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Peter Magowan chat transcript
10/20/2004 4:42 PM ET
Peter Magowan: Good morning, fans. I'm glad to be here with you. It's hard to believe that 12 years have passed since our ownership group came together to buy the Giants and keep them here, where they belong.

A lot of good things have happened over this period of time, such as building our beautiful ballpark and we've had a lot of success on the field as well. However, we still haven't achieved our goal of winning a World Series for our community.

I'm looking forward to talking to our most important fans and hearing your suggestions, but please understand that I cannot talk specifically about free-agent players, whether they're on our team or someone else's. Let's get started.

   Barry Bonds  /   LF
Born: 07/24/64
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 230 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

Base_Ball_3: With Barry Bonds in the final years of a fabulous career, wouldn't this be the right time to go after some significant free agents in an attempt to bring that elusive World Series title to San Francisco?

Magowan: We have many things to work on to try to improve the team, and obviously, we would like to give Barry better protection. But let's face facts -- we could have Babe Ruth hitting behind him and Barry would still get walked. When Jeff Kent hit behind him in 2002, Barry walked 200 times -- and Kent was an MVP-type player.

And despite the lack of a slugger hitting behind him, offense was not the problem for the Giants. Last year, we scored 850 runs -- second only (by five runs) to the famous St. Louis Cardinals offense. On the other hand, our pitching ranked 11th and our defense eighth. When we were in the playoffs, our pitching was a prime reason why we got there.

giantspaul: Hello, Peter. First, I would like to thank you and the other owners for giving us a team to watch since 1993. Next, could you explain the basic decision-making process involved in setting your budget for baseball operations?

Magowan: First, we forecast our revenue. For the Giants, this is easier to do than for most clubs because we can count on so many seats sold before the season starts. Once we know our revenue number, we then determine all our expenses other than Major League payroll.

We then plug in the payroll number so that we try to break even. For example, if our revenue is $150 million and our "all other" expenses is $70 million, then that would leave $80 million for the payroll. This year, our $80 million payroll resulted in about a $10 million loss.

Base_Ball_4: Mr. Magowan, there has been much talk lately of the ownership group staying pat with the current payroll. Do you see any major changes for next year or an increase in spending to reach the goal of winning a World Series?

Magowan: Our payroll has increased substantially in recent years. Our first year in our new ballpark, our payroll was $53 million, and last year, it was over $80 million. Every year, we are committed to fielding the best team to get us back to the World Series, but it is obvious that spending the most money does not guarantee success. We are spending more than both the Cardinals and the Astros, both of whom are still in the postseason.

Our spending levels have allowed us to be consistently successful. The last five years have been the best five years in San Francisco Giants history in terms of wins and losses, and over the last 12 years, only the Yankees and the Braves have won more games than the Giants. But we still have not reached our goal of winning a World Series.

mattl121_2: Will there anything done to keep the Yankees from "buying" their championships? As in a salary cap to make things equal for all teams?

Magowan: Depending on tonight's game, they may not even make the World Series this year.

Steve_Croke: Peter, next season's schedule has the Giants opening at home for the first time in four years, and for only the fourth time in the last 13 years. Yet the Marlins are opening at home for the 11th time in 13 years. How are the schedules put together?

Magowan: Each year, the league asks for us to submit preferences on whether to open at home or to close at home. We feel it benefits the team if we can end the season at home. Of course, each year we are not always granted our wish. This year, as it turns out, we will be both opening at home and closing the season at home.

benji32: First of all, thank you, Mr. Magowan, for continuing to put a quality team on the field. I appreciate your efforts in your role and I wonder what is the ONE area where the Giants need to improve over the offseason?

Magowan: I think there's probably more than one area. In the '04 season, it became apparent that we had a few holes. This is not all that surprising because almost any team has some holes. Nevertheless, it is the job of our baseball management team to try to fill these holes during the offseason.

