Is Giants Manager Bruce Bochy Doing More Harm Than Good?

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJune 2, 2009

SEATTLE - MAY 22:  Manager Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants looks on from the mound during the game against the Seattle Mariners on May 22, 2009 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Giants 2-1 in twelve innings. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Ever since former Giants manager Dusty Baker made the preemptive move of taking out starter Russ Ortiz in Game Six of the 2002 World Series, Giants' fans have had plenty to complain about when it comes to the manager.

Although it is a sore subject to bring up among Giants' fans, it is worth revisiting for the knowledge of those who follow the other 29 MLB clubs.

In Game Six of the 2002 World Series, the Giants and starter Ortiz had a 5-0 lead into the seventh inning when Baker elected to make a move to the bullpen.

Summoned from the pen was the now infamous Felix Rodriguez, who ended up allowing former Angel Scott Speizio to drive in the first runs of the game for Anaheim on a double down the right field line.

San Francisco would go on to lose its remaining lead in the last two innings, eventually lose game six and lose the series in seven games.

Since that moment in Game Six when Baker pulled Ortiz, Giants' fans have had issues with game management.

From 2003-2006, Giants' fans suffered through the agonizing micromanaging of former Giants outfielder Felipe Alou.

Being a former outfielder, Alou was not well-versed in how to make decisions regarding a pitching staff, which is arguably the most important aspect of managing in the major leagues.

Alou became infamous for overplaying the lefty-lefty, righty-righty scenario. One prime example came during a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

During the late innings, Alou brought in former Cub LaTroy Hawkins out of the bullpen. Hawkins did not leave the Cubs organization with many fans in Chicago, and in his return to Wrigley the Cub faithful let him have it with thundering boos and jeers.

Hawkins coincidentally struggled before being taken out for lefty Scott Eyre. Alou brought Eyre into the game for a specific lefty-lefty matchup (because of course a right-handed pitcher can never get out a left-handed batter).

Eyre proceeded to throw a single pitch that ended up as a bloop single to right field before being taken out for right-handed reliever Tyler Walker (because of course Eyre, a lefty, couldn't possibly get out the right-handed hitter that was coming up next in the Cubs' order).

Walker proceeded to struggle and Alou went to the bullpen for the third time in the inning, bringing in another lefty, Jason Christiansen. However, Christiansen wasn't able to record the third and final out before stumbling enough in the inning to allow Felipe to make the fourth pitching change in the same inning.

Alou proceeded to bring in Tim Worrell from the bullpen to be his fifth and final reliever of the inning.

This game was one of many where Giants' fans scratched their heads thinking the same exact thing, "I could manage better than Felipe."

Presently, the Giants are managed by former longtime San Diego Padres manager Bruce Bochy.

Now since there has not been any significant member in the media to bring up the questionable decisions Bochy has made since becoming the Giants manager, it is very unlikely that Bochy will ever be fired.

However, there have been some fairly odd moves by the latest Giants manager.

In 2008, the Giants decided to put Bengie Molina at cleanup due to the fact the team lacked a true No.4 hitter. However the middle-of-the-lineup free-agent bat they brought in prior to the 2008 season was none other than Aaron Rowand.

Granted, neither Molina nor Rowand are true cleanup hitters, but the fact that Bochy almost always had Molina hit fourth and Rowand fifth is puzzling. Throughout the season there were Rowand doubles with Molina on first that failed to score Molina due to his league-worst running speed. However, the same double by Molina would have in fact scored Rowand from first.

Batting behind Molina, Rowand ended up losing a significant amount of RBI. With the rest of the Giants 2008 lineup being absolutely anemic, the Giants suffered from leaving Molina and Rowand on base throughout the season.

This season, Rowand is currently hitting leadoff which has turned his season around. However an even faster Fred Lewis is now spending time hitting behind Molina and hitting in that spot significantly decreases the speed factor he can bring to the table.

The fact that Molina is not a true cleanup hitter and would be hitting sixth or lower in most lineups makes it even more odd how Bochy has failed to try Molina in a single different spot in the order this season.

Despite being the Giants best power threat, (8 HR, 32 RBI) Molina has seen his average drop from over .300 to just .254 over the past two weeks.

While Rowand has taken off with a change in the order, hitting Molina fifth or perhaps sixth may do the same thing for his sake. However, game after game Bochy keeps hitting Molina in the cleanup spot and faster runners hitting behind him.

Not only has Bochy made questionable lineup decisions, he has also made numerous in-game moves that are hard to explain.

This season, Bochy has let Randy Johnson swing away with a runner at first and less than two outs (a clear cut bunting situation) and we all know Johnson is not the best hitting pitcher around.

Plus, Bochy has overused his closer Brian Wilson, often bringing him in during non-save situations and has continued to do so despite Wilson's struggles.

And most recently, Bochy decided to take out his team's hottest hitter (Rowand), who is a gold glove outfielder mind you, for a defensive replacement in Andres Torres.

Clearly Torres has more speed than Rowand, but with a two-run lead and the nowhere near automatic closer Wilson coming in to pitch, it is an extremely odd choice to remove your team's hottest hitter from the game.

If Bochy really wanted to make a defensive replacement, then it would be more wise to put Torres in at left field for Lewis who has been less than stellar this season in left field.

It's decisions like this, that although often go unnoticed, may come back to bite the Giants in the butt. And this season, unlike the recent past, the Giants may be in the hunt for the playoffs come September.

If that's the case, these minor decisions that have gone unnoticed so far, may end up looming large late in the season if Bochy continues to make them. 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.