Sabean looks back on '07, forward to '08

Giants' Sabean looks back at '07, forward to '08

General manager Brian Sabean fielded questions from fans about the Giants' disappointing 2007 season and the changes in store for 2008. Sabean shared his views regarding current players, payroll, staff personnel, Minor League players, baseball fundamentals and more.

Brian Sabean: Thank you all for joining us today. Obviously, we wish we were in the position of the nine other teams that are still in play today. Unfortunately, this season did not go the way any of us wanted it to. Thank you for your continued support this year and I'm looking forward to answering your questions.

aquila49: I'm really excited about next year's rotation. What are the organization's plans for Tim Lincecum this winter in preparation for 2008?

Sabean: Lincecum will not participate in winter ball, but will work with our training staff on a strength and conditioning program.

DannyN: Are you going to offer Omar Vizquel a contract?

Sabean: Vizquel's situation will be addressed shortly, as we're considering his talent vs. the free agent field. But we still think he can contribute on the field and in the clubhouse for our organization.

Chip54: Brian, are there any changes planned for the player development staff or draft strategy to maybe emphasize offensive players? The other teams in our division are overflowing with young home-grown impact hitters.

Sabean: We are in the process of reviewing all our baseball operations departments, player development, scouting and international, and there will be some personnel changes as well as policy changes.

giraffe22: Who are you looking at in terms of a middle-of-the-order impact-type hitter now that Barry Bonds is gone?

Sabean: In moving forward without Bonds, we understand that we will need to address the need for a middle-of-the-order presence. We'll thoroughly explore the trade and free agent markets, knowing that our pitching depth may engage us in trade talks for such a player.

Michael24: For 2008, do you envision Kevin Frandsen as the everyday second baseman, shortstop, or utility player?

Sabean: Kevin will probably be given a chance to be an everyday player with a position to be determined.

SF_Fan_21: When current contracts expire for the '07 season, what is the team's payroll, and what is our 2008 projected payroll?

Sabean: In terms of payroll for 2008, we've budgeted roughly the same amount that we did for 2007. Bear in mind that while we have money to address our needs, there are many players under contract due for raises. However, we will have the wherewithal to fill the holes we need to fill this winter.

Thanatos: After a tough season, how much blame do you put on Bruce Bochy? Is his job secure for next season?

Sabean: Bruce is under contract and will return next season. In my estimation, he did a very good job under trying circumstances.

Steinbeck: In your opinion, who was the Giants' 2007 MVP?

Sabean: Bengie Molina.

Raldoo: I do not mind rebuilding. The Giants' method that has led to tough years had previously led to years of success. Is there anything we can learn from the Diamondbacks' success or is that a case of freak chemistry?

Sabean: Producing home-grown players is going to be one of our main goals in the future. Of the 35 players on the big-league roster at the conclusion of the season, 18 were products of the Giants farm system. Two of our Minor League clubs won their league championships in 2007, while five of the six teams posted winning marks. In fact, only the Yankees farm teams have a better winning percentage over the last three seasons than the Giants.

Yargmada: Have the Giants named the second player from the Matt Morris trade? Is Nyjer Morgan on the list of potentials as he seems like he might be a good fit.

Sabean: We completed the Morris trade by acquiring right-handed pitcher Stephen Macfarland. He's a reliever who spent last season at Pittsburgh's Single-A club in the Sally League.

BigBeaver: What are your thoughts on Barry Zito and what will we see from him in 2008?

Sabean: We all have to be encouraged by the second half -- quite simply, finishing the season on a winning note. We expect him to be more consistent throughout the season next year.

SerraPad03: The closer position has been a huge hole in the Giants' bullpen the last couple of years. Do you think Brian Wilson and maybe Jonathan Sanchez have a chance to be the new closer for next year, or are you going to look in the free agency pool?

Sabean: From what we saw from Wilson, Tyler Walker and Brad Hennessey over the last month of the season, we feel like we have the building blocks for the start of our 2008 bullpen. We realize the bullpen will be a vital part of our success in the future. The Giants played the most games decided by two runs or less in the Majors this season (94). Many of these contests were decided late in the game and with an improved bullpen, we can turn those numbers around.

