Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Giants Way (tm)

Bill Neukom yesterday had his first official press conference as managing partner - on his second day of work - and Andy Baggarly very kindly posted the transcript on this blog (a man after my own heart, as he saves me the trouble of transcribing everything!).

Following is a copy of his transcription plus my usual comments after each Q&A:

Neukom’s opening statement:

This is a very exciting day for me, Day 2 on the job, so if I can’t answer all your questions as informatively as I’d like to, you’ll have to come back at another time when I know as much about this team as you know. I’m on a very steep learning curve and I’ve got some very smart people to help me learn a lot in a hurry so we can make the Giants the team we all want it to be, and the enterprise in the community we all want it to be.

We are hard at work with plans to build on what we learned during the 2008 season in particular, as well as seasons that preceded it. Baseball is a marathon, as you all know. We’re pleased with some of the developments from the 2008 season. Our job is to take all of that learning, take the talent that we have, and make sure we have an improved performance on the field in 2009. And that means we intend to be competitive. And after we are competitive, we intend to be contending. We want to be contending as soon as possible. We want to be the sort of franchise that puts a contending major league team on the field game in and game out, and affords its community and fan base a contending team year in and year out. And how we’re going to do that is by emphasizing and investing even more in homegrown talent. We have to find the best baseball athletes we can find, through better scouting and better analysis of the amateur draft. We have to emphasize that part of our roster. At the same time, we have to be wise about making strategic trades when it will materially help our team in the medium run, at least, if not the long run, and we have to be willing to enter into the free-trade, free-agent market every now and again, where there is an opportunity to materially improve our competitiveness as a ballclub. And once we have that kind of talent on a regular basis, then we are going to stress fundamentals. We will have a Giants Way. We will be better conditioned and we will work harder. We will be better prepared. We will master the fundamentals in all aspects of the game. And that, we believe, will pay dividends season in and season out. So we will have the best talent, the best teachers and leaders, coaches, our field managers, our instructors, our trainers and the like. Larry (Baer) and I have had several discussions with Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy and they share our enthusiasm for what it is we’re doing to build on ’08 to get us competitive in ’09 and to get us to being a contending ballclub on a regular basis just as soon as possible. They are hard at work. Meetings will be held next week in Arizona. Larry and I will be a part of those meetings. And part of those meetings, and the whole point, is to develop a Giants Way of playing baseball. The first day someone becomes a Giant, he understands how it is we play this game, how we play winning baseball, so we can have the team we want to have, wearing Giants uniforms, and playing in front of our fan base. I think the fan base deserves more and we intend to deliver more to them in the near term and the long term.

ogc: I've seen one commenter say that this is the same corporate B.S. they hear at work. To which I say: of course. Being a corporate leader today requires you to act "leader-like" and B.S. is part of that. About being the best, about being accountable (a typical phrase heard when new leadership comes in when the old leadership is under a bit of a cloud). Thus, as I've been preaching all these years after Sabean press conferences, you need to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Basically, this repeats the message he gave in one of his first press conferences, that the Giants are all about winning (i.e. contending) and that he wants to be winning ASAP. Lots of blah-blahs, but there are key things to note that are new and/or important.

First, clearly the Giants will be built from the farm system first, supplemented with trades and free agency, as needed. That wasn't so clear during the past 5 years as the Giants tried to win with Bonds and within the budget. Second, there will be a "Giants Way" that is a published manual so that it will be very clear to any Giants employee what they need to do in order to be successful at his or her job, whether player or management, and what is expected out of them (beyond just winning). Lastly, his timeline is for 2009 to be another rebuilding year where we are competitive but expects to be contending in 2010.

That to me, is a relatively low bar to get over because the Giants are basically there: they were competitive in the last two months of the season and just needs to continue that, which appears likely if the vets can hit like they are capable of and the youngsters don't regress. This leads me to believe that Neukom likes the work that Sabean has done so far and want to set things up so that when it is time to re-hire Sabean at the end of 2009, he can do so legitimately to the public.

