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Giants manager Bruce Bochy keeps pushing all of the right buttons

Oct 26, 2012, 12:13 AM EDT

Bruce Bochy Getty Images

The Giants weren’t as much of a surprise the Nationals, so it’s doubtful Bruce Bochy will get much love in the Manager of the Year award balloting when the results are announced next month.

Now if there were a Postseason Manager of the Year award, there’s no doubt Bochy would claim it in a landslide. It seems Bochy and his giant cranium can do no wrong this month and particularly these last five games.

- He pulled Madison Bumgarner from the rotation in favor of Barry Zito in Game 5 of the NLCS, watched Zito pitch a gem to keep the Giants in the series and then restored Bumgarner to the rotation for Game 2 of the World Series with stellar results.

- He’s seemed to have the knack for knowing exactly when to turn to the bullpen. Of course, it’s a lot easier to look like a genius when both the starters and relievers are pitching like they have been lately.

The way I’ve always looked at it is that, if you’ve already decided you’re going to pull a pitcher after one mistake, you don’t send him back out to make the mistake. Jim Leyland may or may not have done that tonight. He had starter Doug Fister open the seventh, only to remove him after Hunter Pence singled to lead off the inning. Maybe it was Leyland’s plan to pull Fister for the lefty (with back-to-back left-handers coming up) regardless of what happened with Pence, and if so, that’s defensible.  Still, it should have been Octavio Dotel‘s batter all along.

Bochy has handled the pitching changes flawlessly, and he’s continued to play matchups late in games even when it seems one of his relievers is doing well. Not only is he playing the percentages, but it appears that the quick hooks have made his relievers more effective while working for the second day in a row.

- He’s gotten terrific results from Tim Lincecum as a reliever.

- He hasn’t resorted to any foolish small-ball tactics. Bochy could have had Belt try to bunt in the seventh inning tonight, but Belt has very little bunting experience and probably would have struggled to get it down. Bochy let Belt hit and was rewarded with a walk. And then, with a guy up who can bunt, Bochy had Gregor Blanco move the runners along (and even that turned into an unexpected bonus when the bunt failed to roll foul and Blanco reached).

Bochy doesn’t have a great lineup, but he has his players playing to their strengths. He hits and runs with Marco Scutaro because Scutaro is pretty much the ultimate hit-and-run guy. There haven’t been any bad stolen base attempts. He hasn’t tried to force the issue, and he’s not giving away outs.

- He’s also not giving away baserunners. In the second inning of Game 7 against the Cardinals, Matt Cain was pitching with runners on first and third, one out and No. 8 hitter Pete Kozma at the plate. Daniel Descalso went on to steal second. Had Mike Matheny been managing the Giants, there’s a good chance the steal would have led to an intentional walk of Kozma, setting up the double play with the pitcher up. Bochy, though, let Cain face Kozma, got a strikeout and then retired Lohse on a looping liner to short.  As a result, it was inning over, instead of Jon Jay potentially being up with the bases loaded and two outs.

So, yeah, I like what Bochy is doing this month. And I’m not typically such a big fan of his. It’s also surely worth noting that the starting pitching decisions are hardly his alone; Brian Sabean and company have their say as well. But if the Giants do come through and win this thing, Bochy is going to deserve all of the praise he gets. He’s put the team in the right position to win every time.

  1. sophiethegreatdane - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    Uh oh, I’m sensing a narrative here. That’s not allowed at HBT anymore. Enough with this ex post facto analysis of things that, you know, happened in the past. ;)

  2. natslady - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    Interesting comment. Davey made the same decision as Bochy, not to IBB Kozma after Descalso stole second. (There were two out). Kozma had a 1-2 count. Kozma singled, driving in the game-winning runs and knocking the Nats out of the NLDS. Nats fans have criticized Davey for not walking Kozma, but Davey managed correctly IMO.

    • paperlions - Oct 26, 2012 at 8:00 AM

      EXACTLY! It is the players that make the manager look like an idiot or a genius in such situations. Bochey only looks like his moves are all working because everyone is coming through….if he made the exact same moves but a couple of relievers blew up, he’d have been criticized.

