I wanted to name this article: Bobby Evans and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Giants. As you can imagine that title was a tad too long.
The Giants are bad. Who is to blame? Probably no one particular person, but that’s no fun. Let’s blame the head honcho, the lord and liege when it comes to the personnel on the roster of the San Francisco Giants: Robert Carlton Evans.
We talk a lot about continuity in sports, and the Giants are Exhibit A when it comes to this. Much is made of continuity on the field with Bumgarner being a staple of the rotation, Posey being in the middle of the lineup and behind the plate, and Bochy at the helm for all three championships. What about the front office?
Bobby Evans has been the GM of the Giants (conveniently) since 2015. He took over for Brian Sabean who had served as the GM since 1997. Prior to 2015, Evans held the position of Vice President of Baseball Operations. Sabean still plays a large role in the organization. He now holds the position of Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations. I assume the Executive entails that all personnel decisions go through him, as well as a sweet parking space.
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During Sabean’s GM tenure, the Giant’s had 13 winning seasons, reached the World Series 4 times, winning thrice. Evans was his understudy for years, watching him make moves that may not have been blockbuster trades that made headlines , may not have been the sexiest, but led to a parade down Market Street.
I’m talking about picking up Cody Ross on waivers, trading for Marco Scutaro, or taking a chance on Jake Peavy who had a 1-9 record in Boston that year. All these moves made us think, ‘Hmm, I sure hope they know what they’re doing.’
So why has Evans, who more often than not has made the “looks good on paper” acquisitions, not had the same success as the guru? In 2015, he traded prospects for Mike Leake, a move that everyone applauded as a great move by a team in playoff contention that was in desperate need of a reliable starter. Leake was hurt for a good chunk of his time with the Giants, and when he was healthy he was mediocre for the most part.
Many speculated that he’d re-sign with the Giants in the off-season. Instead, Evans opted to give exorbitant sums of money to Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Do you remember the prospects given up for Leake? I remember one of them. Good ole Adam Duvall.
Duvall is hitting .252 right now with 31 home runs, albeit in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the bigs. Hey, is he a young, right-handed, corner outfielder with pop? Gee, that kind of sounds like what the Giants have been searching for for the last decade.
What about in 2016? The Giants were again in need of starting pitching, so they traded Matt Duffy and Lucius Fox for Matt Moore. I’ll be the first to point out how clutch Moore pitched in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cubs last year with the season on the line. That being said, anyone with eyes (perhaps even the blind due to how loud the contact has been at times) can tell Matt Moore has not pitched well this season.
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Again, this was a trade that baseball analysts adored. It made sense on paper. The numbers looked pretty. Upside was there, but so was downside. But baseball is more than numbers and upside. Sometimes it’s a gut-feeling on Pat Burrell, or sticking with the guy who’s a key part of team chemistry despite struggles.
This isn’t to say that these trades not working out were entirely Evans’ fault. We all understood the upside as well as the downside with these moves, and it’s easy to Monday General Manage. All I’m saying is that in Evans’ short tenure, most moves haven’t worked out. I’m also not saying that everything Sabean did turned to gold i.e. Carlos Beltran. However, a lot of the moves he made turned into gold that you got to put on your finger.
I remember when Evans was named GM and for some reason it unsettled me. Why would they change anything? What do they have against a correlation between continuity and success? Perhaps it was something about the way Evans looked. Look at a picture of the guy and tell me with a straight face that you want this guy in charge of your baseball team. He’s basically the human animation of a Teddy Graham.
This could be personal taste, but I want a dude that looks like Brian Sabean in charge of my team. Sabean looks like that guy who took all your money at the Blackjack table during your buddy trip to Vegas. The man is a mercenary.
To reiterate, Bobby Evans is not soley to blame for the Giants’ woes. One of the downsides of consistent winning is a depleted farm system which leads to the front office having to manufacture and piece together a respectable squad.
Although it definitely would be more fun to blame someone in the front office. Then you get to say things like, “The man’s never played ball in his life!” just because they wear suits. Alas, at the end of the day, it comes down to nine guys hitting, running, and throwing a ball on a field better than the other guys.