That is why (as I'll discuss below and in previous posts) I believe he has publicly taken the stance that Sabean is under evaluation and won't be just rubber stamped as GM for the future, he has to show the Giants fandom that he's in charge and that everybody is accountable and being seriously evaluated, including himself. He has to prove to the Giants crowd that he's changing things from the way Magowan ran things (without dissing Magowan), that things will be different going forward, because a lot of people are not happy with how the Giants have been run since 2002.

Q: Did you see major strides in ’08? Can the Giants contend in ’09? How will that affect player acquisition this winter?
A: I think we all saw promise in 2008, particularly in the second half with the play of a number of our young ballplayers. The question for us is, coming into a very vigorous and disciplined spring training session, which of those players will be able to sustain their performance on a major league level so we have a competitive team between the lines game in and game out? The other batch of players who didn’t come to our roster this year are also very promising, and you know those names. Frankly, we’re beginning to see the fruits of our advantage of being able to draft higher because of a lesser record over the last three years. So we think our young talent supply is quite good. We’re not persuaded, given the ferocious competition of major league baseball, that that talent will prove to be good enough to make us not just competitive but contenders on a regular basis. So that is why we say we will look for ways to complement that talent in order to have a winning team. We have to think about the team in context of our ballpark, of our division, of what others are doing in other divisions. So it’s a fairly complicated Rubik’s cube in terms of how it is you organize a roster that year in and year out will put a winning team on the field. So we definitely saw some promise, but the question is how many of those people will be able to deliver that consistently over a full major league season? We think some of them will and should, surely, without naming names. Then there’s the next round of talent which is deeper in our farm system. We want to bring those people along in a way that enables them to convert their gifts into major league skills and we think we’ll have maybe a little more time and a little more discretion. Some of the people who came up this year, frankly, came up sooner than might have been perfect if we’d had a deeper system. It somewhat accelerated things in 2008 and we hope we can get to more of a sort of modulated progression for this very promising talent as we bring these people along from Single-A to Double-A to Triple-A and up to the Giants.

ogc: He shows subtle knowledge that our losing has helped out in improving our talent level - most people think that drafting is somehow easy to do if you do it right, while my study showed that the odds of finding someone good increases exponentially as you rise from the back of the 1st round to the beginning. Then, he also acknowledges that this is not enough to field a team, that it must be supplemented by trades and free agents to complete a competitive team, which is something most fans already know, so its not all pearls he is saying.

Important notes include that they will slow the prospect train to the majors in 2009, they will progress players at the pace the development staff deems proper instead of promoting prospects before they are really ready for the majors. That basically points at players like Bumgarner, Alderson, Villalona, Noonan, Pucetas, Snyder, Sosa, Joaquin, down lower in the system, plus new prospects like Posey, Gillaspie, Kieschnick, Crawford, Barnes. However, that makes sense also because most of the top AA and AAA prospects have already been brought up to the majors in 2008, and 2009 will be the year they either prove they belong or not.

Q: I know Sabean’s job. I know Baer’s job. What is your job?
A: My job is to see to it that as an enterprise, primarily on the baseball side but also on the business side, we have the right structure and the right culture so we can provide the resources and the guidance so our baseball experts can put a contending team on the field. And that buck stops with me. Larry does an enormous amount of things across the board for this enterprise but it’s important I think that we have, for example, a culture of meritocracy. That people understand their objectives in every job in this enterprise, that they know they will be fairly judged in terms of how they perform against those objectives, that they will have incentive compensation, and we will have world-class people at every key position on the business side and we will have the best in baseball people at every key position on the baseball side. When I wake up in the morning and I go to sleep every night, I’m thinking about, `What is this organization? This structure? Do we have the right people doing the right things? Are they motivated to be the best possible producers they can be? And then it’s making sure I stay out of the way of these talented people doing what they’re doing, whether it’s scouting baseball players or it’s training baseball talent or it’s running the finances of the organization, or whether it’s having an enlightened human resources culture so that we attract an enormous amount of talent and allow that talent to achieve its potential.

ogc: Now this is corporate talk I understand, my sweet spot. What he says here is basically what any professional services firm has to do, whether accounting firm, programmers, consultants, they are meritocracies and the best professional serices firms have to answer the questions he asks here.