We think we need to strengthen our bullpen. Last year, the Giants ranked 11th in pitching, while we were second in runs scored, and while our starting pitching came together very well in the last six weeks of the season, our bullpen was worn out from being overused in the first half of the season, when our starting pitching was not as good. We have seen in recent years that when we have a strong, deep bullpen, we can be very successful.

In addition to the pitching needs, we need to get better defensively. Our defense ranked eighth last year in the National League.

I would say that those are the top priorities, but we will also be looking for ways to strengthen the everyday lineup. Whether this will be done through trades or free agent signings or development of our own younger players remains to be seen.

mattl121_2: As a seson ticket/charter member, my crew would like to thank you for all you have done. Is there anything exciting you can tell us about the 2005 season?

   Noah Lowry  /   P
Born: 10/10/80
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: L

Magowan: I think our prospects for '05 are good and that the Giants once again will have a good shot to make the playoffs and get back to the World Series. Remember, we won 91 games last year. The Giants are a good team. They do not have to improve much to go farther.

First, I am excited about our starting rotation. For the last six weeks of the season, the Giants had the best pitching in the National League. We would start the '05 season with a strong, deep rotation -- [Jason] Schmidt, [Brett] Tomko, [Jerome] Williams, [Kirk] Rueter, [Noah] Lowry (and [Jesse] Foppert and [Brad] Hennessey in reserve). At the beginning of '04, we didn't have Schmidt, Tomko and Rueter weren't pitching well, and Noah Lowry was in Fresno. So we should have a strong rotation.

A stronger rotation, in and of itself, should help our bullpen, which was overworked last year. Still, we need to strengthen our bullpen, and this will be one of our objectives. Other bright signs for '05 would include Pedro Feliz. He could be coming into his own as a truly productive offensive player. We expect a tough offseason conditioning program will keep Ray Durham more in the lineup next year.

Jason_Weisberger: Don't your season ticket holders deserve more value than just one great player, one top 10 pitcher and a bunch of has-beens and never will bes?

Magowan: First of all, I take exception to the phrase "has-been and never will bes." I think our players never get enough credit for the good players that they are. Last year's team included some very good players, like [J.T.] Snow, Durham, Feliz, [Edgardo] Alfonzo, [Marquis] Grissom and Schmidt. Historically, our players just don't get enough credit for what they have contributed.

The Giants work very hard to get players with the right mixture of integrity, competitiveness, depth and experience, especially playoff experience. This allows the sum, in many cases, to be worth more than the parts. This is further evidenced by the fact that our players know how to approach a season, with the goal of making the playoffs and advancing to the World Series. Since 2000, the Giants have the best regular-season record in September/October in the Majors.

Brent_Blackaby: What's the status with Felipe's contract beyond 2005?

Magowan: Felipe [Alou] is under contract to manage the Giants for the '05 season. We are very pleased with the job Felipe has done the last two years -- in my opinion, he should have been the Manager of the Year at least one of those two years. As far as his future is concerned, that is really up to Felipe more than anyone else. At some point, probably toward the end of the '05 season, we will sit down with him and decide what we want to do.

David_Huntington: Baseball America said that Matt Cain was the third-best prospect in the Eastern League this year. He was ranked right behind David Wright and Jason Kubel. When do you forsee Cain making it into the Giants rotation?

Magowan: As Brian Sabean has said, we think it likely that Matt Cain will spend another year in the high minors -- probably Fresno. Having said that, Spring Training is always full of surprises, and anything can happen. We do think he is one of the best pitching prospects that the Giants have ever had.

goods14: But would you agree that further leveling of the playing field is desirable? And, if so, is it possible?

Magowan: Yes, I would agree, and further, I think it will happen. It is important for as many baseball fans as possible to have hope that their team can make it into the World Series. Increasing revenue sharing has allowed clubs like the Oakland A's, Minnesota Twins and Florida Marlins to compete successfully.

