Tag: Bruce Bochy

Bruce Bochy Hospitalized: Updates on Giants Manager’s Status and Return

The San Francisco Giants were without manager Bruce Bochy for Monday night’s game against the Miami Marlins because of an illness, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, but he is ready to return.

Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball noted that Bochy has been released from the hospital, is feeling better and will manage on Tuesday night.

According to Schulman, the Giants didn’t give a reason for Bochy’s hospitalization on Monday other than that he was “feeling ill.” Schulman noted on Monday that the manager was “expected to rejoin the team Tuesday after being held overnight for observation” at the University of Miami Hospital.

Bochy was admitted to the hospital on Monday morning, although it wasn’t “immediately clear if this had anything to do with a February 2015 heart procedure in which Bochy had two stents inserted,” per Schulman.

The Giants kicked off a three-game series in Miami on Monday, and bench coach Ron Wotus assumed manager duties for Bochy in the contest. The Giants won Monday’s game 8-7 in 14 innings. 

Bochy has been with the Giants since the 2007 season and sports an 814-755 record with the club. The 1996 National League Manager of the Year helmed the San Diego Padres from 1995-2006 before joining the Giants.

Bochy has led the Giants to three World Series titles during his tenure in San Francisco (2010, 2012 and 2014) and has the team well-positioned to challenge for another crown this year when he returns. The Giants are 63-48 and sit a game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.

However, the division leaders are also in the midst of a slump and are a mere 7-15 since the All-Star break.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

5 Reasons to Be Optimistic for the San Francisco Giants’ 2015 Season

The San Francisco Giants embark on the 2015 campaign with one goal in mind: They want to defend their World Series title and win it again.

The baseball season is a long, arduous process, which makes the Giants’ three world championships in the past five years a tremendous accomplishment.

On paper, there are teams that look better than the Giants, but that was also the case in 2010, 2012 and 2014, when the Giants won it all. Fortunately, the game is not played on paper, and there are injuries and other intangibles that factor into whether a team is ultimately successful.

Looking at the 2015 team, two key players, Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse, have departed. The Giants have replaced Sandoval with Casey McGehee, who was acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins. McGehee is a solid hitter and decent defensive player, so the loss of Sandoval is minimized.

McGehee does not have Sandoval’s power, as he hit only four home runs last season, compared to Sandoval’s 16. However, McGehee actually had more RBI, as he contributed 76, compared to 73 for Sandoval.

The Giants will miss Morse, however, as he carried the team early in the season and came up with some huge hits in the postseason. Morse hit 16 home runs and drove in 61 runs during the regular season.

Nori Aoki was signed as a free agent and will get the opportunity to replace Morse. He is a completely different type of player. Aoki has good speed, is a good contact hitter and gets on base. His OBP last year was .360. Although not great, Aoki is a better defensive player than Morse.

The Giants hope the assets that Aoki brings to San Francisco will offset his lack of power in comparison to Morse.

The key for the Giants, however, will come down to pitching. If the Giants pitch well and play good defense, they have shown an uncanny ability to win close games.

Let’s take a look at five key reasons to be optimistic heading into the 2015 season.

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San Francisco Giants: What Sets Them Apart from the Other Teams in Baseball?

The San Francisco Giants have won three world championships in five years. In today’s era of free agency, that level of success qualifies as a modern-day dynasty.

So, how have the Giants been able to accomplish this, even though, on paper, their talent level has often been regarded as weaker than their opponent in a given series? 

What is it that sets the Giants apart from all the rest?

The answer can be found in just one word: continuity.

On the field, the Giants’ core group of players has stayed together, and several have been members of all three World Series-winning teams. These players include Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez. 

To have four key relief pitchers—Casilla, Romo, Affeldt and Lopez—on all three championship teams is unheard of. 

In addition, Pablo Sandoval, who recently departed to Boston in the free-agent market, also played on all three victorious teams.

Even more Giants have played a role in the past two World Series teams in 2012 and 2014. These include Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Joaquin Arias and Ryan Vogelsong.

Travis Ishikawa was also on two of the championship clubs, although not consecutively. He played on the 2010 and 2014 teams.

Outside of Sandoval, 16 players that have at least two World Series rings are still in San Francisco.

This means that 64 percent of the projected 25-man roster is made up of players with at least two World Series rings with the Giants. That continuity and experience is extremely valuable during the high-stress situations that occur in any postseason.

The continuity is even greater on the management end of things. Larry Baer, who is the president and CEO of the Giants, joined the organization in 1992. An interesting bio on Baer and his ascension up the ranks in San Francisco can be found on sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com.

The baseball management, player development staff and coaches have also remained remarkably stable.

General manager Brian Sabean has held the job since 1996 and is the longest-tenured GM in the game. Sabean deserves a lot of the credit for building a roster that fits together well and being able to make critical midseason deals to bolster the team.

Looking back over the Giants’ past three world championship teams, Sabean acquired the likes of Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Lopez, Chris Ray and Ramon Ramirez in 2010. All of these players helped the Giants make it to the postseason and win it all.