      Though, it is true that he has done a good job not giving away outs or giving away base runners, each of which are always bad ideas.

    • indaburg - Oct 26, 2012 at 8:28 AM

      I agree. Johnson made the same decision and got burned. Bochy’s a very good manager, but his players are the ones performing at a very high level. Managers get too much blame when things go wrong, and too much credit when things go right. You can have the best laid plans and place players in the best position to succeed, but ultimately it’s on the players and how they execute.

      • stex52 - Oct 26, 2012 at 9:23 AM

        I liked Bochy as a player; I like him as a manager. But I will repeat what you guys said because I have been saying it all season. When your players get their jobs done, you are a genius. When they screw up, you are an idiot. Just stay out of their way and don’t do anything to mess them up.

  3. Marty - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:24 AM

    Wasn’t Lohse’s soft liner actually a bullet to short caught only by Crawford’s miraculous jump?

    Anyways, I think Leyland is in a tough spot late in games with no lead. And going home to face the Giants 1 and 2 starters is not going to help that reality.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:41 AM

      Hmmm, I wouldn’t call it a bullet, but soft liner probably doesn’t do it justice either. It was harder hit than I remembered. And it was a great catch.

      Here’s the video.

      Anyway, good call on the comment. I decided to change it to read “looping liner.”

      • adeedothatswho - Oct 26, 2012 at 1:49 AM

        Apparently, white men CAN jump.

      • Old Gator - Oct 26, 2012 at 6:30 AM

        Sick catch. And where was I? Making a sandwich….

      • historiophiliac - Oct 26, 2012 at 9:55 AM

        There’s no shame in appeasing the sammich gods, Gator, unless it was braunschweiger.

      • Old Gator - Oct 26, 2012 at 11:13 AM

        Do you want to hear what we do with braunschweiger – and so help me, this is the Buddha’s troof – we buy it for our dogs. We use it to re-stuff marrow bones they’ve already licked out. They love it.

        I can’t stand the stuff (knowing what’s in it would make the cook in an Irish country pub nauseous), and I can’t abide people who refer to it as paté, either.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:33 PM

        I’m cracking up because my dad used to try that old pate’ thing on us.

  4. sailcat54 - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:25 AM

    Bochy is a terrific manager. Hopefully, he will wind up in the Hall of Fame, someday. Certainly, Jim Leyland will.

  5. nysportsexchange - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    Go Giants. 2 down 2 to go lets see how the tigers like being swept. http://nysportsexchange.blogspot.com/

    • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:48 AM

      nysportsexchange, eh? Were you the guys behind the Facebook hack a few months ago?

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 26, 2012 at 8:47 AM

      Nysportsexchange… Noo, I couldn’t possibly put in spaces strategically within the name to make fun of it.

  6. metalhead65 - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    I wish my reds had waited untill after the series was over with before they re-signed dusty so they could have made him watch a video of how Bochy manages. all the things you describe that he does like play to a players strengths and knowing when to go to his bullpen baker does the exact opposite and now we get 2 more years of the same cap.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Oct 26, 2012 at 1:03 AM

      It’s time to bench some of these Giants players before they fall into slumps.

      • scumpidude - Oct 26, 2012 at 1:09 AM

        Why?

      • Old Gator - Oct 26, 2012 at 6:31 AM

        Re-tune antennae for “irony,” folks.

      • metalhead65 - Oct 26, 2012 at 6:55 AM

        and the sad thing is you know he would if he were in charge! what am I going to do for fun during the summer the next 2 years?

      • sophiethegreatdane - Oct 26, 2012 at 9:27 AM

        Thanks Gator!

      • Old Gator - Oct 26, 2012 at 11:15 AM

        De nada, as we say in Macondo.

