Giants pick up 2014 options, plan to further extend Bochy, Sabean

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Giants pick up 2014 options, plan to further extend Bochy, Sabean

NASHVILLE – In a decision plucked straight out of what Giants CEO Larry Baer called “no-brainer land,” the club formally exercised its 2014 contract options on manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean.

Baer acknowledged the move was made official a week ago, and added that the parties absolutely would engage in talks about an extension “for 2015 and beyond” some time during the coming year.

“I'm thrilled," Bochy said. "This is what I love to do, and I couldn't be in a better place. With Brian giving me the tools to do what we’ve done these last three years, this appetite only grows.”

Baer called the coach/general manager relationship “the most key in sports – any sport. And so we are very fortunate in that regard.”

“One of the hallmarks of the Giants and a chief reason for their success is their stability together and the working relationship they have,” Baer said. “It’s hand-in-glove connectivity in making decisions and results, I think, speak for themselves.”

Two World Series titles in three seasons tends to do that.

Sabean, who was named Baseball America’s Executive of the Year on Tuesday, is entering his 17th season as the Giants’ head of baseball operations – the longest tenured GM in the major leagues with one club. It’s a high-pressure position that typically has a short half-life and leads to chronic burnout. But Baer said he sees the same fire and hunger in the silver-haired 56-year-old former Yankees scouting director as he did nearly two decades ago.

“He’s surrounded himself with the right people,” Baer said of Sabean, who replaced Bob Quinn after the 1996 season. “Our scouts are really good and we’ve built a homegrown pitching staff with the exception of Barry Zito, which is really hard to do. That doesn’t happen by accident.

“He’s got a solid information base and he commands loyalty from his group. As I’ve become more involved, it’s been gratifying to see how smooth functioning it is.”

Said Bochy: “Brian, I think, is the best GM in the game. He’s passionate about the game, he’s fiery and he cares about the players. He cares about the fans and about winning.

“He’s not just my boss. He’s a good friend and we spend a lot of time together talking about the team and the ways we can win.”

Sabean has heaped just as much praise on Bochy, calling him a shoo-in Hall of Fame manager following the Giants’ sweep over the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Both Baer and Sabean have called the hiring of Bochy following the 2006 season as perhaps the organization’s best decision in the last two decades.

“He’s just so good and so easy to work with,” Baer said. “You respect the thought process and the way the wheels move, which isn’t something you necessarily see when you meet him. That’s because he’s low on ego and high on aptitude. That’s not a combination you get very often, especially in sports.”

Add desire.

Bochy, 57, is entering his seventh season with the Giants and his 19th as a major league manager. Now one of the game’s elder statesmen on the bench, he said he hopes to continue managing for a long time – especially if he is able to continue to work with Sabean.

Sabean is not at baseball’s winter meetings at the Opryland Resort because of a sinus issue; his doctor advised him to stay home. He continues to do business by phone and text, though, and sent a message of gratitude when informed of the Baseball America award.

Bochy has won six NL West titles in his 18 seasons. The Giants have made the playoffs in seven of Sabean’s 17 seasons as GM, winning three NL pennants and two confetti-strewn trips down Market Street.

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

https://twitter.com/baseballhall/status/821855144681897988


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.