Giants manager Bruce Bochy announces he will retire after 2019 season

Giants manager Bruce Bochy announces he will retire after 2019 season

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For over a decade, Bruce Bochy has stood in the middle of the clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium and tried to find the right words to inspire his players before the first workout of a new season. His season-opening speech Monday, his 13th as a Giant, provided the most powerful message yet.

The 2019 season will be Bochy’s final one as a manager, he announced Monday morning. Bochy said it was his decision, and that he didn't want his future to be a distraction to the team.

"It's time," Bochy said on Monday. "It's been an unbelievable ride. There's so much to be grateful for. With the players ... the city ... the fans ..."

The decision isn’t a surprising one for the 63-year-old, who’s entering the final season of his contract and has a new boss in Farhan Zaidi. Still, there is no understating the significance.

The story of the 2019 Giants season is yet to be written, but at the very least, it will highlight a man who’s had one of the more successful managerial runs in Major League Baseball history. Bochy hopes it will turn into much more, perhaps giving him one last chance to push the right buttons in October. That month is where Bochy built his legacy, and his success in the postseason no doubt will land him in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bochy enters his final season 11th all-time with 1,926 wins, and the 10 men ahead of him already are in the Hall. Every manager with three World Series titles is enshrined in Cooperstown, and Bochy hit that mark in a span of five years. The success from 2010 through 2014 made Bochy the fifth manager in MLB history to win three titles in five years, but it’s just a sliver of his life in the game.

Bochy was drafted by the Astros in 1975 and, three years later, began a catching career that lasted nine years, also with the Mets and the Padres. His playing seasons weren’t particularly noteworthy, but during those years, Bochy soaked up knowledge that set the base of his managerial philosophy.

Bochy was named Padres manager before the 1995 season, and he took them to the World Series in 1998. He spent the first 12 seasons of his managerial career in San Diego, leading the franchise to the postseason four times.

Bochy moved up the coast after the 2006 season, and it took a couple of years before the Giants found traction. They transitioned out of the Barry Bonds era and showed signs of life in 2009. One year later, Bochy had his first World Series title.

That team of misfits soon was followed by two other champions that benefited from Bochy’s magical touch in the postseason. The Giants came from behind against the Reds and the Cardinals to reach the 2012 World Series, where they swept the heavily favored Tigers. Bochy pulled all the right levers, mixing and matching with his pitchers as he had in 2010, including a memorable bullpen stint from Tim Lincecum, one of many stars over the years who regarded the manager as a father figure.

Two years later, Bochy made what might go down as his most memorable move. With the Giants holding on for dear life in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, he handed the ball to Madison Bumgarner in the bottom of the fifth inning. More importantly, Bochy never took it away. Bumgarner got past an early wobble and a scare in the ninth, giving his beloved manager a third title.

The years since haven’t been as kind. Bochy’s last postseason appearance came in 2016, and that series ended in an ironic way. Bochy has many defining traits as a manager, but he’s perhaps best known for his ability to handle a bullpen in the postseason. Through three title runs, Bochy almost seemed to be able to see into the future. He almost always made the right decision, but in 2016, the bullpen failed in the final inning of the season, as it had for much of the year.

The next season might have been Bochy’s worst, as a veteran roster lost 98 games. The Giants lost 89 games last season, and afterward, Bochy found himself working for Zaidi, the new president of baseball operations. A new executive generally wants to pick his own manager, but thus far, Bochy and Zaidi have appeared to work well together. Both men have talked of their eagerness to forge a partnership that leads the Giants out of the NL West basement, and Bochy seemed to enter this spring with a renewed spirit.

Bochy spent part of this offseason in Hawaii for his son’s wedding. He’s a grandfather now, and he lights up when talking about that part of his life. He had hip surgery over the winter and is walking better than he has in years.

Last week, Bochy strolled around the back fields at Scottsdale Stadium with a fungo in his hand, often mimicking a golf swing that’s in better shape, thanks to his new hip.

[RELATED: Why Bochy is a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame]

For a couple of years, it seemed Bochy might not go out this way. He had repeated heart problems that twice kept him away from the team during the regular season and required a surgical correction. After missing a game in Miami in 2016, Bochy sat in his office with beat writers and spoke at length about his future. At one point, he smiled as he talked about his desire to keep going.

