Thursday, January 07, 2010

Giants Should Hire Randy Johnson as Coach

There is a very nice article by Chris Haft on sfgiants.com about Randy Johnson's influence on the Giants 2009 team. Based on what's in there, we definitely should engage Johnson in adding him as a coach somewhere in our system, whatever works for what he wants to do in his after career.
Some interesting tidbits:

Johnson imparted much of his wisdom upon his brethren in San Francisco's
starting rotation, bestowing lessons they'll ideally draw upon throughout the
future.

And:

Johnson repeated last year that his competitive philosophy revolved around his preoccupation with winning, a healthy obsession that spurred him to win 303
games in his 22-year career. As Giants right-hander Matt Cain explained, Johnson's approach proved infectious.

"He really made an impact on us as a staff to try to lead this team to a victory," Cain said Wednesday, one day after Johnson announced his retirement. "And then the hitters [would] do the same thing. He kind of joined our staff together and motivated us, and I think that motivated the whole team. I feel like we clicked as a group a lot better than we have in the past."

And:

During his retirement conference call, Johnson expressed a desire to coach that stemmed from his interactions with teammates in recent seasons.

"The one thing I really enjoyed the last few years, for anybody who wants to listen, is help people," Johnson said.

And:

Each of San Francisco's starters absorbed Johnson's counsel.

Hearing Johnson urge him not to feel satisfied with success, Tim Lincecum won his second consecutive National League Cy Young Award.

Thrilled to have such an eminent left-hander in his midst, Barry Zito performed with renewed focus as the Giants won 18 of his 33 starts.

"He's a Hall of Fame guy," Cain said of Johnson. "You want him to remember that you played your heart out with him. It's a great opportunity that we got to play with him, not just another face we played against. It was a lot of fun to be a teammate of his."

Jonathan Sanchez, who reminded Johnson of himself, crept closer toward gaining true consistency and scraped the ceiling of his skill by no-hitting San Diego on July 10. Sanchez, said Johnson, was "a lot like I was at a young age. He has everything there; he has to put it together."

And:

Cain himself might have been Johnson's sharpest pupil. They played catch together before Spring Training workouts, but Cain took more from Johnson than just hundreds of throws.

"We had a ton of sit-down conversations in spring," said Cain, who listened to Johnson discuss the essentials of developing sound preparation, maintaining intensity on the mound and taking nothing for granted.

Cain endured poor run support while posting a 15-30 mark in 2007-08. The Giants scored more often for Cain in 2009, but he seized upon his improved backing by avoiding the late-inning collapses that occasionally plagued him.

This was partly a product of Johnson's telling him that whether he found himself
in the first, fifth or ninth inning, each frame was important.

"It really helped me stay focused longer through the game and throughout the season," Cain said. Result: Cain won 12 of his first 14 decisions, finished 14-8 and made his first NL All-Star team.

And:
"When you actually saw him go out there and take that mentality to the field -- he wasn't just saying it, he believed in it and made you believe in it," Cain said.

And:
"I think we'll always think back to the mentality we took in every start," Cain said. "It improved me a lot."

Giants Thoughts

Hopefully the Giants management who attended the press conference where Johnson talked about all this pulled Randy aside afterward to talk about him taking on a coaching role with us when he is ready. I am afraid, however, that his home might be in Arizona, and given his long tenure there, both would point towards him working for them.

But as I noted in my post about his retirement, he should be studied for a chapter in The Giants Way manual on how a pitcher should operate and make that SOP (standard operating procedure) for every pitcher coming through the Giants system. And if he could be a coach in our system and teach what he knows, all the better.

Though, I don't know what is so revolutionary about Johnson telling Cain that "whether he found himself in the first, fifth or ninth inning, each frame was important." I (and many other baseball fans) could have told him that. It must have been in the way Johnson delivered it. :^)

Well, his stature in the game will certain give any advice he gives as coach that much more rigor and standing. Good luck to Randy, and I hope the Giants were one of the people listening to Randy when he spoke about wanting to help people. He mentioned in an interview that there will be nothing in life that will give him that feeling of competition like he felt when he was pitching, but there is the next best thing: being manager.

And in the meantime, maybe Randy can work on that chapter on pitching for us. :^)

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