Giants' work has just begun


Giants' work has just begun

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When the Giants clinch their division title, and being up 10 games with 12 to play its going to take a hell of tracheotomy to prevent it, I fervently hope they walk off the field at the end of the game like theyd just polished off the Cubs in July.You know, like its no big deal. Because as it turns out, it wasnt.For all the fretting and agonizing and finger-pointing and misplaced anger, the Giants will win the NL West by something close to a record margin for them. The easiest cruise theyve ever had in franchise history was the 2003 win, when they cleared the Dodgers by 15 games. Youll remember that season fondly because of the fact that they needed only four games to be eradicated from the postseason by the Florida Marlins.And because it had much less drama, both real and fabricated, than this one.Or maybe it just seems that way, because we no longer enjoyed the good-natured antics of those two BFFs, Barry Bonds and Survivor Kent, or Felipe Alou coming to grips with the fearsome Schmidt-Rueter-Williams (as in Jerome)-Moss (as in Damian)-Foppert rotation, or Sir Sidney Ponson, which is his own chapter.This season offered up the batting champion in absentia; the reinflation of Buster Posey; the collapse and reinflation of Tim Lincecum; the collapse and re-re-reinflation of Pablo Sandoval; Brandon Belts slow emergence from confusion to comprehension; the mighty pitching staff that now causes such consternation; the bullpen by sub-committee.And of course all the misplaced angst about whether Bruce Bochy really is the master of his domain. He is. Clearly. He is easily one of the best managers in franchise history, a slight step below John McGraw and Leo Durocher but on a par with Dusty Baker. You do not have an argument to refute this, so dont try. You will fail horrendously, and end up in the fetal position in your office lunch room, and people will mock you at the holiday party.But back to why there probably should be no overt celebration when they clinch because they actually have been here before, and they know how much they have left to do.Nobody is left from the 03 team except Mike Murphy and Dave Righetti, so there are no handy memories or lessons to be culled from that. But 2010 is fresh in their minds, and they know how intermediary a step this is.Not only that, there is a distinct lack of adrenaline about this division title because the Dodgers have faded so badly and the Diamondbacks have faded so much worse that they could end up finishing behind the Padres.In addition, the Giants are a better team when in a competitive squeeze. They won in 2000 by beating the Dodgers by 11, and went down to the Mets in the first round. On the other hand, the 2002 team didnt even win its division and the 2010 team needed the final weekend to hold off the Padres.And finally, they go into this postseason with neither the best pitching staff (that would statistically be Washington, though that may not be true without Stephen Strasburg) nor the best lineup (that would also be Washington, though Cincinnati has the friendlier ballpark and fewer outs in the order). In addition, Cincinnati has the best bullpen, and both Cincinnati and Washington are dramatically better defensively.RELATED: Ballparks a factor for Giants' rotation in NLDS
In sum, the Giants are not the best team in the postseason, and dont have the advantage of going through either Atlanta or St. LouisLos AngelesMilwaukee to get to the League Championship Series. They have to do all of this the hard way against teams that had better seasons, and without home field advantage.In short, they wont have finished anything with this clinching. Theyll have only started it, and the job only gets bigger.The fans, of course, will disregard all of this, because theyre in it as much for the parties and the costumes as for the baseball, and the baseball is way more of a grind than the other two. Theyll think of this as another glorious moment in franchise history, and it sure beats losing.But glorious? These people know glorious, both team and customer alike, and this isnt near glorious yet. This is more like pretty damned good. Glorious doesnt happen until November.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.comAP Images

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role


Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered


Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.