Saturday, October 5, 2019

The New Manager

Don't forget, the Giants are hiring a GM as well. That presents a chicken-and-egg problem, as FZ put it recently (from Andrew Baggarly on The Athletic):
Ordinarily, the general manager would be working hand in glove with the president of baseball operations in a managerial search. The GM is the primary quartermaster for day-to-day roster needs, so it’s imperative that they have a close and communicative relationship with the skipper.
Except the Giants are hiring a GM, too.
“You want to know how the GM is going to work with the manager, but you also want to know how the manager is going to work with the GM,” Zaidi said. "So it’s a little bit of a chicken and egg. But, you know, we will very much have that in mind that those two are going to have to have a close relationship, and we have to have confidence they’re going to be able to work together."
I suspect the lists for both jobs might have some overlap. A lot of the personal qualities are similar. Zaidi has said that managerial experience is not a prerequisite for the field job (Aaron Boone had no experience coaching at any level before the Yankees hired him), so the same might be true for the desk job.

So how do you replace Bochy? You can't. You can hire a new manager--not a replacement. Identify the things you want from a manager and find that person. Giants fans will have a hard time viewing the new guy in a new light--they'll want to subject him to a checklist of Bochy comparisons. Farhan can't do that. Obviously Boch possesses many of the personal qualities needed to succeed at the big league level, but Boch is Boch. I don't want an ersatz Boch. I want a new person with their own story.

I really think Buster Posey should be the Giants manager. I've no idea if he entertains the idea, but it seems like he has all the experience, skills, knowledge, and gravitas necessary. So the Giants should hire a guy for a few years (Bam-Bam?) until Buster quits playing and takes the reins.

But that probably won't happen. He'll go back to Georgia and run for Senator. In the real world the Giants will hire a guy no one has heard of. Don't be surprised if the guy they get is a surprise. I don't keep my nose that close to the industry buzz so I have no real insight. DrBGiantsfan, who blogs at When the Giants Come to Town, has a breakdown of names you might look at. He's always thorough and thoughtful.

Baggs made the point in another article that if you want to know what kind of guy the Giants will hire look no further than the one FZ helped hire in LA: Dave Roberts.

Managing in MLB is hard. There is a small pool of people with the skills and passion needed. Even guys with all the goods on their résumés fail at the task. FZ is known as a process-oriented person and likes to "trust the process" and go with the outcome it generates. Roberts, for example, was not considered a favorite going in, but he came out as the number-one guy.

I can live with that. I was happy when the Giants hired Farhan Zaidi and I think it will be fun and interesting to see how he goes about creating the next-gen manager and general manager for the franchise. I want to be open-minded and not have a preconceived notion of who these people "ought" or "ought-not" to be. Frankly, I don't know any of the people involved and can only get the same information all of us get who are not part of the business. So it makes no sense to form opinions based on other peoples' opinions.

A lot of other teams (Mets, Padres, Pirates, Cubs, Angels, Royals) are looking for a skipper, that could make the process take a while, and of course many people won't be available until after the post-season. The Winter Meetings are scheduled for December 8-12, so I'd like to think the Giants would have at least a GM at that point. We'll see!

--M.C.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

9th inning: 8-10

1st inning: 8-10
2nd inning: 8-10
3rd inning: 5-13
4th inning: 10-8
5th inning: 11-7 
6th inning: 13-5
7th inning: 8-10
8th inning: 6-12
9th inning: 8-10

FINAL RECORD:  77-85 

If you prefer to look at months:

Mar/Apr 12-18
May  10-16
June  14-13
July 19-6
August 11-16
September 11-16

It comes out the same: three winning innings out of nine, or two winning months out of six, that makes one-third of the season they played .500+ baseball. If you spend two-thirds of your season below .500, you aren't doing well. Note that all the good stuff happened in the middle third. If you go by innings they were 21-33 in the first third and 22-32 in the final third. Bleah. By months it is 22-34 through May and 22-32 in August and September. A poor start and a poor finish means a lot to make up in the middle. 34-20 (or 33-19) is damn good but certainly not enough. But we knew this already.

