What should Giants do with Guillermo Mota?


What should Giants do with Guillermo Mota?

The Giants have a big decision to make in the next 24 hours.

They have to decide what to do with Guillermo Mota. And dont believe them when they say this is strictly a baseball decision.

Mota, as of Sunday night, had served his 100-game suspension for being popped for performance enhancing drugs. It was Motas second violation, his first coming after the 2006 season as a member of the New York Mets. Hes spent the last few days in Fresno, working his arm back to shape.

With the Giants bullpen struggling and the closer-by-committee strategy creating panic, its clear the Giants could use Motas services. Mota, 39, could fill a variety of roles: short or long relief. The right-hander was a key cog in the brilliant bullpen production in the 2010 playoff run.

So whats the problem? Plug Mota in and take the pressure off some of the other relievers, right?

RELATED: Will Mota decision be strictly baseball related?

Not exactly. Mota got popped back in May when his violation seemed like an aberration just another older player trying to find longevity through chemicals. He claimed his dirty test was because of his daughters cough syrup. And people were willing to buy that.

But given the events of the summer, Motas suspension no longer seems like a strange aberration but part of a third generation steroid era -- more stealth, less extreme, but still a time of rampant cheating.

The Giants are in the crosshairs, with Melky Cabreras suspension and online chatter about the franchise cheating its way to first place in the division. Can the Giants afford to be labeled, once again, as the team that openly embraces chemical enhancement? Or, at the very least, looks the other way and readily forgives when their players cheat?

That was the Giants reputation at least outside of AT&T Park throughout much of the past decade, as they clung to Barry Bonds production despite the mounting evidence against Bonds. Some of that co-dependency between Bonds and the Giants wasnt driven by baseball decisions, but other concerns, such as marketing, home run records and keeping the ballpark full.

The Giants were able to flip the page on that public perception in 2010, when a cadre of misfits as Bochy once called them young players and castoffs and wacky personalities won the World Series. Instead of Balco-enhanced Barry Bonds, the Giants were personified by the seemingly unenhanced skinny Tim Lincecum. The chemicals and slabs of laboratory-produced muscle seemed safely in the past.

But the Cabrera suspension has brought the nasty past back into the conversation. And it hasnt been a pleasant couple of weeks.

Now the organization has another decision that cant be simply considered in baseball terms. Do they want Mota back in their bullpen? Will the message they send be that they really arent that concerned about his drug use?

The Giants can either activate Mota or designate him for assignment. If they designate him, and he accepts a spot in Fresno, Mota could be recalled to the big league club on Saturday, when rosters expand.

That might delay the decision for a few days. But the Giants still have to figure out if they want Mota in their clubhouse. He brings a lot of things: veteran presence, flexibility in the bullpen, a battling attitude.

And another stark reminder that the steroid era isnt over.

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.