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San Francisco Giants rely on Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti to get it done

By Mark ONeill
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For the third time in five seasons, the San Francisco Giants are World Series-bound, set to meet the Kansas City Royals, beginning Tuesday night in Kansas City. Some believe this is because of Buster Posey and the superb starting rotation, while others think it is the result of Buster Posey, combined with the stellar bullpen.

There is still anther segment of fandom which believes it is Buster Posey and the home-grown nature of the Giants, whose entire infield is a product of the San Francisco farm system, which is ultimately responsible for the team’s success. Finally, there’s Buster Posey and the duo of Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti, the tandem I feel has had the greatest say in the formation a championship team.

Bochy is the consummate leader, in charge at all times. If what they say is true, and he who is calmest, is in control, then end of discussion. Bochy has guided the Giants to nine consecutive postseason, series wins, and pulled more strings than exist in a yo-yo factory, in order to land a slot in this year’s jamboree.

When the Giants’ Brandon Belt went down last May, management brought in Travis Ishikawa as a backup. Later in the summer, when Michael Morse ended up on the shelf, Bochy took Ishi aside and ran the idea of playing left field up the proverbial flagpole to see if it would fly. When Ishi was all about it, the Giants had a reserve, who could play both positions. Ishikawa has not been perfect in left field, but that three-run, National League Championship Series-clinching home run, that he hit last Thursday night, was.

Dave Righetti is the technician; he takes pitchers with mechanical issues into the shop and he helps them make the necessary adjustments. There have been numerous publicized accounts of Righetti’s work, one that stands out being Barry Zito’s struggles during spring training, before the start of the 2012 season.

After working with Righetti the week prior to the season opening, Zito got it together enough, to pitch a complete-game shutout against the Colorado Rockies, the first week of the season, in Colorado. Righetti worked with Madison Bumgarner, between the 2012 National League Playoffs, and the start of the World Series, and Bumgarner proceeded to throw seven innings of shutout ball against the Detroit Tigers.

Zito throws his last pitch as a Giant on 9/29/13. Photo by Denise Walos.

Jake Peavy’s mechanics, when he first arrived from Boston were out of synch, certainly playing a role in his having only one win through the first four months of the season. Because of his return to form, it could be argued that Peavy is the single most important reason, why the Giants made it into the playoffs, and Righetti is the reason why.

Bochy took a chance on a known commodity from his days in San Diego, and Righetti made it work. This is the kind of collaboration Giants fans see between this duo of smoke and mirrors, cut and paste, push and pull, divide and conquer, or whatever other tandem you would like to attach to them. The two get it done better than Lewis and Clark, always ready to embark on another pitching reclamation adventure together.

Buster Posey has to be included in any discussion of commodities which propel the Giants forward. He is the link that channels all of the information from the scouting combines to the pitchers.

Buster Posey’s job is to take in giga-bytes of information, and message it back to his pitchers, using his fingers.

This vast volume of information, dealing with hitters and their tendencies, which filters down through Bochy and Righetti, must be assimilated by Posey, so that he understands it, and then be distributed to both starters and relievers, as the game progresses.

Posey can’t call time and race into the dugout to consult Righetti, Bochy or a computer. He has to keep track of it in his head. He had to have known what Josh Hamilton, of the Texas Rangers, was likely to swing at and miss, just as he had to have known it for Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. It is not coincidental that the Giants went 8-1 in their last two appearances in the World Series.

Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti. Batman and Robin, if you will. Just don’t forget that BusterBrain is there too, in the form of Buster Posey, providing the circuitry for the flow of information, from the top, to where it is going to do the most good: in the minds of the pitchers.

The Kansas City Royals are renowned for stealing bases. An old baseball saying goes, “You can’t steal first base.” Buster Posey is here to prevent both. And when he’s not busy behind the plate, he has something to say with his bat.

If the past two World Series are any indication, look for more of the same kind of work from the Giants as they confront a team that is very much like them.

Just as I said, smoke and mirrors.

Oct 15, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Santiago Casilla (46) celebrates with catcher Buster Posey (28) after beating the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

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