--M.C.


p.s. I felt bad for the A's (I like Bob Melvin, I think he's a good manager) as they got beat by home runs by the team that--of all ten playoff teams--hit the fewest homers! And I felt bad for that guy in right field for the Brewers who let the ball hit by Juan Soto (who's 20!) turn into the game-winner. He tried to be a hero, a classic rookie mistake, and it blew up in his face. Baseball is full of things, if you are a fan, that twist your guts into knots! Why do we do this to ourselves?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

It's Over

LA 9  SF 0
Dereck Rodriguez, bless his heart, had to play the sacrificial lamb this afternoon as the Dodgers took control of the ballgame in the 1st inning. He got burned on a few weakly-hit balls, but the boys in blue are absurdly good (106 wins) and the Giants have had no answers at any time this weekend. D-Rod was hit hard this year and mostly unable to replicate his rookie-year successes. Let's hope he can up his game before next spring and compete for a roster spot. The team needs all the young arms it can gather together. In fact, the team needs to improve everywhere. But that's another post.

Bruce Bochy talked about managing Team France in the next World Baseball Classic (2021). That sounds like a perfect fit. He is the only MLB manager born in France. Competitive guys like Boch probably never really retire, they just find less-stressful ways to keep the juices flowing. I thought it was interesting how many people, in their tributes to Boch, remarked on the same personal qualities like his patience, his tolerance, his loyalty, his genuine concern for their well-being, that sort of thing. He cultivated relationships and maintained them with grace and good humor. Boch comes across as a genuine good guy and living proof that Leo Durocher was full of shit.

Giants made history this season. They used 64 players, the most ever by an NL club. They went 35-46 at home (.432), and I think that may be their worst-ever or tied for their worst-ever home record, including the New York days. I saw that factoid on Twitter, but I am unwilling to do the research to verify it. I understand Timmy was in the house today. He's like Area 51, you are never really sure what's true and what isn't. He's alive and was photographed, that I know. Madison Bumgarner pinch-hit against Clayton Kershaw in the 5th (who was a good sport and kept pumping in fastballs) and lined out to third. Kershaw tipped his hat to Boch, and Bum tipped his helmet to the crowd. I hope that is not the last time we see no. 40 in orange-and-black, but I'm expecting a lot of changes and you just never know how things will shake out. I think I will avoid predicting what will happen as I'm usually wrong.

We'll have a lot to talk about over the ensuing months, but for now I think we all need a break!

--M.C.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Webb and Cueto

LA 9  SF 2
LA 2  SF 0
Logan Webb turns 23 in November and is hoping to earn a spot on the 2020 roster. Today he pitched well, going a full six against a very tough lineup, striking out five and giving up two runs. He threw 90 pitches to 23 batters, following up on a good start in Atlanta in which he also went six and threw 90 pitches (to 22 batters). Webb is emerging as a dark horse favorite to be the fifth starter despite the relatively brief audition (8 starts).

Johnny Cueto turns 34 in February and his starting spot is assured for both 2020 and 2021. His four outings this September were really just workouts for the veteran righty who has recovered remarkably from Tommy John surgery. It would be wonderful to see him make 30+ starts next season with something closer to his career marks (121 ERA+, 3.81 FIP), or even recapturing some of his memorable (5.5 bWAR, 5 CG, 18-5, 2.95 ERA) 2016 magic.

I'm happy the Giants honored Peter Magowan this weekend, he deserves the accolades for saving the team and building the ballpark. And I think Kevin Pillar is an excellent choice to receive the Willie Mac Award. I thought he did a nice job with his acceptance speech, too. I see Pillar on the team next year. His fielding and power hitting make up for his poor on-base percentage, especially if he hits lower in the lineup. A guy can be bad at something and still be a good ballplayer. Pillar seems to have a knack for dramatic moments and has a lot of fan appeal. If he can be a 2-WAR everyday player or even part of an outfield mix I'll be happy. You need superstars on your ballclub, but more importantly you need a heap of solid major-leaguers (i.e. 2-WAR players).

The Giants go winless in the first two games of this final home series. Perhaps they can step up and deliver a better performance for Boch's swan song. Bumgarner is sitting, not starting, although he will be suited up to play. D-Rod gets the call. It's the right move, the game itself is meaningless and development of young players for 2020 is more important. I suspect Bum will pinch-hit at some point. I hope the Giants sign him in the off-season. With Shark and JohnnyC that could be a strong foundation to build a team around.