In 2012, it was the acquisition of Marco Scutaro prior to the trade deadline that pushed the Giants over the top. Amazingly, both Ross in 2010 and Scutaro in 2012 were NLCS MVPs.

In 2014, prior to the trade deadline, Sabean acquired Jake Peavy, who stepped in for the injured Cain. Had it not been for Peavy, the Giants never would have even made the playoffs, let alone won the title.

The continuity at the executive level does not end with Sabean. Assistant GM Bobby Evans has been with the Giants for 21 years. Shane Turner, the director of player development, has been with the Giants for 19 years. 

On the field, manager Bruce Bochy is entering his ninth season with the Giants. His coaching staff has also been very stable.

The only departure is third base coach Tim Flannery, who is also a close friend of Bochy. Flannery has retired and will be sorely missed.

Flannery decided he had accomplished everything he wanted in the game of baseball and had other things he still wanted to do. Reddit.com has Tim Flannery‘s complete letter to the Giants and their fans. 

Dave Righetti is the longest-tenured pitching coach in the major leagues, having started his coaching career in San Francisco 15 years ago. 

Mark Gardner, the bullpen coach, acts as a second pitching coach for the Giants. He began his coaching career in San Francisco in 2003. Gardner actually pitched for the Giants from 1996-2001, winning 58 games and losing 45, per baseball-reference.com.

Roberto Kelly will move from first base to third base, replacing Flannery. Kelly also works with the outfielders and coaches base running. He is entering his eighth year as a coach in San Francisco.

Ron Wotus is the bench coach and is also responsible for the defensive alignments. The Giants do a lot of shifting in the infield, and that’s Wotus‘ call. Wotus has been in the Giants organization for 26 years and a coach in San Francisco for the past 16 seasons. More on Wotus can be found on sfgiants.com

Giants management has also made a concerted effort to keep their past stars in the fold. Former greats like Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal are frequent visitors to AT&T Park.

Barry Bonds, Will Clark and J.T. Snow have also come out to spring training to work with players and have even been seen during the season helping when they can.

From the top down, the Giants organization is a model of continuity. This is different than any organization in baseball and a big reason the for the success of the team. In addition, the continuity enables the fans to connect with the players in a way that helps the players stay motivated and on top of their game.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

San Francisco Giants: Biggest Missed Opportunities of the Offseason

The San Francisco Giants are basking in the glow of their third world championship in five years. In today’s era of free agency and player movement, this is indeed a dynasty.

However, the Giants did not make a major splash in the free-agent market this winter, and one must wonder if general manager Brian Sabean has done enough to keep the Giants in contention in 2015.

Somehow, the acquisitions of Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki do not carry the same flair as the San Diego Padres getting Matt Kemp, James Shields, Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Derek Norris.

Nor do the Giants’ acquisitions measure up with the Los Angeles Dodgers picking up Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal, Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy.

Nevertheless, Sabean deserves the benefit of the doubt based on his proven track record. However, it is tough to see the Dodgers and Padres acquiring a ton of new talent and the Giants not.

The Giants lost Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse to free agency. They also missed out on some of the other key players they were after. The two biggest players the Giants could not sign were Jon Lester and Yasmany Tomas.

According to John Shea of SFGate.com, Lester had the Giants on his short list of teams that he was considering. Ultimately, Lester signed with the Chicago Cubs on a six-year, $155 million deal. 

In 2014, Lester split the season between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland A’s. In 219.2 total innings, he allowed only 194 hits and 48 walks while striking out 220. Lester fashioned an ERA of 2.46 and a WHIP of 1.102. At the age of 31, Lester looks like he still has a lot of mileage left.

Although these kinds of long-term deals for pitchers often do not work out, one can only imagine if the Giants could’ve paired Lester with Madison Bumgarner. That would’ve made up a formidable one-two punch on par with any pair in baseball.

The second player who would have looked great in a Giants uniform is Yasmany Tomas. The Cuban national signed a six-year, $68.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, although he can opt out after four years.

On FoxSports.com, Jeff Sullivan provides a detailed scouting report on Tomas.

Tomas will probably have some growing pains as he adjusts to the major leagues. Even fellow Cuban and Dodgers’ star outfielder Yasiel Puig has had his ups and downs making the adjustment.

The overall talent and athleticism that Tomas possesses makes him an excellent bet for stardom. In addition, his contract is relatively inexpensive, and Tomas will be a bargain if he indeed becomes a star player.

Had the Giants been able to land Tomas, he would likely have been their left fielder for years to come.

Although the Giants missed on both Lester and Tomas, the team is still strong, and it has the wherewithal to add pieces prior to the trade deadline, if necessary. The outlook is positive, and if the Giants can stay healthy, they will be in the thick of the playoff race again.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Bruce Bochy Hospitalized: Latest on Giants Manager After Heart Procedure

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy spent Thursday night in the hospital after undergoing a heart procedure to have two stents inserted. He was released from the hospital on Friday and will rejoin the team Sunday. 

