Farhan sure has put us all in a pickle.
Giants fans are already reeling from three consecutive losing seasons. Giants fans are already reeling from the departure of everyone’s favorite skipper, Bruce Bochy. Giants fans are already reeling looking at the long-term contracts tied to Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, among others.
And then Farhan Zaidi, Giants head of baseball operations, the “next-gen” whiz kid who was supposed to usher the franchise into a 21st century-styled resurgence, went and hired Gabe Kapler as Bochy’s successor.
It’s not that Gabe Kapler is necessarily a bad person. Or that Gabe Kapler doesn’t know baseball. Or that Gabe Kapler is blithely careless or flip about how he approaches his craft.
It’s that Gabe Kapler comes with baggage. And it’s that Gabe Kapler has never really won on the big league level. And it’s that Gabe Kapler was fired in Philadelphia after two short seasons.
Last time a fired Philadelphian came to the Bay Area, it didn’t go so well, as I was just saying to my good friend Chip Kelly.
Let me be clear: I am a Giants fan. I am a season-ticket holder. I want the team to do well. It makes my trips to the ballpark so much more fun. It makes coming to work so much more fun.
So, in the end, I am hoping Kapler turns out to be the analytics love child of Sparky Anderson and Earl Weaver, and that wins and titles flow for a decade.
And I acknowledge there is hope — they say he’s an engaging dude, that he never throws players under the bus, that no one will outwork him.
But I very much dislike that the hiring of Kapler has pitted Giants fan vs. Giants fan. I very much dislike that what should be an exciting new era has started with clouds of suspicion and accusation.
We don’t need to get into the particulars of the 2015 incidents in the LA farm system. You probably know by now. It’s been discussed, dissected, analyzed. Zaidi has spoken at length. Kapler has spoken at length.
At this point, you have either decided that Kapler and Zaidi have learned from their past, and that they have addressed what it takes to run a proper organization. Or, you have decided that Kapler and Zaidi are not worthy of the black-and-orange brand, that, as one fan put it to me, “a little bit of the Giants’ spirit died” when they hired Kapler.
That’s what I mean about the pickle.
It stinks that we have to be even discussing this.
Farhan could have hired Hensley Meulens or Ron Wotus, and the fan base would have rejoiced. It would have been like George Seifert succeeding Bill Walsh.
But, that’s not how the world works. A new head of baseball ops isn’t going to want leftovers from the old regime.
Farhan could have hired Joe Maddon or Joe Girardi, name-brand guys who would have lent credibility. But those guys are established personas who may not have appreciated being told what to do with the lineup by Farhan.
He could have even hired an unknown, like Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro and Astros bench coach Joe Espada, to give the sense of a brand new start.
Instead, he went with the guy who divides the room. He went with the guy whose presence has some fans saying they won’t be back. That’s a curious thing.
Giants owner Rob Dean told the Chronicle that Kapler, to be hired with this much heat, has to be that much better than other candidates. That’s about as plain as it can be.
The future lies ahead. Kapler’s behavior and charisma will determine the energy surrounding the team. And, Farhan has to make some serious moves to build a winner.
He’s the guy that put the fans in this pickle. Now, he has to get the fans out of it.