Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The New Giants' Honcho Has Plans

The new Managing Partner of the Giants' ownership group is explaining the team's offseason approach:

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 . . .

. . . [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."
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.

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.


Jason @ IIATMS said...

"take an outside-the-box approach"? With Sabean, that must mean look at players under 32 years old.

Seriously though, how trite is that phrase as a managerial crutch? How "OTB" can a team get? Bat the pitcher 4th? What will Sabean do, offer CC a 3 year deal at $90M to keep the term short? Ditto Teix?

Crowhop said...

You know, Shyster, if I didn't know any better, I'd guess you don't care much for ol' Sabean.

Craig Calcaterra said...

You know, Crow, now that you mention it, I vaguely recall saying a couple of negative things about him in the past . . .;-)

In all honesty, my distaste for Sabean is a visceral one and would likely remain no matter how many smart transactions he made. It's borne of his actions as described in the Mitchell Report, in which the Giants' team trainer came to him -- early -- with concerns about Greg Anderson, his presence in the clubhouse, and his association with Barry Bonds. The trainer felt that Anderson was a bad seed and a disruptive influence and wanted to regain control of his training room. Sabean told the trainer that he should handle it himself. The trainer basically said "fine, but will you at least cover my back when Barry gets mad at me, because he will get mad at me." Sabean told him that he wouldn't and that he was on his own. Sabean later plead ignorance about all that was going on with Bonds and Anderson.

There is nothing worse in a workplace in environment than a boss who hangs his people out to dry like that. It's weasely and dishonest, and makes going to work every day a living hell. Whenever I think of Sabean, I think of that story, and think that there have been a thousand other instances like that, and that people who work under him in the Giants organization probably hate him for it.

Rational? Maybe not, but it's not so crazy that I wouldn't praise actual good moves if Sabean made them. Thankfully, he hasn't made many recently, so I don't have to swallow my personal distaste for the guy in order to analyze his moves.

Anonymous said...


I'm going to say something outsde the box. I hope SF doesn't go after Tex. They need a lot more around him than they've got before a bat like his would have a significant impact, ie make a difference between a pennant/wild card or not. Look at the Angels. When they added Tex, he made them very tough from 3-6 in the lineup. At SF, he'd make them very tough at 3. IBB, anyone?

Their money would be better spent for now in developing the farm system and retaining the young starting pitchers.

Alex said...

But what free agents could they sign who would attract new casual fans? Fans who would go just to see the new guy. Off the top of my head, what free agents are bigger this winter than Sabathia and Manny? I can't think of any who match all the criteria Shyster laid out. Derek Lowe? Bobby Abreu? Oooh I know -- Barry Bonds!

Crowhop said...

Ha…makes perfect sense. People hate for less. Everyone needs a Johnny Ringo.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Well, then, I'm your Huckleberry.