One more time: GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

77

SF 8  COL 3
The Giants take the rubber match with the Rockies this afternoon with a team-wide effort. Tyler Beede looked good at the start, whiffing seven and walking none in his 3-1/3 IP. He did not allow a hit or a run. Unfortunately he had to come out of the game in the 4th inning with the Giants up 1-0. Apparently he injured himself but I've seen no details so far. Nice to see him throw well regardless. The Rockies tied it against Burch Smith, the Giants went ahead 2-1, Smith gave up another run, then the Giants went up 3-2, then 4-2, then the Rockies came back to make it 4-3 in the top of the 8th. The home squad then scored four in the bottom half and it finished 8-3.

Mauricio Dubon was the hitting star with two doubles and a homer. Mike Yastrzemski had pinch-hit homer plus another RBI hit later. Kevin Pillar had two hits, and clutch doubles from Alex Dickerson and Aramis Garcia added more runs to the tally. Smith had a rough time in his stint, and Enderson Franco gave up a run, but Sam Coonrod, Fernando Abad, Jandel Gustave, and Ryan Barraclough (who closed it) were unscored upon. Like I said, it was a team effort.

That's 77 wins for the season with three to play. Last year they won 73 and the year before 64. Johnny Cueto goes tomorrow night at 7:15 against the Dodgers.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Jaylin Jack

SF 2  COL 1
Jaylin Davis is in the bigs because he can hit homers. He hit a heapin' pile of 'em at AAA this season, and the expectation is that he'll hit a few in the show. It took 13 games and 33 ABs but he finally got the big fly and it won the game in the 9th for the Giants. It was another anemic offensive display by the home squad, but the pitching was very tough and that kept it close and that gave the good guys a chance. Jaylin Davis is 25 years old and is from North Carolina and has over 1800 PAs in the minor leagues, mostly in the Twins system. He killed it (1.112 OPS) at Rochester (International League, AAA) and at Sacramento (1.105 OPS) and earned his call-up. Let's hope we see more good stuff from Davis--that was only his fourth hit! He was acquired in the Sam Dyson trade. His walk-off winner tonight made history: only twice before had a first career homer decided a ballgame.

Tyler Beede goes tomorrow afternoon, 12:45 Pacific.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

A Stumble on the Last Lap

Did you know that the Giants had already won the division series with the Rockies before the game started?  I was surprised, given the way that Coors Field has been so inhospitable to the Giants in the last couple years.  The Giants are in their final home stand, 3 against Colorado and 3 against LA.  I guess fans at the park got their money's worth, if you measure by innings.  The Giants played 16, only to cough up 3 runs in the final frame and lose by a score of 8 - 5.  Derek Rodriguez got the loss.  25 pitchers threw in the game, an MLB record, and the Giants used 13 of them.  The Giants used, by my count, 33 players and the Rockies used 28.  Oh, and their chance for a .500 season was thwarted by their 82nd loss.

Buster Posey hit his 7th home run of the season.  Evan Longoria hit his 20th, giving the Giants 3 20-home run hitters for the first time since 2006.  2006!  Madison Bumgarner hit a home run, his 2nd of the year, giving me a chance to use my favorite label.  Trevor Story has homered in each of his last 6 games against SF.  The Giants and Rockies were tied, 5 - 5 after 9.

Madison Bumgarner was on the hill.  He is determined to lead the National League in innings pitched.  After the 7 he threw last night, he has, after 2 years of injuries, given us 207.2 innings, with one start remaining on the last day of the regular season.  Stephen Strasburg is second with 203 innings.  Madison is a horse.  He threw 106 pitches, struck out 9 and walked 2.  He also gave up 3 home runs for 4 total.  In fact, 12 of the 13 runs scored were as a result of a home run, including Blackmon's final, 3-run blast.  It's warm in SF.  Madison did not, of course, get the decision, just like 14 other times this year.

