Bruce Bochy

Bruce Bochy mourns loss of passionate Giants fan Ed Lee

Bruce Bochy mourns loss of passionate Giants fan Ed Lee

ORLANDO — Most baseball managers get to know their city’s elected officials over time, but few spend as much time with the mayor as Bruce Bochy did over the past decade. The routine became a familiar one — Bochy’s Giants would win a title, parade down Market Street, and get greeted by a raucous speech from mayor Ed Lee. 

On Tuesday, a few hours after Lee passed away, Bochy shared some memories of the mayor who was a big Giants fan and showed that passion often. 

“I just loved his enthusiasm,” Bochy said. “You saw him during the parades, and when he came to the ballpark, he just had a real passion and enthusiasm for the Giants and the city of San Francisco. It’s a tough loss for the city, just a real sad day, and I feel for his family with how sudden this happened. We’re going to miss him.”

[RATTO: Ed Lee's favorite team was The City itself]

The news came as a shock to an organization where many got to know the mayor and his staff well. The Giants put out a statement and a few players shared their thoughts on social media. Hunter Pence posted a picture of Lee on his Twitter page and wrote “We’ve always appreciated your great support and passion.” Christian Arroyo tweeted that he met Lee in 2013 on his first visit to AT&T Park. “One of the most genuine humans I have ever met,” Arroyo wrote. “Rest easy, you will be missed.”

Lee, 65, was a regular at the ballpark and often took part in ceremonies on the field before games. Bochy smiled when asked about Lee’s passionate post-parade speeches. 

“He was fired up. He loved it,” Bochy said. “He loved the Giants and he loved being a part of us winning and he had a lot of fun with it. He was great to have around. He was ‘rah-rah’ all the time around the Giants.”

With Ohtani officially available, Giants ready to make their pitch


With Ohtani officially available, Giants ready to make their pitch

SAN FRANCISCO — Late in the season, after watching his team lose yet another game to the Dodgers, Bruce Bochy pulled up some Shohei Ohtani clips on a laptop and spent a few minutes watching the two-way star. The highlights brought a smile to Bochy’s face even as the Dodgers celebrated a division title a few hundred feet away. 

Two months later, the Giants — along with 29 other teams — will finally get their shot at the 23-year-old who throws 100 mph on the mound and hits mammoth homers in his spare time. Ohtani was officially posted on Friday when a new agreement was reached between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball. He can negotiate with MLB clubs until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 22. 

It’s unclear what exactly Ohtani is looking for in a future home, and the Giants, per multiple sources, have gotten no indication that they are or are not in the running. But they have taken the chase seriously, with Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley scouting Ohtani in Japan in September and team officials spending much of their offseason preparing a recruiting pitch. 

Bochy has watched a lot more film and pored over scouting reports since September. His first impression of Ohtani hasn’t changed at all. If anything, he is more convinced than before that Ohtani could be a frontline starter and play a corner outfield position multiple times a week. 

“This guy is special,” Bochy said on Friday, shortly after Ohtani was posted. “I see him as somebody who could be a starter and it’s possible you’re also looking at 300 or 400 at-bats. It’s going to make it a little easier next year with our days off, looking at the new schedule, to where he could play even more because he’ll get that additional rest. That’ll make it easier, too.”

The new CBA calls for an expansion of off days, from 21 to 25, and interested teams are said to be mapping out prospective schedules for Ohtani. With four veteran starters already, along with Chris Stratton and Ty Blach as swingmen, the Giants would seem well-positioned to manage Ohtani’s initial workload as a pitcher. He would not be blocked in the outfield on a team desperate for power, and Bochy has shown with Madison Bumgarner that he has no concerns about giving pinch-hit at-bats to a pitcher who can hit. Bochy said he could see Ohtani playing the outfield on the days after starts and then spending the day or two before his next start preparing to pitch. 

The workload would be unprecedented in modern baseball and nobody truly knows if Ohtani can actually make it work. It’s clear, though, that teams will have to let him try in order to be in the running. Ohtani is potentially giving up hundreds of millions by coming over at the age of 23, but he wants to test himself against the best in the world. On talent alone, he appears ready to give this a shot. 

“He’s got a great swing,” Bochy said. “We all know he has a great arm and he’s got the equipment to be a No. 1 starter, but the overall athleticism is what’s so impressive with this guy. He’s got a great arm but he runs well and he’s a good outfielder with a nice swing. He’s got plus power and great plate discipline. You can tell it’s a swing he’s worked hard on. It’s a beautiful swing.”

Awards season reminds us how far Giants fell in 2017


Awards season reminds us how far Giants fell in 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — It was revealed Thursday night that Giancarlo Stanton is this year’s National League Most Valuable Player. The rest of the MVP ballot shows why the Giants are chasing Stanton so hard this offseason. 

Led by Stanton, 22 different players were listed on NL MVP ballots, which have 10 spots. Two of the top five finishers — Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon — were Rockies. Four different Diamondbacks got votes, led by third-place finisher Paul Goldschmidt. The Dodgers had five players listed on ballots, including rookie Cody Bellinger, who arrived a couple of days after Christian Arroyo and finished ninth in MVP voting. 

The Giants? They didn't have a single player receive an MVP vote, continuing a theme during awards season. 

The team built around pitching did not have any players listed on the five-person Cy Young Award ballots (full disclosure: I had a vote). There were no Rookie of the Year candidates, either, and Bruce Bochy was out of the Manager of the Year running sometime in early May. The 2017 season was the first since 2007 in which the Giants didn’t have a single player listed for any of the four major awards voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. 

The lack of award-season love is a reminder of how deep the hole is, but it’s also a sign of how much help the Giants need from their stars in order to dig out of this hole. This isn’t as simple as fixing the center field defense and upgrading the bullpen. 

Buster Posey had a good season, but his 12 homers, 67 RBI, .861 OPS and 4.3 WAR (ranked 17th in the NL) didn’t get any love at the end of a 98-loss year. Posey had been listed on at least one MVP ballot every season since 2012, when he won the award. This is the first year since 2007 that the Giants did not have a player listed on an MVP ballot. 

The organization has had similar success in the Cy Young balloting, with Tim Lincecum winning twice and Madison Bumgarner finishing in the top 10 in each of the previous four seasons. A dirt bike accident cost Bumgarner any shot of getting votes this year, and also likely cost him a third Silver Slugger Award in a season that started with two homers on Opening Day. Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto finished fourth and sixth in the Cy Young voting last season, but Cueto had a similarly forgettable season.