Giants

Giants fire base coaches Roberto Kelly, Bill Hayes

Giants fire base coaches Roberto Kelly, Bill Hayes

SAN FRANCISCO — Two days after a stunning collapse that ended the Giants’ season, the axe fell on the coaching staff. The Giants let go of first base coach Bill Hayes and third base coach Roberto Kelly.

Hayes, who turns 59 later this month, was in his 17th year in the organization and second at first base. Kelly, 52, spent two years in place of Tim Flannery. He was in his ninth year in the organization.

“We feel we need to grow our leadership on the field in terms of how we approach our base running and our overall efforts first-to-third, second-to-home,” general manager Bobby Evans said. “We want to look at some different leadership there and we feel like we can get stronger.”

Per FanGraphs, the Giants ranked 10th in the National League in BsR, a metric that tracks work on the bases. They were dead last in a division where games are usually not won with power. It is generally hard to make concrete judgements on the work of base coaches, but Kelly had several high-profile mistakes and was said to be in hot water behind closed doors all season long. The Hayes move was also rumored for several months as management looked for new voices. 

Evans said the rest of the coaching staff is expected to return. Team officials would not go into detail Thursday when asked about potential replacements, and Evans said it was too early to say if Kelly and Hayes would stay on staff in some other capacity. 

“We’re still in process with that now,” he said. “I can’t answer that in detail, we’re in process.”

The Giants are expected to look in-house for replacements. Shawon Dunston, Eli Whiteside and Steve Decker could be potential options, and popular Triple-A manager Jose Alguacil will surely be at or near the top of any list. Alguacil joined the staff after the minor league season ended in September, and he is the type of exuberant, positive personality that walked out the door when Flannery retired following the 2014 title. 

Flannery now works for CSN Bay Area and MLB Network, and he has said repeatedly over the past two years that he is happy with his new role and has no desire to return to coaching. 

***

In other coaching news, Evans said one team has reached out about bench coach Ron Wotus, but it’s unclear if Wotus will actually interview for one of the remaining open managerial jobs. The Diamondbacks and Rockies are searching for new leaders. Wotus declined comment, saying he was still focused on the way the season ended. 

There’s one man who will certainly be back for years to come. Manager Bruce Bochy was hospitalized for a night in August, but he said that’s not an issue. Bochy signed a three-year extension in 2015 that kicks in next season and carries through 2019.

“I’m fine, trust me. I’m fine,” Bochy said. “My health really has nothing to do with the stress of this game. I did happen to get a bad gene from my dad and I’ll thank him for that when I see him. I work out every day. It’s not a situation where I’m thinking I need to take a break. No, I’m hungry. I’m hungry to get back to the World Series and win another one.”
 

Gabe Kapler's relationship with Giants' clubhouse must be focal point

Gabe Kapler's relationship with Giants' clubhouse must be focal point

Gabe Kapler’s tenure in Philadelphia wasn’t met with much in the way of brotherly love.

Kapler was fired after just two seasons in Philadelphia, both of which saw the Phillies fail to reach the postseason.

Now officially minted as the newest manager of the Giants, NBC Sports Philadelphia Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury spoke about Kapler’s tenure and how it ended for the 44-year-old.

“I’m sure Gabe learned a lot, because a lot of things went wrong,” Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury said on SportsNet Central on Tuesday night. “Failure can be a great teacher.”

An overall record just below .500 (161-163) doesn’t necessarily evoke abject failure, but Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made sure to cover all his bases (I’m sorry, it’s late) in learning about Kapler’s time in eastern Pennsylvania. 

One thing the front office liked, in particular, was the reviews from players who had operated under Kapler.

“Players like Gabe a lot,” Salisbury said. “ And I think the reason they do is he lets them do whatever they want.” 

Although Kapler’s leadership style resonated with his roster in Philadelphia, he had a much stronger connection to Phillies’ management than he did with his own dugout. 

“I always thought in Philadelphia, he bonded a lot better with the front office than he did with the clubhouse,” Salisbury said. “I didn’t think they always played for him, but I think he always responded to what the front office wanted.”

[RELATED: Zaidi addresses Kapler controversy after Giants hire him]

Joining an old co-worker in Zaidi likely will make that transition a lot smoother for Kapler, but it remains to be seen how players in the Giants’ clubhouse respond to a very different style of manager from three-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy.

