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.

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

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USATSI

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a very important fact you need to keep in mind when talk of Johnny Cueto’s opt-out comes up, as it so often will over the next six weeks: The Giants always expected him to opt-out after this season, from the moment the ink was dry on the six-year, $130-million contract. 

When you sign at the top of your game and have a chance to hit the market at 31 years old and cash out a second time, you take it. Those are just the rules of professional sports. On the day Cueto was introduced, his agent, Bryce Dixon, said the two-year opt-out was important because they felt Cueto didn’t get a totally fair shot at free agency. 

“Johnny, a little bit unfairly, had a lot of questions about his arm,” Dixon said in December of 2015. “I felt we could reestablish his actual value … He knows he’s as good as (David) Price and (Zack) Greinke, but his situation was a little different.”

The Giants were fine with this, too. The flip side of the opt-out is that if you have the chance to pay a dominant right-hander $46 million over two years, and then escape his mid- to late-thirties, you do it. Every time. You don’t even blink. 

So, here we are, in June of the second year of that deal, with reports that Cueto will opt out. You should take a deep breath because you should have already expected this. But if you didn’t, take comfort in this: By all indications, Cueto has not made a decision, even with the Giants having an unimaginably poor season. 

First of all, Cueto can't make a decision in June. What if the blisters return and he repeats his April ERA a couple more times? What if his elbow starts barking? There are no guarantees with pitchers, and until Cueto gets through the second season, there will be no finality with his decision. 

Aside from the fact that he really can’t make that decision, though, sources insist Cueto hasn’t made up his mind or even thought much about it. People familiar with his thinking continue to say the focus has been baseball all season long, from spring training through his last start. 

Cueto is said to be happy in San Francisco and he enjoys pitching in front of the crowd at AT&T Park. His biggest concern has been wins and losses, and in that respect, this has been a disappointing year for all involved. 

That record has brought the Giants to a crossroads, and this is where it gets interesting. The easy solution is to trade Cueto next month, avoid the opt-out situation entirely, and add prospects to a system lacking them. But, it’s complicated. The Giants do not intend a full teardown, and if they’re going for it again in 2018 — with their core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Madison Bumgarner, etc. locked in, that’s the plan — they’ll want that second ace at the top of the rotation. And if Bumgarner doesn’t return to form after an injury, they’ll need Cueto’s presence. 

The Giants have until July 31 to decide what to do with Cueto. He has until three days after the World Series ends to decide what to do with his contract. Here in June, by all indications, those decisions haven’t been made. 

Giants lineup: Pence hitting third, Panik back into two-hole

Giants lineup: Pence hitting third, Panik back into two-hole

Clutch, late-game hitting by Hunter Pence has propelled him to the three hole as the Giants look to bounce back vs the Braves. Bruce Bochy has released the rest of his lineup for Game 2 of the series...

San Francisco Giants:
1. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 3B
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Austin Slater (R) LF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Nick Hundley (R) C
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Matt Cain (R) P

Atlanta Braves:
1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
8. Johan Camargo (S) 3B
9. Jaime Garcia (L) P