SAN FRANCISCO -- Let’s explain the contract extensions of Giants general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy this way: Just the right length, just the right money, and two years overdue.
The Giants filled in the dead spots before Game 1 of the Bay Bridge Series Thursday night announcing that Sabean and Bochy’s contracts had been extended through 2016. They did not announce this part, but their new salaries are believed to be in the $4 million range, or right about where Davey Johnson of Washington is.
And while money is only really important to the person getting in a sport with no salary cap, the years do matter, and this is the first time the Giants have committed so wholeheartedly to both men. And all it took was two World Series titles.
[NEWS: Giants extend Sabean, Bochy through 2016]
The absurdity of that last sentence does not change the fact that owner Charles Johnson did the right thing here. Sabean and Bochy have been the architects of the best stretch of Giants baseball in 90 years, and their compensation should have reflected that fact after 2010.
Sabean is the longest serving general manager in baseball; he just passed 6,000 days in office this month. Indeed, the only general managers in any of the Big Four team sports who have been on the job longer are Lou Lamoriello of the New Jersey Devils (1986), Jim Rutherford of the Carolina Hurricanes (1994) and two owners, Mike Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals (1990) and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys (1987).
He has gone through two ownership changes, and taken bullets for all three of his superiors in that time, all without public complaint. That alone merits a real extension; the results are a bonus.
Bochy, for his part, is the sixth longest-serving manager in baseball, preceded only by Ron Gardenhire (Minnesota), Jim Leyland (Detroit), Joe Maddon (Tampa Bay), Charlie Manuel (Philadelphia) and Ron Washington (Texas), and barring a rainout he will manage his 3,000th game June 2 in St. Louis.
And they all have rings and things that show their worth again and again. People inside baseball approved of them well before this, and even Giant fans, who are never quick to back authority when a good sabermetric lecture will do, have come to the realization that these are the acme of their professions.
So why did it take so long for the Giants to figure this out? Because owners think general managers and managers do their best work when fearing unemployment, which in these two cases is thinking of the most ignorant variety. They have both accomplished enough that they are now in that most glorious of places – determining when they will stop working rather than having someone do it for them.
That they can do it here, together, is just an added perk of the job, and in the case of Bochy, the credit for his hiring goes to Sabean. Bochy wasn’t a big name despite holding the San Diego Padres together for more than a decade, but when Padre ownership changed in 2007 Bochy saw that he was on the endangered species list and got out before the getting got mandatory. He wasn’t a sexy hire then; he would be Jennifer Lawrence-esque now.
Well, he would be if not for that head.
And Sabean? He endured the years of ownership meddling and fan quibbling and media second-guessing for a decade and a half; if anyone deserves to be on scholarship in this town, it is him.
Now they will get paid like they deserve it, and they will stay as long as they want. Smart people can only golf clap and wonder why the hell it took so long.