Continue for updates.

Bochy Released from Hospital

Friday, Feb. 20

Chris Haft of MLB.com reported Bochy has been released from the hospital:

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was released Friday from the hospital where he underwent a procedure to relieve heart trouble and said in a text message that he’ll rejoin the club Sunday.

Bochy Undergoes Procedure on Heart

Thursday, Feb. 19

The Giants announced the news in a statement:

On Friday, Bochy’s son Brett talked about how his dad was feeling, per Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area:

Andrew Baggarly of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area touched base with Bochy on Thursday:

Bochy has compiled a 667-629 (.515) record in eight seasons with the Giants, winning the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014. With an astounding run of success over the past five years, he has garnered buzz as a potential future Hall of Fame selection.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting the San Francisco Giants’ Starting Lineup Heading into 2015

The San Francisco Giants have won three World Series titles in the past five years. Manager Bruce Bochy guided his team through several peaks and valleys in 2014.

His calm demeanor was a soothing influence when the Giants struggled in the middle of the season. Bochy then pushed all the right buttons, and the Giants produced, enabling them to win it all.

The Giants held a parade throughout the streets of San Francisco. Dignitaries, players and management all spoke, and they lauded both the team and the fans of San Francisco. It was a good time had by all.

The business of baseball has now taken center stage, and the Giants are retooling their roster in the hopes of defending their world championship.

General manager Brian Sabean has not landed any of the high-priced, marquee names on the market. Instead, he and the Giants resigned some of their own free agents, like Sergio Romo and Jake Peavy.

In addition, the Giants made a small but significant trade with the Miami Marlins. They acquired third baseman Casey McGehee in exchange for two minor league pitchers.

We could still see one or two more moves from Sabean, but don’t count on it. The roster is fairly set, and although the Giants would like to add another top quality starting pitcher and a left fielder, getting those players is definitely not a sure thing.

Let’s take a look at the lineup as it stands now. 

All stats are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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Scott Miller’s Starting 9: Giants’ Bruce Bochy Moving Toward Hall of Fame Status

1. Bruce Bochy Moving Up Charts with a Bullet

Late last Wednesday night, manager Bruce Bochy and his coaches gathered in private in the San Francisco clubhouse for a quiet champagne toast.   

It was a short respite in the middle of the swirling grind that is a 162-game season: Bochy had just earned his 1,600th career victory, and for a few minutes, he and his Giants coaches stopped worrying about yesterday’s problems and tomorrow’s challenges so they could savor the moment.   

That this milestone arrived roughly one month after three managers were inducted into baseball’s Hall of FameJoe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa—was wholly fitting because in Bochy, what we’re watching is a Hall of Fame manager at the top of his game.

Click Ahead to Other Topics

• Astros’ troubles don’t stop with the manager
• A’s might like a do-over on trade-deadline deals
• Buster Posey rule just a plain bust
• Time to get a handle on September call-ups
• Mike Trout hasn’t conquered every part of this game
• Don Baylor resumes his fairy-tale story
• Looking for gems in baseball’s bargain bin
• And now some news from Bill Murray…

“I believe so,” Tim Flannery, Bochy‘s third-base coach in both San Francisco and San Diego, says. “I thought that when he won his second World Series.”

That 1,600th victory moved him past Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda into 19th place on the all-time managerial list. By Monday, he had moved into 18th place at 1,604, past Fred Clarke.

Bochy, like Lasorda, has pulled the levers for two World Series winners: The 2010 and ’12 Giants. Lasorda guided the 1981 and ’88 Dodgers to the title.

Bochy also steered the ’98 Padres to the World Series, where they were swept by the Yankees. Lasorda knows a few things about lost dreams to pinstriped Octobers, too: He managed the Dodgers in four total World Series, losing to the Yankees in ’77 and ’78.

“It was special to be here for that,” said starter Jake Peavy, who was reunited with Bochy at the trade deadline last month after pitching for him in San Diego from 2002-06, of the 1,600th win. “The man’s a Hall of Famer, that’s all there is to it. He’s got a couple of World Series championships that have solidified that. Obviously, I’m going to be partial…”

Judging impartially, Bochy might not be a lock, but he owns a resume that should get him there. At 59, he should still have several good years in front of him. He says he still enjoys the challenges and has no immediate plans to do anything else.

Not to make an incredibly difficult job seem easy, but say Bochy manages five more years. Even if he averages only 81 wins a season (.500, in other words, 81-81), he would move past Leo Durocher and into the all-time top 10 on the manager wins list. With the inductions this year of La Russa (third all time with 2,728 wins), Cox (fourth, 2,504) and Torre (fifth, 2,326), the top 11 managers on the all-time wins list all are in the Hall of Fame.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play for a lot of great managers,” says Peavy, who counts Bochy, Bud Black, Ozzie Guillen, Robin Ventura and John Farrell among them. “All due respect to everybody I’ve played for, Boch takes the cake for me.

