Thursday, October 26, 2006

What the shit?

Can one of you Pads guys please explain to me what the fuck is going on with this Bochy situation? Because, as a Phillies fan, I can't understand the first fucking thing about this. Maybe it's an NL West thing. So, please explain how the following things happen:

1. A guy who's been in the organization most of his adult life, and who has turned the team into a contender, suddenly decides to leave for a divisional rival. This happens despite the fact that the team he's leaving has a glut of young talent, and the team he's taking over has a surfeit of decrepitude and assholishness.

2. A long-suffering franchise finally finds a manager who can lead it to two consecutive playoff berths. As far as I know, he's well-liked by the team and the city. And then they give division rivals permission to approach him?

There's got to be something I'm not aware of here. Did San Diego (the franchise or the city) want Bochy gone? Did he want out? Is he gay and itching to live in San Fran? Does he want a town with a better literary scene (please say it's this)?

I just don't get it. That would be like the Mets hiring away the most successful Phillies manager in history, Terry Fran... er, Charlie Man... er ... that dude who managed them in 1980!

That's your cue, anonymous Padre experts. Enlighten.


Anonymous said...

"He had a big head and a face so ugly it became almost fascinating"
— Ayn Rand

Speaking of Bochy, I was hoping you'd ask!

The Bochy situation is a little complicated. As you probably know, the Padres were essentially handed over to Sandy Alderson, formerly of the A's and MLB, midway through last season. He was named the Padres' president and given power second only to the owner, who is one of Alderson's best friends.

The writing was on the gorgeous, sand-colored indian limestone walls. Alderson soon began to fill front-office roles with his A's-Moneyball guys and chasing off Pads loyalists. (NOTE: Doyle, this is no knock on either or an indictment of well-thought out baseball. Just the best way to characterize them).

Grady Fuson was hired from the Rangers, Paul DePodesta was pulled off the waiver wire and a handful of others were summoned to rebuild the front office (which needed fixing, but probably not a complete overhaul) in a matter of months.

This left Bochy and Towers in tough spots: on one hand, both were FINALLY reaping the rewards of 6 or so wait-for-the-ballpark-to-open seasons. On the other hand, they didn't match up with the new organizationial philosophy. The writing was on the wall last July: that's why Kevin Towers was allowed to interview with the D'backs last year after Joe Garagiola Jr. left.

Alderson took the same approach with Bochy this offseason — he wasn't going to fire him, but figured if Boch could get better money/contract/mustache wax elsewhere, he should go for it. Bochy jumped at the chance, apparently: After being courted (but not interviewed) by the Cubs, he got on this Giants thing. He is supposedly great friends with Brian Sabean and a guy who's used to coaching horseshit teams, which means he'll fit in great in the Bay. They're going to be awful, I think, for his tenure there. Hella awful.

But what will be the legacy of the man who leads the Padres in wins — and losses? A small percentage will think he was a failure. He wasn't a failure to me, who remembered the '96 and '98 seasons. But if you define failure the same way the new bosses do (failure to advance deep into the playoffs, questionable personnel decisions and a general disconnect with upper management), he flopped.

He was also slipping, I think, in the decision-making department. Bochy is best-known for being an even-keel, low-stress guy and a favorite of players.
But his undying loyalties and unwillingness to make tough moves (it took him two weeks to finally run off Castilla after ownership told him to) made him a dinosaur. Famously, he pinch-hit with Bellhorn in the playoffs because A) That's what he had done all year, even though Belly had played just twice or something in the month of September, and B) Bellhorn had more experience in so-called "big games", though he was hitting under .200 at the time. It was also, to anybody watching the team, the worst move any manager made all year. And that includes John Gibbons' throw-down with Jimmy Key, or Manuel Lee, or whoever ...

I don't really know how to feel. Bochy's been around so long that I actually had to look up the guy he replaced (Jim Riggleman) when he took over.

Certainly, letting him walk isn't the way to treat a guy who never had a chance for about eight seasons because management had a nonexistent farm system and no payroll.

On the other had, I think maybe the new management did him a favor by allowing him to leave for a longer contract, more money and a chance to be himself in a friendlier environment rather than can him or — worse ¬— forbid him from talking to other teams until his contract ran out next fall.

I'm pretty sure Padre fans won't be too bummed. They liked Boch the way we all liked Dick Tomey — they were glad to have him most of the time, but silently wondered what sexier, more fiery coaches would be available if he left. Actually, the Tomey-Bochy comparison is great, for reasons I can't go into here (space). Both peaked in 1998, for instance.

New management will control the public outcry based on how they handle this hire. They COULD try to get a manager who's been there before, who knows how to handle players, who can galvanize a city ready for a winner. They could hire Tony Gwynn, or Tim Flannery, and make everyone happy until April. Or they can go get Bud Black.

The Padres can either spend for talent or go cheap.

As a lifelong Padre fan, I'm resigned to the latter.


St said...

I guess Girardi's out of the question? And was Bochy the longest-tenured MLB manager?

Anonymous said...

I think the Pads are looking for somebody more user-friendly than Girardi. He had a hard enough time getting along with his own owner and GM — I shudder to think what a Moneyball guy would do to one of baseball's few remaining "feel" managers.


Diesel said...

For obvious reasons, I think most of what Ryan's said is pretty dead-on. Two observations of my own:

1) (I posit) Alderson didn't believe there was enough administrative oversight with the team. Because Towers and Bochy are best friends, a lot of people -- including Alderson, I think -- felt that Bochy had too much control over personnel decisions and the like. Anyone who's familiar with Alderson's reign in Oakland knows that he, like Billy Beane, don't think Managers should have a complete run of it. In fact, I sense they think that the GM-Manager relationship should actually be adversarial. So, in the eyes of a guy like Alderson, either KT or Bochy needed to eventually go if the Padres were going to move in a new direction.

2) Bochy was past slipping; he'd done slipped. That Bellhorn decision was the single-worst baseball decision of the year. Worse yet, it smacked as a fuck-you from Bochy to the front office. I have a feeling that one decision pretty much forced everyone's hand, which may have been Bochy's intention.

I'll miss Bochy, because I think he was a stand-up guy and one of the least-instrusive managers out there. He's pretty much the same person as Cito Gaston, save for one obvious difference (Hint: Cito's moustache was a little less full). As a Padres fan, I never felt Bochy cost his team wins, which is the greatest testament one can give to a manager.

One big problem: There isn't a real good candidate out there. All of the possible retreads are horrible fits (especially Girardi, who probably won't even get an interview). I have a feeling if Washington doesn't get the job in Oakland, Alderson will give him a ring.