San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy Continues To Befuddle
The San Francisco Giants are one of the surprise teams in baseball this year.
Even after Thursday's 3-2 loss to the first place Atlanta Braves, the Giants sit comfortably in second place behind the San Diego Padres in the NL West race.
Not to mention, by virtue of being right behind the division leader, the Giants not only are in the Wild Card race but they lead it by a game and a half over both the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals.
Needless to say, the Giants are one of the popular choices to make the postseason at this point of the 162-game regular season schedule.
But just like how pitchers, quarterbacks, and goaltenders shouldn't be credited with wins and losses, neither should big league managers.
Why? Because individuals don't win games, and especially ones who aren't even playing in the game.
Do they factor in? Of course they do. But just how like a pitcher's ability to get credited with a "W" relies 100 percent on whether or not his team scores a run(s), managers get too much credit.
Now, most of us fans could go on and on about individual's in a team sport not deserving wins and losses being attributed to their names.
However, the good news is that there really isn't anyone on the other side of that argument.
Unfortunately, the bad news is that certain fans who aren't able to watch a team consistently from game to game will look at their win-loss record and start throwing out mindless talk.
For instance, there are plenty of fans out there who will see the Giants with a 62-47 record at this point of the season and assume that their manager Bruce Bochy should be up for NL manager of the year.
After all, outside of the Bay Area, and even amongst many people in the Bay Area, no one expected the Giants to be playing this well this season.
So since their talent level suggests they shouldn't be playing this well, and with last year's team MVP Pablo Sandoval struggling all year long, Bochy should be considered for manager of the year, right?
Not so fast.
All season long, Bochy has been criticized for tactical lineup changes, and bullpen decisions.
I, for one, have taken more than my fair share of shots at the Giants manager.
However, one has to realize that no matter how vehemently you feel that a lineup decision or bullpen decision is wrong, there may be some unknown strategic ploy being used.
For example, perhaps the reliever you didn't want to pitch is coming into the game because the better option is either hurt or in need of rest.
Or perhaps the position player who should take the day off against a left-handed starter actually has good numbers against the opposing pitcher.
Just playing some devil's advocate here.
However, two recent moves of Bochy's have no room for devil's advocate as they were just plain inexcusable.
The first came on Wednesday in the second inning against Colorado. With Pat Burrell at first base and Pablo Sandoval at the plate with a 3-2 count and one out, Bochy elected to start the runner.
Burrell, the former long time Philly and first-year Giant, has below-average speed at best and Pablo Sandoval is a free swinger who's having an awful season compared to his breakout 2009.
Oh yeah, and the pitcher on the mound was none other than Ubaldo Jimenez, a strikeout pitcher having a Cy Young-caliber season.
Sure, Sandoval is a big time threat to bounce into a double play, but this move had disaster written on it from the beginning.
With Burrell's lack of speed, Sandoval's tendency to strikeout, and Jimenez's filthy stuff, Bochy ran his team unnecessarily into an extra out.
In all reality, the Giants would have had a better chance of Burrell taking out the infielder covering second or Sandoval beating out the back-end of 6-4-3 double play than Burrell reaching second safely after a Sandoval strikeout.
If Bochy's reasoning in sending Burrell was more geared to scoring a run on a ball in the gap than staying out of the double play, then he still chose the wrong duo of players.
The chances Burrell scores from first on any type of double are remote at best, even at Coors Field.
Putting him in motion helps his chances but since he isn't taking off to steal, he wouldn't be getting the best jump.
Simply said, with the style of players involved in the play, making that call is much more risk than reward.
The chances Burrell takes a base more than he would have without being in motion aren't very high with his lack of speed and the chances Sandoval were to strikeout with Jimenez pitching were very, very high.
Make no bones about it, sending Burrell was a severe case of bad judgment and a decision smart managers don't make.
The second poor decision by Bochy in recent games is another critical base running mistake.
In the previously mentioned 3-2 loss to the Braves, the Giants had the tying run on first base in the ninth inning.
Leadoff hitter Andres Torres smacked a two-out single to keep the game alive for Freddy Sanchez.
Now everybody knows that this is a base stealing situation at any point of the game. With two outs and the lone base runner being a speedy leadoff man at first base, the chances a runner goes are normally high.
Even against pitchers who are quick to home plate and who have good pick-off moves, many times you still see a base stealer take off.
Well with Braves closer Billy Wagner on the mound, Bochy's decision not to send Torres is absolutely inexcusable.
In this situation, the reward is gigantic, and the risk is minimal.
First of all, a fast runner in scoring position at second base with two outs is a almost an automatic run with a base hit to the outfield.
Secondly, it was clear as night and day to those watching the game from home as to when Wagner was going home and when he was going to first.
And even if Torres hadn't seen film or been on first base against Wagner in previous games, a couple of throw overs during Sanchez's five pitch at bat should have given him a good read on when Wagner would be throwing home.
Combine that with the fact Wagner's delivery time was far below average at around 1.42 seconds, and Torres was bound to get a tremendous jump.
With the chances that Torres would get to second safely extremely high, and the benefit of having him there so valuable, one would have expected Torres to go.
After all the risk is rather low. The Giants were down a run and an out away from losing. At this point in the game, statistics tell us the Giants are going to lose anyway.
And with Torres staying at first San Francisco, in all practicality, would have needed at least two more base runners to reach in order to score the tying run.
But had Torres been on second, they would have needed just the one clutch hit to score the run.
The reward in this situation clearly outweighs the risk and Bochy failed to take the smart gamble in this situation.
So there you have it. Two base running choices, and two wrong decisions.
Bochy sent a slow runner in a 3-2, one out situation with a strikeout pitcher and strikeout batter, yet he didn't send a fast runner in an obvious stealing situation against a pitcher with a slow delivery.
And some fans suggest he should be NL manager of the year?
With this type of decision making...not a chance.
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