Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Who Had the Better Off Season, Sabean or Beane?

This is a difficult question to answer with a simple yes or no. The true answer may not be known for years to come or at the very least until this season plays out.

In the spirit of the upcoming Oscar awards, let’s create categories of interest and give a special baseball award called, “The Bud” (in honor of the commish) to the winner of each category.

Click Below for the awards and my analysis of the winter moves. I welcome your reactions.

Closest to the pennant in 2005?

Both the A’s and the Giants missed the playoffs last season by one game. Which GM closed the gap?

Brian Sabean, realizing the Giants needed a legitimate big time closer went out and signed the best available ninth inning man Armando Benitez. Barry Bonds was on a pace to walk 400 times this season, so he corralled Moises Alou to hit behind the Big Guy. Deivi Cruz shows as much mobility at short as the Willie Mays statue does in front of SBC Park, so Omar Vizquel comes in to play shortstop. AJ Pierzynski annoyed everyone from Livermore to San Mateo, thus Mike Matheny is the new catcher.

The only area Sabean still hasn’t fully addressed is the set up men in the bull pen. If the old guard from 2004 can’t get the ball to Benitez, it won’t matter who the closer is. Still the Giants look to be dramatically better in 2005.

Realizing that the games are decided from the seventh inning or later Billy Beane went out and rebuilt the A’s ‘pen. Flamethrowers Juan Cruz and Kiko Calero came from the Braves and Cardinals at a hefty price, costing the A’s fan favorites, pitchers Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. Cruz, Calero, Justin Duchscherer, Chad Bradford, Ricardo Rincon, and possibly Huston Street have a great chance to get the ball to closer Octavio Dotel.

You don’t win a pennant in today’s game without an outstanding six to seven man bull pen.

Newcomer Jason Kendall not only gives the A’s a right handed .300 hitting catcher, but his tremendous leadership skills are welcome on a team that needs veteran players with character.

New starters Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, Seth Etherton, Dan Meyer, and Keiichi Yabu won’t make anyone forget Hudson and Mulder, but if they can pitch 6 effective innings more often than not, good things may happen in Oakland.

The A’s are still looking for a right handed hitter to hit in the clean up spot.

The “Bud” goes to Sabean because his team has fewer question marks heading into spring training and is the winter favorite in the NL West.

Who kept up with the Jonses?

Sabean’s only challenger was Arizona GM Joe Garagiola, Jr. The Diamondbacks have improved more than any team in the NL West. The Dodgers lost team MVP Adrian Beltre and Shawn Green, replacements J.D. Drew and Kent don’t measure up.

Both Seattle and Los Angeles of Anaheim went wild filling in weak areas with top flight major leaguers. Texas still is still looking to make its first significant signing, I don’t consider new right fielder Richard Hidalgo the missing piece of the puzzle for the Rangers.

The “Bud” goes to Billy Beane because he had a bigger challenge competing with the fat cats in the West.

Who was the most creative GM?

Brian Sabean’s winter spending reminded me of the time my wife Cristina took the credit cards and check book and bought new furniture for the house, which incidentally came out quite well, even though I’m still paying for the upgrades. Sabean opened the check book and purchased every available free agent he could get his hands on.

Beane did it the old fashioned way, through trades, stretching his credibility as far as possible by trading Hudson and Mulder for virtually unknown players. The only big name deal sent Mark Redman and Arthur, “I don’t want to pitch in Oakland anymore” Rhodes to the Pirates for Kendall.

The “Bud” goes to Billy Beane for creative achievement.

Who took the biggest gamble?

Beane traded two of the best pitchers in Oakland A’s history for six players, none of whom have excelled during their short big league careers. Good luck to him.

Sabean merely has to hope that trainer Stan Conte (no relation to you know who) has a year’s supply of liniment as he tries to keep his aging starting team on the field for 162 games.

The “Bud” goes to Billy Beane hands down. In fact Beane might get a lifetime achievement award for the biggest gamble in team history.

Who created the most off season buzz?

Beane was KNBR talk show host Gary Radnich’s best friend for a month creating ‘good radio” content with his controversial trades. Radnich couldn’t have been more gleeful describing Sabean’s moves to the Giants minions all winter.

The “Bud” goes to Beane for shocking the baseball world by rebuilding the A’s in his computer image.

If the standard for judgment is which local team has the best chance to play in the 2005 World Series, then Sabean and the Giants are the clear winners at the “Oscars”.

The beauty of trying to answer the question is this: No one knows the answer, only time will tell and that’s why I can’t wait for spring training to begin.


1 Anonymous { 02.18.05 at 12:44 pm }

The A’s have more question marks this spring more then the Giants. You’re right on paper, San Francisco seems to be the better team, but Oakland is always a work-in-progress like every other big league club. Remember the Red Sox of last spring weren’t same Boston club who celebrated in last October. Like you always say, “Baseball season is like a book, everyday is like different chapter”. Spring Training hurry up get here.
-Pachyderm aka Edgar B. Martinez, A’s Fan
P.S. Welcome back Oakland Si, comeback to LOTGP Forum I feel lonely there.

