Sabean looks ahead to Giants' future
General manager chats about club's current and future needs
San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean chatted online Friday about what the Giants need to do to make the postseason and the club's plans to strengthen the team during the offseason. He also discussed the team's top prospects.
Brian Sabean: Hello, I'm happy to be here with all of you again today. Thank you for taking the time to join me this afternoon. I'm always interested to hear what our fans have to say and I'm always appreciative of your support of the Giants. Let's get started.
Base_Ball_4: Can you give us a vague idea of what the team might look like next year?
Sabean: We fully expect and hope to get younger and healthier. Obviously, older and more experienced hasn't been the right formula. With that being said, going into the offseason, we'll look to improve our club through a three-pronged approach. No. 1, free agency. No. 2, through the trade market. And third, and certainly not least, our Minor League system.
bg92: What is your plan with Barry Bonds?
Sabean: It's prudent to use the whole year to evaluate Barry, not just through this point in time in August. The greatest question to answer will be to try to predict his relative abilities or level of play in the future, thus we need to wait until the end of the season to address the matter.
bow8345: What do the Giants have to do to stay in the hunt for October?
Sabean: Quite simply, win more games at home and pitch extremely well, both home and road.
Jan_Martin: How are negotiations going between the Giants and the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies?
Sabean: They're ongoing negotiations and we fully expect to be back in Fresno next year.
Base_Ball_4: Is the loan payment on AT&T Park affecting the amount of money you can spend on players? If so, when will the loan be paid off?
Sabean: Any expense we have has to have some effect on what we spend in any other area. First, we should look at our spending relative to other teams' spending. This year, we rank eighth out of 30 teams in spending. When people talk about the stadium financing expense, they seem to have a misconception that only the Giants have financing expense. All teams in new stadiums are paying rent and property tax, so while it is true that no one pays as much as the Giants, the differential between what we spend and what everybody else spends is not that great. Having said all this, the Giants' results on the playing field are not compromised by the level of spending. Our spending is at a level that should allow us to be fully competitive.
Jerry_Z: What are the Giants' plans for next season? Sign a big-name free agent or go into a rebuilding mode, like what Florida is doing?
Sabean: We're open to any avenue that will make us competitive, as we feel we have been in the past. We have sufficient resources to be active in the free agent market, and our goal, as always, is to be a contender.
Base_Ball_3: Do you think Jonathan Sanchez will be called up again before the end of season? If so, what do you think about starting him?
Sabean: Hopefully, he'll be here sooner than later. He'll certainly come up and start some games for us, even if we have to go to a six-man rotation.
natelandon: Are there plans to sign Pedro Feliz and Eliezer Alfonzo to a long-term deal?
Sabean: Pedro is a free agent that will get due consideration for a future contract, and Alfonzo's contract is under control by the ballclub.
bg92: What are you planning to do with the bullpen situation since it has had problems all year closing out games?
Sabean: Pure and simply, we're trying to win every game and not worry about anybody's feelings or in what order the bullpen is used.
slimmc_yahoo_com: If Felipe Alou was interested in returning as manager, would you be willing to keep him?
Sabean: As in Barry's case and with all our free agents, we will evaluate Felipe's body of work over the entire season and see how that bodes for the future.
teenaposas: Do you see Todd Linden and Kevin Frandsen having prominent roles in the lineup next season?
Sabean: Players like Jason Ellison, Frandsen, Fred Lewis, Linden, Lance Niekro, Sanchez and Brian Wilson will be given a chance to prove themselves next year as part of the Minor League system component of our three-pronged plan mentioned earlier.
Bryan_Dorfler: Are there other international efforts or signings that can be expected? Can you detail your plans for improving the Giants' international efforts/presence?
Sabean: The international market is very fluid. You have to be prepared to react, as we did in the Angel Villalona signing. We hope to be more aggressive in this area with select players.
deeboy89ratedrookie: Will you focus on drafting more positional players over pitchers for the 2007 draft?
Sabean: Quite possibly, we'll have a high draft selection number as well as possible multiple picks due to the loss of free agents. Of course, we'll keep an open mind in scouting amateur players next year, but in this industry, pitching is still the gold standard. With that said, we very well could be one of the few teams in the Majors to have as many as four homegrown pitchers in our starting rotation next year.
nancy_moniz: I am confused every time I hear a player was put on waivers. Can you explain the process?
Sabean: For any player to be traded after July 31, they must pass through waivers unclaimed. Then they are eligible to be traded. If they are claimed by another team, you can only negotiate with that one team or pull the player back, which is normally done. If you put them out on waivers a second time, and they are in fact claimed for a second time, you have no recourse but to let the player go to the claiming team without a trade.
natelandon: Who do you feel is the most promising prospect in the Giants' system and why?
Sabean: Hands down, both Sanchez and Tim Lincecum. They both are young starting pitchers who will have a big impact in the near future.
yoyosd: Can you tell us anything about Villalona that we signed out of the Dominican Republic?
Sabean: Villalona is a talent beyond his years -- not only his physical abilities, but the way he plays the game. We are very fortunate to have signed him, as he was highly sought after by the rest of Major League Baseball.
mrjune21: Since the All-Star Game is in San Francisco next year, is there more pressure to build a competitive team for 2007
Sabean: No more so than every year.
jeffgiants: Is Shea Hillenbrand playing up to your expectations?
