SF Giants: 4 Implications of Bochy-to-Red Sox Speculation

Barry ShillerContributor IIIOctober 1, 2011

SF Giants: 4 Implications of Bochy-to-Red Sox Speculation

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    Buster Olney of espn.com tweeted early Saturday that Giants manager Bruce Bochy could be on Boston Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein's list of targets to replace recently-departed Terry Francona.

    (the rumor was quashed, sort of, later Saturday when San Francisco Chronicle beat reporter Henry Schulman tweeted that the Giants "...will lock him (Bochy) up..."

    Perhaps Schulman's confidence is based on firm sources. (none were cited or implied in his tweet)

    Everything that has been said publicly by Giant officials suggests no imminent changes in front office or field management. 

    Sabean sounded confident in comments to reporters late last week that he and Bochy would be back.

    New club CEO Larry Baer—in whose hands the decisions rest—has sounded optimistic about both returning, although his comments could be interpreted as less-than-iron clad endorsements.

    Is there something to Olney's speculation? Is this just the start of the annual managerial merry-go-round?

    Here are four things to consider.

It's Happened Before

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    Lest we forget, Bochy spent 24 years as a Padre—five as a reserve catcher and twelve as field manager—before departing for San Francisco after the 2006 season.

    He was something of an institution in San Diego; not without his critics, but generally popular. 

    Despite the handicaps associated with managing in a low-budget environment, Bochy achieved some notable milestones:

    --Most wins in club history (951)

    --Four NL West titles (1996, '98; 2005, '06)

    --The club's second World Series appearance in 40 years (1998)

    He left following the 2006 season with one year remaining on his contract and a new chief executive (Sandy Alderson) running the show.

    One year left on a contract, working for a new CEO. Do those conditions sound at all familiar?

    So it isn't inconceivable that Bochy would listen to outside inquiries, depending on several factors. See next slide for those.

Leadership Change Made; More in Store?

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    New Giants CEO Larry Baer was slightly less than equivocal about Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy's future in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea in mid-September.

    Asked directly if both would be extended beyond 2012, Baer said,

    "“We’ll talk about it. All I can say is, we have huge admiration for the job they’ve done. The two sides have admiration for each other. You talk to Brian, ask him how he likes working here. We like him working here. What the natural result is usually positive.”

    Baer had just been appointed at the time to his new club leadership post; perhaps he was simply being careful not to overplay his hand after team investors had just pushed Bill Neukom out the door.

    If, however, the club is hell-bent on keeping Sabean and/or Bochy (and the two aren't joined at the hip; Baer could elect to keep one and not the other), you'd think extensions would be quickly resolved.

    There's been nothing from Baer or Sabean to imply that either wants Bochy out. Although the 2011 Giants foundered down the stretch, no one has suggested that the manager lost the clubhouse—as apparently happened in Boston.

    Still, had Baer told Shea "Oh, yeah, I expect Brian and Bruce both here for the foreseeable future; we just need to iron out the details," I'd have no doubts.

    But, "We'll talk about it"? Interesting. 

Is Bochy Suited for Boston?

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    Based on reporting like this from Gordon Edes on espnboston.com, the Red Sox late-season collapse makes some sense.

    The Giants clubhouse may not have been a model of all-for-one unity in 2011, but there were no reports of pitchers boozing it up between starts. In the clubhouse.

    Gotta love those East coast bullies; in San Francisco, clubhouse drinking would involve a well-aged Cabernet.

    Assuming Theo Epstein wants a manager who can restore order, is Bochy that sort of guy?

    He loves working with veteran rosters; the Sox' first-nine in 2011 included four guys over age-30 and no starter younger than 26-years-old.

    He'd be reunited with Adrian Gonzalez, who played for Bochy in 2006 and presumably would support him in the clubhouse.

    And he's used to clubhouse distractions (circa 2007, the Barry Bonds home run chase and subsequent BALCO craziness).

    Epstein is a Sabermetrics guy; Bochy is a three-run-homer guy. There are other things that don't fit.

    But there's enough here to imagine Bochy wearing a Red Sox uniform.   

Who Could Succeed Bochy?

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    If we're going to speculate, we might as well go all the way.

    If the Giants had a managerial vacancy to fill, who might be their likeliest candidates?

    Externally, you might start with Tony LaRussa.

    He isn't under contract to the Cardinals beyond this season. He knows Albert Pujols could be heading elsewhere. A deep postseason run could be the perfect segue for LaRussa.

    LaRussa turns 67 on Oct. 4. He's in good health. Might he leave baseball altogether for his various personal causes and interests? Maybe. 

    Would he entertain a move to San Francisco? Perhaps.

    Internally, the Giants would likely consider Class-AAA Fresno manager Steve Decker.

    A former catcher, Decker makes sense for a pitching-rich club.

    He knows the organization, having coached and managed throughout the Giants' system since 2001.

    And if—a big if—the Giants are finally prepared to shift their focus from aging free agents to younger players developed within their own farm system, Decker is the perfect fit.

    He's managed most of their younger vets and many of the top candidates to crack their 2012 major league roster.