As the San Francisco Giants begin Spring Training 2018 there are undeniable signs the team’s front office and executive management has lost focus and direction.
In an interview last week with Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Brian Sabean made a startling announcement: Giants’ President and Chief Operating Officer Larry Baer, and team ownership, have asked Sabean to take over the day-to-day operations of the team.
Which is, by definition, the job of a general manager.
San Francisco already has a General Manager– since 2015 it’s been Bobby Evans. During Evans’ three-year tenure the Giants have a 235-251 record, a .483 winning percentage.
Evans also added a number of long-term deals with older players:
- 2016 SP Johnny Cueto 6 years, $130 million;
- 2016 SP Jeff Samardzija 5 years, $90m;
- 2016 SS Brandon Crawford 6 years $75m;
- 2017 RP Mark Melancon 4 years, $62m;
- 2017 1B Brandon Belt 5 years, $72.8m;
- 2017 3B Evan Longoria 6 years, $100m
While it’s true that the Giants have the wealthiest ownership group in all of Major League Baseball, this is a truly interesting way to spend $529.8 million of their money.
The MLB Network reported that in 2020, when all these players will still be under contract and be at or approaching their mid-30s, the San Francisco Giants will have salary obligations of $122.4 million. The highest in the Majors.
As GM, Evans also traded the Giants’ only minor league player who was on MLB’s Top 100 prospects at the time, 3B Christian Arroyo, as part of the Longoria deal.
The Giants had just paid Fox $6 million the year before to sign him as an international free agent. Fox is now 12th in Tampa’s top 30 prospects.
So will Bobby Evans be fired or demoted? No one knows. In a typically obtuse statement, Brian Sabean reportedly said, “I’ll pay respect to how he [Evans] operated the last three years.”
What does “pay respect to how Evans operated” mean? When Sabean is about to make a decision, will he first bow in the direction of Bobby Evans’ new office over by the cafeteria dumpster and then do the exact opposite of what Evans would have done?
Over the past year, leading up to the removal/non-firing of GM Bobby Evans, there were a series of missteps, blunders, and coaching musical chairs that should have led to several more Giants’ front office staff desks being relocated next to the cafeteria dumpster.
In November of 2016, the Giants hired former D’Backs minor league manager Phil Nevin to be San Francisco’s third base coach. They needed a new third base coach because they had just fired the former third base coach, Roberto Kelly.
As reported by Andrew Baggarly (then of the Bay Area News Group) that firing happened because “Kelly made several curious decisions to send or hold runners, but his bigger issue was a perceived indecisiveness and overall lack of attentiveness when it came to relaying signs”.
Phil Nevin left Arizona because he was passed over when Torey Lovullo was hired to manage the D’Backs just before the 2017 season.
Knowing that Bruce Bochy was likely leaving the Giants after his current contract expires at the end of the 2019 season, Nevin may have thought he had a chance to become the team’s bench coach and take over when Bochy left.
That all went up in smoke when the Giants abruptly dismissed Nevin this offseason and moved longtime bench coach Ron Wotus to third base.
The Wotus move was yet another in the musical chairs cluster funk.
Every offseason for the past ten years or so, Ron Wotus would interview for new manager jobs around baseball. And every year he didn’t get a job offer.
And every year Bruce Bochy and the Giants’ broadcasters would protest that “it was Wotus’ turn” and they were shocked and dismayed that another team didn’t hire him as their manager.
Now the Giants have joined all those other teams Ron Wotus interviewed with, because they are not going to hire Wotus to manage their team either.
Wotus was moved to third base coach because hitting coach Hensley Meulens was named Bruce Bochy’s bench coach. And it’s Meulens who will likely become the Giants new manager when Bochy retires.
So the embarrassing circus known as the San Francisco Giants front office continues its cluster-fest with the mysterious disappearance of Bobby Evans– who may soon re-emerge as the team’s fourth third base coach in the last two years.