Q: What will the payroll be? How active will the Giants be on the free-agent front this winter?
A: We have asked Brian and his group to look broadly at the question of the roster for 2009 and beyond. That means primary emphasis on homegrown talent, (determining) how much of this young talent can we expect to produce on a sustainable basis during a championship season next year, whether we need to complement it with a trade, or fold those risks and expenses with a free agent signing. 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. 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 because of financial realities.’ But we’ve asked him, `Without being wild about it, don’t be limited entirely by the notion that you have `X’ amount of dollars to spend for ‘09. Think somewhat out of the box and be creative about this. We just think that’s the way you run a talent business.

(Some deleted.)

So we are asking people on the baseball side to bring some creativity to this. And the exciting thing is that they’re already there. Our recent conversations with Brian and Bruce indicate they are talking about a manual so that every single player at every state in his development with the Giants knows exactly what is expected out of them. They are already thinking very creatively about what parts we need to make us the best Giants team we can be in ‘09 and build beyond that. We’re not doing this year to year. It’s about a progression – medium-term, long-term strategic planning, so we get to the point where our fan base knows when we ask them to buy a season ticket, that it will be another season of competitive baseball played the way it ought to be played in San Francisco.

ogc: I wonder what was deleted, disappointing, even if it was boring stuff.

This repeats what he said before, only in greater detail here. He's already said that the question is first, how do we need to be configured to win, then how do we finance that. Thus the payroll question is only pertinent in giving a ballpark (or "placeholder:"as he noted) figure of where the Giants are aiming, but the Giants could theoretically blow that number out of the ballpark if the Giants management feels it is the right move to do for the long-term.

That's what I've been trying to drive home the past 5 seasons since we passed up on pursuing Vladimir Guererro. Even if the rumor by a prominent Bay Area media person that Guererero hated Alou was true, the main thing was that the payroll was contrained that season, and I said the Giants could either think big (getting a big name) or think small (filling all the holes) and they chose to think small, even to the point where they were willing to spend extra to get Maddux but not use that money for other purposes.

I've also been saying the Giants need to bring in more funds to pay for when key talent is available, and not be subject to the whims of the free agent marketplace. So I advocated for either Larry Ellison (or any local billionaire) to take over the Giants or Magowan to find new investors to bring in additional funds when necessary. As I noted when Neukom took over, hopefully his Silicon Valley connections will bring money into our coffers, much like how the D-backs somehow has been doing this for years now.

The Giants have been thinking short-term since 2002, trying to win it with Bonds, so I am glad that the new managing partner is emphasizing the long-term and thinking strategically.

About the manual, I (and many other Giants fans) are thinking "finally", they are going to have a manual. What took them so long? But at least they are doing it now, that is the important thing, though I will believe it when I see it in the hands of prospects.

Q: Is the "Giants Way" mostly on-field fundamentals? How to bunt?
A: It includes that, and there’s a recent memo from Brian to instructional league folks saying, `Here are the kinds of things I want you to emphasize with our Giants players this year.’ What does a 2-1 count mean to you? How do you stretch your lead? Those kinds of fundamentals. That’s all part of the manual. The Giants Way itself will have broader themes to it, but certainly the way the game is played between the lines is an essential part of the Giants Way. The Giants Way also has to be, `What is the kind of talent we want to find and how do we find it?’ Knowing again, we are in this fiercely competitive industry with 29 other teams trying to be smarter than we are. Once you find that talent, how is it you help that talent convert those gifts into skills that win ballgames at the major league level? It’s going to focus on our teaching, our training and our leading by example with our training and coaching core and managerial core. And it also involves how it is they comport themselves off the field as well as on the field. It has to do with the business that they’re a part of. We need to support baseball. That’s what the non-baseball side of the Giants does. And it’s giving every person a reason to excel at what they do so we have the resources to have contending baseball year in and year out.

ogc: Typical leader "rah-rah" stuff that the questioner lobbed a softball into Neukom's wheelhouse. Nothing really new noted here, just more fluffy details.

