When I hear Farhan Zaidi describe his next Manager as a “good recruiter” i want to throw a chair through a window and scream.
“We want somebody who will be an effective recruiter as we go into free agency,” Zaidi said. “Like every organization, we want to sort of build a brand of players wanting to come here and play here. I think the manager is a big part of that. There are guys who don’t have managerial experience, but maybe they just ended long playing careers and they have relationships and they can be effective recruiters and be sort of attractive leaders for players. That’s definitely going to factor into it.”
and this is from Andrew Baggarly’s piece describing the reason why the Giants no longer have an interview room for the media:
Even after knocking out a wall, the Giants couldn’t fit their entire analytics staff in those clubhouse offices. That’s because, after a wave of hires this past winter, that staff became bigger than ever. The Giants have a senior data scientist, two senior analysts, four analysts and two associate analysts. They have no fewer than eight software engineers who develop proprietary baseball data systems. Then there is the performance science staff, which includes a biomechanist and five research scientists.
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY who cares about the Giants should let Farhan Zaidi anywhere near the Giants Managerial search. Just keep him in his computer room with his computer geeks doing computer geek things and let real baseball people make the important decisions like hiring the next Manager for one of the greatest franchises in professional sports history.
The Giants are not “a brand”, Farhan. They are a legendary baseball club and that means they need a Manager with the cojones, smarts, and gravitas to manager them, not some guy who just finished his playing career and can be your little “yes man” to push your buttons during games. If you want to attract the best free agents then build an attractive baseball club with a great Manager and a reputation for winning. That’s on the ownership and the President of Baseball Operations, not the Manager!
Major League Baseball is not college football and the San Francisco Giants are not exactly in Siberia. College Football coaches recruit. Major League Managers manage a baseball team, that is a series of professional athletes paid to play baseball and win games. A Major League Baseball Manager has one objective and one objective only: to win baseball games, to win enough baseball games to play in the postseason and then win the World Series.
He’s also winning in this postseason with a Texas Rangers team that looked dead in the water three weeks ago, against an Orioles team that looked unbeatable. But that’s another story for another day. It is though, a story we can learn from when it comes to 2023 and how much and how little the game of Major League Baseball has changed. So, with the above and much more in mind as the Giants look for their new manager here is my checklist:
- The new Giants Manager must have managed a Major League team before. The San Francisco Giants are not the place for a first-time Major League Manager. Just no.
- The new Giants Manager must have enough a track record to earn the respect of players. He must earn their trust by letting them play against platoons, keeping them in one position on the diamond only and investing in their roles as everyday players. In short, he must be the opposite of Gabe Kapler in this regard. This sounds easy but it is not. Say you have a Wade Meckler or a Marco Luciano called up and playing. Say such player goes 0 for his next 10 and makes an error or two. Do you sit him? Well, yes, you do if he looks over-matched and out of place. But you do not if he demonstrates some athletic skills and presence that make you believe he can work his way through it. The Giants tried it with Casey Schmitt and it did not work. They did it with Patrick Bailey, and it did. But no more jerking guys up and down the Sacramento-San Francisco line to see them play one game, sit for a platoon matchup, and then play again then get pinch hit for in the fifth inning the first time there is a pitching change. This type of player treatment is tantamount to telling a player your role is only what a computer says. We are talking about human beings here. You cannot treat a baseball player, even a professional one, this way and expect him to grow into a great player, an All Star. I mean, can you imagine Buster Posey if he were being developed and managed by Zaidi and Kapler? Imagine what this type of treatment does to a young and fragile player trying to emerge into the Big Leagues. Even the best of prospects would have a terrible time with it.
- The new Giants Manager must, as a default rule, believe in the value and supremacy of starting pitching. No more relievers starting games and pitching one inning!
- The new Giants Manager must believe in defense, whose importance should be self-evident and a priority. No more bogus “versatility” where players play in numerous positions, sometimes in the same game. It doesn’t work. Trust me. Just watch this year’s and last year’s Giants squad. Don’t make me pull out the defensive stats on you!
- The new Giants Manager must have an ability to win in the postseason and understand that managing a game in the postseason is very different compared to the regular season and I am not talking about Dave Roberts butchering of a pitching staff. For examples I invite you watch the 2010, 2012, and 2014 Giants postseason games. Watch how Bruce Bochy aggressively used his superb relief corps and how watch how his players played with fire and excitement, rose up to be better versions of themselves in October. That was no accident. The new Giants Manager must have that talent. Which takes me to point 6…
- The new Giants Manager must get the most out of his players. How does this happen? It involves trust, understanding the long view and understanding how to put players in the best possible position to succeed. Want an example? You don’t change the line up every day as if it was a mind game. You keep it consistent. You keep player roles consistent. A number three hitter is very different, by definition ,from a number six hitter or a leadoff hitter. I knew Gabe Kapler was going, going, gone when he put Thairo Estrada in the nine hole for a few line ups. It was a sign of his desparation and his losing grasp of reality. A hitter must know who he is and what his speciality, what his priority is. The same goes for fielders. You keep players playing in the position on the field their skills are suited for. It’s not complicated. Don’t expect Luis Matos to play three positions, unless there is an emergency. Tell your young players to master one position and tell them that when they do they will not be jerked around and placed into unfamiliar roles.
- The new Giants Manager will be someone who will out-live the Zaidi regime, whose days are numbered, which is why Zaidi should not be the decisive factor in this choice. It should be ownership, with Buster Posey, of course playing a key role.
- The new Giants Manager must have the authority to go against Farhan Zaidi’s decisions when necessary. In other words, he must be independent when it comes to in-game decisions, line ups, pitching rotations, defensive alignments, etc.
If only the Giants would just hire me to help them with this most important decision. I could save them a lot grief and failure.
I liked Johnny Black’s idea of hiring Ron Wotus. It would be a so un-2023 choice but after reading Zaidi’s interview with Baggarly I don’t see that happening. Wotus has the gravitas and experience to be a great Manager, I think, though this would be his first Managerial job, which goes against my first rule.
If the Giants let Farhan Zaidi make the Managerial hire on his own and he hires another “yes man” or a former player who has never filled out a line up card then the Giants will fail again, trust me. It will not work. Such a Manager will just not have the credibility among players. Nor will he have the experience to manage a team well over the course of a long season. Forget about the playoffs. Of course, a Manager is only as good as the players he gets, rarely better. So, so…. so… so much of the Giants future rides on developing and drafting better players, making good on free agent signings and not just hiring the right Manager. But a great Manager can make a team better, can make players play their absolute best when it counts most. In short, he is a winner and gets his players to be winners. That’s the ultimate criterion for the next Manager for the Giants.