“The connection he has with players, he’s a special man in this game. And I think a lot because he does it here and in San Diego and not with the Dodgers, it gets overlooked. Anytime he’s had a roster to work with, he’s won.”

Peavy hears all about Cox from new teammate Tim Hudson, and he is intrigued by the stories and appreciates them. But he sits in various team meetings in San Francisco, “and it takes me back to meetings we had in San Diego. The man communicates as much as anyone.”

Or, as Flannery puts it, “you try to stay in the moment and win that night’s game. You try to keep the beast at bay every day.”

Far more often than not over the years, Bochy has tamed that beast.

“He’s like, for me, The Rolling Stones or Willie Nelson,” Flannery says. “The guys who have played music through the generations and adapted.

“He’s adapted to the players, and the players have changed drastically since 1995 [Bochy‘s first year]. You see great managers leave because they won’t change, or they won’t adjust. And some are happy to go. And you understand.

“I saw it with Dick Williams and Whitey Herzog. They just said, ‘I’m not doing this.’ And you have to have the ability with today’s players and in today’s game [to change], and to work with sabermetric stuff you might not fully believe in.

“He’s got the ability to adjust to all of that, and God bless him.”

For his part, Bochy deflects the credit and does what the great managers do: He keeps his focus on tonight’s game.

“It’s all about the support I’ve had over the years,” he says. “Ownership, front office, players. People have helped me. You don’t forget that. I feel blessed.”


2. Astros Tell Bo Porter to Quit Laboring on Labor Day

Few clubs have embarrassed themselves this season like the Astros, and manager Bo Porter’s Labor Day sacking spoke far more to the dysfunction under management than it did to any X’s and O’s.

Granted, Porter may not be Connie Mack. But neither is general manager Jeff Luhnow Branch Rickey.

First thing Luhnow needs to do in his managerial search is reread the first sentence of his statement on firing Porter: “What we will seek going forward is a consistent and united message throughout the entire organization…”

Why there isn’t at the moment is colossally damning to Luhnow and his leadership skills—or, more aptly, lack thereof.

Yes, the Astros have a probable AL batting champ in Jose Altuve (.336), Dallas Keuchel has been a revelation as a starter, and they’ve introduced promising talents George Springer and Collin McHugh.

But the draft shenanigans with Brady Aiken and Jacob Nix were reprehensible, the Springer contract situation reeked, and the internal trade memos that were leaked and appeared very publicly online earlier this summer were a colossal embarrassment for the organization.

MLB currently is looking into the Aiken/Nix situation. Nix had agreed to sign with the Astros for $1.5 million, but when they failed to land No. 1 overall pick Aiken (after dropping their initial offer), they lost slot money. The trickle-down effect froze out Nix through no fault of the kid’s own.

The Astros’ reported offer to Springer last September of $23 million over seven years (which would have taken him out of his arbitration years and a year of free agency) was rejected, leading to heavy speculation that that’s why they shipped him to the minors late this spring instead of allowing him onto their Opening Day roster.

And in recent days, they not only promoted Mark Appel, the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, to Double-A after his Class A numbers harshly suggested he warranted no such promotion…they also brought him to Houston to throw a bullpen without even bothering to tell Porter.

“That whole thing is ready to blow up,” one American League executive told me Sunday.

On Monday, it did.

Heavy industry buzz has Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan waiting in the wings and eager to take over Astros’ baseball operations. His son, Reid, already holds the title President, Business Operations. Stay tuned.


3. Athletics Slip, Sliding Away After Trade Deadline

Talk about a brutal weekend. Oakland was trampled by the Los Angeles Angels of Na Na Na You Don’t Have Yoenis Cespedes Anymore, and the team that was the best in baseball for four months is reeling.

“It was embarrassing. Pathetic,” angry manager Bob Melvin told reporters after the debacle was complete and the Angels finished off a four-game weekend sweep to dump Oakland to five games back in the AL West [4.5 games back Tuesday morning]. “We don’t play like that.

“The last three games here are the worst I’ve seen this team play in I don’t know how long. I feel bad for our fans to have to watch that.”

While Cespedes collected 22 RBI for the Red Sox in August—most of any month in his career—this is an A’s team that misses him immensely.

“I don’t know if I have an answer for [how much],” third baseman Josh Donaldson told me the other day. “We’ll have to see how it plays out.”

How it is playing out right now is the same answer Donaldson gave reporters following Saturday night’s loss when he was asked about the club’s morale: “I think it’s pretty obvious.”

Between injuries to closer Sean Doolittle, shortstop Jed Lowrie, center fielder Coco Crisp and Nick Punto—and the absence of Cespedes in the middle of the order—Oakland is a different team. The vibe in the clubhouse is not good: You don’t need to be from Hawaii Five-0 to decipher that a significant portion of this team was not, and is not, on board with trading Cespedes.

In fact, ace Jon Lester must be wondering what all the fuss was about with these A’s, who had the best record in the AL at 66-41 at the time of the trade. With Lester aboard, they’re 13-17.

Does Lester sense that his new teammates miss Cespedes?

