Friday, October 20, 2006

My Latest Thoughts On Giants Mangerial Search

What the heck, I'm posting the comment I had put together in response to Allfranks question on my thoughts on Acta vs. Bud Black for manager here as a blog post.

Ratto on Black, Acta

I love Ray and sometimes poorly emulate him when I write.

To me, the article doesn't really make Black the leading horse, he's just throwing that out there as a trial balloon, really, as a thought piece that if Bud really was considered for both jobs, his choice would speak volumes of what a non-subjective decision maker thinks is the better franchise to go with.

Then he subverts that later by noting that there are a lot of factors that are not related to the baseball side that could affect his decision, like Barry and Billy.

Right Black Acta: Black vs. Acta

But to the question of Black vs. Acta, both sound like good candidates for the Giants job, from what I know about both of them.

As a more saber-oriented fan, Acta would be a great choice for that reason plus the bonus that he could speak with his players who are mainly Spanish speaking.

Black, however, is good friends with some of the people already on the staff, according to one report (have to assume Righetti and Gardner, don't see any reason for Wotus, Pujols, or Glynne to have much interaction with Black previously), making the transition easier, since it sounds like the Giants are planning on keeping the coaches, and I like the coaches for the most part, except for probably hitting, since he couldn't fix up Niekro up here, he had to go down for that.

But not that Acta could not learn to be like that either.

Black is a plus because he's a pitcher and our main assets for the near-future on the team in terms of youth is our pitching, so hopefully he would know more about that than Acta. But, again, Acta could (probably does, since he spoke on pitch counts) too.

What's intriguing with Acta is that if he is good, he could be a manager for 15-30 years, which would be a rarity in history, let alone today. I would like a continuity of the manager like that. He's only 37 whereas Black is 49. Then again, Black could be here 15-20 years himself.

Of course, there is the history of it because Black was a premiere (relatively, there was an uproar about how much Rosen paid for Black) free agent that the Giants signed and he pitched well for us for many years.

Plus, he helped shaped and guide the Angel's young pitchers, like Escobar, Lackey, Santana, and now Jered Weaver. Lackey in particular, he wasn't much of a strikeout pitcher when he came up but with Black's tutelage, over a short period, his K/9 rate went from 5.7 in 2002 to 6.7 in 2003 to 6.5 in 2004, to 8.6 in 2005, and to 7.9 in 2006. That boosted his K/BB from an OK 2.1 to a great 2.6 to 2.8 in 2005-6.

So which way to go, with Acta who manages more sabermetically (not that Black wouldn't), which would help the hitters, or Black who helped guide Angels' pitching prospects into become productive pitchers (not that Acta wouldn't), which would help our young pitchers be harvested for trade or good performance.

Both Good Choices

Right now, it looks like we can't go bad either way. I think both will bring a lot to the job. Given the Giants penchant for history, that would suggest that Black has the inside track, since he's a former Giants, but I think the only reason they saw Black first was because he was available and Acta was not.

They, afterall, waited until now to interview Black, whereas the rumor about Acta has been out for a while now, suggesting the Giants only recently decided to pursue Black, kind of like an afterthought. Perhaps the reason why is that Black sent some grapeline feelers to the Giants to let them know of his interest. But even if so, it took the Giants a while to decide to "kick the tires".

Acta the Front Runner Right Now

I would give Acta the inside track for now, given the Giants clear intention to integrate their operations, from the female announcer then African American female announcer, to hiring Dusty, who had basically zero managerial experience except for a brief run in the AFL, where, really, you can't show much of anything if you are a manager, to pursuing Felipe, to all the multi-cultural and diversity events that they hold during the Giants season, plus the decision long ago to have a Spanish language radio broadcast, and the embracing of past Giants greats, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Vide Blue, and hopefully Felipe will soon join them as advisor.

Acta would make the most sense given that history of choices made, especially since the main management is still clearly white middle-aged, except for the CFO, an Asian, though, now looking through the media guide, there are a fair number of women there. Even among Sabean's main advisors, they are all white, Tidrow, Dobson, Evans, Perranoski, and Colletti before that. And presumably, while Black would bring his pitcher's experience into the mix, that is redundant when you have Righetti and Gardner already here, unless the Giants had decided that they wanted to go in another direction there, and if they had, this would mean that they were dissatisifed and the two would have been fired by now, so presumably they are still held in high esteem, though not enough to hire as manager.

Thirnking further on this, I think the Giants are more interviewing Black to 1) pick his brains (partly), 2) give him additional exposure as a managerial candidate (Sabean was already around when Black was last with Giants), and 3) perhaps (mainly) prime the pump for the Padres to go with Black after Bochy since Bud LIVES in San Diego and his family living there was the major consideration for him, don't see how that changes yet, one of his daughters is still in middle school there.


  1. After what I've read, I'd like to see Acta get a chance. I think that a Spanish-speaking manager is a really BIG positive; I like what I've read about his mind; he's young; and we can better play with his name.


