Bochy to Giants?

As you know, Padres manager Bruce Bochy recently was considered for the Cubs vacancy before they settled on Lou Piniella. Now apparently the Giants have come calling. Just like last winter, when Kevin Towers interviewed for the GM opening in Arizona, the Padres have opened themselves to the risk of losing a key member of the management team (and the franchise, for that matter).

I’m fairly agnostic on whether Bochy stays or goes. Until we know who would assume the managerial role in his absence, it’s hard to make any kind of judgment — except in rare instances, I don’t subscribe to the “anything is better than what we’ve got” theory that seemed to be popular around these parts this past summer, e.g., in the days leading up to former hitting coach Dave Magadan’s dismissal.

What I will say is that I like the way the Padres, as an organization, are handling their management staff. Sandy Alderson, speaking of Bochy, had this to say on the latter’s potential departure:

He may very well not go to San Francisco. If he doesn’t and comes back to the Padres, my hope is we have a happier, more content and more motivated Padres employee than we would have otherwise.

There is only one way to (prove) to somebody that the grass is not greener, and that’s to allow somebody to roll around it a little while.

I honestly couldn’t be more pleased with this attitude. The stathead in me isn’t entirely comfortable acknowledging that these factors matter, but the level of trust that Alderson and company are showing in these guys is phenomenal, as is the level of confidence that what they are working to accomplish as an organization is worth sticking around for despite what might be happening elsewhere. If you’re even a little insecure about where you are or where you’re headed, you don’t give your employees that kind of freedom.

We’ll see how it all plays out, but right now I’m just happy that this organization seems to have some self-confidence and, dare I say, bravado. That hasn’t always been the case, and it’s a refreshing change.

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30 Responses »

  1. As a member of the “Fire Bochy Club”, I can still respect your agnosticism. Will I be terribly upset if he returns, no, but either we need a new manager or a new bench coach. I like Muser (could he replace Boch?), but if he is not strong enough to help Boch avoid his silly tactical decisions (Bellhorn with the bases loaded? Bunting Mike Cameron in the 8th inning? etc.), then we need a stronger personality who can.

    Buck Showalter is available! :-)

    In reality, it seems like the Padres AAA manager, Craig Colbert, is very well respected. SA’s history suggests he likes a manager who dutifully does what he is told and is not expensive. This might be a good fit should Bochy leave.

  2. An interesting set of questions from Buster Olney today, discussing how to evaluate managers…here are the top 4 and I will try to answer in evaluating Bochy:

    #1. Can he lead? Does he naturally engender respect?

    I am sure that there are many who can answer better than I, but it seems that Bochy does lead well. The clubhouse never has issues and the players follow Bochy without question. You never hear about back biting among the players or complaints about how the team is run. (See the A’s for an example of a team that does not do this well… )

    #2. How does he handle a pitching staff?

    Boch has done a decent job with what he has had to work with in the past. As Geoff pointed out in the last week (or so), he has had a tendency to ride his horses a bit long, but does not do so as often as he used to.

    #3. How does he handle game situations?

    Terrible. This is Bochy’s biggest weakness. According to ESPN’s Jason Stark, Bruce Bochy was “the worst tactician” in the playoffs this year.

    #4. Marketability

    In SD, he has value b/c of longevity and people seem to like him. Outside of SD, he has little added value. According to Buster Olney “one of the reasons the Cubs passed on Bruce Bochy as a possible front-runner is that he is not the name that Piniella is or that Joe Girardi might have been.”

  3. Unless it is a significant pay increase, sure doesn’t seem like Bochy to make a switch knowing that he will have to deal with a clubhouse with Bonds and all the associated distractions in it, even if it is just for a year.

    On the bright side, knowing his tendency to stick with veterans, he would send Bonds out there 5 days a week even if he was in a wheelchair and hitting .180.

  4. C-Mike (#1 – re: Muser), NOOO!!!! He ran KC into the ground. If you think Bochy is an aweful tactician, Muser’s worse. If you Bochy overvalues vets, Muser’s worse. If you think that Bochy is anti-SABR, Muser’s worse! The Padres may have a few internal candidates if Bochy leaves, but Muser better not be one of them.

