Brian Sabean is always at his best when he reaches his boiling point, because his inability to sugarcoat a used chaw means a lot less time trying to parse what he really means.
He is, in short, utterly unsuited to a job at The Ohio State University. And unlike a lot of other figures, he doesn't fret the optics. He says what needs saying, leaving us to wonder as much of what needs doing he intends to actually do.
And more to the point, how quickly he can do it, and how much he will be allowed to do.
First, though, the highlights of his remarks to KNBR:
"If you put your finger on what our problem's been, we've got a 1960s offense. We have the damnedest time scoring on the road, and when we face good or power pitching, we're very inept, don't have a nose for the RBI, strikeout too much, and you can't do that if you don't hit a lot of home runs. And we have not been any form of consistent. Maybe a little bit more presentable to the eye at home, but we've got to become more dynamic. If that takes doing it with other players, we're prepared to do that."
Of course, being prepared is only Step One. The question is in the doing, and the team that has always worried about the psychic cost of a full rebuild seems at last to be more committed to the idea than it has been in the past. The three kings (2010, 2012 and 2014) are dead, long live the Kings.
The difference here is that Sabean is breaking corporate programming by saying so.
"We were very respectful and doubled down on our core, and for some reason, they couldn't stay on the field, and for some reason, they weren't playing to their baseball cards this year. We're more open-minded than ever -- whether it's now or especially going into the offseason -- to shake things up. Guys are really playing for their place on the '19 team in my mind right now."
This is not a new sentiment; some folks saw the rust developing last year. But the franchise spent too much time believing the rear view mirror was the front windshield, and finally have figured out that it's been looking backwards too long.
Now whether this means he is prepared to blow up the entire roster (or a considerable percentage thereof) to achieve another renaissance remains open because it implies a series of unpleasant meetings with CEO Larry Baer, who has been largely committed to using familiar names to keep the turnstiles churning. The strategy of the day, rewarding performers on the back end of their contracts for services rendered when they were cheaper so as to inculcate organizational loyalty from players and fans has reached its logical limits, and those limits include free agents considering getting money from San Francisco as opposed to getting the same money or more from a happier hitting experience.
In other words, chasing Bryce Harper is a monumental waste of time in exactly the same way that chasing Giancarlo Stanton was.
"Well, it's damn near impossible because on the free agent market a power hitter is not necessarily gonna want to come here because they know the park factor. If you want to be more cryptic about it, the people who have success here have to be pull hitters. They have to be right-handed pull hitters or left-handed pull hitters. That's very tough to find. In reality, you either have to develop them or you have to trade for them. Or it's Plan B and you go with another style of offense, which is more based on line drives and doubles and being able to run the bases."
None of this is new to people who have seen the last two seasons-plus of Giants baseball, where they have the second oldest lineup in baseball and still cannot average four runs a game; averaging four runs a game in what the 26th best team in baseball does, so you have a context for how poor 3.96 per game is.
But since the ballpark isn't moving or changing in any meaningful way, and since the Giants aren't going to revert to their mid-80s day-game fixation (they played 66 of 81 home games in sunlight in 1985, and lost 100 games), Sabean's real task is probably developing a new pitching-dominant roster that finds enough hitting to get by. It is more likely than their finding a bunch of ungodly large ball-mashers, and while the current game is predicated on The Three True Outcomes, the Giants' task is to create Three Slightly Less True But Still Workable outcomes.
All that aside, it is a wonderment to see Sabean all but declare that the best decade of San Francisco Giants baseball is finally done and dusted. The franchise worked in 2010, 2012 and 2014 well into 2018, but history is a cruel hell-hag, and the good old days have outlived their usefulness for anything save nostalgia.
And yes, that includes quaint notions like "1960s offense."