  7. norcaldeportes - Oct 26, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    Nice to see Bochy get some much deserved credit. He has always been a very underrated manager. He gets the most out of his guys & doesn’t overreact to minor mishaps during the season. Then he steps on the gas in the playoffs. Managers who go all in during the regular season win manager of the year, but their teams usually flame out in the playoffs (Davey Johnson, Kirk Gibson, Bud Black, etc). Managers like Bruce Bochy know how to kick it into the next gear for the postseason.

  8. baymac408 - Oct 26, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    Best manager there is!! Go GIANTS!!

  9. fusionix7 - Oct 26, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    I’m simply seeing it as the Tigers have played like they have all season. They make a pitcher they haven’t seen who has a 5+ era look like a Cy Young candidate. I realize MadBum wasn’t like that until the last couple starts, but still. The baseball Gods are on the side of the Giants right now (3rd base hit, hit off Fister’s head.

    • alexo0 - Oct 26, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      Regression to the mean. The Tigers were playing over their heads for the last two months and now are heading back down. It just sucks for them that it’s happening in the WS.

  10. skerney - Oct 26, 2012 at 4:24 AM

    “Bochy dosen’t have a great lineup”: Except a leadoff guy who hit 15 triples, a two hole hitter who hit .306 and was the NLCS MVP, a three hole hitter who hit 3 HRs in game 1 and is a lifetime .300+ hitter, the 2012 NL MVP at cleanup, a #5 hitter who is struggling but who also drove in over 100 RBIs and scored a run and drove in another in the game two win. You don’t win the NL pennant with a weak lineup Matt.

    • danandcasey - Oct 26, 2012 at 7:29 AM

      People seem to forget that the Giants had the best batting average and scored the most runs of any NL team this year on the road. I understand that games 1 and 2 were home games, but how a team hits on the road is a good indication of the strength of a line-up.

      • sailcat54 - Oct 26, 2012 at 8:56 AM

        NBC’s lead article this morning by DeMarco talks about the “breaks” going the Giants’ way with nary a mention of the hitting, pitching, and great defensive plays being made. Oh well, the press can make all the excuses they want but the Giants are winning on their own merits and that’s all that matters.

        Damn good pitching by Fister last night, too. The Tigers are a great team and it shows. Fingers crossed for SF as they go to Detroit!

    • goawaydog - Oct 26, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      shhhhhhh, now everyone will know!

  11. 9foldmuse - Oct 26, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Hear hear! Just because the Gintz lack overcompensated divas doesn’t make the line-up weak. Plus Belt and Crawford are developing into smart hitters; Arias has pop and would play everyday 3rd or short on most teams; Blanco prevents rallies-and apparently teaches baseballs to roll over and play dead. “The Bunt Whisperer.”

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 26, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      LOL. I love that: “The Bunt Whisperer”.

  12. sugarray1 - Oct 26, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    The East Coast and midwest press can go suck eggs. In baseball, you make your own breaks. Yes, the Giants are hot. The hot team at the end of the season ususally wins it all. There is no credit given to the Giants playing superior baseball. Blanco’s bunt was perfect. Give him credit, don’t say it was lucky it stayed fair. Fielder was an idiot for trying to score. I really like the fore-arm shiver he had ready when there was that close play at first. Lots of class there. Bumgarner SHUT THEM DOWN!! PERIOD!! You can’t win when you don’t hit. Good luck against Cain and Vogelsong. The Tigers are goin down! How bad do you think the A’s feel right now??

  13. blabidibla - Oct 26, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    The meme floating around ATT on Wednesday is that Bochy must weigh as much as a duck….Because he’s a witch!

  14. dirtydrew - Oct 26, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Go Giants. I’m in New York this week, and all I can say is the good folks here no nothing of the kind of quality ball played on the best, I mean west coast. The Giants are a complete team. Solid everywhere, strongest in starting pitching. The Tigers have big bats, but poor defense and pen. And in the small A.L. Parks, we can go yard too.

    • jackbenny1 - Oct 28, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      Complete PEDs team, all but Posey and Cain… or they’d be the MVP PED

  15. redandgoldhitman52 - Oct 26, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    does melky cabrera get a ring if giants win world series ? he did play over 100 games and he helped get home field in the all star game.

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