Friday, August 21, 2009

With Bochy's Contract Ending Soon, Does He Fit Into the Giants' Plans?

From Bleacher Report

With Giants general manager Brian Sabean, and skipper Bruce Bochy in their last years of their contract, many Giants fans have wondered if new owner Bill Neukom will keep both guys in the San Francisco organization next year.

Sabean, who has been with the Giants as GM since 1997, can be credited for turning around the Giants after inheriting a miserable team that was coming off a last place finish in the NL West in 1996.

However, Sabean had been widely criticized for overpaying for veteran players (i.e. Barry Zito, Dave Roberts etc.), and making questionable trades (i.e. the Pierzynski deal) that set back the Giants' farm system for years.

Despite those setbacks and the amount of Sabean-naysayers and "Fire Sabean" Web sites, it is a good bet that Sabean is going to be back as general manager of the Giants next year.

With the team surpassing expectations this year, and the sudden influx of young talent in the minor leagues and on the major league roster, Sabean seems to have the Giants back on track like he promised. In 2008, he made the commitment that the team would rely on young talent rather than aging veterans (as evidenced by letting their organizational figurehead, Barry Bonds, become a free agent).

That being said, while Sabean looks to be running the Giants front office for at least a couple of more years after 2009, the ground that manager Bochy is currently standing on doesn't seem so firm.

Sure, Bochy was Sabean's hire to replace Felipe Alou back in 2006, but that was a different time and a different Giants organization.

That was former owner Peter Magowan's Giants organization, and that was a team that was consistently one of the oldest major league teams year after year.

Bochy made sense for the Giants when he was hired back in 2006.

He was a manager known for being the kind of skipper that players liked playing for. He was a guy who knew how to run a clubhouse, and was known for not butting heads in the locker room, even with the most fickle of stars.

Now, though, it just doesn't seem like Bochy fits anymore in this organization. For the most part, this Giants fanbase wants the same young influx in the lineup that they see in the rotation.

Giants fans want to see guys like Nate Schierholtz be an everyday player. They want to see Buster Posey called up and be the starting catcher in 2010. They want Angel Villalona to be the guy in a year or two at first base.

And yet, Bochy doesn't seem to satisfy those wants.

Despite Schierholtz raking in the past few weeks, Bochy has insisted on starting Randy Winn and Aaron Rowand, even though statistically they cannot measure up to what Schierholtz has been doing at the plate.

Bochy has stuck with Edgar Renteria at shortstop, even though he is having one of his worst seasons at the plate.

To make matters worse, other than Sandoval, and to some extent Schierholtz and Ishikawa, Bochy has buried his young guys in the organization in their callups.

Infielder Kevin Frandsen, first baseman/outfielder John Bowker and first baseman Jesus Guzman have all gotten called-up multiple times this year, and yet, at the first sign of trouble, they have been sent to the bench and eventually back to Fresno, simply because they need more "at-bats."

You could blame Sabean for those transactions. However, if Frandsen, Bowker and Guzman were playing at least a decent amount, do you think they would have been sent down so quickly?

I don't believe so.

And as those guys continue to get at-bats against Pacific Coast League pitching, Rich Aurilia continues to be on the roster even though he holds no value on this team whatsoever.

Molina continues to be in the cleanup hole, even though it would probably be in the Giants' best interest if they had somebody else in that big spot (how about Schierholtz and Sandoval three and four? You think that would be any worse than the current Sandoval-Molina combo?).

Bochy is a good manager overall. I honestly believe he has been good for this current team. Chances are though, the team we see today probably won't be around next year.

Molina and Winn, in the last years of their contract, could (and probably should) be gone.

After his miserable performance at the plate this year, it isn't preposterous to think Sabean will try to deal Renteria next year to any bidder that is desperate for a shortstop.

So with this team probably being radically different, and radically younger, Bochy simply isn't the kind of fit that would best utilize this team.

The Giants may need somebody who is more in the mold of being able to work with young players, and able to have patience with them.

They cannot have a manager who is apt to go with Aurilia at the first sign of trouble. They do not need a manager who two years ago went with Dave Roberts over better options at the time such as Fred Lewis.

I know I have supported Bochy for what he has done this season. He is a manager that should be in contention for the National League Manager of the Year award.

But he is a veteran players' manager. That is why they hired him in the first place.

With a young team, he will be out of his element, simply because he is more apt to trust those guys who have history rather than those guys without any, even if those guys with history are unlikely to repeat what they did in the past.

Granted, Bochy isn't somebody the Giants should replace regardless. If the Giants cannot find a good candidate to succeed him, then the Giants should stand pat and resign for a couple of more years.

After all, we've seen in the past what happens when a team replaces a manager without doing the right kind of research. Seattle, Washington and Oakland fans can certainly attest to that.

That being said, all this hoopla with Bochy depends on the Giants' plans in the offseason. If Sabean is intent on going after some big free agents in the Jason Bay and Matt Holliday mold, maybe Bochy still would have a place on this team.

Like I said before, when it comes to handling veterans and managing a clubhouse, Bochy is one of the best in baseball.

However, if Sabean continues to do what he promised, and continues to move up more and more guys up from the minors to the Major League roster next year, then I don't believe Bochy's job is safe, despite what the team may accomplish this season.

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