San Francisco improved from 72-90 in 2008 to 88-74 last year. The Giants won only four more regular-season games this year, but that was enough for them to secure the National League West title.Now, after winning the NL Division Series against Atlanta and the NL Championship Series over Philadelphia, San Francisco is four victories away from winning the World Series for the first time since 1954, which would end the Major Leagues' third-longest dry spell. It's easy to stereotype the Giants as a collection of castoffs, misfit toys or mercenaries, since their top performers include well-traveled veterans or in-season pickups such as Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, Cody Ross, Juan Uribe and Jeremy Affeldt. But outsiders don't see the diligence that such acquisitions require. Neukom lavished praise upon general manager Brian Sabean and his staff, including vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow, vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans and analysts Jeremy Shelley and Yeshayah Goldfarb. "They deserve a lot of credit for burning the midnight oil all the way through the midseason," Neukom said. "They looked at hundreds of possibilities of ways to reinforce this team. And they obviously found some good ones."
|Kenny Williams||White Sox||10/24/2000|
|Theo Epstein||Red Sox||11/25/2002 *|
"We knew you couldn't replace Barry," Sabean said.
The Giants also realized that luring big-name free agents would be difficult, given AT&T Park's unfavorable reputation for hitters.Neukom and Sabean echoed each other in lauding manager Bruce Bochy, who brought San Francisco to the World Series without a regular lineup. "The way he had to juggle the lineups and put people in situations where they can be successful, I think he's been masterful," Neukom said. "The one thing that has set us apart, than in the past since he's been here, is we have more depth and he's been able to be more resourceful with what he does," Sabean said. No matter how the World Series unfolds, the offseason soon will be here, which will provide fresh challenges for the Giants' front office. "I'll be nervous to make sure we build on this," Neukom said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.