For Bochy, a win stamps a ticket to the Hall

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For Bochy, a win stamps a ticket to the Hall

Bruce Bochy has spent a lot of time in his managerial career mastering the art of saying as little as possible in big public gatherings. In smaller groups where he knows everyone around him, he is a man of keen insight and cutting wit, but the Bochy most folks see on television is a more tactical speaker, giving nothing that can be turned into something, and using his slow drawl to sucker people into thinking that he isnt.Thinking, that is.In 2010, he nearly blew his cover, guiding the San Francisco Giants to their first World Series title with an extended series of fortunate, superb, and well-considered pitching and tactical moves. When asked during the subsequent spring training whether his public reputation had been transformed, his cover blown, he laughed and said, I thought about that, but I know it works.Meaning:There isnt a honeymoon in this job. Itll all be back to normal by the end of April. He was right a maddening habit of his.But now, two years later, the Giants are back in the Series, with a nearly total remake from the 2010 team, one fewer reliable starting pitcher, and enough takes of Well, that ought to finish them to last a lifetime. Bochy shepherded Buster Posey through enough games to be the putative favorite for the MVP, he adjusted the back end of his bullpen twice, he dealt with the disappearance of Tim Lincecum and the re-emergence or Barry Zito, he overcame the minefield of Melky Cabrera, and on-again off-again developmental steps of Brandon Belt.And now he is quite possibly on the cusp of being a Hall of Fame-level manager. Winning this World Series would almost surely do it.Here we must stop, because the Hall of Fame isnt always about deeds, but perceptions as well. A lot of people can be Hall of Fame caliber, but lack one value or another and never get in. See Gene Mauch, for example, still considered the finest tactician of the last half-century, often while managing teams which tactics could not save.But to make Bochys case, lets go to the reference resources, shall we?Games Managed: 2898, 22nd on the all-time list. Those above him neither in or likely to be in the Hall of Fame: Mauch, Ralph Houk, Jimmie Dykes.Years: 18, tying him for 30th. Those tied or above him neither in nor likely to be: Mauch, Houk, Dykes, Charlie Griumm, John McNamara, Chuck Tanner, Bill Rigney.Postseason appearances: Six, tying him for 13th all time. Those tied with or above him neither in nor likely: Ron Gardenhire, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Dusty Baker. And you can make arguments for Johnson, Manuel and Baker.World Series Appearances: Three, including this one, tying him for 23rd. Those tied or above him, etc. Grimm, Houk, Jim Mutrie.And should he beat one of his contemporaries in all these areas, the almost surely HOF-bound Jim Leyland, he would have two big rings, tying him for 10th. Those tied or blah-de-blah-de-blah include Houk, Mutrie, Bill Carrigan, Terry Francona, Cito Gaston, Tom Kelly and Danny Murtaugh.Oh, and he ranks 23rd in wins and 18th in losses, which leaves him just below the same people he shares the other categories with. In case, the names escape you, allow us to facilitate your further comprehension:1. Connie Mack.
2. Tony La Russa.
3. John McGraw.
4. Bobby Cox.
5. Bucky Harris.
6. Joe Torre.
7. Sparky Anderson.
8. Mauch.
9. Casey Stengel.
10. Leo Durocher.
11. Walter Alston.
12. Bill McKechnie.
13. Lou Piniella.
14. Joe McCarthy.
15. Jim Leyland.
16. Ralph Houk.
17. Tom Lasorda.
18. Dick Williams.
19. Dusty Baker.
20. Jimmie Dykes.
21. Clark Griffith.
22. Fred Clarke.
23. Bochy.
24. Wilbert Robertson.
25. Chuck Tanner.
26. Miller Huggins.
27. Bill Rigney.
28. Earl Weaver.
29. Ned Hanlon.
30. Al Lopez.
31. Whitey Herzog.
32. Lou Boudreau.In that group, La Russa, Cox, Torre and Leyland are not yet but will be Hall of Famers, and Piniella is close. Baker needs a World Series title, and Mauch, Dykes, Tanner and Rigney died without one, and Houk have been passed over for years, and seem unlikely to be revisited.Which frankly puts Bochy in the thick of a debate he would publicly blanch at but privately enjoy, namely, how elite an elite manager is he? As in, not merely good for the moment, but in the history of the game?Where he falls down is in winning percentage, where he didnt get to .500 until the end of August of this year, and where he ranks 142nd, largely due to the dues-paying years in San Diego. This is not as compelling a stat, though, as Casey Stengel, one of the games best managers ever, had a .508 even after you allow for the great Yankee teams he managed in the 50s.The point here is that, even if you want to downgrade his press conference work as a unacceptably stylistic attempt at minimalism, you have here a Hall of Fame-caliber manager now, and someone who should be considered a near-mortal lock if his side wins this time. Leyland, who is a lock, will have one fewer title if the Giants win.And in any event, Bochy long ago had won over doubters within the baseball community. He has been an elite manager, and he is on the verge of having the numbers to prove it.The honeymoon for that? Oh, Id say Opening Day still, he said with a laugh. He gets the way this works. Hes been doing it too well for too long not to.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner aims to get all 27 outs every time he takes the mound, but on Tuesday the coaching staff gave the ace a nice view of the man who will help out if his nights are cut short. 