Obviously, this comes at some expense to the Giants. Our revenue-sharing contribution per season now is around $14 million, which is more than double what it was when we played our first season at SBC Park. It is in the Giants' best long-term interest to make baseball as popular a sport as they can. We will all benefit if baseball can continue to increase its attendance as it did this year.

politenessman: Good morning, Mr. Magowan. I am concerned with an ambiguity in the Giants' player development paradigm. How can your team maintain that the team is doing its best to compete with a limited budget, yet fail to dedicate the resources to the farm system?

   Pedro Feliz  /   1B
Born: 04/27/75
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Magowan: First of all, our budget is not limited. It's over $80 million, in the top third of the 30 Major League clubs, and represents a substantial increase since our first season here. Nor do I agree that we have failed to dedicate the resources to the farm system. Our farm system has produced several players who have had a very positive impact on the Giants, players like Pedro Feliz, Noah Lowry, Jerome Williams, Yorvit Torrealba. And more are coming -- players like Jesse Foppert, Matt Cain, maybe [Todd] Linden, [Merkin] Valdez, [Lance] Niekro, etc.

And we have produced other good players who we then traded to get very productive players for the Giants -- people like J.T. Snow, Livan Hernandez, Robb Nen, Ellis Burks, Jason Schmidt, etc. It's a misnomer to say the Giants' farm system has been unproductive -- just watching the playoffs, I see people like Russ Ortiz, Bill Mueller, Doug Mirabelli, and Keith Foulke contributing to their team's success -- all of whom the Giants developed.

Bob_Choy: What improvements are on tap for SBC Park in '05?

Magowan: We're always looking to improve the experience for our fans. This is a top priority for all of us. The experience, of course, starts with customer service for you, the fans. In terms of improvements, we are developing several new initiatives that will use technology to improve your experience. We will add on to our Wi-Fi program and our Double Play Ticket network. We will also continue to honor great Giants players of the past with special events to be announced as we get closer to the season.

scgiant4ever: Peter, I am an accountant, so numbers are what I understand. I am just curious what the mortgage is (per year) on the stadium? If you don't want to answer, I respect that; it is a rather personal question.

Magowan: The "mortgage" is approximately $20 million a year. In addition, we also contribute approximately $5 million in taxes and rent to the city. This, though, is just a part of the financial commitment our ownership group has made. We bought the Giants for $100 million. We invested another $120 million to pay for cash losses, most of which were incurred in the Candlestick era, and then we put ourselves on the hook for $170 million for our privately financed ballpark.

If you add this all up, our cumulative investment is over $350 million.

heints1: Just how closely do you work with Brian Sabean in making decisions? It is quite obvious that other owners, such as George Steinbrenner, play a large role in the players they sign and trade. How much do you decide?

Magowan: Brian works with a budget that I give him for each year. He is free to do what he wants within the constraints of that budget. However, because we work so closely together, he does discuss virtually every player move with me and solicits opinions from myself as well as from all the baseball people that work for him. We have a very close working relationship, and I think that our baseball management team of Brian, Ned Colletti, Dick Tidrow and Jack Hiatt is as good as any in baseball.

richard_bruno: Would Barry be willing to renegotiate his current contract to help you afford a quality supporting cast?

Magowan: I don't know if Barry would be willing to renegotiate his contract or not -- he probably would. But this is not a good way to operate a baseball team, as the Arizona Diamondbacks are now finding out. The amount of deferrals that the D-Backs must fund for years and years to come will inhibit their ability to compete. The way we operate the team prevents significant ups and downs in our level of spending and enables us to consistently field a contending team.

Magowan: We're going to answer a couple more questions today.

slaze: Do you consider 2004 a success or a failure? For the fans? For the ownership group?

Magowan: We did not achieve our objective, which was to get to the postseason and back to the World Series. We didn't miss by much -- one game to the Astros for the Wild Card, and two games to the Dodgers for the divison, and we did win 91 games, the fifth year in a row of 90 or more victories. But we didn't make the postseason, so in my scorebook, we failed and failure is always a disappointment.

Many good things happened to the Giants in '04 -- just not quite good enough.

Magowan: I've got to go. Thanks for all your input. I think Giants fans are the best fans in the world, and we appreciate your support very much.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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