"We're trying to tread water," said Sabean. "We've shown signs of getting better, but we're going to have to definitively be that much worse before we throw in the towel or definitively be that much better before we take off and go hog wild on the trade market."
Whatever happens, it'll be one of the biggest challenges ever for Sabean, assistant GM Ned Colletti and vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow. Since 1997, they've never had a club finish below second place in the National League West.
They're used to contending, tweaking the Giants for the vital stretch runs.
But injuries to key people -- Barry Bonds, Armando Benitez, Marquis Grissom -- subpar performances from the bullpen, an early lack of offense and defensive woes all contributed to a horrendous eight-game losing streak and a club some 10 games below .500.
Losing 15 of 17 from May 26 to June 14 further deepened San Francisco's hold on fourth place.
Short-term, the Giants are mixing and matching from within, bringing in fresh players from Triple-A Fresno, acquiring setup reliever LaTroy Hawkins from Chicago, bidding relievers Matt Herges and Jim Brower goodbye.
Part of the Giants' team of tomorrow -- outfielders Jason Ellison and Todd Linden, infielder Lance Niekro and relief pitcher Scott Munter -- have contributed to the cause, but big changes are probable.
"We're trying to do what we can control," said Sabean. "You can't control the outside world, so you try to clean up your own mess internally. So far, it's been good, but we'll see.
"Being back in our division, we'll find out a lot about ourselves in a hurry, and we can be more definitive around the All-Star break," he added. "But we have to take care of business and get closer to .500."
Sabean feels the West clubs will stay clumped for the most part, with no team expected to run off and hide. The Giants are still in the hunt, yet time is running out.
Unfortunately, being proactive has been difficult.
"What we've done to this point is try to react to what the given situation has been -- first, injury, then non-performance," said Sabean. "Now we're looking for greater performance and less of an injury factor.