Giants

The case of Bruce Bochy's health: Will he know when it's time?

The case of Bruce Bochy's health: Will he know when it's time?

Giants manager Bruce Bochy received his third heart scare in as many years and underwent what is delicately called “a minor procedure” Tuesday in San Diego.

Which clearly leads to the question almost too delicate to ask: "When is enough enough?"

It can be argued that Bochy is probably the second greatest manager in franchise history after John McGraw. But it must also be argued that he is also a man, a husband, a father, a friend and a companion, and though poets will say that the heart wants what it wants, sometimes the actual heart demands what it needs.

And before we go much further with this, at no time should anyone infer, imply or state that this is a call for Bochy to retire. That’s between him, his medical team and his family to parse. He should be as welcome as he can manage to be forever, such has been his service to the club. Indeed, when he decides to hang up his tarpaulin-sized hat, whether it be after the 3,637 games he has already managed, or the 3,637 more he probably thinks he still has in him, the team ought to consider not only lifetime employment and a ballpark statue but maybe steal a page from international soccer and name a section of the stands at Tercero y Rey after him.

Anything less would seem, well, chintzy. 

But that’s for down the road – for as long as "down the road" will permit. The problem for him is that his chest is suggesting that perhaps "down the road" isn’t as far a distance as he would like.

This is unlike your standard managerial speculation, because typically that comes with failure. Bochy, like former general manager/current godhead of baseball operations Brian Sabean, has been a monumental success, helping compress three championships into five seasons, an achievement he shares with only six other men (Connie Mack, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Walter Alston, Tom Lasorda and Joe Torre).

In other words, this isn’t about whether Bochy is still good at his job (this is indisputably so) but how much longer doing his job is a good idea for him.

One can make the case that while a manager’s lifestyle and stress level is not conducive to good health, his access to top-grade medical care is probably superior.

But it’s not a great case to make, especially if Bochy’s issues are indeed stress-related. It’s also not a great case to make because there is only one doctor that knows Bochy’s case – Bochy’s doctor. Everyone else is either an interested advocate, starting most importantly with his wife, Kim, or an interested observer.
 
In short, there is no case to be made here for his continuing or his retiring. That’s up to him and his, and if his life requires he own part of a winery and kick his feet up rather than trudging half-sideways toward the mount to make what would be (and this is a rough estimate, courtesy FanGraphs and BaseballReference.com) his 10,422nd career pitching change.
 
By the way, how the Giants failed to celebrate his 10,000th bullpen trip last May 25 is a massive marketing failure, especially since it was to bring Santiago Casilla into a high stress inning in what was eventually a 4-3 win over the Padres. Casilla threw a scoreless inning in that game, so no, you can’t play Forensic Sabermetrician and identify him as the reason for Bochy’s health issues.
 
But that’s neither here, there, nor anywhere else. Today’s issue is Bruce Bochy, and whether he can be (a) a good patient, (b) a prudent patient, and (c) a smart patient. This is about whether he can not just recover but also recognize the limits his body is suggesting for him, and work out a rational and sensible path going forward.
 
And yes, that would be Kim reminding him that “acting indestructible” is not one of the available options.

This managing gig wears on different folks in different ways, and it wears harder on successful ones because they do more of it, meaning more high leverage innings, more clubhouse fires extinguished, more umpire arguments, more road trips, more nights with lousy sleep, more nights with late meals or dehydration – more of pretty much everything.
 
Here’s hoping he knows when "no more" comes, and what to do about it. After all, it's not like his body isn't telling him that day is coming.

'Piss poor' seventh inning haunts Giants at Dodger Stadium

'Piss poor' seventh inning haunts Giants at Dodger Stadium

LOS ANGELES — The Giants put together a long rally in the top of the seventh inning Friday, scoring three runs to take a 4-2 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Matt Moore walked the leadoff hitter on four pitches. 

“You don’t deserve anything really that good after something like that,” Moore said. “That’s piss poor.”

