Don't know much about the inner workings of a front office. Don't know what it's like to sit around with a bunch of fellow millionaires and discuss the proper path of one of my most substantial investments. As a negative-fifty-thousandaire, I like to push some buttons and dick around with my 401(k) every so often. A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Giants' ownership group is probably a combination of messing with a small 401(k) and reading the comments in a McCovey Chronicles post.
Yeah, just like that. Unless it's not.
So I can't pretend to have a real strong opinion on Bill Neukom being deposed. It's going to be a mostly uninformed opinion either way. He sure seems like he's a big Giants fan. I am too! We should hang out. The money quotes from the Purdy article, though, that are freaking everyone out -- and they should -- are these:
Neukom's own falling-out with the Giants' executive committee, say the baseball sources, began over how to spend the additional millions that flowed into team coffers following the World Series championship...
Neukom, it is said, believed that this was his money to spend as he saw fit -- and he did so, to increase payroll and buy new technology for the baseball department, among other expenditures. Instead, the executive committee allegedly wanted the money to be put in a "rainy day fund" for use in leaner times.
Here's where I have to plead ignorance. "New technology for the baseball department" could be anything. It sounds fancy -- some sort of PitchFx super-robot that can also create the perfect defensive stat? -- but it's a vague, vague description. The griping about the increased payroll seems like it's stingy misers being stingy with the profits they made from the World Series, but it could also be a bunch of people looking at a combined $50 million going to players who were awful this year and thinking, man, this money is being wiped and flushed.
And the "rainy day" quote is ominous too. But maybe that rainy day is when Lincecum and Cain are given huge contracts, and Pablo and Posey are entering their arbitration years. There's a way to frame that quote to mean: "Seriously? Tejada and Huff? We have to keep Lincecum and Cain around and build a team around them for the next five years."
The quotes sure do sound terrifying. But they're vague and from an unknown source. The real reason for the executive committee's discontent is still a mystery.
Here's what I do know, and while it isn't much, it's enough to make me a little queasy:
Sabean: I would like a good1 free-agent outfielder. My plan is to pay him $1.5 million in 2004, and $2.0 million in 2005.
Ownership group: Is he really good?
Sabean: Oh, yes. He's a pro.
Ownership group: You'll pay him $1.5 million next year? But we're already maxed out on payroll. Will he really help the team?
Sabean: Oh, certainly. He is ever so good. He is the missing piece2.
Ownership group: Sorry. Can't do it. Can't increase the payroll. But if you can find the money from somewhere else, we'll talk.
Sabean: Uh, I suppose we can sign this outfielder before the arbitration deadline on purpose. That way, we'll give away our first-round pick and save $1 million.
Ownership group: Everybody wins! Love it. Thanks. If you can throw us that sack of doubloons on your way out, that'd be great. Our collective naked bodies aren't going to scrub themselves!
1 not good
2 he was not
The people in that fake-yet-not-fake conversation didn't go away. One is in charge of the personnel moves, and the other is back in charge of the finances. I don't know who said "Punt the draft bonus, and he's yours." I'm just sure Neukom wouldn't have said that. Sabean was a fool for thinking Michael Tucker was a better investment than a late-first-round pick. But ownership was even more stupid for not giving a GM the authority to add Michael freaking Tucker for a salary that wasn't that far over the MLB minimum without slashing another part of the budget first.
It seems like those people are all back in charge now. I don't know if this move is good, bad, or irrelevant, but I have a hunch. The hunch is that the Giants are going to look for profits more than wins now. They'll get the profits. If the wins come too? Gravy. It worked so well for the Niners and Warriors, the idea was bound to take off.