New Giants managing partner Bill Neukom wants San Francisco to be aggressive about bringing top players to town, saying he's not against the club going after a high-priced free agent this winter . . .Aside from the part about keeping Sabean and Bochy in the organization, let alone in the loop, there's some sense to this. The Giants are a bit of an odd duck when it comes to market and payroll. Yes, they draw a lot in that stadium of theirs and have a good TV deal, but they are also still paying for that stadium of theirs, and thus have to walk the fine line between wholesale rebuilding while still putting an entertaining and competitive product on the field in order to keep butts in the seats.
. . . [Giants' Managing Partner Bill] Neukom and Larry Baer, promoted to team president as part of the restructuring, have told general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy not to think in terms of a set payroll but rather to take an outside-the-box approach when it comes to organizing the roster. San Francisco had a payroll of about $80 million last season and Sabean expected something similar for 2009.
Sabean and Bochy have been asked to present a couple of different roster possibilities featuring varying talent levels -- not to mention a manual for players and others about how the organization will be run from top to bottom, down to how things will be handled in given situations, such as with two outs or with runners on base.
"The number is something of a placeholder at this point in our financial planning process. We said to Brian and to Bruce Bochy, 'Look, don't be constrained by a placeholder number for player payroll right now,"' Neukom said. "'Think of this in terms of how you're going to assemble a roster that's going to be competitive in '09 and come back to us. We may not be able to afford plan A, we may tell you that we're
really at plan B or plan C.'
"We just think that's the way you run a talent business."
Because of this, bringing in a free agent or two is far more defensible a strategy for the Giants than it would be for another team at a comparable position on the success cycle. The key is to bring in the right free agents, however -- ones that won't hamstring team defense, or roster flexibility, or require too long a commitment -- and I'm not sure that there's anything in Brian Sabean's record that indicates that he knows how to identify the right free agents.