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Report: Giants preparing to demote CEO Bill Neukom

Sep 14, 2011, 8:34 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants owner Bill Neukom speaks to the fans at a rally after his team's World Series victory parade in San Francisco Reuters

The defending World Series champion Giants will be left out of the postseason picture this October.

As you might expect, that’s not sitting well with some members of the organization. Members who have the power to make changes at the very top.

According to Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News, the Giants’ executive owners committee — a group consisting of the franchise’s 10 primary investors — has decided that CEO and general managing partner Bill Neukom will be removed from his role at the conclusion of the 2011 season.

The timing may seem odd given San Francisco’s triumphant run last October, but Purdy says the issues with Neukom go beyond this year’s second-place finish. According to insider sources, Neukom did a poor job of keeping the executive committee “informed about his choices and actions” during his tenure as chief executive officer. Instead, Purdy writes, “some of the owners first read about those decisions in news reports.”

It’s doubtful many details will leak about which decisions specifically caught the ire of the other investors. And the Giants are likely to announce this move as a front-office “restructuring” rather than a firing or demotion.

Neukom joined the Giants’ ownership group in 1995 and became the first principal owner to guide the club to a World Series crown since Horace Stoneham in 1954, when the franchise was located in New York.

  1. iamthedoublestandard - Sep 14, 2011 at 11:59 PM

    Can the A’s move now? Goodness, it’s taking forever.

    • bigdicktater - Sep 15, 2011 at 7:37 AM

      No, they can’t. Oakland needs them.

  2. Marty - Sep 15, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    If they were 6.5 games up, he’d be the genius who patched this injury laden team up to make a run. Unfortunately many of those “under-communicated decisions” Neukum made did not result in division title. Plain and simple.

    A lot of contracts up next year. Hopefully we’re not in for some profit taking a la the 2004 Marlins.

    • seeingwhatsticks - Sep 15, 2011 at 6:37 AM

      I don’t think that’s true actually. The decisions Neukom made in 2008 and 2009 didn’t result in division titles and he wasn’t sacked then. Magowan had plenty of years where his decisions didn’t result in a division title and he was only dumped after giving ludicrous contracts to Zito and Rowand coupled with the inevitable fall to earth a team experiences when they lose the most dominant offensive force in the history of the game and have totally disregarded their farm system for over a decade.

      No, this, like all things, is about money. The Giants made a ton of money between last year’s playoff run, the offseason, and selling out every single home game this year (I believe in that article it states that the Giants have seen an increase of $1-$2 million in merchandise sales per month). Neukom felt that it was best to invest a lot of the increased revenues back into the organization via payroll as well as player development and organizational infrastructure. The payroll went up to $120 million this year which may not seem like a lot compared to other teams but is about $15 million more than they had ever spent. Most of these board members have been around for a long time and watched the team spend about $90 million a year during the Bonds era and make a lot of money while fielding competitive teams and hiding behind stadium debt as the reason they couldn’t afford to spend more (the debt won’t be fully retired for another 7 years). There is a lot of speculation among fans that the board is not especially happy about the fact that Neukom increased payroll so dramatically and is afraid it will set a precedent and fans will expect the team to spend $120+ million every year. I think the most telling quote in that article is that the board preferred to have the revenues from the World Series run put into a “rainy day fund” for leaner times (aka their pockets) rather than have it reinvested into the team.

      If the board thinks they can go back to being a $95-$105 million payroll team and get the same reaction and dedication from fans I think they are in for a rude awakening. If they cry poor again over stadium debt or some other nonsense and watch Lincecum or Cain walk away for nothing, well, fans will walk away for nothing too. Depending on what stats you are looking at the Bay Area has about 7.5 million people and that doesn’t include Sacramento or the Central Valley where the Giants also draw from. While it’s true that there are technically 2 teams in the Bay Area the war is basically over and the Giants have won. For all intents and purposes unless or until the A’s move to San Jose the Bay Area is a 1 team town and the fans won’t keep shelling out big bucks if the Giants go back to acting like a small to mid market team, not when there are 3 million more people than in the Boston area (again, not including Sacramento or the Central Valley which is probably another 2 million) and Boston spends $50-$75 million more than the Giants on payroll every year. No one expects the Giants to spend like the Sox or Yanks, we just have a reasonable expectation that they keep the gap to a respectable level, especially when most of the pieces are already in place for the team to contend at the highest levels for the next few years. So you better believe the fans will be watching to see how the organization acts after sacking the one guy who was willing to start acting like a big market team just 2-3 years away from 2 of the 3 or 4 best pitchers the team has ever had hit free agency.

  3. bigdicktater - Sep 15, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    What?? He didn’t leave to “spend more time with his family”?

  4. SOBEIT - Sep 15, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    My guess is that this had something to do with Tejada and more importantly, Rowand getting released and the team eating that contract. Plus the rumors of the team eating Zito’s contract next was the tipping point. You’re talking about dumping around $80M of contracts for nothing.

  5. APBA Guy - Sep 15, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    This morning’s Chron offers two suggestions:

    1) Neukom’s “retirement” (and sale of his ownership stake) is largely due to lack of communication with the ownership committee over spending, moreso than the actual spending itself.
    2) With Larry Baer taking over, MLB may, emphasize may, use their approval power to condition the change based on the Giants acceptance of an A’s move to SJ.

    Whether the Giants go to a $90M payroll threshold based on this move remains to be seen. It wouldn’t surprise me to see it, in actual terms, remain near $ 120M next year with both Zito and Rowand still on the books, but come down a little in 2013. But the NL West looks winnable for the next few years. I don’t see any team with a death grip on the title next year or the year after. So the Giants may be prepared to keep payroll over $ 100M as long as they are chasing the post-season.

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