The last time the San Francisco Giants needed a new manager, they didn’t have to look for long. This time, they didn’t have to look far. They just looked down the coast.
Reports indicate that the Giants plan to name San Diego Padres manager Bruce Bochy as their own new manager as soon as tomorrow.
Bochy has been with the Padres for so long, he’s practically an institution in San Diego. His 12 years of skippering with the Padres was the second longest active stint by any manager with one team only to Bobby Cox’s 17 years with the Atlanta Braves. In addition to that, Bochy has been with the Padres for 24 consecutive years, starting with the final 6 years of his playing career from 1983-1988.
Bochy is the winningest Padres manager in history, and had a 951-975 record in the regular season with them. He led the Padres to 4 division championships, including the last two in a row. He also led the Padres to a World Series appearance in 1998.
Bochy is known as a player’s manager around baseball, and is popular with many players, including some current Giants. Current Giant and former Padre Mark Sweeney said "With Bochy, everybody pretty much knows where he stands and he lets his coaches coach."
The Giants only officially got permission to negotiate with Bochy on Wednesday and spoke with him on Thursday. The move came quickly, as Bochy will be managing the MLB all-stars doing an exhibition tour of Japan and leaves this coming Monday. He replaced Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who left citing health issues.
Bochy was one of the Giants four top finalists for the position, and the only one with previous major league managing experience. The Giants had also been considering longtime bench coach Ron Wotus, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitching coach and former Giant pitcher Bud Black, and New York Mets third base coach Manny Acta, who will also be part of the MLB tour of Japan.
Neither the Giants nor Bochy had comment as of Thursday evening.
There is a little mystery around the Padres willingness to part with Bochy, especially to a division rival. While Bochy was occasionally criticized by local fans and columnists, particularly in the post-season, there were no apparent rifts with the team. Both Padres CEO Sandy Alderson and G.M. Kevin Towers had nothing but complimentary words for Bochy, who has one year left his contract with the Padres worth $1.9 million.
Reports indicate that the Padres are not planning to ask the Giants for compensation if they do sign Bochy.
Bochy relieves former Giants manager Felipe Alou, who was let go after 4 disappointing seasons in San Francisco. Alou took over the defending NL champs in 2003, and led the team to a 100 win season, leading the division every day of the season. But the upstart Florida Marlins, who eventually won the World Series that year, eliminated the team in the first round. The Giants remained in contention late in both 2004 and 2005, but finished far below .500 in 2005, finishing at 75-87. The Giants then suffered a late season swoon in 2006 to fall out of contention and finish with nearly the same record as in 2005 (75-86).
Bochy joins the Giants in a state of rebuilding, as the Giants have 11 potential free agents, including longtime superstar Barry Bonds. A lot of speculation surrounds how the team will rebuild, whether it will bring back the controversial Bonds or the temperamental closer Armando Benitez, pursue a mediocre free agent market, or giving starting jobs (or playing time at all) to young players like Todd Linden and Kevin Frandsen.
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