So the Giants have extended Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean. The extensions will keep them in San Francisco through 2013, with team options for 2014. This doesn’t really come as a surprise…it was said just about a month ago that extending Bochy and Sabean was one of the top priorities offseason, and it’s clear that the organization likes the job they’ve done. But this is obviously huge news nonetheless.
Let’s start with Bochy. He’s managed the Giants for five years now, and at this point, we have a good idea of his tendencies — both his strengths and weaknesses.
— For one, he likes to play veterans. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can obviously be bad; the classic example here is the Aubrey Huff/Brandon Belt situation, one I think he didn’t handle very well. His leash for Huff throughout this season was too long, especially considering that he supposedly knew Huff was out of shape. In exercising such patience with Huff, he seems to have delayed the development of a quality hitter in Brandon Belt. And it’s hard to excuse the number of at-bats he gave to Aaron Rowand and Orlando Cabrera got this year
— He likes to play the hot hand; in other words, his day-to-day lineup construction seems to be largely dependent upon who is performing well on a day-to-day basis. Not a huge deal, though it isn’t exactly brilliant lineup optimization.
— He’s pretty good at managing pitchers, and specifically, utilizing his bullpen. This is underscored by that 2010 NLCS Game Six, when he seemed to have the magic touch with his bullpen. Granted, he’s at an advantage because he has such good pitchers to work with. And hey, he’s made several notable mistakes in recent years. The one that sticks out to me in particular is when he let Javier Lopez face Mike Stanton with the bases loaded in the Scott Cousins game. Oh yeah, and on a broader level, I wish he’d use Sergio Romo more — though I’m not nearly as informed as Bochy when it comes to injury concerns regarding Romo. But as a whole, he’s solid when it comes to bullpen usage.
— And he’s generally a solid in-game manager — in addition to his bullpen usage, I like that he’s not prone to calling too many bunts/intentional walks. He’ll make the occasional ridiculous move, but that comes with every manager.
As a whole, I don’t think managers are terribly important. In other words, the difference between Bruce Bochy and the average manager — positive or negative — is minimal at most. I imagine the Giants feel the same way — after all, I don’t think they’re paying Bochy a whole lot of money.
In any event, he’s a solid manager. I’ll criticize him on occasion, as I would every other manager in baseball. But I’m grateful that he’s no Fredi Gonzalez. And he seems to command the respect of his players, which is pretty important. It’s intangible — we can’t measure that quality, nor can we compute its significance. But it’s a valuable attribute, and one I think all managers need in order to be effective.
So overall, I’m content with the Bochy extension, if only because things could be a lot worse. But please, Bochy — just give Belt some more playing time next season.