Renel laughs with Sabean during a live web stream on Wednesday.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy, pitching coach Dave Righetti, CEO Larry Baer and general manager Brian Sabean all sat down tonight to answer questions posed by Renel Brooks-Moon and from Giants fans in the audience during a live web stream at sfgiants.com.
The theme of the night seemed to be the team’s payroll. In particular, why the Giants did not do more to improve their lackluster offense this winter.
Baer responded to a question by an audience member who wanted to know why the Giants did not sign an expensive free agent at the winter meetings.
“We want to be at a range where we are in decent financial shape to sign our young players long term,” Baer told the season ticket holder. “If you sign a player (like Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, etc.), you put yourself at risk. Look what happened to the Florida Marlins when they went bankrupt and the Arizona Diamondbacks about 10 years ago. We don’t want that to compromise our ability to sign Lincecum, Cain, Sandoval, Posey, Wilson and a lot of the other guys we have. We have to look four to five years out.”
Sabean talked about how the Giants starters feel about the lack of run support and whether or not they will consider that when looking at free agency in a few years.
“Righetti has made it known to the pitchers that it’s their responsibility to win games and they fully understand that and accept that responsibility,” Sabean said. “Our fan base is one of the best in baseball and our players know it. I’m an East Coast guy myself and the reason I’m still here is because this organization treats its people so well.”
Giants CEO Larry Baer: "I don't like the term 'cap.'"
When another fan in the audience asked Baer about the $130 million cap, the Giants CEO was quick to point out that he does not like the term ‘cap.’
“It’s more of a range, a place to land,” he said. “The $130 million dollars is a product of a lot of different factors. Two years ago, we were at 94 or 95 million. Each year we will go up some in payroll. Everything we’ve done this off-season is to set ourselves up to be able to sign these guys to long-term contracts.”
“The beauty of home-grown players is, we know them, we love them,” Baer added. “We want to do everything we can to make them Giants forever.”
Sabean said he thinks the team made enough of an upgrade with the recent acquisitions of Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan to help the club score more runs in 2012.
“We hope to hell to score 4+ runs a game,” Sabean said. “With Cabrera, we got a player who’s coming into his own. He can hit at the top of the order. Pagan is a kid who’s got a lot of potential. He brings a lot of tools and a skill set that is conducive to the big National League West ball parks. Both he and Cabrera have a little pop, too.”
When Renel asked Sabean if he had any other offensive upgrades up his sleeve, Sabean turned his attention to youngsters Brandon Belt and Brett Pill.
“Belt played well for Moises Alou‘s team down in Venezuela. Our hope is that if we give Brandon a chance to play with Brett Pill at first base, that we can use Aubrey Huff in left field. Of course, all of that will have to sort itself out in spring training.”
Huff in left field?
“We’re couting on Huff having a better year,” Sabean said.
Evidently, Bochy has pictures to prove Huff means business.
Bochy says Huff can stop sending him topless pictures anytime he wants to.
“Once a week, he sends me a picture of himself without his shirt on,” the Giants manager quipped.
Bochy also hopes the team will be more focused, now that they are a year removed from their World Series victory. One thing’s for sure. The team will be free of the cameras that constantly followed them last year during the making of Showtime’s “The Franchise.”
“I was really concerned about it,” Bochy said about the distraction caused by the Showtime documentary. “Overall, the guys handled it very well. You need adversity to humble you and make you a better team. Seeing Arizona celebrate on the field in front of us (after winning the division)…hopefully, that stays in the front of the guys’ minds.”
“Our theme for next season is ‘Let’s Get Back’ (to the top of the mountain),” Bochy added. “We need to be more demanding on the fundamentals, handling the bat, execution, and running the bases. We will spend a lot more time on base running in spring training. A lot of our drills will be conducted by (first base coach) Roberto Kelly on the bases.”
Cabrera and Pagan will certainly help.
