Throughout the Brian Sabean era in San Francisco, two successful trades come to mind. The Matt Williams for Jeff Kent deal (I believe there were other players involved but those were the big two) and the Jason Schmidt for Armando Rios trade.
However, as good as those moves were, there were at-least two trades that were just as terrible as the aforementioned trades were phenomenal.
Prior to the 2004 season, the Giants gave away Francisco Liriano, Boof Bonser and Joe Nathan for AJ Pierzynski. Needless to say that with Pierzynski spending just one season in San Francisco and Joe Nathan becoming an All-Star closer, the trade has gone down in infamy as one of the worst decisions in Giants history.
But Sabean wasn't done with making bone-headed trades, nope not yet. In 2006, he sent up and coming reliever Jeremy Accardo to the Toronto Blue Jays for corner infielder Shea Hillenbrand and reliever Vinny Chulk.
Now, to be fair Accardo isn't Joe Nathan status but he very well could become just that. In fact, despite injury issues that limited him to just 16 appearances last year and just 16 so far this year, Accardo's 2007 season was golden. In 64 appearances for the Blue Jays, Accardo registered 30 saves and an ERA of 2.14. Plus in his 16 appearances so far this season, Accardo has a very respectable 2.87 ERA.
If he can stay healthy, Accardo is an extremely effective reliever who is still just 27-years-old and has the repertoire to be a closer as his 2007 numbers indicate. Yet, the Giants traded him away when he was just 24-years-old for a player in Hillenbrand who hit just .248 with nine homers in 60 games with the Giants.
Clearly, as a one-for-one deal, the Giants got the short end of the stick. But to top it all off and make the trade even worse, the Giants had to receive an absolutely awful reliever in the deal as well. Vinny "Choke" Chulk as he was known in San Francisco, played in parts of three years with the Giants before being designated for assignment. In 107 innings as a Giant, Chulk accumulated an ERA of 4.28, which doesn't sound bad but you should trust Giants fans when they tell you that Chulk was one of the worst relievers the Giants have had in recent memory.
In the end, the Giants traded away a reliever with "closer stuff" for a washed up corner infielder who hit .248 in just 60 career with the Giants and a reliever who they eventually ended up designating for assignment. Talk about a hideous trade.
Furthermore, when it comes to free-agent signings during the Sabean era, it is difficult to remember the quality signings. Players like David Bell, Benito Santiago, Ray Durham, and Omar Vizquel were all productive at some point or another for the orange & black but fans tend to focus on the negative free-agent signings over the last few years.
Names that come to mind that have diminished Brian Sabean's stature as GM are those like Jose "I have a gold glove but can't catch easy pop-ups" Cruz Jr., Steve Finley, Edgardo Alfonzo, Dave Roberts, Ryan Klesko, re-signing Pedro Feliz, Armando Benitez, Jose Vizcaino, Matt Morris, Jamey Wright, and finally, the most recent ones: Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, and Edgar Renteria.
A couple of years ago, Brian Sabean's contract was extended by the ownership group led by Peter Magowan. Clearly, the two must have really had a thing for each other because nothing Sabean had done in the last few seasons up until a couple years ago warranted an extension.
But with Bill Nuekom now in charge of baseball operations, hopefully Sabean won't be extended this time around. Granted, people are giving Sabean credit for re-tooling the farm system and not trading his prospects. However, the word around the block is that a guy named Evans has been in charge of scouting/minor league development. Therefore guys like Lincecum, Bumgarner, Alderson etc aren't apart of the Giants organization because of Sabean's keen eye for talent.
Therefore, with a league that is more and more a "what have you done for me lately" league, then Giants fans must ask themselves: "What has Brian Sabean done for us lately?"
In reality, Sabean hasn't done much (on the good side that is). He did sign a pitcher who was clearly on the decline of his career to a record 126 million dollar contract prior to the 2007 season, he also signed a decent center-fielder to a ridiculous 60 million dollar deal prior to 2008 and signed a shortstop who was clearly on the decline for an egregious 18 million dollar contract prior to this season.
And finally, if you're wondering what Sabean has been doing during the days up to the trade deadline, there is a significant fact that needs to be passed around the Giants' fan base.
With very few available hitters on the trade-market, Brian Sabean didn't even once call the Oakland A's to at-least inquire about what it would take to acquire left-field slugger Matt Holliday.
Regardless of whether or not Giants fans were for or against giving up the amount of talent required to trade for Holliday, the fact that Sabean didn't even once call the A's about his services is a tad disturbing. Given the fact that San Francisco is starved for offense, their GM didn't even once call the A's about Holliday? Not even to see what it would cost?
As a Giants fan, it is extremely frustrating to hear Oakland's assistant GM David Forst tell Greg Papa on the show "Chronicle Live" that the Giants didn't even call, not once.
What is Brian Sabean trying to tell the fan base of his club? That he doesn't care about finding offense? That the Giants are going to settle for mediocrity until the hyped up prospects reach the MLB? Ummm, earth to Sabean, "Prospects" don't always turn out to be the All-Stars they are "projected" to become. That said, other than catcher Buster Posey, the Giants don't have any legitimate minor league hitters that are going to come in the next couple seasons.
Well maybe he could if he were bidding on a starting pitcher (he did outbid the Mets for Barry Zito) but for a hitter? Probably not, (if Sabean's still around) he'll probably back out and a Matt Holliday type hitter will go to the big market team (like the Mets).
Either way, unless Sabean pulls something out of a hat (like acquiring an Adrian Gonzalez or Victor Martinez) and the Giants make the playoffs, he ought not be back as Giants GM next season.