William Neukom will have many important items on his agenda when he becomes the Giants' managing general partner Oct. 1, but it appears his to-do list will not include a general manager search. Numerous team insiders say they expect Neukom to retain Brian Sabean for the final year of his contract.
They stressed that no decisions have been finalized ahead of Neukom's official ascension to the No. 1 chair, but he is leaning strongly toward retaining Sabean for a 13th season as general manager.
There are about 18 different brands of spin in article about why this is a good idea. None of them seem to hold water for me, but that's probably not important as it is Giants' fans and not grumpy bloggers who will make the final determination of whether keeping Sabean is a good idea.
Here's one that is particularly troubling, though:
The Giants' downfall after eight straight winning seasons stemmed from an overplayed strategy of building around Barry Bonds. Those above Sabean in the front office were culpable, too, so the blame cannot fall entirely on the GM even if he made some poor choices along the way.
This is rather incredible to me.
Even if Sabean had no choice but to build around Bonds, no one, presumably, forced him to sign or trade for Reggie Sanders, Marquis Grissom, Michael Tucker, Omar Vizquel, Moises Alou, Mike Matheny, Steve Finley, Randy Winn, J.T. Snow, Matt Morris, Armando Benitez, and Tim Worrell, all of whom had their best years in the rear-view mirror when acquired. You can build around one guy if you want to, but there's no excuse for doing it so poorly and so expensively.
But what about this "culpability" of which Schulman speaks? Wasn't the price paid for this when Peter Magowan was pushed aside as managing general partner? Sure, there was talk at the time about how Magowan was off to "pursue other interests," but I wasn't buying that. I viewed his ouster as a response to the Mitchell Report, which excoriated Magowan and Sabean for so obviously turning a blind eye to steroids in the clubhouse and giving everyone some faces in management who could share the blame for the PED scourge. Their behavior was a direct result of worshipping at the alter of Barry Bonds rather than building a balanced team, and unless someone can convince me otherwise, I believe it's what really got Magowan fired.
But why would Giants' ownership -- which consists of a large group of folks who aren't involved in the day-to-day running of the team -- want to continue the self-flagellation over this issue? Should Giants' fans have to endure another year of Sabean's clueless direction simply because the new blood in the front office has continuing guilt issues? If they really want to move beyond it, why wouldn't firing Sabean help them do that? How does someone so responsible for the dark chapter they believe the Bonds-era represents keep his job? Isn't that exactly backwards?