“With a guy like that, a franchise player who is well-liked by all the fans, especially when you make a deal and then you’re not playing well, there are always going to be second-guessers,” Lester says. “I’m just worried about how I can do my job the best I can. That’s all I’m concerned with.

“There are always going to be people who don’t like a deal.”

As the A’s burn, one Dodgers person drew an interesting corollary to then-Los Angeles general manager Paul DePodesta pulling a shocker at the July trade deadline in 2004 by dealing Paul Lo Duca, Guillermo Mota and Juan Encarnacion to the Marlins for Bill Murphy, Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi.

The Dodgers were scorching hot, having gone 21-7 in July. After the deal, the chemistry was never the same in a shell-shocked clubhouse, and though Jim Tracy’s Dodgers won the NL West that summer, they were beaten soundly in an NL Division Series by the Cardinals.


4. Sliding Home, Striking Out

What began as a well-intentioned rule to prevent baserunners from using catchers as target practice has become an unmitigated disaster. Rule 7.13, known by many as the Buster Posey Rule, was implemented this season to prevent home-plate collisions and concussions.

But while it has done its intended job of keeping catchers from getting trampled, it has caused far more problems and confusion than ever intended. The question now is when the new rule protecting catchers is going to be changed, not if it is going to be changed.

The basic premise as the rule stands now is that catchers cannot block the plate, and baserunners are disallowed from running into catchers. The problem is, in the split-second a play at the plate takes, there is far too much gray area and confusion.

Consequently, there is near-100 percent unanimity among those in uniform that the rule stinks. And there is near-100 percent certainty that the rule will be changed.

“It’s just how much and what portion,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin tells Bleacher Report. “I like some sort of balance. I like keeping the catcher safe.

“If you say no to targeting the catcher if he’s not standing in front of the plate, I think that would do it.”

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a former MLB catcher, favors a rule that would make every runner slide home no matter what. Melvin’s proposal makes sense, too: It would be easier for an umpire to make a judgment call as to whether a baserunner veers out of his way to hit a catcher than the present quagmire of interpretation.

“I hope they get rid of that, like, tomorrow,” Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter told Bob Nightengale of USA Today (h/t the Detroit Free Press). “This thing is terrible, man. I think, honestly, they should scrap it.”

The level of confusion at the moment is such that whenever a call at the plate goes against a team, that team’s manager should challenge the call 100 percent of the time because you never know how replay officials in New York are going to rule.

“You’re seeing guys go out every time,” Melvin says. “And that’s not the spirit of the rule.”

Says Hunter: “The whole thing is stupid.”


5. Another Rule That Needs to Go

As long as we’re ranting, and as long as September has arrived to quickly end another summer, it is long overdue that MLB tweak this entire September call-up situation.

Late-season call-ups serve a purpose and are an important aspect each season for an organization to get a look at players who may be able to help next season. But in no other sport do the rules change so drastically at the most important time of the season regarding rosters. When teams suddenly are allowed to move to 12-man bullpens, things get ridiculous (not to mention, games can become even more tedious).

Here’s what should happen: Clubs can summon as many minor-leaguers as they want in September. But each night, they should have to designate which 30 players are active (or 27, or 29, pick a number).

Within that, the base 25-man roster from Aug. 31 should remain frozen for the month of September. The point of that would be to prevent clubs from deactivating the four pitchers from their rotations who are not starting that night.

“I think there should be some roster management from the league to keep it equitable,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia says, and nearly every other manager is in agreement.


6. Tony Gwynn vs. Mike Trout

Talk about how the game has changed…

Tony Gwynn: 434 career strikeouts in 10,232 plate appearances over 20 years.

Mike Trout: 456 career strikeouts in 2,092 plate appearances over parts of four years (and just two full seasons).

Granted, Gwynn was extraordinary. In 1995, en route to winning his fifth batting title (.368), he fanned an incredible 15 times in 535 at-bats (577 plate appearances).

And this in no way is a condemnation of Trout, who currently has a career-high 31 homers and would go No. 1 for most people today (including me) if you were starting your own team.

Just very interesting numbers from two unique talents from two very different eras.


7. Angels Get Their Groove Back

Know what’s one of the quietest yet nicest stories of the season?

Don Baylor, 65, back in the Angels’ dugout as hitting coach.

Baylor going down on Opening Day with a fractured femur in his right leg while catching the ceremonial first pitch remains one of the most indelible—and unbelievable—moments from this year. 

As if that wasn’t bad enough on its own, it happened during Baylor’s homecoming. The man known as “Groove” starred for the Angels as an outfielder/DH from 1977-1982, and his return to the organization as hitting coach was a heartfelt story.

It isn’t over.

“It’s good he’s smiling again,” says Dr. Craig Milhouse, the Angels’ orthopedist who has been overseeing Baylor’s recovery following a surgery that took five-and-a-half hours back in April.

“Finally, full mobility,” Baylor says.

Though he received clearance to return to work June 24, he only received clearance to do everything—walking up and down stairs, carrying his own bag through airports—10 or so days ago.

