MLB15 Chin Music: Giants Formula No Secret

26 Mar

Three World Series titles in five seasons (2010, ‘12 & ‘14). That’s impressive stuff.

And very satisfying too, especially for older Giants‘ fans, when you consider it took the East Coast transplants 50+ years to nab that first California-based crown after relocating (NYC) with the Boys in blue (LAD) in 1958.


Ask some fans what they think of Bruce Bochy (Mgr) and GM Brian Sabean’s modern-day masterpiece in sport engineering and you’re likely to get the all too typical tight-fisted line: ‘It’s okay, but it’s not a dynasty.’

Some will dole out compliments like rare gems. Ugh.

But if you don’t toss the City of San Francisco a bouquet on this occasion, you’re not ‘baseball.’

What these Giants & Co. have accomplished is nothing short of tremendous, back-to-backs be damned. It’s in high league with the Belichick – Kraft Patriots and Popovich – Holt (Buford) Spurs: a formula for long, sustained success.


It’s all reminiscent of baseball dynasties of old: 40s Cardinals (1942, ‘44 & ‘46), 1910s Red Sox (1912, ‘15, ‘16 & ‘18) and San Fran’s down-state rivals, Dodgers, who started winning titles not long after hitting the LAX tarmac (1959, ‘63 & 65).

In besting their 2014 Series opponents the upstart Royals, no slouches themselves in giving the champs all they could handle (4-3), San Francisco proved to be more than that opportunistic club who just happen to get hot in a less-than-stellar playoff field.

Uh-uh. These guys have a system.

Brass Tacks

It’s no secret that it all begins with the money-bags, so to speak.

But you’ve gotta’ keep a scorecard to keep current on who exactly holds trump card for the Giants since Bob Lurie parted with ownership in January of 1993.

From what I can gather through a fairly haphazard search, Charles Bartlett Johnson appears to be Giants principal owner, having acquired controlling shares (‘11) after the death of Sue Burns (d.2009), who was the widow and heiress to the estate of her husband Harmon “Buzz” Burns who was principal investor of an assemblage that acquired Giants in 1993 and who then died in 2006. Peter Magowan was also an investor and managing partner from 1993-08, a post then assumed by later investor Bill Neukom who held it through 2011, when Larry Baer became chief money manager (CEO / MGP).

Who says rule by committee, or carousel, can’t make it all gel?


The hands-on general manager is Brian Sabean who’s been wheeling & dealing in the post since 1996. It constitutes the longest running tenure of any horse-trader in MLB.

Sabean will engage in high-end free agency from time to time: Livan Hernandez (‘99-02), Kenny Lofton for a brief but useful stint (‘02) and Barry Bonds being the biggest name (’93-07). And that willingness to spend some has continued into the championship era.

In 2015, San Francisco is 4th in estimated payroll at $169.5M yearly, not far behind Boston ($178+) but well off the pricey pace of the Yankees ($211+) and largesse kings, the Dodgers (273.4) (

There was Aubrey Huff (3B), signed at tail-end of a fine 13-year career (’10-12), who contributed to SF’s first WS title (‘10) in both the regular and post-seasons.

Pat Burrell (OF / 1B) was another star on decline the Giants signed up. He too contributed to the 2010 Pennant run, though, the tank ran empty by playoffs.

The Barry Zito signing is a memorable one.

The southpaw CY winner (‘02) brought a pretty penny in the 2006-07 free agent market when he exited Oakland for greener pastures. Barry averaged around $17M per in his 7 seasons with the Giants (‘07-13) but saw his ERA balloon and, excepting a bounce back in 2012 (15-8), saw his win-% take a dive.


Sabean’s faired better with free agents Hunter Pence and bridge pitcher Jean Machi.

In 2+ seasons in the Bay since coming from Philly, Pence has been steady at the plate, a regular face in Bochy’s line-up, playing a full state in both 2013 & ‘14 and played out of his cleats in Royals Series, batting .444 with 7 runs and 5 RBIs.

The 33-yr. old Machi bounced around baseball for a decade before signing with Frisco (‘11). His first foray into the post-season (‘14 / 7.94) was nothing to write home about (Venezuela), but his regular-season contribution over 2+ seasons is substantial: 126 IP, 2.71 ERA, 106-31 SO/BB.

Like the Zito (K), the Tim Lincecum deal proved another pricey – dicey outlay.

After taking consecutive Cy Youngs (‘08-09), Tiny Tim was re-signed & rewarded by the Giants with just compensation. From 2010 – 14, “The Freak” had a salary that averaged just over $16M per season. And then like Barry, Tim got the yips, going 61-62 with and a 4.09 ERA. SF has won three titles in his on-going term.

The Madison Bumgarner contract takes some sting out of the dour deals.