  5. Peter, my point was nothing more than Muser being an obvious choice for the Pads. After rereading what I wrote, I can see that I came across as saying he would be a good choice.

    Give me Showalter (never gonna happen) or Black. Heck, at this point, let’s give Colbert a shot. It is just time for a new voice in the clubhouse…(and the radio for that matter. Can you believe Flan is coming back?!)

  6. 3

    Giants have already said Bonds won’t be back.

    Bochy only has one year remaining on his contract — what he would be looking for is an extension.

    I also read yesterday (it was either in the SF Chronicle or the U-T) that the Giants love the way Bochy handles young pitching — which will be a focus point for them.

    Him going to the Giants is a real possibilty.

  7. Yeah, sorry C-Mike, I wasn’t trying to rip you – it wasn’t intended to come out that way. I love Buck’s tactical knowledge of the game, but I worry about what he’d do to the clubhouse. He’s managed (pun intended) to have every clubhouse mutiny under him. At the same time, I do believe in change for the sake of change and another “players’ manager” might not be ‘enough’ change for the team to really respond. Black and Colbert are both intriguing choices. The guy I have a virtual man-crush on is Larry Dierker (, but I don’t think he’s going to get back into managing.

  8. As for Flan coming back, that doesn’t bother me, he does ok when he’s doing color. It’s when Teddy steps away from the Mike and Flan does the play-by-play that we see his suckiness. If I had my choice of only having one of the two back, give me Flan every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I can’t stand Ted.

  9. BA has nice piece up comparing rookies from ’82, ’05, and ’06 – the best three rookie-classes since they’ve been in business. There are some fine Padres on the list (Gwynn, Barfield, Young, others)…

  10. At risk of outing myself as a KPBS listener, I think, Geoff, that the word you are looking for vis-a-vis B. Bochy is ambivalent. Agnostic implies that something is [possibly] unknowable, whereas ambivalent means that you hold two opposing views on the subject. “Ambivalent” is composed of two latin roots that roughly translate to “attraction to both.” I think that is more of what you were trying to convey, no? Thus endeth the language lesson.

    As for Bochy’s performance, he does appear to treat players well in the areas of playing time and personality stroking. That same trait seems to get him into trouble when it comes to making tactical decisions. If Tony Muser was worth a s__t as a bench coach, he would not let that happen. I tend to agree with the position that the Padres need a new bench coach more than a new manager.

  11. I’ve made my feelings regarding Boch known on more than a few occasions. I happen to think that his keeping the players happy is worth the in-game managing errors. I don’t know if there’s a way to quantify how many of these errors led to a loss. Similarly, I don’t know of a way to quantify how much of his player handling skills resulted in wins. However, the fact that the players came to play daily, showed resiliency all year and, virtually, to a man, have nothing but good things to say about Bochy, have me leaning to keeping Boch. However, that decision is now Bochy’s.

    Bochy has publicly stated his desire to stay in SD. I think that this may be his agent’s play to try and cut a better deal with SD, rather than be on a one year deal. I think SA has a plan, though, and is going to stick with it.

    I echo GY’s comments that I respect SA for the position he’s taken. He’s essentially told Boch, “You can stay if you want, under our terms, but you’ll be welcome if you stay. If you think you can do better, we’ll shake hands and part company, with no hard feelings from our end.” SA has said from the start that he is not trying to get rid of anyone. I take him at his word.

  12. I’m not ambivalent about letting Tony Muser go. :)

  13. 6:

    I don’t think the Giants have said Bonds won’t be back next season. Where did you hear that? I think they said the team won’t be built around him, which means signing a bunch of 35- to 40-year-olds for one-year runs.

    And I think Bochy would be great at managing Bonds. He would manage him much the same way he managed Piazza this season, which was play him about 70 percent of the time and get the most of out him.

