Giants

Rewind: Bochy chooses Casilla, gets booed as game unravels

casilla-takes-ball-bochy.jpg

Rewind: Bochy chooses Casilla, gets booed as game unravels

SAN FRANCISCO — Santiago Casilla has had a nightmare season, but it took a new and ugly turn Saturday night. As manager Bruce Bochy walked out to the mound to replace Sergio Romo with Casilla, the crowd at AT&T Park started booing. It increased after a seeing-eye single up the middle tied the game, and again when Casilla walked off the mound after his ninth blown save of the season. 

It’s rare that a Giant gets booed at AT&T Park — the only other recent time was good-natured booing when Bochy tried to pull his own son in the ninth inning — but Casilla said he understands the frustration. 

“I’m doing my best,” he said. “I’ve never had that moment before (where I’m getting booed). I had it now. I’m working to pitch better. It’s a game and you keep working and you put it in the past. I feel bad because I’ve never had that moment before. I tried to do my best.”

[PAVLOVIC: Instant Replay: Giants bullpen coughs up game to Cardinals]

The Giants have never questioned Casilla’s commitment. He is known as one of the hardest workers in the clubhouse, but it’s just not working this year. It appeared he had permanently lost a ninth-inning role last week, but now it’s got to be a certainty. 

After a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals, Bochy said he thought this was the right matchup, and he pointed out that alternatives haven’t worked since Casilla lost the closer tag. But ... there’s one the Giants haven’t tried (in large part because of an injury), and Derek Law is long overdue for a shot at the ninth. 

Bochy made a different call tonight and he knew he was going to take heat for it if it played out poorly. It did during a messy inning that included Romo laughing in an apparent sign of disrespect as his manager took the ball away. A few minutes later the Giants had their 28th blown save, matching their franchise record. This one came on a night when Jeff Samardzija was dominant and Brandon Crawford showed every bit of his Gold Glove form. 

The Giants have blown two saves this month in part because of shallow fly balls to left and Crawford wasn’t going to let that happen again. He went deep into the outfield for the first out of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. The Giants dropped five games behind the Dodgers. They were two outs away from a four-game lead over the Cardinals in the Wild Card race. Instead, they’re now tied with the Mets and they’re just two up on St. Louis. 

It was a crushing night at the ballpark. There’s no getting around it. 

Instead of highlights and lowlights or some form of a game story, here’s how Bochy explained the decision making in the ninth: 

Question: Why did Casilla come in for Romo?
Bruce Bochy: “We huddled up and said if it got to Molina there — he’s had success off of Romo (4-for-9 with a HR) and Casilla would be a better matchup. That’s kind of what the plan was. It didn’t work out. If the ground ball is a foot to the left we wouldn’t be talking about it. He ended up walking him, that’s what hurt. We went with what we thought was the better matchup, or I thought. That’s a tough one. Samardzija threw great and we played well. It’s just tough luck there on that ground ball and once he hit it I thought it was a double play. It just got through.”

Q: Did the single off Romo play into it?
BB: “For some reason Molina has seen the ball pretty well off of Sergio. You go with the history and that’s why the change was made there. (Casilla) got ahead 1-2, he was just a little slow to home plate with the stolen base there and then he ended up walking him. That’s what hurt.”

Q: Strickland started warming up when Casilla ran into trouble. Why did Casilla come in before him? 
BB: “(Casilla) has closed over 30 games and he threw the ball well last night. We had Strick once Casilla went into the game to give us some coverage there. We’ve tried some different things and it hasn’t quite worked out. We’re going with what we think is our best matchup and it didn’t play out tonight. Sure that hurts, but like I said, it’s all hands on deck and we’re going with what we think is our best matchup there.”

Q: Did you consider using Law in the ninth after he got two outs in the eighth?
BB
: “Yeah. He just hasn’t been out there a lot. Sure it’s a consideration. He didn’t get a chance to throw a lot and go a couple innings. But I was fine with Sergio and then like I said, the plan was he would start the inning and if somebody got on, Casilla would have Molina there. It didn’t play out.”

What will Farhan Zaidi look for in next Giants manager?

What will Farhan Zaidi look for in next Giants manager?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Whether he’s watching the team from the dugout, standing in the clubhouse hallway, or walking back and forth on the back fields at Scottsdale Stadium, Farhan Zaidi always seems to have his cell phone pressed to his ear. 

That was the case Monday when Bruce Bochy announced that this will be his final season, but Zaidi said he did not get calls from coaches around the game looking to get a head start in the search process. He knows that will change, though. It didn’t take long after Zaidi took the Giants job for colleagues to start asking about a potential GM position, and you can bet that parts of this season will be spent having secret discussions with candidates to replace Bochy.

