Buster & Pat the Bat: 24 Hours that saved the Giants season

Mark Townsend
October 6, 2010

Can a general manager win Executive of the Year based on one 24-hour period?

Despite his team "exploding" for five runs the night before, San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean arrived at his office the morning of May 29 knowing his offense needed an upgrade.

Actually, I think he knew that for the 2 1/2 years leading up to that day, but that was finally the day he was going to do something about it.

Well, something that worked anyway.

Sabean's team was a respectable 25-22 — 2.5 games behind San Diego — in spite of the stagnant offense, but Sabean understood that hovering just above .500 wasn't going to cut it in the NL West. Not with San Diego winning 1-0 everyday, and not with established contenders in Colorado and Los Angeles breathing down its neck. So he went to work.

His first order of business that Saturday was to finally recall the organization's top prospect Buster Posey(notes). Good thing he made that decision early in the day because Posey arrived at AT&T Park that evening just in time to contribute three hits and three RBIs in a 12-1 blowout of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Posey would go on to post an impressive .305-.357-.585 line in 108 games split behind the plate and at first. That may or may not be good enough to net him a Rookie of the Year selection, but it was critical in getting San Francisco over the hump.

While Posey stole the majority of headlines that day (right up until now), Sabean would make another move hours later that would impact his team just as much, if not more than Posey.

Sabean inked Pat Burrell(notes) — who was outright released by the Tampa Bay Rays days earlier — to a minor league contract.

One week later, Burrell was back wearing a glove for the first time since the 2008 World Series. A week after that, Burrell rediscovered his home run swing that was also missing since the 2008 World Series.

Burrell ended up the San Francisco portion of his season with 18 homers — which tied him for third on the team, ironically with Posey — and 51 RBIs. Not too shabby for a guy who looked absolutely, positively finished in the American League.

And not a bad day at the office for a GM when he adds 36 HRs and 118 RBIs to the middle of his order without giving up even one low-end prospect.

OK, so maybe Sabean got a little lucky things turned out so well with a rookie and an assumed past-his-prime slugger, but results are results. Add those two additions to the Aubrey Huff(notes) signing, the promotion of Madison Bumgarner(notes), and the launching of Bengie Molina(notes), Todd Wellemeyer(notes) and Fred Lewis(notes).

Not a bad year at the office.