2 Anonymous { 02.18.05 at 1:09 pm }

The A’s bullpen was a serious weakness for years. Everyone but Macha seemed to realize that Mecir would blow the lead in the 8th against the Angels last season. Why while the team was a contender did Beane not get some real 8th inning setup help the last few years at all? I don’t think financial reasons are the entire story. Beane just underestimated the importance of the solid pen. Now, it’s like you said, Marty. Beane has radically changed the team to reflect his spreadsheet and preferences. He seems to have reverted back to not caring much about defense (kendall, hattebeberg, ginter) and yet hasn’t done much to upgrade the offense. With the starting pitching gone, how does he expect the team to compete? Beane has a one year window to get the team competitive again. After that, there will be hell to pay by the fans if the team performs poorly.
-Mike E.

3 Anonymous { 02.18.05 at 2:13 pm }

Marty, I’m surprised you’re not more concerned about the AGE of the Giants team, especially (but not only) their outfield. It will truly be a miracle if they don’t have serious injury or fatigue issues this season.

I was sorry that the A’s felt it necessary to trade Hudson. On the other hand, Mulder has in the last few years shown some alarming physical and mental signs. He was certainly far from one of the better pitchers in the game during the second half of 2004 (and really stunk it up in September). I think Beane made a great deal for Mulder.

The other teams in the AL west really didn’t do enough to significantly improve. I still think the Angels will come in 1st, providing they avoid the injury bug (and their lineup is also vulnerable and thin). But, had the A’s not traded Hudson and Mulder they would not have had any better shot at contending than they do now.

4 Anonymous { 02.18.05 at 4:07 pm }

I think this season, if nothing else, is going to provide us with some great moments for the A’s. I really believe that perhaps 2 players are going to emerge as stars this year. Meyer or Haren could be one of those stars. Ginter? Maybe Chavez will achieve that next level? I find the uncertainty of a bunch of young players much more interesting than the old men of the Giants. Will the Giants break a record for time on the DL?

I don’t think that Billy will allow this team to struggle very much. He hates losing too much. If things aren’t going well, he will make a trade or two to shake things up.

My biggest wish is that Byrnes stays with the team. If it will be a roller coaster year, then the fans need to have some sparks on the team. An outfield with Swisher and Byrnes will be exciting. Byrnes could also have a breakout year. I hope he does if he is wearing the green and gold.

5 Anonymous { 02.18.05 at 4:38 pm }

It’s unbelievable that some A’s fans think this year’s team is just as good as last year’s team. What dogmatic Beane worshippers!

6 Anonymous { 02.21.05 at 5:17 pm }

nothing to do with dogma.

1) look at the bullpen

2) look at how the starters actually performed

3) look at the bench

4) look at the hitting with RISP

The A’s may not make it to the postseason in 2005 (and nobody here said they would), but they certainly have not become, on balance, worse than last year.

7 Anonymous { 02.22.05 at 11:04 am }

1) lets see where the bullpen is at 3/4s into the season when they are overworked from the starters not being able to go deep in games.
2)the staff is led by a pitcher who had a .500 winning percentage last season and can’t go into the 7th.
3) what about the bench? bench only helps in close games. A’s have the pitching to keep it close?
4)does hitting with RISP really mean that much to you? Scutaro has a high avg. with RISP. I bet you don’t want him to start.

A’s are worst than last season. you undervalue starting pitching and care too much about certain stats, just like Beane.

8 Anonymous { 02.22.05 at 2:17 pm }

Kendall as a leader. That would be quite a turnaround for a guy who was known to be a cancer in the Pirate clubhouse. Good riddance.

9 Anonymous { 02.22.05 at 3:22 pm }

Wow, some angry words showing up here. I think the uncertainty of the A’s has some people on edge–and guessing. I will give Billy the benefit of the doubt based on past experience. It is going to be hard with all the new faces, but I predict some will shine.

Hudson’s interview on is sad. He and Kim truly wanted to stay here. I will miss him lots. Any word on him signing an extension with the Braves? His March 1st deadline is approaching. We can always hope he does not get one and somehow ends up back here again. Not likely, but at least a pleasant thought if he doesn’t get an extension.

And, who says Kendall was a cancer? I had heard he could be intense, but never heard that he was a bad guy for a clubhouse.

10 Anonymous { 02.22.05 at 5:17 pm }

Lighten up. You don’t know me. If you did you would realize that your last statement is way off base.

I’m not a stathead and believe starting pitching is the least plentiful, thus most valuable resource. But the 2004 A’s didn’t get it done, and the team would have been worse in 2005 without any changes. Did BB go overboard in trading both Huddy and Mulder? In the short term we’ll have to see, but I don’t think on balance that they will be as bad as you seem to think. In the long term I think he helped the club….and by the way I like Scutaro. But how many times did we see baserunners wasted? Hopefully this version will score more runs right up front.

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