Results tagged ‘ Bob Howry ’

Sabean’s Strategy

Giants general manager Brian Sabean is honing a skill not innate to a baseball man who cut his teeth at the New York Yankees.

Patience.

“The market right now is as slow or slower than last year in developing,” he said during a break today from internal strategy meetings in preparation for next week’s winter meetings in Indianapolis.

“Whether teams are still getting their budgets together or what, the free agent market has yet to develop. Players and agents are slow to do anything. It’s a sign of the times.”

Sabean said the Giants last week offered a one-year deal to pitcher Brad Penny, and yesterday offered one year and an option to infielder Juan Uribe. Both offers were declined. “At this time I’m not sure there will be further discussion,” Sabean said. (He said veteran catcher Bengie Molina probably has been offered a multi-year deal by another team, essentially guaranteeing he would not return to the Giants.)

Sabean’s strategy in building the 2010 team boils down to three basic – but difficult — questions:

How can the Giants maximize the talent they already have?

What can be accomplished on the free-agent market?

Are there smart trades to be made – and what homegrown talent is the team willing to give up in order to secure valuable immediate help (such as a bigger bat in the lineup)?

“What we’re doing right now – to get a bat, to figure out the catching situation, everything – is due diligence,” Sabean said.

In other words, there is no magic formula. No shortcuts. No blockbuster, bold-headline quick fixes. Just hours and days and weeks of poring over scouting reports and statistics, working the phones and updating the huge erasable boards with lists of free agents and players likely the trading block, plus evaluating in every possible way the Giants’ own prospects. (Who among them will blossom into big-impact major-leaguers, and when?)

“In a perfect world, you’d love to have (Madison) Bumgarner and (Buster) Posey burst on the scene,” Sabean said. “But you don’t want to rush them. So you keep at it, at the grindstone, and be ready when the best opportunities pop.”

There might be interesting “secondary free agents,” Sabean said, “but maybe that doesn’t make as much sense as giving our own kids a chance. We have to continue to identify what we really have internally and not count on the outside world.”

Sabean mentioned two “burning questions” for the Giants:

If the Giants don’t get Penny and instead bring up Bumgarner, their top pitching prospect, they will have a particularly young starting rotation. So what do you do about the bullpen? Do you counterbalance that with a more veteran bullpen and, say, bring Bob Howry back?

What position does Pablo Sandoval play? If he stays at third, what options are available to upgrade the situation at first base outside the organization?

“In the past, we’ve been more aggressive,” Sabean said. “But we’re willing to go at the pace of the marketplace and show more patience. Trades don’t have to be made at the winter meetings. So people shouldn’t read anything into it if nothing happens in Indianapolis. It’s just not a very sexy market at this time.

“But we’ll come home with more information. It’s a fact-finding mission to figure out who matches up with us in terms of free-agent interest. We’ll have a clearer picture of trade scenarios. We’ll find who our partners might be and how we can do business.”

Chat with Giants’ GM Sabean:

Brian Sabean will participate in a live Web chat from the Major League Baseball winter meetings in Indianapolis on Wednesday, December 9 at 1 p.m. PT. Fans are invited to chat with the GM about his goals for the club during the week’s Winter Meetings. To participate in the chat, please register at: 

http://mlb.mlb.com/fan_forum/chat.jsp

Appreciating the Fans

 

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In 10 years in the majors, pitcher Bob Howry said, he has never heard a team owner address the players the way Bill Neukom did at a breakfast meeting this morning. Howry was with the Cubs, Indians, Red Sox and White Sox before signing with the Giants this season.

“They basically welcome you and wish you luck,” Howry said of other executives.

Neukom was more direct, talking to the players as professional colleagues, articulating the Giants’ expectation that players are civic leaders and businessmen as well as athletes. In particular, he emphasized the importance of connecting with fans at tomorrow’s Fanfest.

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“People are coming out and spending their hard-earned money with us – and it is hard-earned. As we all know, most people have less money in their pockets this year than last year,” Neukom told the players in a large meeting room on the suite level of AT&T Park. The fans need to know, Neukom said, that the players – and the entire organization – don’t take their support for granted.

“I think the veterans know that,” Howry said, “but there are so many younger guys on this team, so it’s good to have that kind of message from the man at the top.”