More on Kapler from NBC Sports Philadelphia

Leadership issues led to Kapler's firing
Kapler's reactions on final day of Phillies season
Bryce Harper's thoughts on Kapler's future
Kapler and Velasquez have miscommunication

Why Farhan Zaidi tied his, Giants' fortunes to new manager Gabe Kapler

Why Farhan Zaidi tied his, Giants' fortunes to new manager Gabe Kapler

SAN FRANCISCO -- The best way to get through life on social media is to never check the mentions, but a lot of Giants employees couldn't help themselves over the past month.

The franchise's search for a new manager was mostly quiet outside of the building, but occasionally a scrap of information would leak out, and Giants fans were not shy about making their opinions known about one particular candidate. Team employees found themselves gravitating toward Twitter, reading some of the reaction.

Gabe Kapler was the favorite when the Giants started this process more than a month ago, and in the end, he was Farhan Zaidi's choice.

Zaidi and Andrew Friedman nearly hired Kapler as the manager in Los Angeles before settling on Dave Roberts, but given a second chance, the Giants' president of baseball operations is tying a large part of his own future to Kapler, whom the Phillies fired last month after two seasons.

This perhaps is the biggest decision Zaidi will make over the course of his initial five-year contract with the Giants, and it's one he did not at all take lightly.

The Giants knew Kapler would be a controversial choice, and sources say there was division at the upper levels of the organization about which way they should go. As the finish line neared, Kapler came back to San Francisco.

"He has met with everybody we have," one Giants person said Monday.

There are team employees who preferred Astros bench coach Joe Espada and a path with less baggage, but in the end, this was Zaidi's choice, and it needed to be.

When the Giants brought Zaidi up from LA a year ago, they handed him the keys to the baseball operations department. You can't do that, and then keep him from making his own decision with his most important hire.

Zaidi was deliberate, interviewing two internal candidates and a handful of rising coaches from other organizations. As of Monday afternoon, some of his coworkers believed Zaidi truly had not made up his mind, but the search kept coming back to Kapler.

The reasons for optimism are clear. Kapler is known as a good communicator, and he was a rising star while with the Dodgers. The Giants believe they need changes across all levels, and Kapler helped modernize the Dodgers while serving as director of player development. While he went 161-163 as the manager in Philadelphia, Kapler does have two years of experience and hopefully has learned from his mistakes. Zaidi has publicly talked of the boost a manager can get the second time around.

Kapler certainly has the résumé that can help overhaul a Giants clubhouse that had become stale. He played a dozen years in the big leagues, and that carries significant weight. His time working in the minors should serve him well, as he takes over a team that used 64 players in 2019 and expects to bring in plenty of prospects over the next two years.

But there also are reasons why you'd be ratioed with the mere mention of Kapler as a front-runner. There are questions about the way he handled assault allegations against Dodgers prospects while in LA, and Kapler and his bosses will have to answer those as he's introduced Wednesday. Zaidi gave his initial thoughts Tuesday night, but he'll likely have to address it again. Kapler will, too.

[RELATED: Krukow explains why he likes Kapler's hiring]

Ultimately, this decision will be judged on wins and losses, and Kapler is coming off a rough finish in Philadelphia. The Phillies had plenty of injuries, but they went 81-81 and finished fourth in the NL East after adding Bryce Harper.

The Giants have been worse than that in recent years, of course. That's why they brought in Zaidi and tasked him with overhauling the organization. They gave him the keys and trusted him to make the right decisions.

The first year was mostly positive, with the big league roster showing strides and the farm system hinting that it might get this team back to contention sooner than expected. This is the start of Zaidi's second year with the Giants, so he took a big swing, giving Kapler a three-year contract. Starting Wednesday, when they'll stand side by side at Oracle Park, they'll try to prove it was the right decision.

The easiest way to do that is one that worked for the previous regime. Win, and win big.

More on Kapler from NBC Sports Philadelphia

Leadership issues led to Kapler's firing by Phillies 
Kapler's reactions on final day of Phillies season
Bryce Harper's thoughts on Kapler's future
Kapler, Velasquez have miscommunication