The big, 25-year old left-hander and 2014 World Series MVP has been notching more Ws than losses (67-49 / 3.00), limit’s the free-pass (1-to-4 BB/SO) and looks a veritable bargain, re-signing at an average of $11M yearly for the next five.

The recently departed Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval (BOS / $18M (6y)) may offer a twist on Branch Rickey’s famous line, “sometimes the best (deals) are the one’s you don’t make.”

The 3rd-bagger’s absence will be felt. Pablo was a steady presence at the hot corner, fine production and key cog in Giants ‘12 and ‘14 title machinery (.500 / .429 (WS)). But his scoring was just fair-to-good (74rbi / 62r (avg)) while the glove never spun gold, though, it’s fair to say awarding, especially for leather, can sometimes be less-than objective.

It’s also fair to say that assessing the soundness or deafness of a particular contract from 100,000 arm-lengths away, can be a somewhat dubious endeavor.

So what does one glean from all this?

The Giants have been willing to dole out ducats to build & sustain a winning way which, while no guarantee of championship(s) (See: LAD & LAA), can’t be dismissed through sabermetric smoke & mirrors if a significant & sustainable success is sought by the brass.

Posey Primer

Every dynasty has one: a primer. A player that ignites the charge to championship play. He serves as base material from which victory is forged and all will coalesce.

The St. Louis Cardinals have Yadier Molina.

In New England it’s been Tom Brady, while the Ravens had Ray Lewis.

Spurs primer has been Tim Duncan.

Blackhawks recent title take began with Toews, Kane and the wily, Marian Hossa.

The Joe Torre Yankees took off with Jeter & Rivera.

And for the Giants it’s been Georgia-born catcher, Buster Posey.


It should be no surprise then, that the start of San Fran’s World Series run coincides with Buster’s rookie campaign when he was awarded the NL’s Rookie-of-the-Year.

The numbers are impressive but not suspiciously gaudy.

In five seasons, Posey’s averaged 68 runs, 20 dingers and 80+ RBIs per, digits which would bump up slightly had he not been taken out of action early in 2012 due to a home-plate collision with Scott Cousins (FLA). It left the 2-time All Star with a broken ankle, out for the remainder and spurred on a new base-running rule that takes Buster’s name and is designed to limit home-plate havoc.

As a back-stop, Leesburg’s finest is not quite in class yet with Johnny Bench or Yadier, not many are, but he’s skilled, commits few errors, has led the NL in Caught Stealing category (’12 (38)) and holds a not-too-shabby career-% (31.9).

And lucky is the Manager with a capable man behind home plate who can also make good contact with his bat. A career .308 hitter, Buster, who’s set to turn 28 on Friday (3.27.87), won a batting title (and MVP) in 2012 with a whopping .336.

But nothing speaks to a top-flight catcher like the one that can coax pitching staffs to win championships. And on that count, Mr. Posey is a highly decorated ace.

Vive la Bochy!

They say when you’ve got your health you’ve got everything.

Unfortunately for most of us it’s not until we suffer that serious illness or debilitating condition that that sentiment really hits home.


If he didn’t already (he’s closing in fast on 60 (4.16.55)), Giants skipper Bruce Bochy has taken that sentiment to heart, no pun intended. A whole new perspective, no doubt.

Bruce underwent an operation last month to have stents inserted after he’d felt out of sorts following his club’s annual physical exam given during spring training (“Giants Bruce“ / ESPN (AP) / 2.20.15).

It’s a very serious, highly skilled procedure but a fairly common one today as Mr. Bochy was up & around, out of the hospital and back on the diamond in fairly short order.


Not yet amongst that inglorious hierarchy of manager ejectees the likes of Earl Weaver (94) or Paul Richards (80: 1-every-23g (, the native of France (BB’s father served in US Army (Wikipedia)) was a catcher (1978-87) and has a full appreciation for the unhealthy art of umpire argumentation and antagonization (64 +/-).

That appreciation will have to find a new outlet of expression.

This 2015 MLB season will mark Bochy’s third decade of managing (1618 – 1604). We who love baseball, even as some of us know Hank O’Day’s (HOF ’13) 1908 “Merkle Boner” ruling to be entirely correct (Cub Power!), want to see the Giants frisky version of Walter Alston occupying the San Francisco dugout for many years to come.

...........canned corn

Steven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo Credits: B.Posey, Cbl62, 4.4.11, wc.cca; B.Posey, B.Edwards, 3.21.09, wc; SF.Fan, S.Kelly, wc, 6.6.14; B.Sabean, wc, ptwashburn, 2010; H.Pence, 9.26.12, wc, Ami221; M.Bumgarner, wc, SD.Dirk, 9.3.13; B.Posey, wc, Cbl62, 4.4.11; B.Bochy, wc, Cbl62, 4.4.11; B.Bochy.ejected, 6.23.07, wc, dennis; canned corn.
Posted: 3.25.15 @ 9:36pm EST
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