It wasn't the most celebrated of moves at the time, but Brian Sabean followed his gut and the Giants history was forever altered.
After Felipe Alou retired as Giants manager following the 2006 season, Sabean, then Giants general manager, had to make the decision of who would lead his franchise into their next era. A quick talk with Padres general manager Kevin Towers showed Sabean that the ideal candidate might be available that offseason.
Bruce Bochy had spent 12 years managing the Padres, piloting the team to the 1998 World Series where they lost to the juggernaut New York Yankees. With the Padres undergoing a regime change, Sabean acted to get the guy he wanted to lead the Giants: Bruce Bochy.
"Everybody inside the division going back to when San Diego had a full deck in regards to a major league team, knew this guy was a difference-maker,” Sabean told KNBR's "Murph & Mac" on Thursday. “If you looked at the ’98 [Padres] team, and the cast of talent and characters on that team, if it hadn’t been for the Yankees they win the World Series. So he was known industry-wide, including his convention to be able to handle pitching staffs and more so bullpens.”
Bochy wasn't walking into the best situation, as he had to navigate a transitioning roster with aging superstar Barry Bonds. But Sabean wasn't concerned about Boch's ability to swim upstream in those waters.
"I was so sure that A. He was the right guy and B. That in '97-2004 we had winning seasons and either finished first or second in the division so he'd seen that up close," Sabean said. "He was aware of all this, but I also think he doesn't get enough credit for being part of the exit strategy and not so much managing Barry Bonds the same way he had managed Rickey Henderson or big personalities like David Wells or Tony Gwynn.
"I think the timing was right even though the two seasons he ended up walking into which were his first two were challenging."
After three World Series titles and Hall-of-Fame stint as Giants manager, Bochy is set to walk away after Sunday's season finale, ending an era no Giants fan ever will forget.