Giants

Giants formally announce retirement of Neukom

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Giants formally announce retirement of Neukom

Sept. 15, 2011
URBAN ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO

Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com staff

SAN FRANCISCO -- In a press conference that felt far more like a celebratory passing of the torch than a rehashing of the reportedly contentious events that led to it, outgoing Giants managing general partner Bill Neukom and incoming CEO Larry Baer insisted that it would be "business as usual" for the 2010 World Series champions.

The announcement of Neukom's pending departure followed Wednesday's San Jose Mercury News report that there was unrest in the ownership group over his leadership. Neukom admitted in his opening remarks that the release of the story advanced the club's internal year-end timetable for him stepping down. He described Thursday's gathering as "impromptu."

Neukom neither admitted nor denied reports of communication issues with the other owners, describing their dialogue over his three-year tenure as "robust."

Asked if he was forced out, Neukom said, "I don't think that's the right characterization at all."

Baer said he will assume Neukoms duties as CEO -- but not as managing general partner -- effective Jan. 1, 2012. Neukom will serve as chairman emeritus through 2012.

"We had hoped to make this announcement after our baseball season ended in order to minimize any distractions for the baseball team or for the fans or for the front office," Neukom said in his opening remarks. "... The good news is I will be succeeded by Larry Baer, who has been the cornerstone of this franchise for 20 years."

Asked about his dealing with the other investors, the 69-year-old former Microsoft lawyer said, "my relationship with the other investors, from my standpoint, is positive," adding that "there was no precipitating event that I'm aware of."

Neukom, who took over the primary ownership position from Peter Magowan in October 2008, said he will be divesting his ownership shares back to the ownership group, but will remain a season ticket-holder and be available for consultation "in every sense."
Neukom spoke of growing up in San Mateo and playing baseball in the street as a young fan of the Giants. He highlighted his father's purchase for him of 10 shares of Giants stock in 1958, adding that he wished he still had the stock certificate.

Baer indicated his gratitude and respect for Neukom's contributions, highlighted by last season's World Series victory over the Texas Rangers.

"First and foremost we achieved a world championship last year under Bill's leadership and we will never forget that," Baer said.

During the press conference Neukom laid out the goals he established after taking the owership lead in 2008. This included providing winning baseball for the fan base, increasing attendance, increasing the value of the Giants enterprise as a whole, and to "win it all."

"We managed to achieve this," Neukom said. "And I'm obviously very proud of that."

Neukom told the assembled media he plans to focus his attention on the World Justice Project, an initiative he founded in 2006 to strengthen the rule of law worldwide. He also plans to teach at Stanford Law School, his alma mater.

As for Baer, the focus remains unchanged.

"Going forward, this is business as usual. To put it simply, this is not a turnaround in any stretch of the imagination," Baer said, noting that in the soon-to-be 20 years under the current ownership group, the Giants are unique in having just three field managers, two general managers and now three CEOs.

"The perspective of winning is foremost, tantamount, always will be. We've had continuity around that concept since this group has owned the team."

Baer said that payroll would not be reduced and insisted the team would maintain its stance that it has territorial rights to San Jose.

Three teams chasing Giants in tight race for first overall pick

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USATI

Three teams chasing Giants in tight race for first overall pick

LOS ANGELES — The Giants have a pretty strong track record when picking in the top five of the MLB Draft. In 1985, they took Will Clark with the second overall selection, and Clark remains the highest-drafted player in franchise history. A year later, Matt Williams was taken third overall. Jason Grilli at No. 4 in 1997 is rather forgettable, but taking Buster Posey with the fifth pick in 2008 led to three titles. 

With a week of baseball remaining, the Giants are a lock to pick in the top four of next year’s draft. A few days ago, they looked like a pretty strong bet to pick first overall, but the standings — the bottom of them, at least — have tightened in recent days. Here’s a look at the contenders, so to speak … 

White Sox (63-92): No team went into tank mode this year quite like Chicago, with trades of just about every big piece on the roster. But a funny thing has happened … they’ve actually played decent baseball down the stretch. The White Sox are 11-12 in September after a blowout of the Royals on Sunday. They finish up with four against the Angels and three against the Indians, so they should get pretty close to 100 losses. 

Phillies (62-94): They have looked all along like the team to beat, but they hurt their top-pick chances by taking three of four from the Dodgers last week. They host the Nationals and Mets this week. 

Tigers (62-94): All of a sudden, they’re the biggest road block for the Giants. The Tigers have lost seven straight and they’re 4-20 in September. They finish up with three against the Royals and three against the Twins, and all six games are on the road. 

Giants (61-95): Can we stop for a moment and appreciate this. We’ve been talking about it for five months, but still, it’s pretty amazing that a $200 million team is headed into the final week with a very good shot at having the worst record in Major League Baseball. What an awful season this has been. Having said that, the Giants have not shown any signs of actually tanking, and manager Bruce Bochy said this weekend that he won’t shut any players down. So, it’s on to Phoenix, where the Giants have lost six of seven this season but the Diamondbacks might chill out a bit after clinching a postseason spot. They’ll face Zack Godley, Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke. The season ends with three at home against the Padres. The Giants have struggled against the Padres for the last year and a half, but they’ll have Matt Cain going in an emotional start and Madison Bumgarner will also get a game. 

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

LOS ANGELES — Mac Williamson was sent up to pinch-hit when the Giants faced Clayton Kershaw earlier this month, and on a two-strike count, he watched as Kershaw shook off five different signs as he stood on the mound. Kershaw then froze Williamson with a fastball. It was a good lesson for Williamson, a player still trying to find his footing at the big league level.

“He’s a guy you can’t really guess with,” Williamson said. 

The outfielder admits he tends to overthink things. “I’m a perfectionist,” he said Sunday. But given a start against Kershaw, Williamson let his talent — and a little luck — take over. Williamson’s first hit off Kershaw was a bleeder that resulted in an infield hit. His second bounced through the middle of the infield for a single. The third one was the highlight of the day for the Giants. 

Kershaw had a shutout going when he tried to sneak a first-pitch fastball past Williamson in the eighth. He blasted it to dead center. It was the only run for the Giants in a 3-1 loss to the Dodgers. 

“It’s good to see him get those swings off,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That homer was to the big part of the park. It shows how strong he is.”

The Giants have always known Williamson has the strength and raw talent. He hasn’t stuck for a number of reasons, including injuries and that aforementioned tendency sometimes to overthink at the plate. It probably hasn’t helped, either, that the Giants tend to sit him for days at a time and then play him against the Kershaws and Zack Greinkes and Rich Hills of the world. 

Williamson took advantage of the tough assignment on Sunday, joining a small group of Giants who have three hits in a game off Kershaw. 

“Hunter was ahead of me,” he said, smiling. “He beat me to it.”

Pence also had three hits, giving the Giants six from the corners against the best pitcher in the game. It wasn’t enough, but for Williamson, it was something to build off as the offseason approaches. He said it’s a winter he doesn’t plan to take lightly. Williamson’s agents are working to line up a Winter Ball job in the Dominican Republic.