  2. Yes, me too, I would like to see Acta get a chance too, with us. I think the team could go worse (Fregosi, et al).

  3. Martin, thanks. And excellent post. I am a white, middle class male. Neverthesless, I think there is an advantage to hiring a minority, especially Latin, especially Acta. Believe me, I would have no problems with Black. And Black, Acta, Wotus all are much ahead of Bochy, Pinella, Fregosi or any other candidates I can think of, other than Washington.
    It is only one newspaper article, and it is exciting, and I note a number of other readers are excited by the implications of the article. Including me. I suppose we are reading into it waht we want to see.
    As you point out, I would really love to see a young, energetic, player relating, innovative, creative manager who would be around for a long while.
    Back to the minority issue. Note, I have note looked at the
    Giants roster or any other, but I think there are more minorities playing than white players and, thus, the efficacy of the white manager has lessened considerably over the past, say, 30 years. Acta seems to be very insightful and very articulate - good on the field and good in interviews. So, in summary, he is an exciting prospect.

  4. And he interviews today. Can't wait to hear impressions/assessments of the interview.

  5. Yes, hopefully he has a good interview. I wonder how much we should read into it that Acta interviewed with Texas first on Friday and not us. I thought our job was open sooner than their job, though I'm not sure about that.

  6. After Coletti selected elder statesman, Grady Little, don't you think it will be interesting to see what Sabean does without the influence of G Little? Sabean has always, has he not, gone for the older, experienced, proven manager - Baker, Alou, and I forget who was first.
    Very little Sabean has done disappoints me, but if Acta, Black, Wotus (in alphabetical order) are passed over for Boche or Jerry Manuel, I WILL be disappointed.

  7. Sabean was stuck with Baker, he inherited Baker from his mentor and Magowan - he was the first, there was no other. He has had only 2 managers, Baker and Alou.

    I would suspect that Felipe Alou's selection was strongly suggested by Magowan to Sabean. So, to me, Sabean has not really hired anyone on his own yet.

    And, obviously, no hire is really all "your own" there's going to always be some level of pressure from above, no matter what job you are talking about. But I think Sabean has greater latitude with this selection than he had with his first two managers, much greater.

    I would not go as far to say that very little Sabean has done has disappointed me. There has been plenty of things that has disappointed me. Some, I blame on Magowan and the owners, like when he wasn't allowed to at least kick the tires with players like Vlad, and it appears that they are meddling again this season with the "no centerpiece" rule. I still cannot believe he contacted Sheffield to see if he'd be willing to play for under $10M. Others, everyone knows, particularly the trade that cannot be mentioned in mixed company but there has been other trades, other deals that have disappointed me.

    But that's life, full of disappointments, then you die, to paraphrase a coarser cliche. The bottom line to me is that the Giants have been competitive, have been making it to the playoffs. As some has noted, it is much easier today to make the playoffs than it had been in the past, but you can only deal with the hand you have been deal, not scenarios and what ifs, and I've been very happy with what he has done for the most part.

    His deals on the whole has been way over in the plus column than the minus, even with that trade/giveaway (which, BTW, I blame on Colletti; after so many years on the job, suddenly Sabean will pull a trade that he "forgot" to OK with Magowan first? That don't make sense. Sabean deciding to give Colletti a longer leash to initiate and make trade, and Colletti oversold his actual authority while dealing with Minnesota, so Sabean saved his ass by agreeing to honor the trade, that makes sense). Free agency has been a big minus, but I wonder what the success rate on that is anyway, maybe problems are par for the course; it obviously hasn't been a panacea for the Yankees, certainly, nor for the Orioles. And I find the signing of Villalona to be a good sign of a change in philosophy at the ownership level.

    Back to Acta, Manny's interview "went well", he reported, and he hopes to get the job. He has said all the right things thus far. He spent 4.5 hours with the Giants (6 hours with the Rangers) and flew to Washington to speak with the Nationals today. He would seem to be a natural there, given his long history with that organization when they were the Expos.

    FYI, Mark Sweeeney, in the Chron today, said that Black, Bochy and Wotus would all make great managers but he said specifically that he "loved [Bochy] as a manager. I think he brings a lot of credibility. I think he would have a lot of clout in signing free agents, because a lot of guys would say they would play for him. He's definitely a players' manager. That goes a long way, especially with the type of players we have in San Fran. He's a good fit."

    Obviously, he favors Bochy. He did not say a word about Black or Wotus, other than "you can't go wrong" picking one of the three - Acta he didn't know so he couldn't say. Meanwhile, he had this whole statement about Bochy. But he's only a player and a bench player at that, so take his viewpoint with a grain of salt.

    I would still prefer not to get Bochy. I'm, rather, hoping that this "interview" is really a subversive move by the Giants that will help disrupt the Padres clubhouse for the 2007 season, with Bochy as lame duck and openly campaigning for the Giants job creating disdain in the minds of the players. It can't go well, but there's no one to blame but Sandy Alderson for this situation if he allows it to fester all season long. I suspect that if Bochy is not managing another team by the GM meetings in early Dec, he would be fired and the Padres will be going on their own search for a new manager, and I suspect that Bud Black is jockeying for first in line for that one, I think he's only interviewing for the A's and Giants' jobs to set him up as a valid and viable candidate for the Padres job.

    And since Alderson is Beane's mentor, he probably also believes the manager is a relatively minor cog in the whole machine, easily replaceable. As long as the organization hews to the principles laid out by Alderson, that's what's more important than the manager. So he would have no problem waiting to replace the managerial position have no problem with a candidate like Black who has no managerial experience, as long as he has the right "philosophy".



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