Splash Hits: Giants hold press conference with Bill Neukom and Larry Baer

I have yet to see the video of the press conference, but here’s what I basically gathered from Twitter:

That’s just a brief overview — there’s more that’s been written up by Tim Kawakami and John Shea (both linked below), but that’s the basic gist of it. There was some speculation from multiple astute fellow bloggers that the Aaron Rowand DFA had something to do with Neukom’s departure (see here and here); if true, that’s beyond absurd.

In the meantime, some links…

Larry Baer on Barry Zito, Bruce Bochy, Brian Sabean — and more of what you didn’t see on the televised news conference : San Francisco Giants: The Splash
John Shea from the ballpark, where a few reporters spoke with new Giants CEO after today’s news conference. . . .

Tim Kawakami: The truth about the San Francisco Giants and Bill Neukom – San Jose Mercury News
No matter how hard the parties tried to spin it Thursday, this organization is not stable.

VIDEO: Understanding ‘The Giants Way’ By Bill Neukom – SB Nation Bay Area
Former San Francisco Giants CEO and Managing Partner Bill Neukom fully understood this, and was in part the reason he decided to create ‘The Giants Way;’ a simple handbook created by Neukom on how “to articulate a successful baseball program and successful business program.”

Tim Lincecum And Another Means Of Defying Baseball Convention – Baseball Nation
Every coach at every level of baseball will talk about the importance of throwing first-pitch strikes. Tim Lincecum doesn’t care. Why would he? He’s Tim Lincecum! He’s weird!

First Pitch Tidbits – Baseball Analytics Blog – MLB Baseball Analytics
Here are some nuggets about what happens on the first pitch of an at-bat:

The Platoon Advantage: Hitter vs. Position Player
During the Common Man’s opening statement, he mentions “hitter” and “position player” interchangeably, and while Bill points out the difference and TCM surely knows the difference (you all know the difference), it’s a common correlation that’s often made.

Narratives From Formulas | FanGraphs Baseball
I won’t repeat the basics, which can be looked up elsewhere. Instead, I want to address the occasional misuse of the formula for building narratives of teams being better or worse.

On Bill Neukom

Some huge news came out today regarding Bill Neukom. The gist of it (as posted earlier):

According to multiple baseball sources, Giants’ managing general partner and chief executive officer Bill Neukom will not return in that role for the 2012 season. The sources say that Neukom has been asked to step aside by the Executive Committee of the Giants’ ownership group. The action is believed to be the fallout from a series of disagreements with the committee during Neukom’s three-year stewardship of the team.

When Neukom became the Giants’ managing partner, he brought with him a clear-cut plan for the organization:
– A focus on home-grown talent as a means of building a contending team.
– Increased emphasis on statistical analysis, as well as scouting.
– Payroll flexibility, and an understanding of the business aspects of baseball.

After winning a World Series in 2010, the Giants increased payroll by roughly $20MM, and it’s looking like they’ll need to raise payroll a whole lot more in the near future if they want to retain the core that made them a contending team. And that’s one of the main problems I have with this:

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. The committee also believed that Neukom needed the committee’s authorization before making such major financial decisions.

Granted, it’s mostly inferred. But the sense I get is that — with Bill Neukom out of the picture — Giants management will be more hesitant to raise payroll. The Giants’ situation for 2012 looks slightly problematic: they have ten players up for arbitration, half of whom will be going through their third time around. In addition, guys like Cody Ross and Javier Lopez are leaving for free agency. And I’d hate to see the Giants let Matt Cain walk away (he’s a free agent in 2012) purely based on financial reasons.

Aside from payroll, it just seemed like Neukom knew what he was doing (the aforementioned clear-cut plan), which is of utmost importance. To get a sense of this, all you have to do is read his comments from his first meeting back in October of 2008, wherein he articulated the “Giants Way.”

I’m not going to go out on a limb and say that this move makes the Giants’ future look completely bleak, or anything that drastic — frankly, I have no idea how the team will be run in the wake of this move. But I don’t like it. Neukom did an excellent job as managing partner of this team, and played what I believe to be an integral role in bringing the Giants their championship in 2010.