Giants

The case of Bruce Bochy's health: Will he know when it's time?

The case of Bruce Bochy's health: Will he know when it's time?

Giants manager Bruce Bochy received his third heart scare in as many years and underwent what is delicately called “a minor procedure” Tuesday in San Diego.

Which clearly leads to the question almost too delicate to ask: "When is enough enough?"

It can be argued that Bochy is probably the second greatest manager in franchise history after John McGraw. But it must also be argued that he is also a man, a husband, a father, a friend and a companion, and though poets will say that the heart wants what it wants, sometimes the actual heart demands what it needs.

And before we go much further with this, at no time should anyone infer, imply or state that this is a call for Bochy to retire. That’s between him, his medical team and his family to parse. He should be as welcome as he can manage to be forever, such has been his service to the club. Indeed, when he decides to hang up his tarpaulin-sized hat, whether it be after the 3,637 games he has already managed, or the 3,637 more he probably thinks he still has in him, the team ought to consider not only lifetime employment and a ballpark statue but maybe steal a page from international soccer and name a section of the stands at Tercero y Rey after him.

Anything less would seem, well, chintzy. 

But that’s for down the road – for as long as "down the road" will permit. The problem for him is that his chest is suggesting that perhaps "down the road" isn’t as far a distance as he would like.

This is unlike your standard managerial speculation, because typically that comes with failure. Bochy, like former general manager/current godhead of baseball operations Brian Sabean, has been a monumental success, helping compress three championships into five seasons, an achievement he shares with only six other men (Connie Mack, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Walter Alston, Tom Lasorda and Joe Torre).

In other words, this isn’t about whether Bochy is still good at his job (this is indisputably so) but how much longer doing his job is a good idea for him.

One can make the case that while a manager’s lifestyle and stress level is not conducive to good health, his access to top-grade medical care is probably superior.

But it’s not a great case to make, especially if Bochy’s issues are indeed stress-related. It’s also not a great case to make because there is only one doctor that knows Bochy’s case – Bochy’s doctor. Everyone else is either an interested advocate, starting most importantly with his wife, Kim, or an interested observer.
 
In short, there is no case to be made here for his continuing or his retiring. That’s up to him and his, and if his life requires he own part of a winery and kick his feet up rather than trudging half-sideways toward the mount to make what would be (and this is a rough estimate, courtesy FanGraphs and BaseballReference.com) his 10,422nd career pitching change.
 
By the way, how the Giants failed to celebrate his 10,000th bullpen trip last May 25 is a massive marketing failure, especially since it was to bring Santiago Casilla into a high stress inning in what was eventually a 4-3 win over the Padres. Casilla threw a scoreless inning in that game, so no, you can’t play Forensic Sabermetrician and identify him as the reason for Bochy’s health issues.
 
But that’s neither here, there, nor anywhere else. Today’s issue is Bruce Bochy, and whether he can be (a) a good patient, (b) a prudent patient, and (c) a smart patient. This is about whether he can not just recover but also recognize the limits his body is suggesting for him, and work out a rational and sensible path going forward.
 
And yes, that would be Kim reminding him that “acting indestructible” is not one of the available options.

This managing gig wears on different folks in different ways, and it wears harder on successful ones because they do more of it, meaning more high leverage innings, more clubhouse fires extinguished, more umpire arguments, more road trips, more nights with lousy sleep, more nights with late meals or dehydration – more of pretty much everything.
 
Here’s hoping he knows when "no more" comes, and what to do about it. After all, it's not like his body isn't telling him that day is coming.

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

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AP

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

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AP

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."