“There’s nothing else I want to do than what I’m doing now,” he said that day.

One of the best managers in MLB history wanted to go out on his own terms. On Monday, Bochy announced that he will.

How Giants manager Gabe Kapler plans to handle veteran core of lineup

How Giants manager Gabe Kapler plans to handle veteran core of lineup

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler spent the last month talking to Giants employees about why he would be the right fit for the job, and on Wednesday he spent nearly an hour on a podium discussing his past and future. But now Kapler plans to listen.

The new Giants manager is three months from the start of spring training and soon after that he'll have to start putting together lineups. On the Giants Insider Podcast, Kapler said he plans to talk to core players before revealing any preferences. 

"An executive in Los Angeles once said to me: 'Know where they've been, know where they are, know where they're going," Kapler said. "In order to know those three things, I need to be able to ask those questions and hear what's going on in their brains."

The arrival of Kapler -- and general manager Scott Harris -- should lead to big changes even if the Giants aren't able to trade any veterans. Bruce Bochy had too much respect for Buster Posey's past accomplishments to move him out of the heart of the order, but Kapler enters without that history.

Brandon Crawford is coming off a down year and could lose time to Mauricio Dubon or a newcomer. Brandon Belt didn't hit for much power last year, but Bochy hit him leadoff at times because of his ability to have good plate appearances, and Kapler complimented Belt during his press conference Wednesday. 

"I've thought a lot about Brandon Belt (and) how impressive it is to watch him take an at-bat, independent of the outcome of the at-bat," Kapler said. "He tends to look over pitches and make really good swing-or-don't-swing decisions."

It'll now be up to Kapler to figure out the best configuration. He said he already has started digging into his new options, and he's excited about meeting the longtime Giants. 

"In preparing for an interview like this, you start to learn the players: The areas where they've taken off since you might have seen them last, the areas where they might have regressed a little bit," he said. "Before any real lineup decisions are made or any strategic decisions are made, tactical decisions, you have conversations with the players. I think that's a really important part of the process that sometimes gets blown past.

"I don't think it makes any sense for me to come in here and say Brandon Belt is going to lead off for us and Evan Longoria will hit in this spot and Buster Posey is going to play 'X' amount of games. All of those things we have an idea and a feel for, but much more importantly, before I make any decision like that or suggest any decision like that, I'll have a conversation with Buster, have a conversation with Evan, find out where they've been."

The perception in some circles is that Kapler was brought in partly because he can have those conversations before taking lineup suggestions from Zaidi, a close friend. But Kapler said he had autonomy in Philadelphia and doesn't expect a change, although he's happy to have input from the front office.

[RELATED: Zaidi lands his guy in Kapler, who must prove he fits Giants]

"I see it as a plus and a positive that Farhan will be invested in what happens on the field," he said. "That's the way it should be. But it's also important to note that I have a fairly strong personality. I've always shared my opinions. I always will share my opinions. We'll just come to the best decisions that help the San Francisco Giants win baseball games."

For more of Kapler's thoughts on strategy, bullpen usage, developing top prospects, his reunion with Zaidi, and those ice cream urban legends, you can stream the Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here.

Click here to watch the full Kapler interview

MLB rumors: Yankees interested in free agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Yankees interested in free agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but Madison Bumgarner will be a hot commodity in MLB free agency.

The Atlanta Braves reportedly are the favorites to land the three-time World Series champion, but now another title contender is hoping in adding Bumgarner's services in 2020, after his 11-year run with the Giants.

“I will definitely talk to Bumgarner’s agency,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reportedly told The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea at the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. “I haven’t. But I will.”

The Yankees' interest is far from a surprise. Not only does the franchise have one of baseball’s most expansive payrolls, but it could use a pitcher who sports a series of dominant playoff performances, considering the Yankees haven’t participated in the Fall Classic since 2009, despite seven postseason appearances in that span.

[RELATED: How Kapler explained 'problem solving' in 2015 blog post]

It remains to be seen how aggressive the Giants will be in trying to re-sign Bumgarner, but it’s clear they won’t be the only ones after the left-hander this winter.