Saturday, April 17, 2010

Does Joe Torre and the Dodgers Have Bruce Bochy and the Giants' Number?

So, the Giants lost 10-8 last night to the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. It wasn't close, though the score showed that it was a two-run game. Todd Wellemeyer got shellacked, Edgar Renteria has continued his plummet at the plate, Vicente Padilla looked like a legitimate No.1 starter (which he isn't), and Andre Ethier resembled a first-ballet Hall of Famer.

Add that with Aaron Rowand getting plunked in the head, and it was safe to say that it was a rather forgettable night for the Giants.

Yet, despite it being just one of many games in the 2010 season between the Giants and Dodgers (that's how I'm coping with it anyways), I found out something very interesting about yesterday's loss against the Dodgers.

The Giants lost the series opener to the Dodgers for the fourth straight season. (The last time the Giants beat the Dodgers in their series opener was in 2006, when they beat LA at Chavez Ravine 2-1, thanks to eight innings of five-hit ball by Jamey Wright.)

Who has been the manager in that time span? None other than Bruce Bochy.  (The manager in 2006 was Felipe Alou.)

Now, the series opener, in the grand scheme of things, is inconsequential. It's just one regular season game, and a season isn't made or broken by a single game.

However, when you look at the overall numbers against the Dodgers in Bochy's tenure, they don't look pretty.

The Giants under Bochy are 24-31 against the Blue Boys from Los Angeles and have been outscored by 67 runs against the Dodgers in this time span (Giants have scored 206 runs; the Dodgers have scored 273).

The most glaring number, however? In two seasons, manager Joe Torre has two NL West Division titles. Bruce Bochy? He just had his first winning season as Giants manager in 2009 (though he has a very good chance to make it two winning seasons in a row this year).

When you look at it on paper, it's pretty easy to come to this conclusion: Bochy can't manage the team against the Dodgers, Torre has the Giants' number, and managing partner Bill Neukom needs to find somebody who can beat Torre and the Dodgers.

That being said, you have to take that statement with a grain of salt, and cut Bochy some slack in some areas:

1.) Bochy Inherited A Bad Team, while Torre Inherited A Solid One

This is pretty obvious. Talent-wise, there is no comparison. The Dodgers have had superior talent in comparison to the Giants the past three seasons (at least offensively; the tide has changed since 2009 in terms of pitching talent). Torre just happened to be a decent manager, something you couldn't quite say of his predecessor Grady Little. With a guy they could somewhat respect on the bench, the Dodgers finally broke out like everybody envisioned.

As for the Giants, Felipe Alou wasn't that bad of a manager, but he wasn't that great either. That being said, the lineups in the Alou era were far more talented than anything Bochy has had to deal with. Bochy can make the lineup sure, but he doesn't acquire the players and he can't bat for them.

2.) Bochy Is Brian Sabean's Guy

Bruce Bochy was hired by Brian Sabean to replace Alou in 2007. When Sabean was up for contract renewal, it was assumed that Sabean would re-hire Bochy despite some sentiment out there that the Giants should head in a different direction when it came to the manager. When Sabes' was re-signed, so was Bochy almost immediately afterward.

Bochy and Sabean are quite the pair, and thus, Giants fans need to keep in context that Bochy's decisions are also, in many ways, Sabean's as well. Sabean is supplying him with the players and Sabean is trading away the ones he doesn't want to play. Sabean has an agenda with this Giants team, and Bochy carries it out without much complaint.

Thus, to say the Giants' ineffectiveness in the Bochy-era is completely on Bochy is unfair. If anything, it has been more on Sabean and the roster he has assembled under Bochy.

Granted, this could be a different year for Bochy. The Giants have a little bit more offense than in years past under Bochy (a little bit, not a lot) and the pitching staff looks to be stellar (far more stellar than the Dodgers, who's bullpen looks ready to fall off the face of the earth any second).

Unfortunately, as of this moment, the Dodgers have Bochy's number and there is a possibility that it could get worse, which won't help Bochy's reputation, which is already hot and cold with a lot of the Giants faithful.

Just remember though, while Bochy may not be the best manager for this current Giants organization (they need someone who can play younger guys and give them extended chances; then again, the GM has to do that too), he isn't solely at fault here. Sure, the record may not be great against Torre's Dodgers, but it's not like he's single-handedly losing games out there for the Giants.

When you look at the managerial record on baseball reference, don't look at it like "Bruce Bochy vs. Joe Torre." Instead, look at it like "Bochy-Sabean vs. Torre-Ned Colletti (the Dodgers GM)."

The losing record in the past three seasons against LA will make a lot more sense.

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