Q: Peter Magowan was a visible, hands-on presence. How will you compare to Magowan?
A: I’ve leaned on Larry Baer from the day I first became an investor here (in 1995). Now that I’m part of the management team I will continue to lean heavily on him. As I said in May, the Giants are very fortunate. One of our very best assets is we’ve got, by any fair measure, I think the best COO in baseball. And the fact Larry would be willing to re-up and redouble his part in the administration was essential to this transition and gratifying to all the investors. So Larry Baer is front and center and at the top of this pyramid. I will be as visible as my colleagues think is constructive. And I will be as invisible as my colleagues think is instructive for the Giants to be a contending baseball franchise. Central to the Giants Way is listening to and serving our customers, and we have several different kinds of customers. We have people who are just fans and follow us who may not actually put money in our coffers. Those are customers of ours and we need to understand them and inform and educate them. We have people who put hard-earned money into having a baseball experience with us, and those are people we have to listen to and understand and engage in a way they find worthwhile. So I have a lot of learning to do, no question. I’ve learned a lot as an investor. I have a lot more learning to do and Larry will provide an enormous amount of that learning. So will other folks and other sources of information. So I’m not doing this out of any sense of ego. I’m doing this because I’ve been a Giants fan since they came to San Francisco, I was a shareholder under Mr. (Horace) Stoneham’s administration within the first year they moved here — thanks to my dad, who bought me 10 shares because at the time I couldn’t afford it with my paper route. And I’ve followed the Giants quite closely for the last 50 years. It’s an enormous honor and an exciting opportunity for a fan from San Mateo Park to have a chance to be a part of the leadership of this team. I don’t need to be out on front and I don’t need to be prominent. What I want to be is good at my job, and that means, again, we get the right baseball talent and we teach the fundamentals, we play the game the way it ought to be played and have a winning culture and a winning record, and on the business side, we have remarkable people doing extraordinary things because of their incentive to do it.

ogc: This is what I've been saying since the announcement, nobody else focused on this, but clearly the Giants are preparing Larry Baer to be the face and leader of the Giants sometime in the future (probably near future since Neukom is already 66 years old). This was also a great sidestep of the question to say something tangentially related that you were hoping to emphasis in the press conference.

I learned this in school, how some people take over Q&A sessions like this by talking about what they want to talk about, and not answer the question given. Obviously, this is what politicians do regularly, but it is interesting to see it here in a baseball context. Notice how not once Magowan's name is mentioned by Neukom, he's not going to go there, he didn't go there months ago when posed with the same question, he is not going there today.

So he first talks about Larry's prominent role in the new administration then talks about how the Giants Way is all about listening to and serving their customers. Then he talked about what it means to him to be the managing partner, again, without mentioning Magowan. Very smooth.

Q: When and how will you evaluate whether Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy, whose contracts are up after next season, will be the right people moving forward?
A: Both Brian and Bruce enthusiastically have endorsed the notion that we’ve got so much work to do, and it’s good work, that we’re not going to worry about what their status is with the Giants beyond the 2009 season now. We’re not going to be distracted by that. We’re going to focus on making sure our trajectory towards competitiveness goes up from where it was in ‘08 so we can have a team we can all be proud of in ‘09 and beyond. Job One is identifying the talent, teaching the talent and playing the game in a winning way. There will be plenty of time for us after the ‘09 season to look back and evaluate how each of us did and decide where we go from there.

ogc: As noted above and in my previous musings, Neukom has to take the public stance that Sabean and Bochy are being seriously evaluated before they are re-hired. He must know that there are many fans who want Sabean gone and he can't lose those fans from the beginning by talking about how well he thinks of Sabean. Thus he has to take this stance of wait and see.

