Brian Sabean is a controversial sports figure around here. If I praise him, I get replies telling me I’m wrong and detailing some of his bad contacts — which have been very bad. Still, he’s had good contracts and he got the Giants in the Series twice and he won once and he’s mostly made the Giants a contender every year and he rebuilt them after the Bonds era and he created a fabulous pitching staff. So why all the criticism?

Billy Beane, also a good GM, almost never gets criticized like Sabean, but Sabean has accomplished more. And please don’t tell me Beane has an excuse.

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  1. Frank in Minnesota

    You are right about Beane getting better press….Sabean may never have a movie to his credit nor have Brad Pitt play him…but, people put more emotion in the Giants and since he is the ‘top dog’ he gets all the scrutiny…i guess his job is like that….

    July 31st, 2012 2:37 pm

  2. Stan

    I think Beane spends much time and effort smoothly working the media,setting rules and offering rewards to “loyal” writers. Sabean does what he has to do and doesn’t seem preoccupied with a persona. Moneyball as LaRussa pointed out,is a myth. Always was. Like many myths,it made for a good movie story telling.
    Just lately,the A’s had first shot at Hanley Ramirez. Beane made comments at how money is there to add. Then Beane never spent it. Sabean spent.
    Beane is less then what he promises,I never hear any old time A’s fans praise him. Not one.
    Sabean is toast to new Giant fans,or media like Krueger or Bruce who make it sound like they could do better with one hand..yeah,sure. But Beane sends chocolate and flowers (or “others”) to sweet talk media. Ask Chris Townsend what happens when you take on Beane.

    July 31st, 2012 3:10 pm

  3. Lo Sbandato

    Here’s a better question: what GM in any sport doesn’t have some terrible contracts on their record? Beane might not, but then again, he unloads anyone who has the least amount of market value as soon as anyone expresses an interest.

    July 31st, 2012 3:44 pm

  4. KezarMike

    Because sports fans love to criticize GMs, that’s why. And ANY GM who has been on the job for 15 plus years is gonna have enough bad or missed deals to be hit on. I’ve been a Giants fan since 1966 and Sabean has done as good a job as any other Giants GM in that time. Two WS and our only win? What other Giants GM has matched that? Ditto Bochy who is the best manager the Giants have had in SF (and he won four div titles and got into a WS with a low payroll Padres team too).

    July 31st, 2012 4:05 pm

  5. Steve

    Those bad contracts are hard to get past, especially since they handcuff Sabean’s ability to wheel and deal. It was reported on mlb.com that Sabean had to get permission from upper management to make the Pence deal because of the financial ramifications. That is likely the case with most major trades, but the fact it was part of the reportage about the deal is telling. Beane deserves criticism as well, but perhaps he escapes it more than Sabean because of the perception that he’s more laid back and Sabean often comes across quite gruff and prickly in interviews. The reverse is true, however, when upper management is involved; Wolf/Fischer are deservedly excoriated while Baer et al are generally lauded. So maybe it’s a question of balance.

    July 31st, 2012 4:08 pm

  6. CohnZohn

    Steve, for what it’s worth I like both Beane and Sabean and have had numerous enjoyable conversations with each. We are lucky to have two such good GMs in the Bay Area and two such good managers — Bochy and Melvin.

    July 31st, 2012 4:11 pm

  7. Steve


    I agree with you – we are lucky. I grew up on the north side of Chicago rooting for both the Cubs and White Sox (although I attended many more games at Wrigley). The Sox had a great owner (Bill Veeck), great managers (Al Lopez, Tony Larussa), Hall of Fame players and a World Series appearance, while the Cubs had even better players but horrible managers and an even worse owner/front office (some call the Lou Brock trade the worst in history). And we all know the Cubs record of futility. But the Cubs were far more beloved than the White Sox. Go figure.

    July 31st, 2012 4:29 pm

  8. Lo Sbandato

    It’s interesting that the gist of the arguments here seem to be based on the different “media persona” of the two. Does that really matter to the regular fans who have almost no direct interaction with either? I thought most of the guff Sabean gets is based on the perception that he’s wasteful of his resources, while Beane gets more out of less (whether the perceptions are true or not is a different discussion).

