Monday, October 4, 2010

Bochy

Well, at least your NFL team enjoyed its Sunday, as I wrote. I'll soon post a Padres season review.

Congratulations to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who is back in the playoffs for the first time since he guided the Padres there in 2006, his final year with the club. Funny, every time I wrote something nice about Bochy this year, I heard from Giants fans who depicted Bochy as a buffoon. I consider him an above average manager. Not perfect. With the Padres, he sometimes allowed the lines of leadership to blur. That would work against him, perhaps more than he realized. I don't think he was at his healthiest for parts of the 2000s, including parts of 2006. I think going to the Giants may have rejuvenated him some, partly because he and GM Brian Sabean quickly meshed.

Know this: many people who work in baseball hold Bochy in high regard. His players tend to respect him. He's good at running a pitching staff. I like how he spotted Buster Posey at first base after Posey's promotion in June. Seemed a clever way to acclimate a young, raw catcher. Posey's bat certainly endorsed that approach. Trevor Hoffman used to say Bochy was great at "not being greedy," a way of saying that Bochy managed well for the long season and worked smartly to preserve his key pitchers. I thought he overworked Kevin Walker, perhaps hurting his career, but agree with Hoffman's gist.

Earlier this year, I quoted Carlos Hernandez, the former Padres catcher who has several friends on the Giants, saying that Bochy has strong support from many Giants players. Seems Bochy did a nice job of managing the team's stellar pitching staff. Bochy's fourth Padres team was the best in franchise history, and Bochy told me in April that this, his fourth Giants club, was his best in San Francisco.

The Padres, for their part, were pretty good to Bochy in his 12 seasons as their manager, which netted four division titles and one NL pennant. During the 2003 season, which would end in 99 defeats and was the franchise's fifth loser in a row, I quoted Padres owner John Moores saying there was "no chance' he'd ever fire Bochy. That kind of support is rare in sports. And in the real world.

On the other hand, Bochy's final months with the Padres were uneasy. Bochy wasn't fired by Sandy Alderson, then the CEO. But Alderson made it obvious that Bochy was welcome to leave. Which he did.

When the Giants won Game 162 on Sunday over the Padres, whose bats failed them again, Bochy got back to the playoffs before the Padres did, or, for that matter, before Alderson, who was displaced in March 2009 by Jeff Moorad's arrival as CEO.

San Francisco last reached the playoffs in 2003. Congratulations to Giants fans, who create one of the liveliest homes in the majors.

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