The man who actually hired Bochy 13 years ago believes that’s a good thing. This won’t be a distraction or an awkward situation, Brian Sabean said. Zaidi was informed during the hiring process that Bochy was likely headed for retirement, and Sabean believes that gave everyone time to get “out front” and “on board.”

“I think it should relax the atmosphere among all parties and give (Bochy) his proper due, give him his proper sendoff, but it also gives Farhan some good lead time to noodle this whole thing or line up how he’s going to attack it,” Sabean said. 

Zaidi has already been through this process once before. He teamed with Andrew Friedman in 2015 to hire Dave Roberts in Los Angeles, and that collaboration proved to be a successful one. Zaidi, a communicator by nature, spent years with the A’s and Dodgers and has given plenty of thought to what or who he would look for if given his own shop.

He wouldn’t give anything away this week, but he has a short list forming in his head already. 

“I think everybody is shaped by their own experience and people that they’ve come into contact with that they value their baseball acumen or their personal values or those kinds of things,” he said. “Everybody just by virtue of their own experience has a list of people that they’ve thought, ‘That guy could be a manager one day,' or, 'If I’m in a position that’s someone I would think about.’”

While Zaidi said this would be a collective process, Larry Baer made it clear that his president of baseball operations will take the lead. Baer said people within the organization — Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus would be two likely internal candidates — will be considered, but most of the candidates Zaidi has experience with would come from the outside. 

One possible candidate, David Bell, came off the board a couple of weeks before Zaidi was hired. When Bell joined the organization as farm director in 2017, he was viewed as a likely successor to Bochy or general manager Bobby Evans. The Reds hired him away in October. 

Bell was a nice blend of old and new, someone who could be a respected voice in the clubhouse but also work seamlessly with an analytics-driven front office. Roberts has been the same in Los Angeles, and that seems the likely mold for this search. 

But Zaidi promised to be open-minded, pointing out that he and Friedman had no idea Roberts would even be a finalist when they began that search. To that point, two executives known as analytics types put together an eclectic group of candidates when the Dodgers were looking for Don Mattingly’s replacement. 

Gabe Kapler, a favorite to win the Dodgers job back then, was certainly a modern choice. But the Dodgers also reportedly interviewed longtime baseball men Tim Wallach and Ron Roenicke, both of whom were in their late fifties at the time. Kirk Gibson was brought in, and he’s certainly not the type to be a puppet for a front office. Former Angel Darin Erstad, current Rockies manager Bud Black and current Nationals manager Dave Martinez also reportedly interviewed.

That’s not a group that has a ton in common.

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Zaidi has a reputation for being the smartest guy in the room, but he loves spending time with scouts and experienced coaches, and has regularly positioned himself behind the cage this spring, chatting up players and Giants coaches. He eventually will find a replacement for Bochy, but right now it’s not something he’s worrying much about. 

“I’m sure there will be conversations and inquiries along the way, but it’s not the focus for us,” he said. “For me, I’m still trying to learn the organization and the players and make sure I get off to the right start.”

Giants' Buster Posey likely won't play in spring games until March 1

Giants' Buster Posey likely won't play in spring games until March 1

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There has been nothing over the first couple weeks of camp to indicate that Buster Posey won't be ready Opening Day, but the Giants promised all along to be cautious, and that will start Saturday when the Cactus League season kicks off. 

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Posey won't play until March 1, and that may be the case for some other veterans. Brandon Crawford has been watched closely the last couple of years and Bochy wasn't sure if any regulars would be in the lineup Saturday when the Giants visit the Angels.

He said it's the right thing to do with a long spring, although he's hoping to get big names out there soon, aware that fans often pay a lot for spring games. 

"As a kid, I was one of those guys that would skip school to see spring training games in Florida," Bochy said.

Brandon Belt and Joe Panik seem the most likely to get out there early on. Belt said he's eager to see real pitching. As for the rest of the everyday lineup, Evan Longoria fits the vet status, the Giants have position battles in both outfield corners, and Steven Duggar is coming off shoulder surgery and may be a few days behind. 

Bochy had a somewhat unusual spring when veterans like Cameron Maybin, Gerardo Parra, Stephen Vogt and Yangervis Solarte signed late. He said there's no rush to see what they can do. 

"These guys are chipping some rust off," he said. 

[RELATED: Giants 'trying hard' for Bryce Harper, but not optimistic]

--- The schedule for the starters early on: Chris Stratton and Ty Blach on Saturday; Madison Bumgarner on Sunday; Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz on Monday; Dereck Rodriguez on Tuesday; Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Suarez on Wednesday. 

--- At the beginning of camp, Bochy said he hoped to get Joey Bart into early Cactus League games. That remains the plan. 

--- One more on the "Bochy is retiring" front: Here's what Bob Melvin had to say.

--- I wrote about top pitching prospect Shaun Anderson the other day. Here's some video of him in action today. There's certainly a Noah Syndergaard thing going on at times.