September 21, 2011; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane at a press conference before the game against the Texas Rangers at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking the GM’s in Bay Area Sports

On one side of the equation, you have a multi-billionaire with a desire to win a championship while making money.  On the other side, you have a strong-minded person with a specific plan in mind to succeed.  And, on both sides, you have an individual with an ego the size of Mount Diablo.

This is the general dichotomy of professional sports, an industry where it takes not only a knack for Xs and Os, but a keen sense for business.  Naturally, it makes sense that a liaison exists between these two parties, and it follows that this job would be extremely hard.  The preceding describe the life of a general manager — bringing everyone together, often even star players, to field a flourishing organization.

So who does it best in the Bay Area?  Once again, the best way to answer a question is with a countdown.

Apr 23, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie speaks at press conference at the Raiders team headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

6. Reggie McKenzie — Oakland Raiders

The franchise built by the late, great, not-so-great-late Al Davis is the Bay team with the least recent success.  Other than an 8-8 season in 2011 (when McKenzie wasn’t even with the organization), the Raiders have been horrible.  HORRIBLE.  That’s not to say McKenzie can’t turn it around; he’s rebuilding the whole thing, but in the small sample size we have, the future does not look bright quite yet.

5. Bob Myers — Golden State Warriors

Much less of a mess to clean up than his Silver and Black counterpart, but Bob Myers is in a similar position.  He has only been with the team for about a year, and despite a recent mental lapse, the 2012-13 team he put together has turned out quite nicely.

It’s too bad Tyson Chandler got away.  Still, Andrew Bogut’s resurgence has been pretty encouraging.  He’s off to a better start, and with new owners trying to also make their mark, the organization has an extremely bright future.

4. Doug Wilson — San Jose Sharks

All things considered, he has done a very good job with the Sharks over the last decade.  Every year, the team is competitive, and in some years, they are legitimate championship contenders.  He makes the big trades when he believes they’re needed (Joe Thornton) and is consistently smart about payroll and letting players go when the time is right (Ryane Clowe).  The team does legitimately choke in the playoffs some years, but that must be due to some larger, uncontrollable power.

3. Brian Sabean — San Francisco Giants

Apr 1, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean attends the 2013 season-opening game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The longest tenured of the Bay Area GMs, Brian Sabean is closing in on two full decades at the helm of the Giants.  And, his work has culminated in two long-awaited World Series championships for the Orange and Black (which makes him the most successful of the group).

He has two rings, which is two more than anyone else on this list, but why is he not at the top?  For one, the Barry Zito contract.  He’s had his moments recently, but overall, that was one of the worst signings of the past ten years.  And, he’s been doing this for almost 20 years!  You would hope he would’ve improved if the team was willing to keep him around.

2. Trent Baalke — San Francisco 49ers

In a short time, he has made quite the impact.  In his first year –and also Jim Harbaugh’s — the team won seven more games, going 13-3 and returning to the NFC Championship Game.  To top it off, he was named Executive of the Year for the NFL.  In his second season, they went to the Super Bowl.  Niners’ fans hope this pattern continues.

Though his career is relatively fresh, he has made all the right moves, filling needs with trades for Anquan Boldin and trading up to draft Eric Reid to replace Dashon Goldson.  There is no drop off coming soon, and though all the attention goes to Harbaugh, Baalke makes it happen for him.

1. Billy Beane — Oakland Athletics

Surprised?  You shouldn’t be.  He is at the forefront of the revolution which is completely changing the game of baseball and talent evaluation.  The stadium his team plays in is horrible, and they also play in a market dominated by a team across the Bay that has won two championships in the past three years.

Though 2007-2011 weren’t the best years, he has made contenders out of teams with payrolls less than half the size of his competitors.  Did you see the names on the 2012 team that won the division?

Oh, and there was a movie made about him that starred Brad Pitt.  No championships, no problem — he has made an impact far bigger than anyone else on this list.








Tags: Golden State Warriors Oakland Athletics Oakland Raiders San Francisco 49ers San Francisco Giants San Jose Sharks

  • bronncohowie

    How can Sabean only be ranked #3 ?? Did you just start “blogging” yesterday ? Two Championships in three years !! What have the other GMs done ? #3 because he signed Zito ? Are you kidding me ? How about drafting LIncecum, Cain, Posey and both Brandons ? Dude, you gotta be a Dodgers fan !!!!

    • goldenbaysports

      I think the question here is: is Sabean better than Beane?
      Remember, this isn’t a list based on success, it’s putting everything in perspective. Looking at the state of the A’s organization, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Beane got them in the playoffs last year and has them above .500 this year. Yes, the Giants have 2 championships, but look at all the resources and benefits they have. Big market, amazing stadium, great fans — the A’s have none of that.

  • Mark N Davis

    Doug Wilson’s 10 year Sharks history:

    - The second most playoff rounds appeared in during that 10 year stretch, 2 behind Detroit. And about to be surpassed this season :-)

    - 9 years making the playoffs in a row and counting (2004/5 was a strike year). In fact, the streak started when he became GM and has yet to end.

    - 8 straight 40 or more win seasons, which is second best in the NHL during that time

    - His draft selections have played the second-most games of any NHL team’s draft picks (4,078), despite the organization having the lowest average draft position of any NHL team during that span (137.96). The team has that high winning percentage based more on his picks than any other teams’

    - Selected a rookie head coach in Todd McClellan that has more wins in his first 4 seasons than any other head coach in NHL history

    – In his first year as GM, he took a team with a 28-37-9-8 record before his watch to one with a record of 43-21-12-6 — earning 100 points for the first time in franchise history

    - Traded for a player that would become league MVP, Joe Thornton. The price: two journeyman forwards that went on to score less than a third of the points that Joe has since, along with a solid top pair defenseman that is now back with the Sharks after signing as a FA.

    - Shows consistently smart trading, such as this year with Handzus, Murray and Clowe. Moved players at the end of contracts in order to rebuild the future with draft picks, and at the same time changed the character of the team to one with more speed and energy — just the right formula to right a team that was struggling and to create one with a 4 line and 3 defensive pair balanced attack.

    No other GM in this list can claim that sort of success and consistency over that period of time.

  • Ian Villanueva

    When I initially looked at the group of names on this list, I had two spots reserved, 1 and 6, for Billy Beane and Reggie McKenzie, respectively. Beyond that, I figured Myers would fit in nicely at 5, being the newest of the group but having immediate success.

    You have no idea how many times I shuffled the 2-4 spots, and strong arguments could be made for any order for among these three. Considering Doug Wilson’s history, it looks ridiculous that he would be listed fourth as that seems so . . . low.

    Sabean ultimately got the nod over Wilson because of his championships, and Baalke earned his spot because of the way he has handled his first and only two years on the job. He doesn’t have any rings yet, but if you had to wager on which of these six teams would fare best over the next 7-10 years, I’d put my money on the Niners. Of course Sabean has drafted some great players, he’s been doing it for almost 20 years. Again, those three spots could be shuffled, and, in a couple of years, this list could look way different depending on how the newer guys pan out.

    The more I think about this group the more I get excited about the prospects for the pro sports scene in the Bay. These are all very capable individuals and none of them have done anything to warrant losing their jobs anytime soon.

    Lastly, I hold Mr. Davis in the highest regard (it’s why I called him great). The Raiders are the reason I follow not only football, but sports — they are definitively my childhood team. I added the not-so-great-late part for the sake of humor and rhyming, but also because, unfortunately, it was true. But not without an understanding of the bigger picture and what a tremendous figure he has been for the Raiders, the NFL, and all of professional sports. May he rest in peace.