Shortly after the surgery, he was pushing 90 pounds of weight with his leg during rehab. Now, he’s up to 195 pounds.

“It’s what players have to go through,” Baylor says.

As a player, Baylor mostly avoided serious injury. He missed time with a broken hamate bone once and with a broken toe on another occasion. But this?

“Catch a ceremonial first pitch, and you’re out two months,” Baylor says. “I tried to stand up, and my leg was like a Slinky.”

He can smile now, and that sure is great to see.


8. Waiver-Wire Fishing

Regarding the last-minute shopping over the weekend…

Adam Dunn to the A’s: Clearly, things in Oakland have deteriorated to the point of near-desperation. Maybe Dunn will help (and did with a homer in his first at-bat with the team Monday), but nobody is going to replace the presence of Yoenis Cespedes. One thing about Dunn: His August .349 slugging percentage and .570 OPS were his worst for any month this season.

John Mayberry Jr. to the Blue Jays: Mostly a cosmetic move for the Jays, who were supposed to contend but now have fallen back far enough that manager John Gibbons’ future is a hot-button topic on local talk radio. Mayberry, on the disabled list since July 21 with a sore left wrist, was finishing an injury-rehab assignment and mostly will be used against left-handed pitching. As for Gustavo Pierre, the minor league third baseman going back to the Phillies: At two Class A stops in 2013, he had 128 strikeouts and four walks.

Alejandro De Aza to the Orioles: Nice late-season pickup by Birds GM Dan Duquette. De Aza can play all three outfield positions and gives Baltimore another lefty bat as the O’s move closer to October by running away with the AL East


9. Groundhog Day in St. Paul

I always go to the wrong games


9a. Rock ‘n’ Roll Lyric of the Day

Here’s to long Labor Day weekends, stretch runs, good school years and autumn leaves…

“Well, my mama so sad

“Daddy’s just mad

“‘Cause I ain’t gonna have the chance he had

“My success is anybody’s guess

“But like a fool, I’m bettin‘ on happiness”

—Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “American Dream Plan B”


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has over two decades of experience covering MLB, including 14 years as a national baseball columnist at CBSSports.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball @ScottMillerBbl.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

As Bochy Works to Put Pieces Together, Giants Will Live or Die with Pitching

SAN FRANCISCO — One night after Madison Bumgarner lit up AT&T Park by taking a perfect game into the eighth inning, Tim Hudson was electric. Stretch-run energy buzzed through the Giants clubhouse in that old, familiar way.

“This is the fun time of year,” Buster Posey said after blasting the second walk-off homer of his career. “We’re fortunate to be fighting for the division.   

“A lot of us know what we’re capable of doing if we do get into the playoffs.”


But this is a tricky team to decipher, one of the most difficult to peg of manager Bruce Bochy’s 20-year managerial career.

“I’d say so,” Bochy agreed in that gruff, bear-like voice that has directed so many past winners.

No doubt, key injuries have derailed the Giants. He might not be a marquee name nationally, but it is no coincidence that San Francisco’s swan dive from those heady days of leading the NL West by 9.5 games (June 8) coincided with leadoff hitter Angel Pagan’s two-month absence with a back injury.

Brandon Belt’s frequent trips to the DL, Hector Sanchez’s concussion and the Giants’ decision to not add significant payroll at the trading deadline this year have opened some holes and limited their ability to plug others, stretching a thin lineup to the point of breaking.

But where the old Giants magic is really lacking is on the mound, with Matt Cain out for the season, Tim Lincecum in a funk, Sergio Romo barred from closing and a rotation that is tied for eighth in the NL with a 3.68 ERA.

Bottom line: Unlike the old days here, San Francisco’s pitching is no longer good enough to cover lineup shortcomings.

Which is why this week’s hit parade of Bumgarner, Hudson and Yusmeiro Petit, who set a major league record by retiring his 46th consecutive hitter Thursday afternoon, at least offered encouragement.

“It’s been a roller coaster, no question,” said Hudson, 39, now 9-9 with a 2.90 ERA. “Anytime you lose one of your top rotation guys.”

“He gets that blood-in-the-water sensation whenever he gets a lead,” reliever Jeremy Affeldt said of Cain. “He’s not going to lose it.”

The Giants staff has already lost enough this season.

Cain has been as big a fixture at AT&T as that ginormous Coca-Cola bottle beyond the left field stands. He made 30 or more starts in eight consecutive seasons before he had to pull the plug this summer after 15. Surgery to remove bone chips and have some bone spurs cleaned up was done earlier this month. Given his workload over the years, it could have been worse. Much worse.

As for Lincecum, the Giants should be deeply concerned with him given his 9.49 ERA over his past six starts. Everybody agrees a time out is in order.

“Just trying to take it slow,” Lincecum said. “Day by day and see where it goes.”

The immensely likeable Lincecum can be easily derailed, which is leading some to wonder whether the absence of Sanchez, who likely is out for the season with a concussion, has sent him spinning off his axis. Remember, it took Lincecum a bit to gather his wits when the Giants traded one of his favorite catchers, Bengie Molina, in 2010 to clear space for Posey.