Sabean: No, and probably not up to his either. He has a track record of being an above-average Major League hitter, and we hope he gets it together soon.
trilljester: Any chance of trading Armando Benitez in the offseason, and saving some money and using Brian Wilson or Jack Taschner as our closer next year?
Sabean: Trades are always possibilities, but hopefully both Taschner and Wilson will impact next year's team to a greater extent in whatever role they settle into.
Rodrigo_Sanchez: Are you still working in the Giants organization with no contract? I feel that is important for people to know how loyal you are to this club.
Sabean: I've always been under contract. I currently am and I will be in '07.
deeboy89ratedrookie: It may be too little to judge right now, but given the fact that Lincecum has been working down in the farm, do you view Lincecum as an upcoming closer or a starter?
Sabean: At this time, we are looking at him as a starting pitcher.
slimmc_yahoo_com: In your opinion, is Frandsen the future for the Giants at second base?
Sabean: He may very well be. He will go to the Arizona Fall League to get more at-bats and experience playing other positions also.
jo_zhang: Do you think we have a better chance of winning the Wild Card or winning the West?
Sabean: Our goal is to win the West. The Wild Card is definitely too much of a crapshoot, but we are in both races as we speak.
fresgiant29: Do you think you have a good chance to sign Jason Schmidt in the offseason or will he be too expensive?
Sabean: Jason's time here has been exemplary, but we do know he will be one of the most sought-after free agent pitchers in baseball. Like with all our free agents, we will definitely give him due consideration after the season.
Base_Ball_3: Will you make a serious run for the pitcher from Japan?
Sabean: Rules prohibit us from talking about any free agents, including those in Japan, but we are in the process of thoroughly scouting those leagues also.
hanksghost: I really like Brian Anderson in San Jose. Where do you see him pitching next year and what is your evaulation of him?
Sabean: Brian may have a chance to pitch in the Arizona Fall League or the Hawaiian Winter League this offseason, and if he is able to do so, he could be invited to Major League camp.
Jerry_Z: How about Mike Matheny for manager next season?
Sabean: We hope that Mike is able to return as our front-line catcher. That's his goal, and his situation is being monitored very closely. He is still under contract with the Giants -- to catch.
speedbird2: What, if any, are the plans for Lance Niekro? Is he possible trade bait? Or, should Feliz leave, would you consider moving Hillenbrand to third base?
Sabean: Niekro will be back in September. He's played extremely well in Triple-A and maybe that's what he needed all along.
Kevin_McLaren: Is there something wrong with Matt Morris?
Sabean: Matt is healthy and still able to make every start. Admittedly, his performance has been up and down, but he does take us deep into most games and gives us a chance to win. The fact that he has the third-lowest run support in the National League after the All-Star break doesn't help.
damonminor: Who do you see being the cornerstone players of the Giants a few years from now?
Sabean: Our starting pitching and young pitching in general.
tsfgiant: The lack of power in the lineup has been present all year. What are your plans to acquire a power hitter next year?
Sabean: Power is hard to come by, but we'll be on a search to improve that area. But we also need to improve our overall on-base percentage as a team first.
Base_Ball_2: Why did you acquire Mike Stanton when you already had a more effective pitcher in Sanchez on the staff?
Sabean: Great question. We were very worried that we could abuse Sanchez's arm pitching him out of the bullpen. He's too good of a young talent and we very much needed to get him to Triple-A to start so he can return to the Major Leagues as a starting pitcher.
Handsome_3000: What is your No. 1 priority this offseason?
Sabean: To get younger, stronger and healthier.
chirano: I'm a season ticket holder who's on the fence for renewing. I'd like to see an All-Star acquisition to justify my commitment to the Giants for another seven years. I don't mind spending the money, as long as you use it to go after A-list players.
Sabean: Nothing would please us more but to sign anything but A-list players, except that this free agent market isn't necessarily as deep with that type of talent to go around for all the teams that will be interested in such players.
journman: Last year you turned over 40 percent of your starting roster and admitted that you overestimated your pitching strength. Are there areas in which you need to improve either your own performance or the team's ability to accurately evaluate?
Sabean: We need to improve in all areas of decision-making and in all areas of the team.
Jerry_Z: Are we still in the win-now mode for next season?
Sabean: We always focus on winning and feel that the average fan doesn't want anything less. Our goal and our mission is to retool this team to that end and push for a spot in the playoffs next year. I certainly understand your frustration and the pain you're going through as a Giants fan. We have missed the mark this year as far as our expectations and hope to finish the season stronger than we've played to date to give you folks a good taste in your mouth going forward to the pending 2007 season. With that said, we have a long road ahead of us in the final month of the season to attain the goal that we all set of playing in October. We will continue to push every day to get there and we all should be proud of the players' effort, which has been unquestioned all season long. Today's chat session cemented in my mind how much passion and knowledge our fans have for our team. Let me tell you, I have as much passion as you do.
Sabean: Thank you for taking time out of your day. As always, I enjoy the chance to converse with our fans. Again, thank you for your passion, and I hope to see you here at the ballpark.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.