But as I noted, there are subtle signs that Neukom likes Sabean as GM. It was clear when he was first announced that he respects and likes Sabean, but didn't give full backing for the reasons above I believe. And as I noted above, he didn't put the onus on Sabean to create a contender in 2009, he only asked for a competitive team, which should be attainable relatively easily, as long as everyone performs as expected. So I would expect Sabean to be rehired as long as the team is "competitive" which I read as .500, but since he left it fuzzy, they could be under .500 but better than this year and could be considered "competitive".

In any case, barring any severe regression on the part of young players in 2009, I am hoping that Sabean is given another two year contract (or get his option picked up, as I read somewhere someone said that he had) because the team has progressed enough for me to give him more rope. I like the progress the team showed in 2008 and am very hopeful for 2009 and beyond. I think we can start kicking butt in 2010 if players continue to develop.

Unfortunately, none of the reporters remembered to ask Neukom what Sabean's extended authority entails. This was first mentioned in the intial meetings he had with the press, that Sabean would have extended authority, but no details were given. This would have been the perfect time to ask this.

Q: In compiling the Giants Way, is it an acknowledgment that these things weren’t done in the past?
A: I think it’s a matter of clear communication. I think we’ve had very good instructors and scouts and I’m not looking back and passing judgment on anybody that’s been part of this organization. This organization has had remarkable success as a major league team until the last several years. But I think everyone agrees, with Brian and Bruce at the vanguard, that we can do a better job being clear about what the Giants Way is, making sure it’s front in line for everybody, make sure it goes all the way down to the first day someone becomes a Giant at the lowest level of our baseball organization, and that we teach according to it. And if you do that consistently, whatever your business is, but particularly a game that requires the kind of precise skills that baseball does and is played as a team game when every position is a skill position, if you have that kind of clear message and you teach to that message and are consistent with it, you are just bound to get better results at the end of the day at every level and particularly the major league level. So I think it’s more than a reemphasis on it. It’s some clarification and some commitment to teaching the Giants Way in a very consistent manner.

ogc: Nice try by the reporter, he/she has to ask something like this, but Neukom likewise had to answer his way as well. The additional bit of information gleaned here is that he is taking a business process look at the Giants, and trying to quantify and detail everything so that it is clear to everyone, now and in the future, how you are suppose to do your job. A lot of companies doing this take the 6 Sigma approach, which is not something that is necessary in baseball, but in concept - documenting all your processes - they are similar. And this will enable business process re-engineering in the future, as necessary.

Q: Barry Bonds is in town today. What role will he play, if any, in the organization? Will you build a statue?
A: I think that we all need to be respectful of what Barry Bonds has done for baseball and for this team over the course of his career. We all need to permit the legal process to play out with regard to the pending case involving Barry Bonds. And where we go in the future with Barry Bonds will depend to some extent on the future. I think it was a very good sign that he came to the reunion event. That obviously was a very popular appearance in terms of the fans who are at this ballpark. He’s always been enormously popular with the fans at this ballpark. I think there will be other opportunities for Barry Bonds and the Giants to find common ground — things that can be useful to the Giants and good for him. But we don’t have any concrete plans at this point and we will continue to consider that as we go forward.

Side note: The future will determine the future. Gotta love that.

ogc: To Bagggarly's side note, unfortunately, there is no other or better way to say that. It will all depend on what happens in the future. Obviously, if Bonds is in jail, he isn't doing anything for the Giants while in there, and the Giants would probably not want to do much with him, just pay his foundation for him to lay low and be quiet.

In any case, this is about all he could say about Bonds, move on to the next question.

