Giants’ demise falls on Sabean’s shoulders

This is my Friday column on the Giants. WARNING: This is a baseball column. Forty-Niners fans, feel free to skip this.

SAN FRANCISCO — It was staring Brian Sabean in the face.

This Giants team, the one the Cardinals destroyed 7-2 Thursday afternoon, is no different than the team Sabean put together last season, the one that finished 10 games under .500.

How could Sabean not see that?

He added two starters during the offseason – Michael Morse and Tim Hudson. Two. And what did Sabean get? A good May. Morse hit .289 and smashed five dingers, Hudson’s ERA was 1.46 and the Giants’ record was 19-9 during that month. Last season, the Giants’ record was 14-13 during May. If Sabean’s goal was to improve the Giants’ for one month at the beginning of the season, he knocked that sucker out of the park.

Unfortunately for him, a good May doesn’t guarantee a good season. Far from it. The Marlins’ record was 21-8 during May of 2012 and they won 69 games that year.

Forget May. Take away that month and the Giants’ record this season almost is identical to the Giants’ record last season. This season, the Giants’ record during April was 16-11. Last season, the Giants’ record during April was 15-12. Almost identical.

This season, the Giants’ record during June was 10-16. Last season, the Giants’ record during June was 10-17.

Almost identical.

Why would Sabean expect anything different?

Maybe Sabean expected Madison Bumgarner to dominate as the ace of the pitching staff. He pitched five innings Thursday afternoon and gave up four earned runs and took the loss. At AT&T Park this season, his record is 3-5 and his ERA is 5.16.

Some ace.

Maybe Sabean expected Matt Cain to pitch well. He did not pitch well last season – eight wins, 10 losses and a 4.00 ERA. But he pitched extremely well in 2012 – 16 wins, five losses and a 2.79 ERA. Maybe Sabean thought 2013 was a fluke year for Cain.

It was no fluke. Cain is getting worse, not better. He has one win this season, six losses and a 4.38 ERA. He throws the ball right down the pipe more often than any pitcher I can remember.

Maybe Sabean expected Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro not to get injured, but I don’t know why Sabean would expect that. Pagan and Scutaro got injured last year. This isn’t new for them. They are injury-prone players and Sabean neglected to get them good backups. Pagan has a bulging disk in his lower back. Scutaro also has a bad back. The Giants hope one or both of them return to the lineup sometime soon. The Giants are in hope-mode.

Maybe Sabean expected Brandon Belt not to get injured. He has missed the past 50 games with a broken thumb. That’s no excuse. Players get injured. The A’s lost two starting pitchers – Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin – to season-ending elbow injuries during spring training. But the A’s didn’t fall apart. They still have the second-best ERA in the American League without Parker and Griffin.

Belt was expected to return to the Giants’ lineup Friday. Can one man turn around the Giants’ season?

Maybe Sabean expected Morse and Hudson to play well for more than two months, to be consistent producers the whole season. Hasn’t happened. Opposing batters hit .293 off Hudson during June. He’s old. He turns 39 on July 14. It’s no shocker his performance would drop off as the season drags on, although Sabean might be shocked.

Morse has nine hits in his past 49 at bats and none of those hits have been homers. He doesn’t have the age excuse like Hudson. Morse just is inconsistent.

Whatever Sabean expected from this team, he was wrong. He should have known better, should have added more than merely two quality players during the offseason. He didn’t. Now, the Giants have lost six-of-its-past-seven series and 17-of-its-past-22 games. The Giants have the worst winning percentage in baseball during that stretch. Sabean’s fault.

Bruce Bochy, poor guy, made himself available for a group interview after Thursday’s loss. It should have been Sabean who made himself available. Bochy is doing the best he can with the players Sabean got for him.

“This is our group,” Bochy said. “They know that. We’ve told them that. This is a good group, a talented group. They showed that. Every day we think we’re going to come out of it. And that’s why today was a little disappointing for us, just the way we played to conclude this home stand. The only thing we can do, and you hear me say this all the time, is brush this off. But at the same time, there’s a time when you have to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ That’s where we’re at.”

Bochy has no answers. It’s Sabean’s job to have the answers. He should have seen this coming – 2013 all over again. He should have prevented it.

It was staring him in the face.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at

This article has 21 Comments

        1. CFC,

          That was a good trade the A’s made, and they’re loaded, but that doesn’t mean I have to like reading about them.

    1. Yeah. Where’s the A’s columns?
      Giants are bums. Their time is done. A’s win it all this season and add to their lead in titles in the bay.

      1. Heh, Oh I remember when I was still optimistic about the A’s. The A’s never win it all, they’re incapable of winning playoff games. Who knows why, bad coaching, bad owners, voodoo curses I mean any guess is legitimate at this point but the bottom line remains; A’s fans get their pleasure from the team crushing people sporadically during the regular season which precedes a run up to the playoffs. They’ll make it either in a squeaker or easily from a good season but the result is always the same; /sings “1-2-3 losses you’re out in the old ball game!”

  1. From June 12: “He’s the difference. His 2.6 WAR (wins above a replacement-level player) leads the Giants. Angel Pagan is second on the team with a 2.1 WAR. Hudson not only is the best pitcher on the starting staff – he’s the best player on the team, the Giants’ MVP. If the Giants make it to their third World Series in five seasons, it will be Hudson who takes them there.”

    From July 4: “Opposing batters hit .293 off Hudson during June. He’s old. He turns 39 on July 14. It’s no shocker his performance would drop off as the season drags on, although Sabean might be shocked.”

    Sounds like Sabean isn’t the only one who was shocked by Hudson’s June Swoon.

    1. If you take away Grant’s June 12 column, he has been the voice of reason when it came to putting Hudson’s early season performance into proper perspective.

  2. First of all is it really still necessary to put this big Warning on all non 49er columns? It’s about as necessary and logical as if you take away this play or take away this month or take away the Giants two championship the last 4 yrs, they are a awful club.

    1. Unfortunately it is Real Neal. There is a good number of people that complain about an article if it has nothing to do with the 49ers.

  3. Grant,

    I hope you played the “If you take away…” card for your amusement, or that of your fan, then ok. If you were serious, then I have to ask, what the f$&@ are you talking about?

    You’re suggesting we ignore half the games the Giants have played, so far.

    Sorry, that makes absolutely no sense.

  4. I am not going to pretend to know as much about sports as you do, or most people on here, however I do know if you take a entire month of a baseball season,and just play about 130 games, you could change who won the World Series for the last 50 yrs.

    1. Or change a entire months record, would change the outcome of who wins a divinsion and who wins a World Series. Take away this column you had some good stuff this week.

  5. Baseball sucks. Its that simple. Why even play all these games? In the end, most teams end up near 0.500. Just flip a coin to determine winners. Stop wasting our time with this boring game.

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