Bumgarner threw his first live batting practice session of the spring on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. Mark Melancon, the new closer, followed him. Both players said they felt good. Both also found things to work on in advance of opening day. 

“Strength-wise I felt pretty good, really good, actually,” Bumgarner said. “My command up in the zone was right where I want it. I’m pretty happy with that. My cutter was pretty straight, but that usually comes around pretty quick.”

Melancon didn’t even throw his go-to cutter, saying he usually pockets it until later in camp. He’s getting the feel for his curveball back because he doesn’t throw it until he reports. Like Bumgarner, Melancon said he’s where he needs to be physically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In years past there has been some slowness but I don’t feel that this year. I’m right where I want to be.”

The Giants have not finalized a Cactus League rotation, but Bumgarner will likely throw an inning in Friday’s opener. Melancon could follow him, as he’ll throw in the early innings until late March. He said he’ll talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about closing a game or two over the final days of camp so he can start locking his routine down. It’s probably a lock that he’ll close out that first Bay Bridge Series game back at AT&T Park. 

ICYMI: Here’s actual (shaky) footage of Bumgarner throwing today. At one point, he gave Denard Span a hard time for missing a slider that he was told was coming. Span had a good reason. “I didn't understand him when he said it because of his accent,” he said. 

ICYMI, PART II: The latest podcast is a couple of interviews with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Law explained how he ordered 800 chicken nuggets for his wedding. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants now expect Johnny Cueto to join camp this weekend. His status for the WBC is up in the air. Speaking of the WBC, trainer Dave Groeschner will be leaving camp on Feb. 27 to work with manager Hensley Meulens and the Netherlands. Bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu is also working with the team, which opens play in Seoul. Anthony Reyes will be head trainer while Groeschner is gone.

PROSPECT WATCH: Bruce Bochy said right-hander Ray Black was a standout during early live BP sessions. “He had a hell of an outing yesterday,” Bochy said. “They said he was really good.”   Black, 26, still throws 100-plus. He still has command issues, though, with 32 walks in 31 1/3 innings last year. If he can get over that hump and stay healthy, he might rocket to the big leagues.

QUOTABLE: After just about every start last season — most of which were dominant — Bumgarner said he wasn’t happy with his mechanics. He said Tuesday that he’s still searching for the perfect feeling. “I was being a perfectionist,” he said. “If you’re being a perfectionist, I really haven’t had (my mechanics) where I wanted the last couple of years. It’s not like it’s too far off, obviously.”

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants have been watching high-quality clips of Johnny Cueto all spring, even though the co-ace has remained in the Dominican Republic. On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy finally managed to get face-to-face with Cueto. Kind of. 

Cueto spoke to Bochy, trainer Dave Groeschner and others via FaceTime, and all involved finally managed to hammer out a schedule for Cueto’s arrival. Cueto has been in the Dominican Republic tending to his ill father, Domingo, but he is expected to arrive in Scottsdale this weekend. Cueto is working to secure a visa for his father, who will travel with him.

Bochy wanted to have a long discussion with Cueto to get a sense of how ready he’ll be for the World Baseball Classic. Cueto’s participation is still up in the air, and not just because he has missed the first week of camp. There is a chance, Bochy said, that Cueto will choose to stay in Scottsdale to continue taking care of his father. The Dominican Republic opens play in Miami on March 9.

“He said he knows he’s got to make a decision real soon regarding what he does,” Bochy said. “Pitching or not pitching, he’s got to let them know as soon as possible.”

Cueto has been throwing to hitters at a facility in Boca Chica. He threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.