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Murph: Should Bruce Bochy return as Giants manager in 2019?

© Stan Szeto | 2018 Sep 12

Now, we turn our attention to the question of Bruce Bochy.

Seems like every Jock Blog these days is a meditation on how the woeful Giants got into this fine mess, and how they can ever get out of it.

The guy they call “Boch” is next on the chopping block of topics.

Mired in an 11-game losing streak, longest in San Francisco Giant history, the beleaguered skipper of the leaky boat S.S. Gigante is the topic of fan and radio jock questions:

Should he return in 2019 as the manager?

In short, yes.

Now, this not to discount the many arguments in favor handing the ol’ gravelly-voiced bear a gold watch and a retirement banquet down at the local Elks Club. I get it. There are legitimate arguments for making a change. Among them:

— 12 years as a major-league manager is a long time for players to hear the same voice, even if the voice makes you pleasantly think of Sam Elliott every time you hear it. There’s a reason why there’s only one manager in MLB with longer tenure than Bochy, and Mike Scioscia’s Angels have made only one playoff appearance in the last nine seasons. And in that one, they were swept in the LDS. Sometimes, tenure can be a synonym for “stale”.

— The Giants have been bad for a while now. Since the All-Star Break of 2016, Bochy’s teams are 57 games under .500. Wow. That’s a .425 win percentage. Wow. That’s symptomatic of something larger.

— If the Giants are to go younger with trades in the offseason, perhaps a new, younger voice in the manger’s office should greet them.

And yet, I’m voting ‘stay’ for Bochy. Why?

— The larger blame for the free fall of the Giants has been personnel, not manager’s message or strategy. Whether because of injury or complacency or failure to live up to potential, key figures like Brandon Belt and Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford have not hit with any effect, at all. That’s not Bochy’s fault.

— When the Giants needed change after the 98-loss season, Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean handed him Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. While McCutchen was respectable until he was traded, Longoria’s switch to the National League has seen him veer towards career lows in batting average, on base percentage and OPS. Again, that’s not Bochy’s fault.

— When watching the Giants, how many times have you been struck by a bad Bochy move, or a questionable strategy? Infrequently, I’d venture. Sure, if you’re a small ball fan, you’d like to see Bochy employ it more. Sometimes, the call to Hunter Strickland or Mark Melancon in the bullpen will induce acid reflux in you. But for the most part, Bochy manages his lineups, his double-switches, and his bullpen with skill. You rarely get the feeling Bruce Bochy has been outfoxed.

And in the midst of it all, he still commands respect. When the Giants roll into a park, the opponent generally takes notice. Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies recently praised the Giants for playing so tough during their injury-laden, underperforming season, saying the Rockies always know Bochy’s teams will be ready. Statistics bear it out. The Giants have played the most games within a 3-run margin of any team in the big leagues.

The Giants clubhouse has not gone AWOL. There remains a level of professionalism to the manner in which they behave. Derek Holland called Bochy a “legend” and noted that he’d calmly held the team’s moral fiber together.

The problem, ultimately, has been the front office. That’s a whole ‘nother Jock Blog. If changes are to be made, I’d vote they start there. Whether Evans, or Sabean, but probably mostly Evans, the Giants have miscalculated badly on a number of personnel decisions. I ventured on the air to say Evans has sent Bochy into a gunfight with a butter knife, but a listener one-upped that and texted to say Evans has sent Bochy into a gunfight with a spork. That made me laugh.

Gallows humor, sports fans. It’s about all we have.

And Bruce Bochy back in 2019. That, too.


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