“It’s a good question,” Bochy said of the Sanchez-Lincecum connection. “It’s a hard one to answer because I know Tim got used to throwing to Hector. Nothing against the kid, [Andrew] Susac, who has done a nice job. But whether that did play into a part of Tim’s struggles, I don’t know.”

It is not the only mystery Bochy and the Giants must solve. The phenomenal pitching that carried them to World Series wins in 2010 and ’12 is fading. This year’s rotation, as noted, is tied for eighth in the NL in ERA after finishing 13th (4.37) in 2013.

That may be an improvement, but from ’09 to ’12, Giants starters never ranked worse than fifth in the league, and they ranked either second or third in three of those four seasons.

Still, as of Thursday, the Giants are a playoff team. Though they trail the Dodgers by 4.5 games in the NL West, they doggedly cling to the NL’s second wild-card slot, 1.5 games ahead of the Braves.

This is all part of why Posey uses the word “fortunate” when describing his team’s positioning right now.

Veteran Jake Peavy was acquired from Boston to pitch. With Cain out, he’s a necessity. Petit has replaced Lincecum in the rotation—for how long, Bochy cannot yet say. He simply doesn’t know. The veteran manager, whose 1,600th career win Wednesday moved him past Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda to No. 19 on the all-time list, has had success in the past shuffling the rotation with guys such as Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong.

“When you get diminishing returns, you’ve got to change it up,” Bochy said, and so he has.

Scouts were still raving about Bumgarner’s dominance a day after he throttled the Rockies. Hudson, Petit…things are beginning to perk back up around San Francisco. Every day left on the schedule is another day for the Giants to minimize the damage done by their 10-16 June, 12-14 July and their 12-24 record over their past 36 home games.

As Affeldt said, “Baseball can turn around in a hurry if you don’t tuck your tail between your legs. If you get knocked down seven times, you’ve got to get up that eighth time.”


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has over two decades of experience covering MLB, including 14 years as a national baseball columnist at CBSSports.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball @ScottMillerBbl.

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Sergio Romo: Will He Last as the San Francisco Giants’ Full-Time Closer?

When Brian Wilson went down in the first week of the 2012 season, many Giants fans panicked. Some lost hope for the whole year. 

After all, the Giants didn’t have any proven ninth inning options, and the last several World Series champions, including the 2010 Giants, had proven closers. 

Bruce Bochy didn’t make many fans feel better when installing Santiago Casilla as the closer, and after a very good start as closer, Casilla folded and cost the Giants some games. So then, the Giants went to a closer-by-committee format. 

Why? Because they didn’t fully trust Sergio Romo’s durability at closer.

Eventually, Bochy started giving most of the opportunities for saves to Romo, and he made Bochy‘s trust pay off in the regular season and in the playoffs. Romo went 1-0 with an 0.84 ERA and four saves with nine games finished in the playoffs, closing out the World Series with three perfect innings (total) in the World Series.

However, there are still some concerns about the little ball of energy that is the San Francisco closer.

Romo’s elbow has always been a concern, and his small frame is as well. While I’m not worried about his size, as he has pitched three days in a row before and is much heavier than Tim Lincecum, his elbow, which acts up at times, is a concern.

Even when Romo was clearly the best in the bullpen, his durability concerns prompted Bochy to give the job to Casilla. However, after seeing Casilla thrive in low-pressure situations or in the eighth inning, it’s hard to give him the job. The Giants pursued other relievers in the offseason, but they didn’t want to use Brandon Lyon as the closer.


Romo has the talent to close games, and he showed he has the mentality to be a closer. It was on display even more when Romo allowed three consecutive hits and a run against the Reds in Game 5 of the NLDS. One home run would have ended the Giant’s season, but he recovered to battle Jay Bruce and win in 12 pitches, before striking out Scott Rolen to finish off the game.

That’s the moment when everyone realized that Romo had the guts to close. It would have taken a lot for Bochy to insert Romo into another bullpen role, and the closer-by-committee won’t work for a whole season. It worked during the stretch run, but Romo is a better option, and Bochy knows how much easier it is for relievers to operate in a settled role.

As Andrew Baggarly of csnbayarea.com notes here, Bochy will have Romo start out as closer and save almost all of the games. He may give occasional save opportunities to Jeremy Affeldt or Casilla, but Romo will be the closer.   

Casilla has struggled in high-pressure situations and probably can’t operate in that situation for a whole season, and Bochy probably agrees. Javier Lopez cannot pitch to righties at all, and lefties, who are supposed to do well against Romo, hit under .200 against him last year.

So if the Giants do need to replace him, they won’t have many options from within the team. To get another closer, they will have to trade some good players. The Giants don’t operate on trades or signings of big-name players, so doing that unless Romo goes down with an injury seems unlikely.

