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Sabean's moves a recipe for Giants' success

Sabean's moves a recipe for Giants' success

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brian Sabean wanted to focus the spotlight on where he thought it belonged.

"Talk to the players," he said, politely declining interview requests as he gestured toward the happy mayhem created by the Giants celebrating Monday night's National League Division Series triumph at Atlanta.

But San Francisco's general manager couldn't escape attention. In another corner of Turner Field's visitors' clubhouse, closer Brian Wilson cited the key moves Sabean made that hastened the Giants' march to an NL Championship Series showdown against the Philadelphia Phillies:

The offseason signing of Aubrey Huff. The early-season acquisition of Pat Burrell. The decisions to summon Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner from Triple-A Fresno. The waiver claim blocking Cody Ross from joining San Diego, which wrapped him in a Giants uniform instead.

Each of these moves already has drawn attention and been linked to the club's success. But Wilson, who tends to state his case in a manner that defies argument, emphasized that Sabean's decisions cannot be underestimated.

"For Sabean to bring in Burrell and Huff, and call up Posey and trust in Bumgarner, you couldn't have asked for better managing as far as I'm concerned. He absolutely nailed it," Wilson said. "Cody Ross. Come on. The other team didn't want him? We'll take him."

Though Huff and Burrell combined for 44 home runs and 137 RBIs during the regular season, Wilson emphasized their contributions off the field. The Giants already enjoyed a healthy camaraderie before they arrived. Huff, with his quick, sharp sense of humor, and Burrell, blessed with the perspective of a veteran who has played on winning teams, made the clubhouse environment more well-rounded.

"Those two guys coming into our clubhouse took it over in a leadership role," Wilson said. "Not stern. They kept it loose and adapted to us young, crazy guys. They held it together. They're professionals."

Huff said that growing accustomed to the Giants came easily.

"I've always been the kind of guy that likes to turn it up a little bit in the clubhouse," he said. "... When I came up as a rookie, I had older guys that rode me hard and made it tough. I always told myself, 'I don't want to be that guy, because it makes it harder.' I don't care if you're a veteran or a younger guy, if you're having fun in the clubhouse, and everybody is having a good time and everybody really starts caring for each other, I think that has a lot to do with winning on the field."

The contributions of Posey and Bumgarner have been well-documented. It's enough to say that Posey is San Francisco's starting catcher and cleanup hitter and that Bumgarner worked his way into becoming the youngest pitcher in franchise history to start a postseason game -- which happened to be Monday night's NLDS clincher.

Statistics measure Posey's offensive contribution (.305, 18 home runs, 67 RBIs in 108 games). But they don't reflect the almost seamless transition the pitching staff made to Posey after collaborating with the revered Bengie Molina for 3 1/2 years. The July 1 trade that sent Molina to Texas enabled Posey to become the Giants' regular catcher.

"I think any time a pitcher throws a nice game or your pitching staff's doing a good job, you have to look at the catcher and give him credit, too," Bochy said.

Bumgarner's 7-6 record and 3.00 ERA were impressive enough. But it seemed as if he should be 10 games above .500, given the magnitude of the games he pitched.

Referring to the mild fuss over who should start Game 4 -- Tim Lincecum, if the Giants were trailing in the series 2-1; Bumgarner, if they led the series; or Lincecum under any circumstances -- Huff declared, "I would have taken [Bumgarner] tonight regardless of whether we had won [Sunday] night."

If a Most Valuable Player were selected for the NLDS, Ross likely would have been the Giants' choice. His RBI single accounted for the only run in Game 1, and after homering and driving in the winning run in Game 4, he'll likely never have to pay for a meal in San Francisco again. But the NLDS marked only the second time that Ross had started at least four consecutive games since the Giants obtained him on Aug. 22.

"There were a lot of guys over here that are used to playing every day," Ross said, "and we all kind of put our egos aside and decided that we had one goal in mind. That was to win."

And Sabean was responsible for bringing this group together.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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