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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bill Neukom OUT as Managing General Partner? WHY!?

So in case your head has been buried in the sand all day, you're well aware that the Giants just made an awful PR move and a crippling short and long term move for the health of the franchise. They sacked Bill Neukom.

Bill "Bowtie" Neukom.

And why? Because he had the vision and fortitude to try to make the Giants the Phillies, Red Sox, and Yankees of the West. He supported The Franchise show on Showtime in an attempt to give the team more notoriety and more exposure (especially to those East Coasters).

He exploded the payroll from about 90M to 120M following a surprise World Series title run.

He invested in the farm system and refused to sign long term contracts to free agents while showing a willingness to extend the team's core players.

He embraced new age stats. He spent the money the team made on... well... the team and improving it.

And the so-called Executive Committee apparently had a problem with this.

Mostly, they were butt hurt that Neukom did these things on a whim without fully informing them.

And so, as egotistical investors are wont to do, they called for Neukom's head because he was gathering all the good will and doing things without their complete permission.

Sure, maybe this communication thing would be a factor if the owner was making piss poor decisions and driving the franchise into the ground and costing the investors millions of dollars. But um... the Giants won the World Series last year. They were contending up until a couple of weeks ago THIS year despite some devastating injuries. Their future looked bright with Posey, Sandoval, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Cain, and Wilson.

Now?

Larry Baer is taking over. Larry Baer is the second coming of Peter Magowan. The same Peter Magowan that after the 2002 World Series let Jeff Kent walk, spread a tax evasion story about Dusty Baker, and forced Sabean to trade Russ Ortiz due to budgetary constraints just when Jason Schmidt and Russ Ortiz proved themselves as legit 1A and 1B aces (a solid recipe for not just contending but making and winning a World Series).

Magowan was "a fan" of the Giants but he also cared more about the bottom line. Neukom was a fan of baseball and went about business in a logical, rational way. In other words, he didn't cut corners then go sign Barry Zito to a 126 million seven year contract.

The fact that Neukom is being forced out is terrible news for Giants fans. The investors are pissed that he spent their "rainy day fund". That essentially means that they're pissed he took all the revenue the team has made due to merchandise sales and World Series carry over and spent it back on the team.

Consider this. Brian Wilson, Pablo Sandoval, Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain, and Tim Lincecum all have some very big pay increases coming their way. That doesn't even take into account the raises for Ryan Vogelsong and Nate Schierholtz, the arbitration cases of Ramon Ramirez, Santiago Casilla, Mike Fontenot, and Jeff Keppinger, and the impending free agency of Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt and Carlos Beltran. Even if the Giants didn't sign a big free agent this winter, payroll would have to increase to keep Lincecum (due for a 16-20M price tag), Cain, Wilson, and Jonathan Sanchez. I was skeptical it could be done WITH Neukom at the helm. Now? I fully expect the Giants not to make smart BASEBALL decisions but try to make economically driven BUSINESS decisions. What does that mean? It means it's very likely the Giants will non tender Jonathan Sanchez this winter i.e. cut him loose for absolutely nothing rather than pay him. It means the Giants will look into trading Cain so they can pay Lincecum instead of paying them both. It eliminates any chance whatsoever the Giants will sign a significant free agent. And you can expect the Giants to fill the roster from within or sign over the hill vets that are no longer good. I get a very strong Juan Pierre vibe.

All in all, it's not just a bad day for the Giants, it's a bad trend that hurts the long term hopes of the franchise. Even though 2011 was a lost year, due to injuries mostly, 2012 and 2013 looked like positive years where Giants fans could realistically hope for another World Series title. Now? Undoubtedly there will be major turnover in the roster and not for the better and the window to win multiple championships may have just been slammed shut.

It's not quite like Chris Cohan just bought the Giants. But it's not as far off as you'd think.

Baer is a puppet and a marketing spinster. He says all the right things but he is essentially a politician. He'll shake your hand, tell you what you want to hear, but will never be telling the full truth.

Giants fans went from feeling like a rising power in the West with a World Series title already under the belt to... well... despair.

And if you think I'm overreacting or Giants fans in general are overreacting? Just watch. The sky has already begun to fall.