Giants' recent run makes Bruce Bochy's final season competitive again


Giants' recent run makes Bruce Bochy's final season competitive again

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy has daily conversations with Farhan Zaidi, but as the schedule turned to July, the manager did his best to insulate the clubhouse from anything the Giants president of baseball operations might have been planning. Bochy is aware of trade discussions, of course, but he didn't feel like his team was distracted and needed any guidance. 

"I never felt like I had to talk to anybody," Bochy said Wednesday. "They know this time of year you're going to hear rumors and speculation, but I never heard anything in there, including from the obvious one, Madison (Bumgarner). Their focus was on the field and that's a good thing."

That focus has helped the Giants get back into the wild-card race. With a sweep of the Rockies, the Giants have passed the Reds, Pirates, Rockies and Padres in the standings. Asked if he looks at the Wild Card standings, Bochy made a face and shook his head. But he admitted he has a general idea of where his team is at. 

No matter how this ends up, this run could end up being huge for Bochy personally. First and foremost, the Giants are suddenly competitive in his final season. That's all he wanted all along, and if he's maneuvering to try and clinch a playoff spot in late September, it'll be a pleasant surprise for a man who had a hard time watching some of his team's play in the first half. 

[RELATED: Giants playing loose with deadline approaching]

There's something else at play here, too. The recent run has gotten Bochy to 1,972 wins in his career. The Giants need to go just 28-38 down the stretch to get Bochy to 2,000 wins before he hangs them up. 

That's not a number Bochy has ever talked about, but it would be a nice milestone. We'll see where the Giants end up in the standings, but at the very least their upward turn has made this final season a much better one for a Hall of Fame manager.

MLB rumors: Mark Kotsay entered Giants manager interviews as favorite

MLB rumors: Mark Kotsay entered Giants manager interviews as favorite

As the Giants watch the World Series from home, their search for a new manager continues. Replacing a legend like Bruce Bochy won't be easy, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi can't wait forever. 

Interviews have begun, and the favorite coming into the process might be someone who would just have to switch sides in the Bay Area. The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly reported Monday that "word around the industry is that [Mark] Kotsay entered this process as a favored candidate." One source also told Baggarly that he would be surprised if the Giants didn't hire Kotsay.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic first reported on Oct. 9 that the Giants would interview Kotsay, who currently serves as the A's quality control coach.

Kotsay, 43, had a 17-year MLB career where he spent four seasons -- 2004 through '07 -- as an outfielder for the A's. Zaidi was a baseball operations analyst in Oakland when Kotsay played for the A's. 

Kotsay retired after the 2013 season and became a special assistant in the San Diego Padres' front office the next season. He then served as the Padres' hitting coach for the 2015 season and was the A's bench coach in 2016. 

[RELATED: Could MadBum's ugly road stats hurt him in free agency?]

The Giants already interviewed in-house candidates Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus. The San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman and John Shea reported Monday that San Francisco also interviewed Cubs first base coach Wil Venable on Friday.

Other reported candidates include Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler

Could Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?

Could Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?

Madison Bumgarner is entering free agency at a curious time in his career. The longtime Giants ace has built a legendary reputation, but plenty of question marks also surround the 30-year-old.

Bumgarner proved he's still a workhorse after missing time the previous two seasons with freak injuries. His 34 starts were tied for the MLB lead, and his 207 2/3 innings pitched ranked second in the NL.

But while looking at Bumgarner's stats from this past season, one thing stands out that could hurt him in free agency and actually help the Giants if they want to bring back the left-hander.

MadBum's home-road splits were staggering in 2019. He was a completely different pitcher in front of the home crowd at Oracle Park, compared to pitching away from San Francisco.

Here are Bumgarner's home stats this past season, compared to when he pitched on the road.

Home: 19 GS, 6-2, 2.93 ERA, 122 2/3 IP, 40 ER, 15 HR, 120 SO, 21 BB, 0.93 WHIP, 5.71 SO/W
Away: 15 GS, 3-7, 5.29 ERA, 85 IP, 50 ER, 15 HR, 83 SO, 22 BB, 1.41 WHIP, 3.77 SO/W

Oracle Park is known as a pitcher's dream. In fact, the Giants' home park was the least favorable for offenses this season by Park Factors, per ESPN. The 11-year veteran used that his advantage, but that luxury didn't follow him on the road.

Bumgarner allowed the same amount of homers in four fewer road games as he did at home. He also walked one more batter and allowed five more hits -- 98 on the road, compared to 93 at home. For someone with a lot of mileage on his arm and his fastball declining in velocity, that's certainly alarming.

[RELATED: Astros call possible Giants target Cole 'West Coast guy']

As a pitcher who's never tested the open market and has spent his entire career in a pitcher's paradise, these numbers will be looked at closely by front offices around the league this offseason.

Bumgarner figures to join Gerrit Cole, among others, as the most coveted starting pitchers in free agency. So, while his road numbers could help the Giants in keeping him in San Francisco, they also could prevent the veteran from signing the hefty contract he likely desires.