“Last year, we didn’t have speed. This year, we do,” Bochy said with a smile. “It’s going to be nice to have. It’s up to me to adapt to the team. I want to see how these guys do in spring training before I pencil anybody in a certain lineup.”
Bochy also said there will be a renewed emphasis on hitting.
Righetti: "I'm not the manager. I'm not the GM. I'm just a coach."
“We needed to come up with a different philosophy on hitting. Hitting on different counts, with two strikes, that sort of thing. We have a whole new plan printed out on paper. From Day 1 of spring training, we’re going to really lay it on them.”
That should be music to the starting rotation’s ears.
Righetti talked about how much better Cain and Lincecum can still get.
“What makes these guys really good is getting them into pressure situations like the World Series,” Righetti said. “That’s where you see the greatness come out.”
When a season ticket holder asked Rags about a back-up plan in case closer Brian Wilson goes down, Righetti shied away from the question and didn’t seem interested in giving a direct answer.
“I’m not the manager. I’m not the GM,” Righetti said. “My job is to coach. I’m sure the front office has a contingency plan.”
Here are a few other memorable quotes from the live stream…
Bochy, on Buster Posey playing first base:
“I’d like to keep the option open. With his injury, I’d like to rest him a little bit more this year. But instead of giving him the whole day off, I’d like to put him at first base so we can keep his bat in the lineup.”
Sabean, on Posey’s progress:
“He’s ahead of schedule. He will return to Arizona after the holidays. He completed all the weight-bearing activities before he went home to Georgia.”
Righetti, on Ryan Vogelsong‘s magical season in 2011:
“When I first saw him in spring training of ’98, I said, ‘Oh, this guy’s good. He’s got it.’ I always expected him to be good. I remember in a spring training game last year, he was out there 45 minutes before the game working up a huge sweat. I said, ‘You know you gotta pitch today’ And he said, ‘Yeah I know. But I’m only pitching three innings and I want to give it all I got.’ This is how a guy works who really wants it.”
Baer, on signing Bochy and Sabean to contract extensions:
“The working relationship between the manager and GM is critical. There’s a lot of overlap (in their roles). Bruce and Brian work together so well. They have gotten very close.”
Sabean, on Brandon Crawford:
“He has a really good ability to hit the ball on pitches from — what I call — below the waist. His kryptonite is the high pitches.”
Bochy, on Belt’s rookie season last year:
“We rushed Brandon. We felt we had to. We needed a bat after Cody Ross went down in spring training. We thought he could fill in. To his credit, he’s been playing winter ball in Venezuela and had made some major adjustments.”
Bochy, on Pablo Sandoval‘s off-season workout regimen:
“He started in Snakes Alley in Taiwan. Drinking snake’s blood is supposedly a good way to energize the body and get in shape. Now he’s working out in Arizona with our trainers down there and is doing good.”
Sabean, on the Giants rotation in 2012:
“One of the things we are hopeful on is the baptism of Eric Surkamp. We haven’t seen his best work yet.”
Bochy, on Nate Schierholtz:
“I’m going to sat open-minded. Nate I see as the front-runner to start in right field. It’s going to be competitive and we’ll go with the guys who give us the best chance to win.”
Righetti, on Posey:
“(Getting him back) will be a huge boost for the whole team. Juan Marichal came up to Buster before Game 5 of the World Series and told him, ‘I want to touch you. You’re going to win this thing tonight.’ It’s like he has a magic touch.”
Bochy, on the fans at AT&T Park:
“The players want to win for themselves, but when the park is sold out, it gives them much more passion. They want to win for you. I don’t think we win the World Series in 2010 without the fans.”
A couple more photos:
Audience members listen intently to Giants front office members. (These two guys don't seem to be buying any of what Baer & Co. are selling.)
Sabean, on the Winter Meetings: "I get to sit in a cramped room with about 20 scouts and statistical nerds. Most of the time, we just talk **** about the ass hats at McCovey Chronicles."
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