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Bobby Evans’ days as the Giants’ GM appear to be numbered

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A series of unfortunate news items strongly suggest that a big change in the front office looms.

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San Francisco Giants v St Louis Cardinals
No, that’s not Bobby Evans, but he has Bobby Evans to thank for his family’s future.
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Here’s all circumstantial evidence available to us that suggests Bobby Evans is out as the Giants’ general manager.

  • The Giants are completing their second consecutive losing season for the first time in a decade.
  • The team can’t hit and all the players they were counting on to carry the team and be core superstars have hit a wall and won’t be more than role players at best for the next few years. As such...
  • The payroll is a mess. By competitive balance tax numbers alone, $55.167 million is committed to Johnny Cueto (out until 2020), Jeff Samardzija (who’s still Jeff Samardzija), and Mark Melancon (the closer who can’t close).
  • Last week, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted, “The #SFGiants are expected to shake up organization after season with GM Bobby Evans on hot seat. Manager Bruce Bochy and VP Brian Sabean expected to return”
  • Andrew Baggarly reported in his recap of yesterday’s game for The Athletic (subscription required) that Bobby Evans “made a brief appearance” while the team was in San Diego but did not continue on to St. Louis. That’s not a definitive statement, but Larry Baer did travel with the team and it’s not unusual for a top executive to join a team during their final road trip of the season.
  • Buster Olney reported this morning (ESPN Insider subscription required) that the Giants have quietly begun a search for a high-profile front office executive who would assume “significant responsibility”, allowing Brian Sabean to step back into his “godfather” role. ESPN only ever really reports on the Giants when the Giants are having problems, and their sources about the Giants are seemingly almost always through random industry execs from outside the team — so, it’s very possible that there’s already “word around the industry” about the Giants looking to make changes and that’s all Olney has heard.

There’s a lot of smoke there although that certainly doesn’t mean there’s a fire. The fact of the matter is, if the Giants are serious about being one of Baseball’s crown jewel franchises, then it needs to eschew continuity when it runs you into the back of a manure truck.

Practically none of the moves Bobby Evans has made have worked out to the Giants’ benefit: The Matt Duffy trade stings because Duffy has remained at least as Duffy as he was as a Giant while Matt Moore spun off into the abyss; Denard Span has performed better for two teams this season than he did in two seasons for the Giants; the aforementioned Mark Melancon commitment has hurt the team’s payroll flexibility to address other areas and looked worse because of other signings and pick-ups (his full no-trade clause really hurts); and it’s dealer’s choice if you want to blame him 100% for the McCutchen and Longoria moves and whether or not either or both moves ultimately didn’t work out — but they didn’t help too much because the Giants are where they are in a season following one where they never wanted to be.

Still, maybe some Giants fans don’t want the Giants to change the way they do things and maybe Larry Baer doesn’t want someone who understands arbitrage, either, but at some point, through just the simple passage of time, things change. They always do. The only thing that’s supposed to stay the same in sports is the name of the team and the fans’ loyalty. Everything else is fungible and everyone else is replaceable in service to that — at least in theory.

So, if Bobby Evans is out, gentle fan, it doesn’t mean your favorite players will go away. They’ll still be on the team because their contract is immovable and nobody else would be willing to take on their average to below average production. It will be up to the new person — who, let’s face it, will be a dude — to work around all the dead zones on the roster (and, yes, we’ll be getting to all that very soon, as the offseason is just a week away). Okay, look, full disclosure: there’s a nonzero chance someone like Madison Bumgarner is traded. That might be New Guy’s best play to make a quick splash, and if that is what happens, then you can bet it’s because that was pitched by the exec in the interview.

Baseball is a fickle business. Today’s successes are tomorrow’s failures. At the end of the day, the Giants need to do something to address their talent woes and inevitable declines, and if you were reading about any other team coming off of consecutive losing seasons, no near-future prospects coming to surplus the major league talent, and a payroll with almost a quarter of it devoted to ineffective or injured players, you would think nothing of that team replacing its GM. It’s the very least the team can do under the circumstances, and Larry Baer and Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy and all your faves will still be around to maintain a continuity of culture.

Of course, nothing’s official and this is all just speculation, but the circumstantial evidence makes a pretty strong case and this is not a court of law.