Andrew Baggardly interviewed Carney Lansford after his firing. Let’s talk about what Lansford had to say:
…. Carney Lansford is one of the most honest, most passionate people in uniform I’ve covered over the past 14 years. So I knew if he returned my call yesterday following the news he wouldn’t return as the Giants’ hitting coach, he’d offer a richly candid assessment of the decision, the job he tried to do and the talent level with which he worked. More than anything, I knew he’d speak from the heart. Well, he didn’t return my call last night, but there was a very good reason. He was burying his father-in-law.
“I’d gotten the call from Boch two hours before the service,” Lansford said. “Heck of a day.”
Let’s start right here. You wanna talk about class, or the lack thereof? The Giants called him to tell him he was fired on the day he was burying his father-in-law. Are you kidding somebody? Do you have any idea how little class, compassion and integrity that demonstrates? There’s a statement about your SF Giants. What a classless, insensitive thing to do. The same way they treat everyone. Remember that Bonds guy? You know, the player who carried the team for fifteen years? Pretty much treated him the same way. Thanks for the memories, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
The tracked down Lansford so they could fire him the same day he was going to be at a family funeral. That is, quite frankly, disgraceful.
…. The reason we didn’t win is we weren’t good enough offensively. You certainly can’t blame the pitching. I wish I had more offense to work with, but I had what I had. I don’t know what I would’ve done differently. I did not work out.
…. Had I had an offense like the Dodgers or Angels or Red Sox or Rockies or Yankees, and had we underachieved, I’d really take it hard. But I think everybody knew, and we all expected, that we’d be an offensively challenged team. That said, we were able to stay in the wild card hunt until the final week of the season. I’m really proud of that. We kept the fans interested and excited for six months. I believe in my own mind that the team overachieved, and I believe that’s due to the coaching staff and Boch motivating these guys. I really think that’s true.”
Well, Brian Sabean didn’t know that the Giants were offensively challenged, because he didn’t do a single thing about it prior to the season starting. Bill Neukon certainly didn’t think the team was offensively challenged, because he sat there and drank his wine, and ate his cheese, and put no pressure on the team’s management to upgrade the offense at all. So, it appears that Lansford was the only person in the Giants organization who knew that a lineup that was gonna get 600 plate appearances from Winn, Rowand, Ishikawa, Molina, Renteria and the rest of these bums was gonna be bad.
…. “My only comment on the situational hitting is the first thing I was told when I took the job is it was atrocious. Did we work on that? More than you’ll ever know. They just didn’t get it done. We had meetings, we talked about the thought process, we talked about what pitch to look for. I don’t know if anyone had to move more runners than I did, as much as I had to move Rickey (Henderson) all those years. But going out early and doing it against batting practice? Anybody can do that. It comes down to games, when guys are throwing 95 mph fastballs and curveballs when you don’t know they’re coming. You can emphasize the heck out of it, but at some point you just have to find a way to get it done.
“At some point, guys have to take responsibility for not doing that. That’s one thing I stressed to the guys – Step up and be responsible for yourself. Guys at the big league level, by the time they get there, should know how to do that stuff – move runners, get a guy home from third with less than two outs. If guys are learning that at the big league level, it’s too late. A major league player should not be as poor at it as we were in my two years. Do I take it personally? Of course I do. I know it cost us games. I’m a human being. I’m not a machine. But I’ll sleep good at night knowing I took my best shot.”
We’re back to the organization. Where is the accountability? Brian Sabean is the boss of this team. He runs the whole thing. He hires, directs, and organizes who, how and what. And the Giants are as bad at developing hitters as any team in baseball. Brian Sabean and the rest of the people in his system, the men whose job it is to draft, coach, and prepare these players to be major leaguers, absolutely have to answer for this system-wide failure. The hitters who come out of the Giants minor league system are, as a group, as undisciplined and poorly coached as any in baseball. Name the last player to come out of the Giants system that had command of the strike zone? The last player who was an excellent defender? The last player who came out of the Giants system, and was considered a heads up player, one who played the game right?
No one. Pablo Sandoval is the best everyday player to come out of the Giants minor league system since Will Clark, over twenty years ago. As good as Sandoval is, he still only managed 39 unintentional walks. The draft is a crap shoot? Yeah, well, of course it is, especially when you have no system in place to teach the players you do pick.
Brian Sabean had Barry Bonds for fifteen years, fifteen years of the best player in baseball, and managed to make it to the World Series one time. Now, without Bonds to cover his mistakes, the Giants haven’t had a player score 100 runs in a season in six years, since Bonds did it in 2004. In that span, 140 major league baseball players have scored 100 runs or more, and not one Giant has. In fact, no Giants player has even scored 90 runs during that stretch. In 2005, Pedro Feliz led the team with 69 runs scored. In 2006, Vizquel scored 88. In 2007 Bonds led the team with 75 runs scored. despite playing in only 126 games. In 2008, Winn scored 84. And this season, Sandoval led the team with 79 runs scored. You have to go all the way back to 2002 to find a Giants player other than Bonds who scored 100 runs, when Jeff Kent, another player who didn’t come up through the Giants system, scored 102. That’s the last 9 seasons, 9 seasons in a row in which no player drafted by and developed by the San Francisco Giants has scored 100 runs.
That is simply awful. And it isn’t Carney Lansford’s fault. It’s isn’t the hitters fault, either. It is a failure of philosophy. It is a failure of approach. It is a failure of an entire organization. And it is, more than anyone else, Brian Sabean’s failure. He has failed. His beliefs, his ideas on what it takes to be effective at the plate, on what it takes to be an effective major league baseball player, are wrong. As long as he’s running this team, this team will not win anything.
And it isn’t gonna change when they bring in a new batting coach.