Magowan ready to exit Giants

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Peter Magowan plans to retire Friday as managing general partner of the San Francisco Giants, has confirmed.

Magowan, 66, left the baseball owners' meetings in Milwaukee early and plans to make the announcement at a meeting of the Giants' ownership partners Friday. Magowan is expected to sell some or all of his shares in the team, according to people familiar with the arrangement.

The San Francisco Chronicle, which first reported Magowan's expected departure, placed the value of his shares at more than $70 million. He has run the club since 1993.

Magowan will always be seen as the man who saved baseball for San Francisco after the previous owner Bob Lurie threatened to move the team to St. Petersburg, Fla. in the early 1990s. He also managed to get beautiful AT&T Park built without public funds, a rarity in Major League Baseball, but the team took on significant debt to build that lovely park by the bay.

While Magowan also led the Giants to their most successful run in their time in the Bay Area, he has come under significant fire in the past couple years from his Giants partners for spending liberally and failing to deliver a winner. The Giants' over-reliance on aging former stars and liberal free-agent contracts have failed to lift the club from the basement the past couple years. Magowan has been a big backer of general manager Brian Sabean, who received another two-year extension last summer when the team was in the midst of its downturn.

One of Magowan's first acts in charge was bringing Barry Bonds back home to the Bay Area with a $43.75 million deal before the 1993 season. Originally seen as a brilliant move that helped establish the Giants as a perennial power in the NL West, Magowan has received criticism in recent years for trying to defend Bonds. He wrote a memorably apologetic letter to Giants season ticket holders for re-signing Bonds for the 2007 season, when Bonds broke Hank Aaron's all-time home run record and earned the Giants significant revenue.

Giants leadership was cited unflatteringly in the Mitchell Report for failing to report suspicion of Bonds' steroid usage, and it is believed that commissioner Bud Selig will punish the Giants by ordering some sort of community service for that misstep. However, it is thought that the recent reversal of team fortunes in terms of the standings and the bottom line are much more a factor in Magowan's decision than anything to do with Bonds.