Entries in Bruce Bochy (40)


Oracle overflowing with fans, emotion for Bochy

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

SAN FRANCISCO — The tributes were so effusive and the ovations so long and loud, it was almost possible to forget a game had been played on this bittersweet Sunday, which considering the result was probably for the best.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven 


At Oracle, video tributes to Boch — and a loss to the Pirates

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — Andre Iguodala got the biggest ovation. Or rather, the video of him congratulating Bruce Bochy did. The preceding one, Joe Pavelski, the longtime member of the Sharks, offering his video appreciation, also drew a sizable cheer.

As we’ve known since February, since before spring training of a season now nearing its end, “Boch” — as he’s called on the billboard on the left field fence at Oracle Park, his nickname preceded by “Thank you” — the Giants manager will retire.

For another couple weeks it still will be Bochy’s team, in a matter of speaking. He’s doing what he always did, deciding on the lineup, bringing in relievers, if with some players who in effect are auditioning.

Wednesday night the Pirates beat the Giants, 6-3, in one of those auditions.

Brandon Belt was a starter. So was Brandon Crawford. Names from the past. 

Kevin Pillar and Stephen Vogt, also in the lineup, are proven major leaguers, and in the few months since he came in trade Mike Yastrzemski very much seems to have become one.

As for the others, Mauricio Dubon, Jaylin Davis, Corban Joseph — three weeks ago he was on the A’s playing against the Giants — and starting pitcher Logan Webb, does anyone have a clue?

“Webb had good stuff,” said Bochy. And gave up seven hits and four runs in 4.2 innings.

San Francisco dropped to a 70-76 record. Attendance was announced as 26,627. That’s tickets sold. Maybe 18,000 were in the park. Maybe.

Difficult days and nights for a franchise that won three World Series in five years, that had announced sellouts for seven years plus.

Worse, the Dodgers just won their seventh straight pennant (but so far no World Series). It’s the 1980s all over again, Bad teams — well, teams that aren’t very good — and bad crowds.

Which leads to the eternal question, to wit: Now what?

Change, that’s what. Change that’s evident in the front office, change that’s evident with the reduction of ticket prices and change evident with roster.

All supposedly leading to change in results.

To bring the Giants back to where they were as recently as 2014. To bring fans back to Oracle. Those rows of empty seats look terrible.

Farhan Zaidi was hired a year ago from the Dodgers (he helped win some of those pennants) to be the Giants' president of baseball operations, the guy who’s supposed to bring the team back to life and back up in the standings — they’re roughly 20 back of those Dodgers, which perhaps doesn’t seen awful only when compared to 40 back in 2017.

Zaidi told us there was no quick fix. Is there a slow one? 

A few weeks ago the Giants seemed to be making progress: a 500 record, 65-65, on August 29. Then, a plummet.

Possibly the present doesn’t matter. Possibly only the future matters. Accomplishments or lack of same will be noted in coming seasons.

The Dodgers may overwhelm you, home run after home run, but the Giants will have to pester you.

No matter who runs the team, it's the ballpark, Oracle, that dictates the style. The Astros or A’s will hit more home runs in a week than the Giants in a month.

Of course, an occasional homer would be advisory. Those 2-1 games are nerve-wracking and not always with the Giants in front.

In February, even before pitchers and catchers reported, Zaidi told Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times he intended not only to change the Giants' roster but also the culture.

And even before pitchers and catchers reported, various forecasts saw the Giants winning anywhere from 74 to 78 games, totals that unless San Francisco plays like it did in July seem relatively accurate.

Zaidi, through his metrics (he graduated from both MIT and Cal), helped the Dodgers find a couple of less touted players, Chris Taylor and the guy who ruins the Giants, Max Muncey.

“Nobody was writing about those guys when we traded for them,” Zaidi told McCullough. “And really a lot of the organizational success with those guys was not necessarily their acquisition but giving them the opportunity.”

There will be plenty of opportunities with the Giants, that’s for certain.


Bryce Harper? No mentions at Giants camp

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Not once was there a mention of Bryce Harper. At least within earshot.

There was talk about the Giants' pitching rotation for the first few exhibition games, Chris Stratton starting Saturday against the Angels, Madison Bumgarner on Sunday in the home opener against the Cubs.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven


Bochy has a new view of McCutchen and Longoria

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — The thinking last year, misled as it might have been, was that the Giants would sign Giancarlo Stanton, the free agent with the big bat. But of course he went to the Yankees, so San Francisco ended up trading for Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, who, well, aren’t Giancarlo Stanton.

But as Giants manager Bruce Bochy explained, they have attributes that, from the opposing dugout, were not as apparent as they have turned out to be.

Numbers were only part of the equation, said Bochy on a Monday night when the Giants returned from an awful road trip — they were almost zero for Pennsylvania — and, in un-Giants-like style, got home runs, doubles and a 10-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

McCutchen, obtained from Pittsburgh, had a couple of those doubles, his 1,499th and 1,500th hits in the majors. Longoria, who came from Tampa Bay, had the other and a single.

After the victory that pushed the Giants back to .500 (21-21), Bochy gave a baseball man’s observations about skills that a fan or journalist may not understand.

“When you watch those great players with tremendous talent, from the other side,” said Bochy, “you are hoping they don’t hurt you and beat you in some way. But you do appreciate the talent they have. Until you have a chance to see them on an everyday basis, to work with them, you don’t appreciate how good they are.

