October 30, 2012
Three Giant Draft Picks
Brian Sabean doesn't always get the credit he deserves. The Giants GM has been lampooned for his tendency to sign players who are past their prime (outgoing skipper Felipe Alou complained upon being dismissed after the 2006 season that, “I don't believe one manager enjoys having players die in their hands”) and for being out of touch with the hippest trends. Early in his tenure, Sabean went on record as saying “I am not an idiot” in defense of a trade that sent popular third baseman Matt Williams to Cleveland for four players, the most notable of which was future MVP/“Survivor” contestant Jeff Kent.
All of which I'm sure is fine with Sabean, who gets results while those that would criticize him must settle for dismissing his success as a fluke or some such. The man and his team have played in three World Series in the past 11 years and won two of the last three. Clearly he is doing something right.
One of the things Sabean and his staff have done well is draft players. While his counterparts in the National League West have been collecting talent of varying utility, Sabean has been tabbing stars. Pitchers Matt Cain (2002), Tim Lincecum (2006), and Madison Bumgarner (2007) all were taken in the first round. All played key roles in 2010 and now again in 2012. Same with Buster Posey (2008).
As a thought exercise, while the Giants wait for their rings, let's consider what the NL West might look like had Sabean's counterparts been better at procuring amateur talent. We'll skip 2008 and Posey because the Giants picked fifth overall that year, giving them an advantage over the competition. Focusing on 2002, 2006 (which I've examined briefly in the past), and 2007, what actually happened and what—given the benefit of hindsight—should have happened?
In rewriting history for the purpose of this exercise, we'll make a few assumptions:
To the drafts...