San Francisco Giants Roundtable: Contract Extensions for Management

Bleacher ReportSenior Writer IOctober 12, 2009

Sadly, the San Francisco Giants' 2009 season is already growing cold.

It was a fantastic ride—better than most people expected—but it's time to close the books on another 162-game campaign. Of course, when one book closes, another opens (so to speak).

That means it's time to start looking at what could be an eventful off-season for the Gents.

Everyone knows the offense could use some touching up, there are some interesting roster decisions to make, and still some unfinished business regarding the trade deadline acquisitions (among other things), so we've got plenty to discuss.

Consequently, my fellow roundtable mates and I have decided to split the load.

Evan and Danny will be bringing you their installments in the coming days, but I'm leading off. Setting the table if you will.

For the intro, we're talking the rumored extensions given by Los Gigantes to general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy.

Both men have drawn a considerable amount of heat—some deserved and some not so much—so the apparent decision to bring them back is sure to ruffle some feathers.

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Evan Aczon:

All season long, I have been stressing that Brian Sabean deserves a contract extension. His work with the Giants organization has long been slighted for his treatment of the farm system and stockpiling of grizzled veterans in the Barry Bonds era.

Even during those years, I'll defend his strategy solely for the fact that it worked.

For a few years, including 2002 when the G's went to the World Series, those veterans were key in getting them there.

Granted, there were some prospects given up that have since blossomed into prominent players a la Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Jeremy Accardo.

But until the team started to realize that Bonds was not always going to be there, that strategy was a sound one.

However, once the front office (Sabean especially) realized the importance of homegrown talent, he and his staff quickly transformed the farm system.

Starting in 2005, what was once a system used mainly as trade bait and perennially ranked as one of the worst in the league gradually improved.

In 2009, the Giant farm system boasted the highest organizational winning percentage.

I think that Sabean deserves a lot of the credit for this turnaround, and since Bill Neukom has taken over, their prospects in the minors have shown much promise, especially in this economy, where the free agent market is getting more expensive.

For Bochy, I am a little more skeptical, but I cannot argue with results.

If I were managing the Giants, Nate Schierholtz would play more, Garko would hit against lefties, and Renteria would have had more rest in the last couple months. But, like I said, the results don't lie.

Something happened from last year to this one, and it wasn't just a full year of the Panda.

Bochy can frustrate me to pieces sometimes, like when he takes out pitchers after one baserunner reaches, but there's something about him that keeps winning games.

I just can't accept that a team makes all of the decisions that the Giants did without good coaching. He's proven that he's at least smart enough to lead winning teams as he did in San Diego, and has turned around this team in San Francisco.

More importantly, the options for replacing Bochy are limited.

Ron Wotus is deserving of a head coaching job, but I don't know if I would feel more comfortable with him in the dugout instead of Bochy. The other options are all purely speculative, like promoting Steve Decker, or getting Will Clark to manage.

All in all, until we know the terms of the extension, I cannot make an opinion on the decision. If Bochy has been signed for five years, I do not agree. If there seems to be a manager-in-waiting in the wings, then it might be a better deal.

I have nothing against Bochy, and I'm very much in support of Sabean. I think their performance has warranted at least another year of extension to see their work through.

Andrew Nuschler

I know it’s been a rough recent stretch, but I’m digging the extensions.

Sabean catches a lot of heat because it’s an increasingly “what have you done for me lately” world, but he’s made some very good moves as well as some very bad ones.

Given that the ship seems to have righted itself under his command, I think it makes sense to let him stay at the wheel.

As profound an advantage Barry Lamar Bonds was between the foul lines during his prime, his contract and personality couldn’t have been assets for the general manager.

Not to mention the tight purse strings of Peter McGowan (after shelling out for BLB, of course). Sabes did pretty well under those circumstances and squeezed about as much contention from Bonds’ career as possible.

Let’s see what he can do with a bit more flexibility.

Regarding Bruce Bochy—I don’t understand the arguments for getting rid of him. Sure, some of his decisions were questionable, but what manager is perfect?

Hey, show me a manager that hasn't had a mid-game maneuver backfire badly, and I'll show you a green leader with less than a month of experience under his belt.

Additionally, the 2009 San Francisco Giants were one of the biggest surprises in Major League Baseball. Nobody outside the Bay Area expected them to do much and they were in the playoff picture right down to the last week (fading, but I'm still counting it).

Combine that with his track record in San Diego, and why the hell would you ditch the guy?

Danny Penza:

When the season began and we discussed the future of Sabean and Bochy in another edition of the roundtable, I was in favor of bringing both of them back.

The Giants were a team that was still rebuilding and nobody in their right mind would’ve thought they’d win 88 games and not get officially eliminated until the last week of September.

However, as the season went on, I cooled on my support.

I though Bochy did some good things, but the one thing that wore on me was the insistence on rolling out the veterans when they clearly were hurting (Edgar Renteria) or just plain slumping (Randy Winn, Aaron Rowand).

A manager is always under more scrutiny when his team starts winning and is in a playoff push. Did Bochy make mistakes? Yes, but so does everybody. You think Joe Torre or another one of the best managers in baseball is perfect? Heck no.

Considering the Giants, for the most part, continued to battle even when the times were tough, I have to give Bochy credit for that because I’m sure he had a large part to do with it.

Obviously we can criticize the lineup choices and the production—or lack there of—that Sabean’s deadline deals brought to San Francisco, but we don’t always know what is going on behind the closed doors. We don’t know always know what Bochy does in the clubhouse to keep his team fighting after a tough loss.

Don’t discount the chemistry aspect in baseball. We all heard how many times the players talked about it this year and it seemed to work quite well.

Now, does all of this mean I disagree with Bill Neukom’s eventual decision to bring them back? No, not really. But as somebody said on Chronicle Live the day the reports came out about Neukom wanting them back, it’s something that doesn’t really excite you.

It was assumed, at least by me, that if the Giants did well this season, both Sabean and Bochy would be back. I just didn’t see Neukom, in his first year at the helm, really going out on a limb and getting rid of two guys he has to be pretty comfortable dealing with on a regular basis.

With the team winning and surpassing most expectations, there was no reason to believe the Big Bowtie wouldn’t want to have them back. They didn’t do anything that argued against being re-upped and that's why I understand the move.

The biggest concern I have for the upcoming season is that the Giants are clearly going to be getting younger as their top prospects are integrated into the team.

Can Bochy go away from his veteran preferences and put faith in the kids even when they’re going through a rough patch in the season?

That about covers it, don't ya think?

Ultimately, nobody seems too upset with the decisions and that seems appropriate given the success of the ballclub. Especially when you consider the modest expectations laid at the feet of the San Francisco Giants to start 2009.

Winning is like Prozac, and exceeding expectations is like Prozac on steroids. The fellas did both this year, so it's no huge surprise the faithful are largely at peace.

Will it be a cheap, one-year high? Only time will tell.

But one thing appears certain, time is precisely what Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy now have.



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