Security blanket: Giants’ future strong with Sabean, Bochy re-upping, Evans in wings 

click to enlarge Manager Bruce Bochy, left, and general manager Brian Sabean are set to welcome another member to the Giants’ top decision makers: Bobby Evans is poised to be elevated to GM, with Sabean also to be promoted. - BEN MARGOT/2013 AP FILE PHOTO
  • Ben Margot/2013 AP file photo
  • Manager Bruce Bochy, left, and general manager Brian Sabean are set to welcome another member to the Giants’ top decision makers: Bobby Evans is poised to be elevated to GM, with Sabean also to be promoted.

They sat 20 rows behind the dugout, talking as they do, taking in a breeze from San Francisco Bay while observing their baseball masterpiece during batting practice. Brian Sabean, sporting facial hair as white as Santa Claus, has been general manager of the Giants since 1996, meaning no man has performed the job longer in Major League Baseball. Bobby Evans, his expert wingman, has been more visible and quotable recently, and, well, you know where this is going.

The techies call it think-tank preservation.

Your major news: Sabean and Bruce Bochy have signed extensions that will keep them with the Giants through 2018, no small announcement given the magnitude of their accomplishments together. Their friendship transcends the typical GM-manager relationship — they live in the same building near the ballpark, for God's sake — and it's vital they remain in tandem as this franchise pursues an addendum for its three-trophies-in-five-years run. As CEO Larry Baer hinted throughout spring training, it's important to honor and reward the makers of a baseball dynasty in an era, marked by subsidy-driven parity, that isn't conducive to multiple championships in a short period.

But behind the announcement, which will be made official today, there is another development. There are whispers that Evans will be given the title of GM, with Sabean promoted to president of baseball operations, a reorganization seen elsewhere in baseball — Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer with the Chicago Cubs, for one. This would allow the frenetic Sabean to kick back and enjoy his success a wee bit as an overseer while Evans inherits more of the everyday responsibilities. The triumverate has been a foursome for some time. Now it's official, which also gives Evans less reason to leave as other teams admire him from afar. In his mid-40s, he is the boss in waiting, and the Giants want him to envision the future.

Most importantly for now, Sabean and Bochy will be sticking around a while. Do not assume that to be the gimme it appears to be. Bochy underwent a heart procedure in February, and while he jokes that he feels so good now that everyone in life should have a stent inserted, know this: He had a serious heart issue. As for Sabean, the passion that has led to repeated World Series success also has taken a toll on a baseball lifer. It would have been easy for both to depart on top, or call this season a swan song. But they are smart people who know they wouldn't be going to Cooperstown, a strong possibility for both, if they didn't work for this franchise in this ballpark in this city. What would they do with themselves if they retired from the Giants in their late 50s?

And what would Giants baseball be without them? You don't win three in five and retire. You take advantage of the resources, the culture, and compete for more in a region where they're adored.

"The fervor for the team and franchise is at an all-time high," Baer said. "We're very blessed to feel like we're in a golden era of Giants baseball."

This was the first night the Giants were at AT&T Park, in uniform, since they won in Kansas City. They looked exhausted, understandable after breaking camp in Arizona on Wednesday and expected to play a game with the A's the next night — what, no time to have the electricity turned on in their condos? A porous performance in spring training has pundits predicting doom, knowing the Giants are in the dreaded odd-numbered year. And, yes, the rotation looks old and fragile and broken-down beyond Madison Bumgarner, who is sporting a lumberjack beard that is beginning to channel a hybrid of Hunter Pence, who was working out while waiting for his broken left forearm to heal, and long-departed Brian Wilson.

There will be time to worry about Matt Cain, who will pitch Game 3 in Arizona, and Tim Lincecum, who goes against the improved Padres — two no-hitters, remember — next Friday in San Diego. Because the season begins with seven consecutive road games, Bochy may keep 13 pitchers by necessity, knowing the starting stints of Cain, Lincecum, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson may be limited. But do your fretting later. Enjoy championship glee while you have it.

And marvel at how, once again, Bullwinkle survived. The stuffed elk head remains mounted inside Bochy's office, to the horror of tree-hugging activists. There had been doubts whether Bullwinkle — a redneck incongruity in an affluent ballpark where the seventh-inning-stretch song should go, "Buy me some pinot and pepper jack" — would remain after a clubhouse renovation created roomier digs and an improved eating area, both of which might have enticed Pablo Sandoval to stick around.

But for now, the ornamental elk remains. The bigger concern is why the lighting in there is so dim. I mean, where's the French waiter?

"Yeah, it's a mood setter," Bochy said. "That's going to be fixed. I'd hate to walk in there, and they're all sleeping. We're going to brighten it up a little. I'll go in there, and they'll be playing some slow music and drinking some white wine. We're going to change that, trust me."

He had no other complaints. "I think it's much-improved," Bochy said. "I like the way we've got all the players closer together. The length of it, it just wasn't conducive to meetings, camaraderie. It's more player-friendly. Coaches' office, they did a great job, and training room. I really like how it's turned out.

"Talking to the players, they like it a lot, kitchen included. They have more room there. They really did a nice job, and we really appreciate them spending the money to reconfigure the clubhouse."

The lights, the Giants can fix. Beating the Dodgers and Padres, who have much better rotations, is a more daunting challenge.

But at least the think tank is in place. And to echo Bochy, it's nice they spent the money to keep baseball's best hierarchy happier and wealthier.

Jay Mariotti is sports director and lead sports columnist at The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at jmariotti@sfexaminer.com. Read his website at jaymariotti.com.

About The Author

Jay Mariotti

Jay Mariotti

Bio:
Jay Mariotti is sports director and lead sports columnist at the San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at jmariotti@sfexaminer.com. Read his website at jaymariotti.com.
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