Yet, Madison had a 3.62 ERA at the end of August, but has given up 19 (earned) runs in 31 innings since then.  Yesterday he threw a couple of pitches, like the one to Desmond, that were very, very fat.  He seems to lack concentration sometimes, although I really have no idea if that is the case or not.  I think that, as most of us cannot experience what it is like to compete at that high a level, and as we have no good descriptors of the randomness and elements of luck that make up the game, we often hear about things like a player's concentration, or desire, or heart, or team spirit, or lack thereof.  Sometimes this is just coded racism, but it is probably often an attempt to put an explanation when the real explanation hinges on such non-predictable events, like the flight of a round ball when struck by a round bat.  In any case, some of Madison's location mistakes wound up over the center of the plate, and then in the stands.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Webb-based solution

SF 4  STL 1
The Giants close out a 3-3 road trip with a tidy win over the Braves. Rookie Logan Webb threw the best start of his very young career, yielding only two hits and fanning seven in six solid frames. The only run came on a ground out by Freddie Freeman, driving in Adeiny Hechevarria who had tripled. Even that was a bit of bad luck as Kevin Pillar had that one in his glove up against the wall in center but could not hold on. A fine effort by the 22-year old from Rocklin who had only one start at the AAA-level in his relatively brief stint in the minors (80 G, 60 GS, 320-1/3 IP over six seasons). Webb was picked right out of high school in the 4th-round of the 2014 draft and played rookie ball as a 17-year old. Other picks from that draft were Tyler Beede (1st round), Aramis Garcia (2nd round), Sam Coonrod (5th round), and Austin Slater (8th round). Stanford alum Slater leads that group with 1.3 bWAR (171 games) in the bigs.

Dallas Keuchel kept a lid on the Giants until the 6th when doubles by Evan Longoria and Joey Rickard made it 3-0, and Longo added another RBI hit in the 7th off Luke Jackson. All in all, a quality outing by the ballclub who come home for the final six games of the season. At 75-81 there is still a chance (very slim, I admit) for a .500 finish. Boch is 1050-1050 in orange-and-black, perhaps he'll walk away with a winning record if the Giants can play good ball at home, something they have not done this season.

Madison Bumgarner goes Tuesday and is also scheduled to pitch in the finale on Sunday.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Not quite enough

BOS 5  SF 4
Madison Bumgarner gave up hits to the first four batters he faced and turned a 1-0 Giants lead into a 2-1 deficit. It didn't get better. A fluky sequence of bloopers and bleeders in the 2nd made it 5-1 Sox and they held on to win. The Giants had a late comeback to cut the deficit to 5-3, then loaded the bases in the 9th with no outs but could only scratch out one run. Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out ten in his six innings and only allowed two hits. Bum whiffed seven in his five and was tagged for nine hits. The Red Sox bullpen was shaky (3 IP, 3 R), the Giants bullpen solid (3 IP, 0 R), but the deficit was too much to overcome. Obviously it was a good series--they took two of three from a good team in a tough park. An even better team is next as the Giants go to Atlanta to take on the 94-win Braves. Tyler Beede gets the ball at 4:20 (seriously) Pacific.

GO TEAM!! WIN!!

--M.C.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Giants Clobber Red Sox

SF 11  BOS 3
It's 2000 managerial wins for Bruce Bochy, certainly a great milestone. To do anything uninterrupted for 25 years is pretty impressive, to do it in the big leagues is remarkable. So few managers have been able to keep a job for multiple seasons, but Boch managed in San Diego for 12 straight years and followed that with 13 in San Francisco. To be that competitive and that accomplished and yet remain humble is a great personal quality. I also like that he never threw anyone under the bus. He didn't point fingers or blame people when things went bad. In fact, he's gone out of his way to praise others and spread the credit around. Boch always stayed calm and even-keeled in the most trying of circumstances, and maintained his relentless optimism and positive energy day after day. No wonder players loved him! We got to see him at his best in the championship years, his tactical boldness and skilled poker-playing making other talented managers look over-matched, but all the other seasons, especially the losing ones, showcased his abilities as a leader, teacher, and communicator. We were certainly lucky to have him around!

It was a laugher tonight in Fenway. The lineup jumped on Jhoulys Chacin right away and handed Jeff Samardzija the early lead. The Shark was the very definition of "effectively wild" and held the Sox hitless into the 6th inning. The fastball was lively and had a lot of movement and once he started hitting the corners it was tough for them to get anything going. Everyone in the starting lineup got at least one hit and six of the nine scored at least one run. Boston got a couple of late runs to make it feel tight but then their 'pen gave up seven runs in the final two frames and we all got to relax.

This Giants team is, well, bi-polar. You just don't know which version you are going to get on any given night! The getaway game starts at 10:05 Pacific tomorrow morning with Madison Bumgarner on the mound. Ten games left in the season.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.