Larry Baer is the perfect choice to replace Bill Neukom as CEO of the Giants, for several reasons.
He has been closely involved with the Giants since the fall of 1992, when he was part of the investors group that bought the Giants from Bob Lurie and kept them in San Francisco.
He worked tirelessly to secure the financing for AT&T Park, which has become a focal point for new development in San Francisco, as well as perhaps the most beautiful ballpark in the country.
He is very intelligent and well versed in the television business, because he worked for CBS in New York before joining the Giants investors group.
Most of all, he knows how to get his way without irritating people. I don’t expect a big change in the Giants’ operation — Baer said at Thursday’s news conference that the Giants’ payroll would not go down in 2012 and he could see the possibility that it will rise in the next 3-4 years — but there won’t be any ruffled feathers among the other investors.
That wasn’t true of his predecessors. Peter Magowan had been CEO of Safeway, and he thought he knew best.
Usually, he was right. He made a great free agent signing of Barry Bonds before the deal with Lurie was even complete and he convinced other owners that they had to absorb losses during the final years at Candlestick so they could have a winning team going into the new park.
That strategy worked perfectly for a time as the Giants got to the World Series — and should have won it — in 2002.
But Magowan was too lax in giving a virtual blank check to general manager Brian Sabean who made several bad signings and one that is probably the worst of all time, the seven-year, $126 contract to Barry Zito, who has not had a winning season with the Giants but still has two years left.
Even before he was forced out after the 2008 season, Magowan approved another big mistake, a five-year, $60 million deal for Aaron Rowand. When the Giants released Rowand in August, no other club picked him up, even though they would only have had to pay him the pro-rated major league minimum for a month, with the Giants paying the rest of his salary.
Neukom has also approved some questionable contracts — $18.5 million for two years of a washed up Edgar Renteria, a two-year, $22 million contract for Aubrey Huff, whose downward spiral has resumed — and when he approved the release of Rowand, apparently without consulting other investors, that was it.
Baer won’t make that mistake. He knows the Giants face at least one more tough decision, to release Zito before he does any more damage to the team, but he’ll make sure everybody is on board with that decision.
Building their own park allows the Giants to control it, so they can schedule other events. The Giants have put together a very strong marketing/promotional department to make the most of their park — and the World Series windfall.
Baer has been involved in virtually everything the Giants have done since 1993. Now, he’ll be in charge. He’s the perfect choice.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.