Sabean, Bochy receive extensions
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy have been planning for the 2010 season for a while now, even with their own contract situations unresolved.
Both knew their futures with the club would be handled in time. Now, they know they're staying in San Francisco.
Bochy and Sabean each received two-year contract extensions with a club option Tuesday after meeting with managing general partner Bill Neukom. Both men expected to return, but Neukom had said he would wait until the end of the season to make a decision after sitting down to debrief on the year.
While the Giants missed the playoffs for a sixth straight season, they were in the NL wild-card chase well into September and at 88-74 won 16 more games than in 2008.
"The job of the Giants in the 2009 season was to return to winning baseball," Neukom said on a conference call. "The Giants had a winning season and then some. We are not complacent about that. We have more work to do because we want to get the San Francisco Giants to be a franchise that's a contender year in and year out."
Sabean is the longest-tenured GM in baseball after completing his 13th season with San Francisco. Bochy's three-year contract worth roughly $6 million expired after the season ended.
Bochy and Sabean believe this rebuilding franchise is headed in the right direction to become a regular contender again, but knew it would take time with a young roster. Neukom clearly saw the strides he'd hoped for with Bochy and Sabean leading the way.
"We're at a good place in a good time to use this season as a springboard," Sabean said.
Bochy has been committed to "changing the culture" around the Giants and said when the season ended, "We're in a win mode now."
There were significant highlights this season, most notably Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter against San Diego on July 10 and left-hander Randy Johnson becoming the 24th pitcher in major league history to win 300 games.
Sabean guided the wild-card Giants to the 2002 World Series and NL West crowns in 1997, 2000 and '03, their last year in the playoffs.
Sabean acknowledges he's made his share of mistakes along the way, too.
He has been criticized for signing players to big contracts such as pitcher Barry Zito's $126 million, seven-year deal through 2013 with a club option for 2014, and a $60 million, five-year contract for center fielder Aaron Rowand done in December 2007.
Sabean is gearing up for a busy winter. One of his top priorities will be to upgrade the offense by adding a big bat in the middle of the order, though he's said that will be a challenge in this free-agent market.
The Giants could be in for a complicated, expensive arbitration process with ace Tim Lincecum, the 2008 NL Cy Young Award winner who went 15-7 with a 2.48 ERA in 32 starts and 225 1-3 innings this year.
Sabean compared Lincecum to Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, who won $10 million in an arbitration hearing before the 2008 season.
While Sabean has vowed not to trade Lincecum or fellow All-Star pitcher Matt Cain, he said he might consider dealing a pitcher to acquire a powerful bat.
"We all have the same thing in mind -- let's get back to postseason and the World Series," Bochy said.
San Francisco hopes to bring back second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who was acquired in a trade with the Pirates on July 29 but was limited to 25 games because of injuries. The 31-year-old Sanchez was hindered by a shoulder injury, then underwent surgery last week to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Bochy knows a lot can be built from this year's success with emerging players, even if there are many changes this offseason. Infielder Rich Aurilia and right fielder Randy Winn aren't likely to return, and catcher Bengie Molina appears headed for free agency.
"If anybody deserves credit for this year's turnaround it's these two people, Brian and Bruce," Neukom said. "The encouraging thing is we think we're back to playing baseball the way it ought to be played."
Bochy and Sabean are still in the process of evaluating the coaching staff, and there could be some changes there.
The 54-year-old Bochy went 143-181 in his first two seasons as Giants skipper but showed improvement in 2009 with a mixture of veterans and young players.
After managing the San Diego Padres for 12 seasons, Bochy was hired by San Francisco in October 2006 to replace Felipe Alou.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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