Q: Have you purchased a home in San Francisco yet?
A: We’re looking for a place as I speak. I intend to have a residence here, and if it takes seven days a week to do a credible job as managing general partner of the Giants, I’ll spend eight days a week here. Whatever it takes.

ogc: Like I said above, some are skilled enough to take the question and use it to push your agenda, which in this case is that he will work hard making the Giants successful again. I guess he's a Beatles fan too. :^)

That said, it's disappointing that he hasn't picked up a place yet. I will allow, however, that perhaps he saw the looming cloud on the business (and thus real estate) world, and decided to wait it out and pick up the same home for much less later on. If so, that shrewdness will pay off for the Giants.

That’s the end of the news conference. Afterward, a couple of us were able to pull aside Neukom and ask a few more specifics:

Q: Is the Giants Way your sole authorship?
A: Having the Giants Way clearly articulated is my idea. It is not an original idea. We’ve heard forever about the Dodger Way, and more recently, the Angels Way. It seemed it would bear fruit for us. I’ve got a rough draft right here. I’ve written two or three pages on the airplane. I don’t think it will micromanage, for instance, whether people have a melatonin or an aspirin at night.

ogc: I wish they could have been more original or be playful with it, like "The Giants Gait" or "How to be a Giant" or "What It Means to be a Giant" or "Giants Handbook" or "Giants Process" or "Giants Meaning" or "Giant Thoughts" or even simply "Giants Manual", anything is better than copying what the D-gers and Angels are doing. Even "The Way of a Giant" is better.

Q: What role should Sabermetrics or other advanced statistical tools be used in player evaluation? Is it more or less important than a conventional scouting approach?
A: Some of each, I think. Baseball is a science and an art. When it comes to picking the talent, we need the sharpest baseball eyes: people who can pick the 16-year-old arm out of the cornfield. We also need to be very well informed with all that is at our fingertips. We need to be smart about that. It’ll be a blend.

ogc: People have mislabeled Sabean, I think. He knows about OBP and such stuff that MoneyBall talked about. And where it concerns thinking differently, Sabean has done that, losing a draft pick to pay for a veteran player, drafting players he thought are good instead of paying attention to what the "experts" think (most of his recent picks were higher than as ranked by Baseball America, sometimes 2-3 rounds ahead of talent ranking), trading Matt Williams to fill multiple positions on the team. I think his disdain was for those who think sabermetrics is a magic box that will make any team successful (and there are many who think that).

Q: Are you a “Moneyball” guy?
A: My view is that “Moneyball” is a very shrewd strategy but it’s not the only strategy. It’s got to be integrated. You’ve also got to have a lot of baseball savvy. We will tailor our strategy and our team to things that work for us.

ogc: I think even Billy Beane recently said that he's not a Moneyball guy anymore, or at least showed that he's not, he picked up a number of veteran free agents (much like how Sabean and the Giants are lambasted for doing similarly), drafted a number of high school prospects early in the draft, another Moneyball no-no (draft college players because they are surer things and not as expensive, particularly high school pitchers who are both risky and expensive), he even had a team of lousy OBP hitters in 2008, the team OBP was a Pedro Feliz-esque .318 in 2008.

The Giants and A's have a history of animosity, so Neukom did well in sidestepping this opportunity to stir things up with the A's by praising it while saying it is not for us.

Q: Can you be more specific about fiscal priorities to player development as opposed to free agency?
A: Over time we will continue to invest in our farm system. I can’t give you a nice numeric answer vs. free-agent opportunities. But they will complement our principal focus. It’s important we have better scouts and better statistical analysis. We just have to outwork people, whether it’s in the conditioning room, down the dirt roads in middle America or in front of the (computer) screen.

ogc: I could have answered this question with about the same text, based on what has been said before. Wasted question.

A better question that gets at what the questioner was trying to ask would be, "If the Giants signed a $20M player like Sabathia, Manny, Teixiera, how would that affect player development? Would we not pursue another high profile Carribean free agent as a result, or will it happen nonetheless?" Or "Would signability of the #6 pick for the 2009 draft be an issue if the Giants spend over the placeholder budget target? Meaning, would we pass on a Posey-type price-tag to get a cheaper prospect?"

