San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy looks on intently from the dugout at Chase Field during the eighth inning of Saturday night’s 8-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s his last of 13 seasons managing the Giants.(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
This kind of struggle was not supposed to mar Bruce Bochy’s last season as manager of the San Francisco Giants, perhaps his finale as a big-league skipper. The Giants have been losing for the better part of two-plus seasons and that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.
But even though he may leave San Francisco on a low note after piloting Giants teams to World Series titles in 2010, ’12 and ’14, it may not mean he’s completely at the end of the line.
“I’d never say never about anything,” Bochy told Boomskie on Baseball this weekend as his club split the first two games of a three-game series at Chase Field against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Let’s propose this then: How about a reunion with the San Diego Padres where Bochy worked 12 seasons through 2006, won four National League West titles and was swept out of the 1998 World Series by a powerful New York Yankees team that won a record overall 125 games?
“Good luck with that,” Buster Posey said.
Don’t be too sure.
Posey, an All-Star catcher, camp up from the minors three days after Madison Bumgarner on Sept. 11, 2209. Both were in the Majors for good the following June and have never played for another manager. Thus, you have to respect their perspective.
But when Bochy was told that a campaign was beginning so he could finish his career in San Diego, he didn’t dismiss the notion as out of hand, declining to simply comment about it.
“Do you have a job for me?” he quipped.
To be clear, I’m not calling for the firing of current Padres manager Andy Green in lieu of the illustrious Bochy, who would seem to be a sure bet for the National Baseball Hall of Fame when he’s done for good and the first time he’s eligible.
Heading into Sunday’s action, the Padres were .500 (23-23), disappointing after the signing of Manny Machado to a 10-year, $300 million contract (with a player opt out after five years) this past Feb. 21, 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Dodgers in the West and fading.
They are 228-304 during a little more than three seasons under Green, 76 games below .500.
Until this season, the Padres haven’t had a plethora of talent and even now Green’s working with a pitching staff that has no Major League pedigree, although Bochy’s hallmark as a manager is navigating through a pitching staff, particularly the bullpen.
But as Padres general manager A.J. Preller said during the offseason, at some point you have to start winning. And the Padres are 92 games under .500 since Aug. 6, 2014, the day he took over the club several months after Josh Byrnes was dismissed.
Perhaps the Padres will re-tool and keep the now seemingly tender Fernando Tatis Jr. healthy for the rest of the season, making a spirited run at an NL Wild Card berth or perhaps even capture one. The rookie shortstop has been out since April 28 with what can only be termed now as a severe left hamstring injury. This after he dislocated his left thumb last year and missed the second half of the Double-A season.
If the Padres succeed, Green has two more seasons to go on his contract and Preller three. Get on with it.
If not, which guy is better equipped to take the Padres to the promised land and their first World Series championship: Bochy or Green?
There’s no contest.
The Padres haven’t been to the playoffs since then president Sandy Alderson let Bochy walk to the Giants in 2007. They’ve had two .500 seasons since then and none since 2010 when they were eliminated from contention on the final day of the season – by Bochy and the Giants, who defeated the Texas Rangers in a five-game World Series.
It would make for some sweet symmetry.
Bochy owns a big piece of Padres history. Aside from his managerial prowess, he was the backup catcher on the 1984 team that won the first of only two pennants in club history, losing to another historic team for the ages, the Detroit Tigers, in a five-game World Series. He managed the other pennant-winner.
When all is said and done, the Padres will have four Hall of Famers from that 1984 team: Bochy, manager Dick Williams, the great Tony Gwynn, and closer Rich “Goose” Gossage.
From the 1998 team, it will be Bochy, Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman, the NL’s all-time saves leader with 601.
Perhaps Bochy can fulfill the trifecta by winning World Series numero uno for San Diego.
Heck, it’s not as if Bochy said he doesn’t want to manage again. Bochy just knew the winds were shifting in the San Francisco organization and it was time to go. By next season all the component front office pieces that were part of the championship run will be gone – Brian Sabean, Dick Tidrow, John Barr, Bobby Evans, and Bochy, whose $6 million a year deal is nearing its end after 13 San Francisco seasons.
Even before spring training started, he pulled the plug, not wanting to deal with all the questions about his future as another probable subpar season went spinning by.
“It’s a gut feeling that it’s time,” he told the usual group of assembled media seated in the dugout at Scottsdale Stadium in mid-February. “There are so many things for me to be grateful for. The players, the fans. I’ll stay in baseball, but it’s time.”
He’ll stay in baseball, for sure. The Padres, for one, would be lucky to have him back.