Giants agree to two-year contract extension with GM Sabean

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean and owner Peter Magowan agree that San Francisco might have to endure a couple more years of losing to turn around the franchise.

Sabean will get the chance to lead the team's transformation.

He received a two-year contract extension Friday only five months after Magowan called out every employee as being on the "hot seat."

"By making the decision now, it puts Brian in a much better position to do what he feels he needs to do and making trades," Magowan said. "We can get a running start on the '08 season by making these moves now."

Sabean, who's in his 11th season as the Giants' GM, could stick around through 2010 if San Francisco exercises its club option.

Barry Bonds and the Giants haven't made the playoffs since 2003 and started the second half Friday night at 38-48 and 10½ games behind San Diego in the NL West.

The organization is committed to developing its young talent, meaning the Giants will listen to offers for veteran players before the July 31 trade deadline.

Manager Bruce Bochy has already said he expects to give some of his veterans more time off after the All-Star break.

"Bruce has all the latitude in the world. His responsibility is the same as ours," Sabean said.

Sabean and the Giants began contract talks earlier than either side expected. Magowan said they've talking for months about what changes must be made, and he asked Sabean for a comprehensive plan.

"It's a plan that I can get enthusiastic about," Magowan said.

Magowan said he is "fully confident" Sabean and Bochy will get the club back on track.

"The higher-ups, what they have to do is not only worry about next year but the year after that," outfielder and player rep Randy Winn said. "It would be irresponsible for him not to think that way."

Other Giants players had mixed reactions when they heard of the plan for the immediate future and how the front office expects the team might take some lumps for a while.

"That's why he's the owner," center fielder Dave Roberts said. "I just play. ... That's obviously up to them. As players, we have a job to do. They've done their job and it's up to us to do our job. I personally haven't."

One of Sabean's biggest decisions in the coming offseason will certainly involve Bonds -- and he will have plenty of input from Magowan as always when it comes to No. 25.

The Giants re-signed the seven-time NL MVP to a $15.8 million, one-year deal -- but Bonds is nearly 43 and four home runs shy of Hank Aaron's career record of 755. The slugger has said he plans to play in 2008, but whether that will be in a Giants uniform for a 16th season remains a big question.

The Giants won their first NL West title in eight years during Sabean's initial season in 1997. San Francisco also won the division in 2000 and '03, getting the wild card in 2002 when the Giants fell six outs short in the World Series to the Angels.

The Giants had hoped to go younger this season but still have a relatively old roster. After signing Bonds, they brought back many familiar faces to play around him: third baseman Pedro Feliz, second baseman Ray Durham and pinch-hit specialist Mark Sweeney.

San Francisco also signed left-hander Barry Zito to a $126 million, seven-year contract in late December, the richest contract ever for a pitcher. Zito (6-9), the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner, is winless in his last six starts and has dropped four straight decisions.

The Giants finally parted ways with embattled closer Armando Benitez in a May 31 trade with the Marlins. He received a $21.5 million, three-year contract in November 2004 and never performed the way San Francisco hoped as the replacement to Robb Nen.

In addition, the Giants dealt a top pitcher in Jeremy Accardo -- even considered a closer of the future -- to Toronto for fill-in first baseman Shea Hillenbrand and reliever Vinnie Chulk a year ago. Those are the kinds of trades Magowan doesn't want to see anymore.

While the decision to sign Roberts to three years and $18 million might be questioned because of the outfielder's injury issues, Sabean's move to land catcher Bengie Molina for three years and $16 million made him look very good.

In February, Magowan pledged his support for Sabean despite the recent struggles. He didn't point all the blame at the GM and said he fully expected Sabean to return.

Sabean, who has said he would like to stay in San Francisco forever, reiterated Friday he understood Magowan's need to wait. Sabean, who joined the Giants in September 1996, was in the same situation in 2002 and didn't receive an extension until after the World Series.

Magowan pointed to the divisional rival Dodgers and Padres and also the New York Mets as teams with "a good blend of players who have been developed in the system and free agent players."

He knows such a transformation doesn't happen over night.

"I don't want you to think we have no emphasis on winning in '08. We do," Magowan said. "I think the emphasis is changing. We're still trying to win, but to win we're going to need some pleasant surprises."