PaulInLV: What should Giants fans' expectations be next year in order to be realistic? Given that quite a few players are under contract, will the team really be that different or should we postpone our hopes until 2009 and beyond?

Sabean: While we did finish in last place, this team didn't necessarily play like a last-place team. As I mentioned before about the games decided by two runs or less, we were competitive throughout the season. Parity is rampant in Major League Baseball this year, with no teams posting a .600 or better winning percentage and no team having a sub-.400 mark for the first time since 2000. There have been seven different world champions since the turn of the century, and for the eighth straight year, there won't be a repeat champion.

davetheaddick: This season was obviously disappointing for the ballclub and fans alike. Do you think that it will be wholesale changes for next season or minor tweaks to strengthen a few key positions?

Sabean: We're definitely looking to build this team around pitching, speed and defense, all attributes that are suited to both AT&T Park and the style of play in the National League West. Our starting pitching is among the best in the game, and there are a lot of clubs that would like to be able to say that. Again, we realize that we have to upgrade our offense and our bullpen.

kidsplay08: What is your view on potentially keeping Dan Ortmeier at first? The kid has the build at 6'4"/215, the agility, and has been showing he can give decent production to be a first baseman.

Sabean: Ortmeier has impressed everybody with how quickly he's been able to pick up the first-base position. Hopefully, he'll develop the power desired from a corner infielder.

sfgiantsschmidt: What would you consider the biggest dissapointment of 2007?

Sabean: Not winning more games at home and not winning more games against division rivals.

Steinbeck: The top four starters seem pretty obvious for next year. What are the plans for the No. 5 guy? Are you looking to give Kevin Correia or Hennessey that spot or maybe aquire another arm?

Sabean: Correia and Sanchez will be given that opportunity.

natomas33: Are Matt Cain and Lincecum "untouchable" as far as possible trades in the offseason?

Sabean: Probably.

Sabes: With a thin market ... do you see the Giants venturing into free agency once again?

Sabean: From early analysis, the free agent class will not be as strong as it has been in the past, with only a few "difference makers" potentially available. With that said, we're obviously going to look at all avenues to improve the club.

Herkie: What is the status of Nate Schierholtz for next season? He seems to have all the tools to be a fixture in left field going forward.

Sabean: Schierholtz will play in the Arizona Fall League this offseason and gain more at-bats against quality prospect pitching. He obviously played well enough at the big-league level this year to be in the mix for playing time next year.

Dogbone111:gre Speed and defense are essential. However, don't you need power next year to compete in the small ballparks?

Sabean: Frankly, the parks in our division are considered pitchers' parks. The only club in our division that has bona fide power is Colorado. As Bruce has said on occasion this season, "speed doesn't slump."

merizobeach: Sir, how happy are you with the Rajai Davis-Morris trade?

Sabean: Very happy.

armandosdad: Brian, in the press conference announcing the team's decision to part with Barry Bonds, it was noted that Bonds' deferred salary will count towards the team's future payroll. May I ask how much is deferred and for how many years?

Sabean: Bonds has deferred monies coming to him over the next few seasons, which will count in our player payroll.

giraffe22: What is our draft position and who are you eyeing -- hitting, pitching?

Sabean: We pick fifth. In that position, you expect to get the highest profile player, pitcher or hitter.

54wasgood: What is the offseason homework for Eugenio Velez?

Sabean: Velez will participate in the Arizona Fall League, playing mostly second base.

NextTime: What were positives this year?

Sabean: Unquestionably, our starting pitching and the emergence of Wilson, Walker and Hennessey at the end of the year.

Sam_K_: How important is situational hitting to the Giants' new direction? Can this be taught?

Sabean: Situational hitting is one of the fundamentals that we will strongly emphasize in Spring Training.

Sabean: Thanks, everyone, for your time. I'm sorry if I didn't get a chance to answer your question, but I would have been here until Spring Training answering the more than 1,000 questions that were submitted! It's always a pleasure to interact with our fans who have hung in there with us despite our unacceptable results over the last three years.