SAN FRANCISCO -- The conventional wisdom when Bruce Bochy announced his retirement was that the Giants would go the opposite route with the next manager. Modern front offices tend to hire younger, more analytically-inclined managers who can take marching orders from above.
But Farhan Zaidi, the Giants' president of baseball operatioons, always has talked of the importance of being open-minded, and as he spoke of his first major hire, he said experience will be a big plus for any candidate. Zaidi noted that having done the job before can be a huge help early on.
"Having been around some first-time managers, I've seen that the learning curve can be pretty steep," Zaidi said. "When you are talking about a candidate who has not been in that seat and in that role, there's obviously more projecting. You don't really know what it's like to be in that seat and all the constituents that you have and what it's like to be in the dugout with a million voices in your ear about strategy and other things until you've actually done it.
"There is a leap of faith that you have to take if you're going to hire a manager who hasn't done it before, but if nobody ever did it we would just have the same pool of candidates and nobody would ever get another opportunity."
Zaidi has hired just one manager as an executive, and Dave Roberts has worked out well in Los Angeles, winning two pennants and leading the Dodgers to four consecutive division titles. Roberts inherited a loaded roster but gets rave reviews for his communication skills and ability to handle differing personalities in a clubhouse.
Roberts had been a bench coach with the Padres prior to getting the Dodgers job and Zaidi already has interviewed two of the Giants' bench coaches under Bochy -- Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus. Neither has managerial experience at the big leagues, and the same holds true for guys like Raul Ibañez and Mark Kotsay, who have been rumored candidates.
The most interesting name could end up being Gabe Kapler if he is let go by the Phillies. Kapler was the favorite for the Dodgers job before Roberts swooped in, and he has experienced the highs and lows in two years in Philadelphia. Perhaps he'll be more successful the second time around, as A.J. Hinch has been in Houston.
"I think what we've seen with managers is that there's a learning curve, not just within an individual managing experience, but a lot of times guys do better and have more traction the second time around because of the lessons that they've learned," Zaidi said. "I think all of that will be factored in.
"It's certainly not disqualifying to have not done it before, but I totally recognize the value of that experience."
The Giants kicked off their interview process last week and will talk to six to eight external candidates this month. Some within the organization say Zaidi's list will be a creative one with surprising names. It likely also will include some that baseballs fans have come to know well.
When it comes to a job this big, experience is going to matter.