  14. re: Muser/bench coaches

    Tony Muser is a poor manager and bench coach and everything else.

    But more to the point, I don’t understand how giving a manager (Bochy) a great bench coach would eliminate his mistakes. A manager, especially one with the experience of Bochy, has his own philosophies, and he has final say on how to use that bench. He’s not going to let a bench coach determine his fate.

    This is sort of like giving a film director and great film editor. The editor may be great, eliminate some mistakes, but the director has final say. If the director says I want that scene in the movie, then it’s in, no matter how unnecessary it may be.

  15. 13

    Must have been just reading headlines on that Bonds thing. I know McGowan said some unpleasant things about him, and must have interpreted that he wouldn’t be back.

    I think you’re right, though– if anyone could manage Bonds, Bochy could.

  16. #10: Ah, Trav; here’s where I out myself as a former copy editor of scientific journals. “Ambivalent” is close, but not quite what I was going for. It implies an uncertainty, whereas “agnostic” implies an unwillingness (see definition 2 at — a person unwilling to commit to an opinion about something).

    I suppose technically I’m both ambivalent and agnostic, but my unwillingness to commit outweighs my uncertainty on the situation. Um, at least I think it does. I’ll get back to you after the headache subsides. ;-)

  17. 14: It was long enough ago to qualify as ancient history, but Bochy has shown a willingness to listen to his coaches on tactics. Twice in the 98 Series he deferred to them, once to Dave Stewart (Wall versus Knoblauch) and at least once to Rettenmund (we should use righty pinch hitters against Mariano Rivera). Is he too set in his ways now to listen? Might depend on the coach.

    Muser’s talent is apparently keeping people from having too much fun. Yeah, that’s valuable. We need somebody who can research matchups, analyze the opposition, and present choices to Bochy in a convincing way, without aggravating the players by being too computery.

  18. 17:

    Those are good points.

  19. While I HATE (is that word strong enough) Muser as a manager, I don’t know if he’s all that bad as a bench coach. I’ve heard numerous good things about his defensive coaching… IDK…

  20. Has Glen Hoffman ever been considered a prospect as a potential manager? I’m not saying I would want him replacing Bochy I’m just curious. I know a lot of managers get their starts as base coaches but I have never heard his named mentioned.

  21. Glenn Hoffman has been a manager, with the Dodgers.

  22. 21.

    He might have filled in or something like that as an interum or something but he was never the Dodgers manager.

  23. 22: What’s the difference between an interim manager and a manger? Hoffman managed the Dodgers for 88 games in 1998 after Bill Russell was fired. Managing for more than half a season means he was “never the Dodgers manager?”

  24. 23.


    in·ter·im (Ä­n’tÉ™r-Ä­m)
    An interval of time between one event, process, or period and another.

    Belonging to, serving during, or taking place during an intermediate interval of time; temporary: an interim agreement.

    The difference being he was never hired as or wasn’t retained to be the manager. Granted half a season is a lot but I don’t think that changes the interim status.

  25. 24: I guess didn’t actually manage the Dodgers for those games. In the spirit of today’s word meaning comments, he can’t have been the manager, even for a short period, and still never managed them.

    I don’t think anybody said he wasn’t an interim manager. But not a manager at all? No.

  26. 24.

    I will agree with you that he can probably put “management experience” on his resume but until the team removes the “interim” tag from managerial status chances are you are probably just riding out the shit storm. I think I kinda look at it like when Tony Muser takes over if Bochy gets tossed.

  27. We need some actual baseball to talk about. Get the playoffs over with so we can start trading and signing.

  28. Couldn’t agree with you more!

  29. Craig Colbert – Great internal candidate for manager, or the greatest?

    I am with Geoff on this one, although perhaps more ambivalent than agnostic. I would be ok with saving $1 million this year with a cheaper (non-Muser) manager, and if Bochy going to the Giants gets us some sort of compensation from them then that would be more than acceptable.

  30. For what it’s worth, in their “Best Tools” segment, BA said Colbert was the best manager in the PCL…