Nothing good came after the walk, as Moore expected. That man, Austin Barnes, would come around to score. Three more Dodgers would, too. It added up to a 6-4 win for the Dodgers. For the best team in the National League, this was a familiar feeling. For the most disappointing team in baseball, the same was true. 

The Giants have played so well against the Dodgers this season, but in one inning at Chavez Ravine, they fell apart. They looked exactly like the team that has bottomed out over the last calendar year, and none of the pitchers who threw in the inning were spared. 

Moore had a good night in general, and his second half is showing signs of promise. But he was left angry with the result, and much of that anger was directed at himself. An hour after it happened, Moore was still stewing over the four pitches to Barnes and the double he gave up to Joc Pederson.

“You’ve got to make him earn his way on there,” Moore said of Barnes. “I’ve got to be better than that in the seventh.”

Moore’s night ended when Yasiel Puig entered the on-deck circle. Puig hasn’t hit lefties this year, but Bruce Bochy didn’t like the look of some pitches Moore had thrown in the inning, and he was pulled after 96 pitches. George Kontos entered and got Puig, a righty-destroyer, to hit an RBI grounder to short. Then he hung a 3-2 slider to Chris Taylor that was knocked into left for a game-tying double. 

“He’s been very good at times,” Bochy said of Kontos. “But the breaking ball that he’s left up, that’s the one that’s hurting him.”

Josh Osich was called upon and put a curveball on a tee. Corey Seager blasted it and that was that. The Giants sent Steven Okert down to the minors last weekend, leaving Osich as their lefty in the ‘pen. Bochy reiterated that he needs more from the young pair. Neither has taken hold of a long-term job since Will Smith went down to Tommy John surgery. 

“It’s their time,” Bochy said. “We need one of them to step up.”

Perhaps another reliever has. Kyle Crick struck out two in an impressive eighth, lowering his ERA to 1.88. It was an inning with less at stake, and that’s been the norm for Crick. He has pitched 12 times in the big leagues and 11 of the games have been losses. The lone win was a 9-2 blowout. 

The Giants have said they want to get Crick into higher-pressure spots. The inning before his on Friday night might have accelerated that plan. 

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants stumble in seventh vs Dodgers

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants stumble in seventh vs Dodgers

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES — The Giants have just about nothing to brag about this season, but coming into this weekend, they could at least hold onto the fact that they have played the Dodgers tougher than anyone else in the National League. Or, at least they *had.*

Matt Moore and the bullpen gave up a two-run lead in the seventh and wasted good work from the lineup in the top of the inning. The end came quickly. The Giants, who entered with a 6-4 record against the Dodgers, lost 6-4. 

They are 32 1/2 games behind the Dodgers. That is not a misprint. Anyway, here are five things to know from Chavez Ravine ... 

--- Bruce Bochy made an interesting decision in the seventh with two in scoring position and Matt Moore nearing 100 pitches. George Kontos entered to face Yasiel Puig, who has a .898 OPS against righties and .494 OPS against lefties. Did it work? Not really. Puig grounded out to short, but a run scored. Chris Taylor then doubled to tie the game. Josh Osich entered and gave up a two-run homer. 

--- Early on, it was a shortstop show. Lefty hitters Corey Seager and Brandon Crawford traded solo shots off southpaw starters. Crawford has seen a noticeable uptick at the plate since the All-Star break. 

--- Jae-Gyun Hwang celebrated his 30th birthday with an RBI single and mad dash home for a run in the three-run seventh. He saved another run with a diving play at third. 

--- Gorkys Hernandez drove an RBI double into center in the seventh to give the Giants a 4-2 lead. He is batting .326 over his past 32 games. 

--- Kyle Crick has pitched in only one game the Giants have won (yes, we realize they don't win often, but still). He blew through the Dodgers in the bottom of the eighth. It's probably about time Crick gets a shot to protect a lead.