“Five-tool players (hit, run, throw, field, hit with power). The ball (McCutchen) hit in center would have been out of every other ballpark. He’s got speed. Doing a great job in right field. You watch those guys every day and have a basis on how good they are.”

They had company. In the eighth inning of a game that would feature 27 hits, Brandon Belt hit his seventh home run of the season. Earlier shortstop Brandon Crawford, who would have been rested if so many infielders weren’t injured, had two doubles and drove in two runs.

The evening was unusual. The small crowd (36,156 announced) seemed just as interested — maybe more interested — in the Warriors' playoff victory over the Houston Rockets.

A 3.5 earthquake centered across the bay in Oakland was felt in the stands. And the Giants, after losing six in a row at Philly and Pittsburgh, won their second in a row.

“We played well tonight,” affirmed Bochy, who was less happy with the performances on the road. “It’s tough travel coming back from Pittsburgh. But we were ready to play. I just loved the energy.”

And the runs. Every time it appeared the Giants would break things open, going in front 6-1 in the third, then 10-4 in the eighth, the Reds, who were on a six-game win streak and had swept the Dodgers in L.A., got close — if never in front.

“It was important we got those runs,” said Bochy. “Important to start a home stand this way.”

Chris Stratton was the Giants' starter, but he came out after five innings, having been battered for two homers and four runs.

“We’re fortunate we hit tonight,” said Bochy, “because they were scoring runs too. Those are the things that win ballgames, clutch hitting. Really through our lineup, we have professional hitters who know how to drive in runs. They have a nose for an RBI.”

On the 4-6 trip (which started with three wins in Atlanta, followed by four losses in Philly and two more in Pittsburgh), the Giants had a nose for the strikeout. Then Sunday, they beat the Pirates 5-0. Exhale.

Everything that went wrong suddenly went right. On Monday, catcher Buster Posey threw out Rosell Herrera trying to steal in the sixth, halting a Reds rally.

“To me, that was on one of the turning points of the game,” said Bochy. “That was a beautiful throw.”


Giants trying to take two steps forward without a step back

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — These Giants are different, certainly from those of the championship years, even the years when they weren’t champions but were successful. Different, they believe, from last year, when the bottom fell out and the fans’ faith fell off.

These Giants are trying to take two steps forward without more than one step back, a team in which every situation evolves into an incident, good or bad.

A win, in a game or more notably in a series, is large. A defeat, such as that 15-2 debacle on Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park, is taken as a sign that it’s going to be another awful season.

Already, a baseball expert from ESPN, Buster Olney, has suggested that by early summer if the Giants are out of the pennant race, which could happen, they trade Madison Bumgarner, which won’t happen. Hey, it’s not even May, and while San Francisco is down in the standings it’s only two games below .500.

The Dodgers and Padres come to AT&T consecutively, and in the post-game presser Wednesday someone asked Giants manager Bruce Bochy if it was time to make a move. On the field, not the roster.

Bochy pointed out that, despite being routed by the Washington Nationals, the Giants won the series two games to one, as they did the previous series against the Angels at Anaheim.

“Well, I think it’s early to make our move,” said Bochy. “We won two series. There’s no being content with that, and we got a good team (the NL champion Dodgers) coming in. Yeah, we do need to be more consistent here. We got to get more runs up there. But with the exception of today, we’ve been pretty good on the mound.”

But Wednesday, with Jeff Samardzija making his second start after spending time on the disabled list, they were not good at all, the Nats scoring three runs in the top of the first and bunches thereafter.

“It’s important we have a good home stand before we hit the road,” Bochy said.

Mac Williamson, who had homered in the previous two games against the Nats, didn’t play Wednesday. “He had a stiff neck, and we scratched him,” Bochy said. “He should be back Friday against the Dodgers.”

Not that Williamson’s presence would have meant much. “It was one of those games that started rough,” said Bochy, doing his Stephen Colbert routine, “and got worse.”

And with Cy Young winner Max Scherzer pitching for the Nats, even if a bit imperfectly — but only a bit — the Giants had no chance in this one.

Samardzija only made it into the fourth. He was charged with six of the 15 runs. “Just one of those days,” said Samardzija. “No explanation for it. Yeah, a pitcher wants to get that good rhythm going. When you get a chance against a good lineup, you want to get guys early and often.”

He barely got them late and infrequently.

Good pitchers, indeed, have bad days. On another team, a contender such as the Dodgers, the Red Sox or the Diamondbacks, it wouldn’t matter. But on the Giants, everything matters.

Such as the very ineffective pitching of lefthanded reliever Josh Osich (four hits, four runs, 1 1/3 innings Wednesday). Osich was sharp during the exhibition season, but he has an 8.10 earned run average in the games that count this spring.

“They’re not on track,” Bochy said about Osich and Corey Gearrin, who although not allowing a run has a 6.14 ERA. ”Osich had some good moments today. Corey is just battling himself instead of going out there and attacking the strike zone.

“This game is all about confidence. You get shaken, you don’t throw with as much conviction. Just let it go. For these guys, there’s a fine line when the other team gets in run-scoring position. You want guys to expand, but there’s a fine line there in turning it up a notch with men on base.”

The Giants are hovering, they need a strong bullpen. They need Mac Williamson to continue his hitting. What they don’t need, after he’s healthy once more, is to trade Madison Bumgarner.

That would be dozens of steps backward without any forward.