Later in the morning, the players met for nearly two hours with members of the media. Then, the team joined Giants employees for lunch – each player sitting at a different table so everyone had a chance to talk and get to know each other.

Jeremy Affledt and his wife, Larisa, are having dinner tonight with David Batstone, an ethics professor at USF and the director Not For Sale, a non-profit group that fights human trafficking. Affeldt called the organization two months ago after reading about it. Affeldt began his own foundation six years ago that focuses mostly on youth issues. He spoke at 18 high schools in Spokane, where he lives, and hopes to get to as many high schools in the Bay Area as he can during the season. 

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Check out Andy Baggarly’s blog (http://blogs.mercurynews.com/extrabaggs/). He had a great interview with Tim Lincecum in San Jose last night. Lincecum was a rock star at the Sharks game, where he dropped the first puck. The crowd – and the entire Sharks team – gave him a standing ovation.

I’m off to go shopping with Pablo Sandoval for a piece I’m writing for Giants Magazine. Look for it on Opening Day.

I hope you can make it to FanFest tomorrow! Get here early and pray for clear skies.

A Set-Up Guy Who Does Stand-up

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Look for new Giants LH reliever Jeremy Affeldt to become “The Player Most Likely to Deliver the Most Quotable Quote on Any Topic at Any Moment.”

At the final “Inside the Clubhouse” chalk talk for season-ticket holders last night, Affeldt bantered with host Jon Miller and bullpen mates Bob Howry and Brian Wilson as if he were Denis Leary on Letterman.

If you haven’t seen him, he’s a good-looking, 6-foot-5-inch 29-year-old with a perpetual half-smile that brings to mind those boyish soldiers in old war movies who were always ready with a wisecrack. It turns out Affeldt’s father was, in fact, a bombardier in the Air Force in the final years of the Cold War, who, Affeldt says, would fly off suddenly in a B-52 from the base in Guam and then just as suddenly reappear, never saying where he had been.

When asked during the Q&A about the toughest hitter he faced, he said Garret Anderson of the Angels (though at the moment unsigned).

“He’s like 12 for 10 against me,” Affeldt joked. “He hit a ball so hard off me they gave him two hits.”

He said he has been known to be a little wild. He told of firing two fastballs against the backstop – and not with any intention of intimidating the hitter. “They were accidents. But it made the curve ball way more effective.”

Howry, who is 35, is quieter and more introverted than Affeldt and Wilson, but his two teammates and Jon Miller had him laughing so hard that he began telling tales on himself, too. During a high school game, after he had hit his fourth batter, the opposing coach stomped out to the umpire and demanded to know why he hadn’t tossed Howry out of the game.

“He’s having a good game,” Howry said the umpire replied. “I’ve seen him hit a lot more than that.”

When someone asked under what circumstances he shook off a catcher’s signs, Howry laughed. “Sometimes the catcher will signal for me to shake him off,” Howry said, “to make the batter think I have more than one pitch.”

While he was in town for the day, Howry checked out a condo across the street from the ballpark as a possible residence during the season. His wife and two children – ages 9 and 6 – will stay in Glendale, Arizona, and visit during long weekends and the summer.

Affeldt had a tougher time finding a place for his wife and 17-month-old son to live in the city. The challenge: their three-year-old, 90-pound mastiff, Kylie. They finally found a three-bedroom loft on Beale Street.

Affeldt is no stranger to SF. After living in Guam, the family moved to Merced, where Affeldt spent fifth through eighth grades. The family occasionally drove up to San Francisco to watch a Giants or A’s game or visit Fisherman’s Wharf. Affeldt spent his high school years in Spokane, where he married his high school sweetheart, Larisa, and recently built a home.

In other news:

Tim Lincecum was out at the ballpark on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, he spent about two hours in an interview with writer Tim Keown for an upcoming story in ESPN Magazine. Tuesday he was photographed on the field by 2K Sports. He flew out to New York on Thursday for Sunday’s Cy Young dinner.

Before last night’s taping of Inside the Clubhouse-

Jeremy Affeldt:

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Bob Howry:

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Brian Wilson:

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Screenshots from MLB 2K9 courtesy of 2K Sports:

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