    July 31st, 2012 4:45 pm

  9. chris

    totally agree Lowell, two great GM’s and managers in the Bay Area right now. And I think Beane is hitting his peak as a GM now. In the early 2000′s, those A’s teams were built by Sandy Alderson with beane as an assistant GM. All Beane did after Alderson was have a string of good closers (Isringhausen, Foulke and Koch) and then Frank Thomas. Now he seems to be on Sabeans level, by learning how to find good young talent along with some creativity in the Cespedes signing. All a formula for future championships.

    July 31st, 2012 4:56 pm

  10. lameduck

    It still bugs me that Colletti went to the Dodgers.

    July 31st, 2012 6:18 pm

  11. Stan

    Is Chris’ IP address the Oakland office of William Beane?

    July 31st, 2012 7:15 pm

  12. Johnc

    Sabean is just ok. He has a bit of the blarney in him when he talks to the media. Getting Pence is a good move but the Giant lineup has been pathetic the last three years . The only reason they won the world series is because they got amazing timely hitting production from unlikely players such as Cody Ross, Burrell , Hufff, Renteria, and Uribe. Hitting pattern of Giants is very distrubing with men on base. Worst in majors perhaps.
    It was hard to listen to Sabeans’s b,s .about Brandon Belt who I consider a bust because he is a bit of a head case like former Giant Jonathan Sanchez.

    August 1st, 2012 4:22 am

  13. Tommy CostaRica

    Lowell, totally agree! Bean played by Brad Pitt no less! Sabean’s dealings leading up to the World Series was remarkable.
    Steve, I think Chicago is similar to our market with the Cubs/Sox and Giants/A’s. For some unknown reason I feel the same way about the Giants over the A’s. I loved Reggie, Fingers and that bunch but like most of us bay area fans, for some reason the Giants hold a special place in our hearts over the A’s. The same goes for the 9ers over the Raiders. Man that’s going to be a great trade! Imagine getting something for Nate??????

    August 1st, 2012 6:43 am

  14. Tommy CostaRica

    I know it looks like the Dodgers acquired better talent than the Giants did at the deadline, but imagine this. I’m thinking that maybe Marco Scutaro looks to have that Cody Ross magic of 2010. Henly starts fast but watch him revert to his former self (the T.O. of baseball) a light hitting head case down in Hollywood. And Scutaro turns out to be the key clutch hitting, experienced defensive player the Giants need. This could turn out to be a better pickup than Henly.

    August 1st, 2012 7:40 am

  15. Paul C. Garrett

    130 million dollar payroll (Giants) … 50 million dollar payroll (A’s). Competing with less, and in the AL, is why Beane is held in higher regard.

    Colleti looks great now and the Dodgers have a heck-of-a lineup. But, if McCourt still had the Dodgers, they don’t bring in Ramirez or Victorino.

    Sabean didn’t address the bullpen, something he always does. We’ll see who passes through waivers … the SF bully is average at best.

    August 1st, 2012 9:10 am

  16. chris

    Stan I’m no Billy Beane lover, but you gotta give they guy credit for what the A’s are doing this year with mostly no name players along with hiring a manager with experience and local ties. Thats a big change from his approach in the past. Third best record in the American League going into the second half of the season deserves some praise for William.

    August 1st, 2012 9:43 am

  17. Dennis

    If Billy Beane and Brian Sabean had traded places 10 years ago Sabean would be long gone from the Bay Area and the Giants would have a better all around team with a whole lot less dead money. And we wouldn’t have Zito’s contract.

    August 1st, 2012 10:29 am

  18. CohnZohn

    Dennis, How can you prove that?

    August 1st, 2012 10:43 am

  19. Dennis

    Lowell, I can’t prove it. But based on Billy Beane’s record of getting rid to talent before it becomes over priced and Sabean’s record of over paying for talent after it is used up I am comfortable with my premise.

    It seems to me that Billy Beane has a much better record of discovering talent and Sabean has a much better record of paying too much for it after it has been discovered. I value Beane’s talent more than Sabean’s

    August 1st, 2012 11:35 am

  20. CohnZohn

    Dennis, You need to give this one up. You’re saying you value talent that never got to a World Series. Come on.

    August 1st, 2012 11:37 am

  21. Dennis

    Lowell, Yes I do. A blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while. It doesn’t mean the squirrel can see. It doesn’t mean it is a good squirrel. Sabean winning the World Series is like …. you know the rest.

    August 1st, 2012 4:14 pm

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