If there is one thing that General Managers Brian Sabean and Billy Beane have in common, it’s that both buck convention. Billy Beane does so with the flair of a virtuoso– he sees the ghost in the machine, the numbers within the numbers, like Hoffman’s idiot savant from Rainman, when the chips are down, he makes it rain (or so I’m told– I never could sit through that movie in its entirety).
Brian Sabean bucks convention the way a drunk captain of a cruise ship might. Thunderstorms ahead? Good. No need to change course. Should provide a nice switch from all that sun we’ve been having. Maybe tomorrow we’ll head south a bit. Slalom around some icebergs. That’ll be a real thrill for the kiddies, eh? Brian Sabean, you see, liked to draft pitchers. Can’t get enough of them. Even when the system is flush with pitchers, he’ll land you another pitcher. In fact top secret sources have revealed that the Giants’ draft board under his direction looked like this. But when it came to position players, he was a like a jittery teen encountering his first bra. By the end of the evening, there was disappointment and embarrassment from all parties involved. The conclusion was forgone. The Giants have drafted another pitcher.
This season, however, something happened. Maybe it was the hiring of Jim Barr. Maybe Sabean finally realized that he could no longer build an offense through free agent acquisitions. Whatever was the cause, the Giants selected four position players with their first four picks. And not only that, the picks were almost universally acclaimed by pundits and fans as shrewd. (This unprecedented occurrence naturally caused the majority of Giants fans to pinch themselves afterwards and then check their calenders to make sure that it was indeed June and not April 1st.) And shrewd it was. The Giants picked Buster Posey, who was considered by the Rays as a possibility for the first overall pick, Conor Gillaspie who could have gone in the first round, Roger Kieschnick, a toolsy OF who hadn’t quite lived up to his potential, and Brandon Crawford who was considered by some to be a first round pick before his pedestrian showing this season. Solid picks all. It appeared that after years of drafting ineptitude, Brian Sabean finally got it.
The big recent news (which I had missed due to Internet troubles) was the Giants’ signing of Conor Gillaspie. I personally regard Conor’s pick more so than Buster Posey’s as a step in the right direction. My thinking is this: 1. It is very hard to fuck up a number five pick overall. 2. It is very easy to fuck up a supplemental pick (for reference, see Jackson Williams). Of course it is way too early to label Conor a success, but it is not too early to label him a good pick. Conor is widely regarded to have an advanced bat, projected by most scouts to hit for average, but with only line drive power. Scouts also praise his work ethic and determination. He is often compared to the Giants’ own Bill Mueller.
In looking at a supplemental pick, it should be said that success is relative. If Conor turns into a player like Mueller, I would be ecstatic. If he turns into a player like Darin Erstad– that is, a below average player with a couple of good peak seasons– I would also be pleased. He played in his first pro game in the Arizona League yesterday, going 1 for 5. Ideally, he would show that he is too advanced for the league, finish the year at Salem-Keizer and start next year at San Jose.
Some scouting reports:
- The Giants also signed 23rd round pick RHP Jason Jarvis. Jason was one of the more interesting names of the draft, as he had dropped out of college due to academics. He is an aggressive pitcher with low 90s heat with a change and curve in his repertoire. I would imagine that his make-up has severely impacted his draft status. Based on stuff alone, I think he would have gone in the first ten rounds. BA projects him as a reliever.
- The Giants also recently released OF Jeremiah Luster who had been playing at Salem-Keizer. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, I had high hopes for Jeremiah. He was a toolsy OF drafted out of high school in the later rounds– the kind of players I wish the giants would draft more often on the second day of the draft. The second interesting point about Luster is for you trivia buffs out there. If you remember, Adrianza Ehire was called up to Fresno from Arizona to fill in for a couple of games earlier this year. Last year, that man was Jeremiah Luster who was similarly called up to Fresno from Salem-Keizer to fill in for a couple of games. In 2006, the Fresno Grizzlies also needed a stopgap for a few games. That year, they called up Tayler (with an ‘e’) Creswell from Arizona. Tayler was released last month if you’ll recall. So for those of you who have high hopes for Ehire Adrianza or attach significance to his temporary call-up, history is unfortunately not on your side.
- Edited to add: I was reading Andy Baggarly’s excellent blog and noticed some fans wringing their hands about the lack of draft signings. I’m not a Sabean supporter by any means, but if the picks indeed don’t sign, I won’t place all of the blame on Sabean. If there’s one thing the Zito deal has shown us, it’s that Sabean is not afraid to shell out the big bucks (unfortunately for us.) If Posey indeed wants nothing short of 10 million, I would seriously reconsider signing him. Two picks in the top ten next year would be quite a boon, especially since next year’s crop looks to be quite good in the early first round. However, I still think that all of this is for naught and the early picks will sign.