentioned the contributions of Jeremy Shelley, senior director of baseball operations/pro scouting, and baseball operations coordinator Yeshayah Goldfarb — reflecting the Giants’ increased emphasis on statistical analysis. This, too, reflects Neukom’s influence since he took over the club last Oct. 1.

“These are not just crunchers who give you some funny numbers,” Neukom said. “They know the game, love the game and have an opinion, and they stand up to Brian and the scouts and [vice president of player personnel Dick] Tidrow and say, ‘This is not the guy you want for these reasons’ or ‘this is what you might not have caught on this guy.’ “

Sabean, to his credit, has mentioned statistical analysis more than once during recent months to explain certain moves — or non-moves.

Given the state of the economy, it’s wise for anybody involved in baseball to understand more about the game’s monetary aspects. The recession, said Neukom, “is a serious matter and it’s changing the complexion of the finances of the game. We want to try to stay in front of that if we can. Be prudent.”

– Chris Haft

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