Friday, February 14, 2014


Camp opens today for pitchers and catchers! I picked up an interesting tidbit from the story--this is Bruce Bochy's 20th season as a major-league manager. He'll turn 59 in April. His career record is exactly .500 (1530-1530). Ol' Boch will pass Dick Williams (1571) this year and claim the 20th spot on the all-time win list for managers. The next spot (1599) is held by Tommy Lasorda. Assuming good health, our man could become one of the few with 2000 career victories. He needs 470, and that's six seasons of .500-or-so ball. Then he could collect his Social Security while waiting for his HOF selection! I've come to appreciate our relaxed, no-nonsense skipper. He seems to get the best out of his people, run a tight but happy ship, and not ever really screw up badly. I believe a manager's most important job is the last one--don't blow it. Boch is always on top of the game, and even when I disagree with a move, it's always defensible. Running herd over large groups of egos is hard work (I know, I'm a schoolteacher), and takes a firm but gentle hand. It also requires you to grow and learn and adapt to changes. I think Bruce Bochy has all that in spades, and I'm happy he's our guy.




Zo said...

So, so interested in how our starters will fare this season. We have been through the discourse, and everyone knows where we are and where we hope to be - Matt rebounds, Tim steps up, Huddy is the solid performer that we expect, Vogie captures a little more magic and, well, Maddy is Maddy.

ogc obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Cain has actually rebounded already, with a great ending to 2013, with 7 saber-quality starts out of his last 10 starts, something he had not done since he had his perfect game. He just needs to continue it and be the Matty he was all those other seasons.

The Giants have actually done with this formula in 2009-2012: 3 aces, one average, one lousy #5 starter. Cain, Bumgarner, and Hudson are the aces, Lincecum has what I call the Zito-role, or average, and thus Vogelsong, even if he does not come back, does not sink the season, as we got Petit, Kickham, and Escobar lined up behind him, and as I noted, we did well before with a bad #5 composite starter.

And if either Lincecum or Vogelsong can return to ace status, we are going to kick booty all season long!

ogc obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I would also add that Bochy is a rare manager in the NL, if not the majors over his 20 seasons: I went through one-run records during his time as manager and he's the only one I could find that is statistically significantly above .500, which is what saber rules of thumb says that a team should regress around in one-run games. Bochy is significantly above .500, enough that, on average, his ability to win one-run games has added 4 wins to his teams every season, on average.

And what sold me on Bochy as our manager was when he started making the hard decisions that the manager needs to do to win, sitting down the guys who aren't doing it, even if they have the big contract, while playing the ones who are performing, then somehow getting these guys he sat down to still play for him in future seasons, in particular, Zito (amazing since he didn't make the playoff roster at all in 2010, then became the crucial starter for us in 2012), Sandoval, and Lincecum, who could have played the Diva card ("I'm relieving?!? Don't you know I own two Cy Young's and won two games in the World Series in 2010?!?).

Baker was too much of the players buddy to make the hard decision like that. Alou was also a good manager like Baker, but I never had the confidence in him that I had in Bochy when he was pulling all these moves in the late days of the 2010 season in order to pull the rabbit out of the hat and win the division. Both were good but I think Bochy was that much better.

FYI, Baker is also a name I saw a lot when going through the one-run records, his teams gained around two wins per season, so he wasn't shabby at all, he's among the best of the last 20 years. That's probably why teams seem to always hire him.

I think the only reason he wasn't hired this season was because of his health issues, I mean, didn't he come close to dying or something?

Zo said...

Re: Baker, you have to wonder. He took the Reds to the playoffs for 3 of the last 4 years, winning the division twice, and was let go. Good point about Cain. I would add that Timmy (Lincecum) also improved through the season. We're in good shape, I am just a worrier.

M.C. O'Connor said...

If the guys stay healthy, the Giants have the talent to win. Keeping the guys on the field will be the big key, I think.

ogc obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I did not want to get too much into it, but frankly I expect an improved Timmy in 2014. He still has a dominant pitch, as shown by how many strikeouts he still gets, but because he did not study the hitters, he would sometimes throw the pitch in the hitters wheelhouse at crucial moments. But now he does and he had amuch improved second half, leading to some good hope.

Unfortunately, he had a great second half in 2012 too, so that is a cause for concern too.

But I feel good that Lincecum has a lot of his problems behind him. And if not, then I think he is not in a position to sink our season, unlike, say, Liriano, when he came down with stuff and misses games, he kneed the Twins chances in the nuts, crippling their chances to compete.

Shankbone said...

Great post about Bochy. I've come to the same conclusion. Running herd on big egos is a big deal.

Knocking Lasorda down a peg will be sweet. Hopefully it comes at a Doyer game.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Music to my ears.

Shankbone said...

Thanks for the link MC

“I don’t care about the contract. I care about this team. This year I want to try to win a championship” -

Oh man. I like that a lot. I was definitely a critic last year, but Pablo is one of my favorites. If he grows up, turns a corner on the maturity... This could be some fun, fun times.

nomisnala said...

Bochy should be able to keep all egos in check. He has the cranial space to carry a very large ego himself, yet he rarely comes off as egotistical to the fans or the media. I do see during some games where an ump makes a bad call vs. the giants, the camera will pan in on Bochy making one of his awesome, and predictable grimaces.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Belt signed a 1-year deal. Is that everyone?

ogc obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Bochy is one of the most down to earth guys around, good point nomisnala, yes, he has no ego to discern from any interview i've ever heard, very humble, self-effacing, nice all-around guy. No wonder he and Sabean are best buds now.

Yes, I think Belt is the last one to sign. Now long term deals to work on, maybe, with Belt and Sandoval. Then next off-season, maybe Lincecum if he has a comeback year, Crawford if he breaks out like the Giants are talking him up (I think that's very possible, he had a great start to 2013 that was derailed by his finger injury, which then lingered most of the season, plus he appeared to poop out, like a lot of other players, in September. I've followed his contact rate over a full season and when he is on, he is a good hitter, he just needs to do it over a full season).

About Sandoval, I would not get too hopped up over those statements of maturity. I think those are tied to his chats with the team's leaders that was also written about recently, where he was lectured. If he had said that pre-2013 season, it would be more believable, but ahead of his free agency year, I think you need to take his words with a Giant grain of salt until his actions meets his words, when he walks the talk.

That said, I hope this is really a big change for him, but after years of disappointments, I think I can be skeptical.

Beyond my skepticism, I've believed in Sandoval's abilities, and expected him to be in shape this season, and if it is his last with us, hopefully he make it a big blast as that would launch us into the playoffs, I believe. He and Belt are why I'm thinking we can have another season like 2003 this season (of course, I'm assuming that Posey is back to his usual second half heroics as well). And even with my skepticism, I've also been hoping he signs long-term with us, great hitters like him don't grow on trees, you hold onto them as long as you can, and hope for the best. Kind of like Bonds' deal, I hated the size and length (especially into his 40's), and worried greatly about the risk, but I knew it had to be done, sometimes you need to take the risk on greatness.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Panda is a special talent. Anyone that can awe Justin Verlander is OK in my book! Seriously, though, the guy is amazing. If he can show the work ethic and fitness he needs to be a star he could have a serious impact on the league.