Bochy is a manager who runs on trust, and if Romo has a couple of bad games he won’t yank him from his role. Romo is consistent, and he took a heavier workload in 2012. There are breaks in the baseball season, and it’s not like Romo will be pitching every day. The Giants have a very strong bullpen that can eat up innings and five guys in the rotation that can go the distance on any day, so it’s not like Romo will be pitching every day.

Professional athletes are strong and can handle a lot, and Romo can definitely handle the closer’s workload. In the playoffs, he showed he has the late-season stuff and the guts to close out games and succeed on a big stage, and he’s ready to attack in 2013.

Setup man is no easy role, and that’s the role Romo dominated in for most of the 2012 season and all of 2011. Romo has proven to be durable, and he has proven that he can carve up any hitter at any time. Just ask Miguel Cabrera.

Last year, Romo converted 18 of his 19 save opportunities (including the postseason), and the only one he didn’t convert was when Casilla was closing and Romo blew an eighth inning lead. Romo’s ERA was 1.79 last year, and there’s not much more the Giants can ask for him to do. He’s proven to be the best reliever on the the team, and he’s proven that he can handle closing.

Which is why he’s going to be the Giants closer for a long time.  

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2012 World Series: Why Bruce Bochy Is Now a Surefire Hall of Fame Manager

Winning two World Series titles puts San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy in some impressive company. 

In MLB history, 22 managers have won at least two championships. As you would expect, some of them are among baseball’s all-time greats. 

Casey Stengel and Joe McCarthy top the list with seven, Connie Mack has five and Joe Torre and Walter Alston have four apiece. Next up are Sparky Anderson, Miller Huggins, John McGraw and Tony La Russa, who all have three series victories in the Fall Classic. 

Bochy certainly has an opportunity to win another World Series—perhaps as soon as next year. At 57 years old, he presumably will manage for many seasons to come. Staying in the dugout is surely a much easier decision while he’s at the top of his game, leading one of the best franchises in the league and a perennial contender. 

However, what if Bochy decided to call it a career right now after 18 seasons as a major league skipper? As his résumé stands right now, would he be considered a Hall of Fame manager? Does two championships make that automatic? 

Unfortunately for Bochy, the answer is no. 

Cito Gaston won two championships with the Toronto Blue Jays. Is anyone suggesting him for induction into Cooperstown? Others with a pair of titles but not in the Hall of Fame include Ralph Houk and Tom Kelly. Terry Francona is another, though his career isn’t over yet.

But making Bochy’s career all about how many World Series he has won is reductive. His entire body of work has to be judged. Would Bochy be considered a Hall of Famer if he hadn’t won any championships?

Let’s take a look at what else he accomplished in his 18-year managerial career. 

Bochy has 1,454 wins as a major league manager. That total currently ranks him No. 23 all-time. He’s 546 victories away from 2,000, which is the managerial equivalent of 3,000 hits or 600 home runs for a hitter and 300 wins for a pitcher.

Ten managers in the history of MLB have won 2,000 games. Becoming No. 11 would put Bochy in an exclusive club. The only other two active managers who arguably have a shot at 2,000 wins are two skippers Bochy just defeated in the postseason: the Detroit Tigers‘ Jim Leyland and Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds.

If you wanted to nitpick, you could say that Bochy would have the lowest winning percentage (.502) of those 10 managers except for Connie Mack. But if he keeps winning the way he has—and there’s no reason to think he won’t—that percentage will improve. And really, is anyone going to be talking about Bochy’s winning percentage if he has 2,000 wins?

Bochy has also won six division titles—four with the San Diego Padres and two with the Giants and three National League pennants. That’s an impressive list of accomplishments, and it should be enough to Bochy into the Hall of Fame even if he doesn’t get 2,000 wins. 

However, Bochy is very likely to reach that milestone. As Giants manager, he has averaged 84 wins per season. Over his career, he has averaged 81 victories per year. If he were to keep up that pace, it would take Bochy another seven seasons to get to 2,000.

But during the three seasons in which the Giants have won two championships and finished second in the NL West, Bochy has averaged 91 wins per season. If San Francisco continues to play at its current level of performance, Bochy could get to 2,000 in six years. 

Would Bochy want to manage that much longer? He’s already put in 18 years, and if he gets that third championship, perhaps he’ll conclude that there’s not much more he can accomplish. This could of course depend on whether or not he feels he has a team that could win again.

Bochy is under contract for next season with an option for 2014. But given his success, he will probably be the Giants manager as long as he wants to be.

Like anyone else in any other profession, Bochy probably has other things he wants to do with his life. But given that he hasn’t his made interests outside of baseball known to the public—if he has, please let us know in the comments—perhaps his focus on baseball is all-encompassing. 

In that case, maybe Bochy does want to stay in baseball for as long as possible, and as the 2,000-win milestone gets closer, he’ll want to reach that mountaintop. 

However, if he is thinking about his legacy, he has nothing to worry about. The man is already a Hall of Fame manager. He could absolutely cement that legacy with another World Series title—an accomplishment that seems quite attainable. But even without a third championship, he’s proven himself to be one of the best managers in recent memory. 


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