So, the longest tenured General Manager in baseball is no longer a General Manager.

Now, the reality is that this move means very little in terms of changing how the team is run.  The direction of the franchise, in terms of the theory behind the on-field product, in terms of the cornerstone, investment players the team collects, that vision is still Brian Sabean’s.  He’s still the boss, he’s still the one we’d ever blame if he hadn’t pretty much earned lifetime respect for bringing three World Series titles to San Francisco.

It’s just harder to throw blame at a title of “Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations.”  It doesn’t roll off the tongue like “G.M.”  That matters.  You’d think it wouldn’t, but it does.  “E.V.P.B.O.” just sounds like a password to a website.

No, it’s not my password, don’t even try.

What this does is allows Sabean to be more direct in handling those big player moves and acquisitions.  There’s been a lot of talk about the Giants being more involved in international markets, and this frees up Brian Sabean to be the one on-site to help reinforce that any Giant interest is legitimate.

Bobby Evans is a good guy.  He’s run a good minor league system (in terms of how it’s run, rather than winning championships), and has been instrumental in keeping the franchise stocked with players (at times, better than at others).  He’s also, more and more, run the contract negotiation side with the major leaguers.  The Giants pretty much never go to arbitration…that’s Bobby Evans.  On the other hand, there’s Pablo Sandoval, notoriously quoting that he felt disrespected at how the Giants treated his agent.  Was that Brian, or was it Bobby?  Was it that Brian didn’t participate in negotiations, but Bobby did?  We’ll never know that…but the timing of those complaints and this move add a rather intriguing bit of context.

Essentially, Evans is the guy who makes the smaller decisions.  Is Matt Duffy staying in SF?  If so, do the Giants DFA Ehire Adrianza?  I mean, Gary Brown got picked up by someone (the Cardinals!), Adrianza probably will, too.  That’s the responsibility of Evans.  Sabean’s too big to worry about a utility infielder.

(My bet, by the way, is that Duffy stays as Travis Ishikawa goes on the DL, so they can waffle on the decision a little longer.)

Jeremy Shelley moves into the Assistant G.M. role that Evans vacated.  Shelley will do more of the direct handling of the minor league system.  Notably, Shelley is one of the guys often mentioned when people talk about what “little” sabermetrics-handling the Giants do in the front office.  I put “little” in quotes because they actually do a fair amount.  Shelly moving up on the totem pole really makes that clearer.

Ultimately, though, this is the new leadership, same as the old leadership.  It’s simply a new model, and the Giants aren’t the first team to do this.  The Cubs are doing this with Theo Epstein, although he is the “President” of baseball operations, not “Vice-President.”  Andrew Friedman of the Dodgers is in the same “President” role.  Do you know the names Jed Hoyer, or Farhan Zaidi?  Those are the respective General Managers of those teams.  More than anything, this just represents the fall in prominence of the general manager of a team.  It’s all just titles and delegations of responsibilities.  Boring stuff.  Looks good on a resume…though it’s not like Brian Sabean will ever need another resume ever again.

Two thoughts though:

1. How long until Billy Beane, now the longest-tenured General Manager with a single team, gets the same treatment?  Maybe it’s predicated on a new A’s stadium so there’s the extra office space for him to get a E.V.P.B.O. role?

2. Sabean is an Executive Vice President.  Epstein, who won two World Series with the Red Sox, is the President of the Cubs.  Friedman, yet to win any World Series anywhere, is the President of the Dodgers.  Sabean has three rings…what does it take to get the President title?  Just wondering…