Q: How about bringing in the fences?
A: (Pause) It’s not a concept we’re currently considering. I think it’s a very exciting ballpark.

ogc: That is suppose to be part of the beauty of this park, harkening to olden days (particularly the Polo Grounds in NY), plus people could see the game for free from the other side of the right field fense. Changing it now would seem to be a slap in the face to Magowan.

However, since it was noted, I just realized that the way the right field wall is built, with those seats way up there, the owner in the future could decide to add a stretch of seats along that stretch into CF easily, if desired. Perhaps once the mortgage is paid off?

Q: I understand your financial plan for free agents is rather fluid. But this is an organization that made a $126 million commitment to Barry Zito two years ago. Can you flatly rule out another Zito-style contract for someone like CC Sabathia or Mark Teixeira?
A: It depends. We asked our baseball people to look up and down the system. We told them to bring medium-term to long-term strategic lenses to that. We want to be competitive in a sustainable way. We’ll look at everything. We said to Brian, `Look more broadly. Don’t look for easy answers.’ There are financial realities, but we said, `Design a couple different versions of the roster we want to build to get up to that level of sustainable, competitive baseball. Take a broad look, them come back to us and we’ll see how it matches up with our budget or our strength.’

ogc: I think this is a question that needed to be asked, but it is clear from his prior answers that he would answer in this way. But sometimes you have to ask the question anyhow, just to verify your assumption.

In addition, this is basically what he said long ago when he was first announced as the new managing owner, just with greater detail. I think this is great.

What the writers missed asking here is: "If it really makes sense from the baseball side to sign a $20M player, whoever that may be, and push the budget over $100M, where would the extra money come from?" Or they alternatively could have asked, "If the team requires more funds to execute the baseball plans ideally, based on the options presented and the various possibilities, how would the team go about getting such funds?"

Q: Is the Giants Way a fancy way of saying “small ball?”
A: Hustle and conditioning and strategic baseball. Not small ball. It’s an integrated approach. Some games we need to win with a three-run home run. Some games we win with a squeeze play. There’s a lot of different ways to win. My notion is that the right roster with the right strategy will result in a winning team. We all believe in team play and deflecting credit to your teammates.

ogc: Not a very informed question. No where did Neukom say that we are not getting any power hitters. Not sure why this was asked.

I think Neukom's concerns get back to what Felipe Alou was saying when he first came back here, about how he was unable to execute the bunt in the World Series, when the team was filled with home run power hitters like Mays, McCovey, and Cepeda (they hit 204 homers that year), which would have been a critical play had he been able to execute. All Neukom is basically saying is that he wants Giants players to be ready to deliver well executed plays, from the bunt, to hit and run, to turning the double play, hitting to the other side to advance runners, to stealing or taking an extra base when available. To make sure they can deliver even the easiest plays when the team needs it to win.

Winning, if that isn't clear yet, is Neukom's sole focus. And he wants all his players to be ready to do whatever it is they need to do, in order to win. And he is setting the example up top of working 8 days to win, whatever it takes.

Giants Thoughts

Good press conference. The Giants Way is the main new thing to come out of this, as most of the other stuff was already alluded to or discussed previously when he had his first press conference after being appointed the successor. He also clearly set the expectations at competitive in 2009, contending in 2010 and beyond. He wants to win and soon. It was also clearly stated now that Larry Baer is the top of the pyramid. They are, as I noted long ago, preparing him to take over when Neukom is done. He restated how payroll will be handled going forward, as in it will depend on the situation.

1 comment:

  1. Great commentary. I think the closest there ever was to a "Giants Way" in the past was the Humm Baby teams of Roger Craig, which stressed fundamentals, aggressive baserunning, and the split finger fastball. Hope they can come up with a better name eventually, though.



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