Sunday, October 29, 2006

What I Like About Bochy So Far and Other Observations

Clearly, I'm disappointed by the appointment, but it's not the end of the world either. I'm sure he will prove to be a safe, stable move by Sabean. It's just that I'm not that excited either.

But I'm willing to give him a chance - what choice do I have, I'm still a Giants fan, and I'm never going to another team, I'll be one of those interested in the new Giants logo for caskets product offering (no kidding!) - so we'll just have to make the best of things and wait and see and invoke the "In Sabean We Trust (tm)" motto.

More on Bochy

For now, there is a nice profile of Bochy in the Merc today. It confirms what I speculated when analyzing the data on his managerial moves: he's a quasi-saber with his main deficiency, according to the article, his penchant to rely too heavily on veterans, which, as any Giants fan knows, is right up Sabean's alley.

It also notes a quality that Giants fans will appreciate: he is not in the habit of getting pitchers up and down repeatedly in a game - a trait fans and players grumbled about Alou - if the pitcher is warming up, he can expect to pitch. Alan Embree, a former Giant and (now) former Bochy reliever, said "He doesn't abuse his players."

Another trait that is useful for a manager to have is that he comes from a military family, so he is used to precision and detail, which would be a great help to any position, but particularly so for a manager. Plus his steadiness - a trait of good generals in war - after the Dodger's stunning 4 homer victory was a great example for his team. He didn't do anything different, he didn't call any meeting, he just acted like it was just another day at the ballpark where nothing extraordinary happened the day before, and the team went on a big win streak to win the division over the D-gers.

The biggest quote of his in the article for saber-oriented fans is this: "I don't like to give away outs." That is a huge tenet of saber-fans, the conservation of outs. Over the past five seasons, the 'Dres had the fewest sacrifice hits of any NL club. However, he is a proponent of stolen bases - he had Robert, Cameron, and Barfield running last season - and SBs are not held in high esteem by sabers. I don't recall studies but I think as long as runners are efficient enough in stealing bases (the gold standard before was over 80% success rate), it is not harmful either.

Maxi-Me, Sabean Style

Based on this article, Bochy seems to be Sabean's proxy in the dugout - I would have used the term, "mini-me", but anyone who saw the press conference for the announcement, could see that Bochy towered over Sabean. Sabean said in an interview a year or two ago that he sees teams shifting back towards speed driving run production over the homer-ball that has marked the current era. If you look at his picks over the past few years - Lewis, Sanders, Burriss - one can see that he has been picking up plus speedsters who get on base a lot.

In addition, Bochy has done a nice job with the pitching staff, working with young as well as old, plus keeping his bullpen a huge asset over the years by not overworking them, according to what Hoffman and Embree has said. Hoffman noted that if it weren't for Bochy's care, he probably would have burned out like so many other flash-in-the-pan closers, and said that "no one could have handled me better over all these years."

Peavy, in this ode to Bochy from some of his former charges, said that he really appreciated the way Bochy respected him. "He let me take some lumps, but Boch never, ever got down on me when I went through bad stretches." "I got to the big leagues as a kid, barely 21 years old, and I was told I was going to face the Yankees. I remember walking into Boch's office and feeding off his positive energy, his support. He said, 'We believe in you kid; that's why we're giving you the ball at this stage of your career. We think you can do the job.' It's been that way my whole career."

So those are nice qualities about Bochy that has come up in the two linked articles. I'm warming up to him and, if I didn't make it clear before, I do realize that it is not the end of the world. But it is not like a brand new love either, there is not any hope for great things, there is simply grudging acceptance that we have a new sheriff in town and we must simply wish for the best and see what happens when the roster is put together with his input, that will give a clearer indication what type of manager we can expect him to be.

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