Thank You Peter!
I will forever be thankful to Peter Magowan for getting the Giants this far as a franchise:
- Keeping the Giants in SF
- Building that beautiful park by the Bay despite decades of inertia in the SF political scene
- Making it possible to keep the Giants in SF for the indefinite future, with no future potential move hanging over the franchise for many years to come
- 8 straight years of winning baseball, the longest stretch for the Giants since the 14 straight years of winning baseball from their first season in SF to basically when I became a fan (a coincidence, I assure you :^), the longest stretch of winning in the past 36 years (next longest is 5 years from 86-90), which means that in the last 36 years, only 13 were in stretches of sustained good performances, 23 years were either losing or winning just one season before losing again
- Bringing the pride in the franchise back again
- Bringing Barry Bonds (and by extension, Bobby Bonds) back home, where he belonged
- Making the Willies (Mays and McCovey) a big part of the Giants scene, as well as a lot of other past Giants, great, loved, or both
When It's Time to Change, You Got to Re-arrange
But it was time for a change.
As I've been writing since the 2003 season, the Giants could either dream big by spending extra money to shore up the team by getting Bonds' replacement (Vlad, Ordonez, Beltran, for examples), or they could pinch pennies and buy a bunch of mediocre players. Peter Magowan chose the latter path, leading to our current, long losing seasonal streak. As managing partner, he could have either brought in new investors to boost the cash flow to sustain such an expanded spending during those critical years or convince the current owners to pony up more money. He was unable or unwilling to do either.
Lucky for us, Sabean has been able to cobble together an excellent pitching rotation and closer, plus promising pieces in the bullpen and lineup (basically many of the rookies and near-rookies who have seen some playing time this season), while fulfilling the general order from ownership to buy the best vets available within the budget we had. In addition, there are a number of promising players now in the farm system who should be arriving starting in 2010 (and perhaps as early as late 2009), starting with Bumgarner, Alderson, Posey, Sosa, Villalona, Noonan, Gillaspie, and Rodriguez.
If these pieces were not in place already, I would be on board with changing GM today, but I'm not willing to jeopardize this re-build - and risk having the new GM trade away Cain or Lincecum, as many fans today irrationally feared - by making a change today. But we need to see progress each year still or then we risk losing our star pitchers to free agency before we start winning. If we do not progress each year, I would be OK with a GM change.
Long Live the Neukom!
I've already liked the stances and his messages thus far, which I'm paraphrasing. "We will do what we need to do in order to win, winning is the prime directive. " Which to me says if we need money to do what we need to do, he will bring it in, somehow. "Build the Farm." Which we all know is the right way to build a club. I am sure there are others, but these two come to mind fastest.
In this latest opportunity to send his message to the public, he added another nuance, which is something I've complained about and asked for over the years: add more coaches. Here is the quote: "That means we've got to keep building our farm system and our coaches, because those are the people who teach so the kids can play the game in the Major Leagues at the highest level." (italic bold emphasis is mine).
Invest in Coaches and Other Services
In today's world where the team spends literally $100M on the MLB payroll plus tens of millions on the draft bonuses plus on top of that the expenses for the farm system, why aren't there more coaches at each and every level, helping each team. I don't mean rovers, but actual coaches on every team. Heck, you can probably hire and assign someone to focus on and mentor our top prospects.
For example, we should have RHP and LHP on call who can come out and pitch extra batting practice when hitters need or want it. If it is something Barry Bonds (he had a LHP pitch to him at home and on the road), who is arguably one of the best hitters ever in MLB history, felt would improve his performances, it might help those lesser mortals, like Dan Ortmeier or any of our lefty hitters, to get more practice against LHP and perhaps not be labeled platoon potential starters. Likewise, have a RHP on call for the right-handed hitters, just for repetition. That's not coddling, that's ensuring your investments mature and develop and get the practice they need.
In addition, something I've touched on over the years is expanded medical care. There should be no excuse for Eyre not realizing that he needed drugs to help him with his ADD or countless other hitters who we suddenly discovered that he needed glasses to help him see the pitched ball. Our doctors should be catching such things and taking care of them proactively, not reactively.
And how much would that cost per season? I'll bet no more than $3-5M per year. Which is a small insurance policy amount to help ensure that we get the most out of our players. Overall, the team is probably spending at least $150M with regards to players and their development and care. That much extra per year is a pittance to the benefits those services can bring the team.
I was going to go over this in one of my segments in my Hey Series, but this was a good time to get it out there, given that the changing of the guard is now official. Hopefully, Neukom is both a man of his words and a man of action, and put all his directives into motion. But he probably wouldn't have been selected to head the powerful American Bar Association (I still think of a pub when I hear that :^) for a two year period if he weren't either of those. I believe that the Giants are in good hands and that he will bring needed changes to the culture and philosophy of the club.