With the San Francisco Giants limping to the finish line, the question about Bruce Bochy‘s job security has come up. Recent history suggests that replacing a manager of his caliber is easier said than done.
Bruce Bochy has been the manager of the Giants since 2007. During that time, the Giants have experienced unprecedented success. However, questions remain about his fit as the San Francisco Giants manager going forward.
For a manager who has been in the same role for 11 seasons, it is fair to question whether his message or approach have gone stale. Or, whether the game has just passed him by.
These are fair questions and concerns to raise. If the Giants decide to remove Bochy as the manager, the most pressing question is who would replace him? Before we answer that, let’s look at the history of recent managers replacing long-term, distinguished managers such as Bochy.
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The three that come to mind were the successors to Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony La Russa. These were Fredi Gonzalez , Joe Girardi and Mike Matheny, respectively. It should be noted that Cox, Torre, and La Russa compare favorably as all three are in the Hall of Fame as managers. Bochy, when he hangs them up, will likely join them.
Girardi replaced Joe Torre after the 2007 season. Torre had enormous success as the Yankees manager. He won 4 World Series Championships early in his Yankees tenure. However, a lack of winning late in his tenure and a contract dispute ended his reign. As a result, Torre was replaced by Girardi.
Girardi managed the Yankees for 10 seasons, and experienced success. He won a World Series in 2009. And, he guided the franchise through a rebuilding phase. He finished his Yankees tenure with 910 wins.
So, the Yankees did not botch the firing of Torre by replacing him with someone totally incompetent. Girardi was very good as the manager, and his dismissal was questionable.
Matheny was mostly a mixed bag as the Cardinals manager. He did have a .555 winning percentage. In addition to this, he made it to the playoffs on several occasions.
However, there were plenty of questions into his effectiveness as a manager. His teams won a lot. But, some of that could be attributed to having good rosters.
Evaluating a manager is a difficult task. There are few metrics that can accurately capture one’s effectiveness. Of that ones that analysts use, it appears that Matheny ranked near the bottom for much of his managerial career.
Matheny was fired mid-way through this season. And, the Cardinals responded by making an improbable push for playoff contention.
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In his 1st couple of seasons as the Braves manager, his teams won. However, as time wore on, the Braves underwent a rebuild. His teams won 434 games in 6 seasons.
A rough start to the 2016 season ended his Braves tenure. His record that season was an abysmal 9-28. He ended his Braves tenure with 434 wins and a .512 winning percentage. This is not a bad record, but most of his early rosters he inherited were built to win.
In regards to Bochy, there are arguments that could be made on either side for whether to keep him next season. Both sides could provide compelling arguments. However, Bochy still remains one of the better managers in baseball.
Whether he is a fit as the San Francisco Giants change gears toward retooling, that remains to be seen. Bochy focuses on winning. Playing prospects while they struggle is a challenge for him. However, playing time is earned. Bochy usually plays the hot hand.
Lastly, changing a long-standing manager such as Bochy would not be easy. That type of experience is difficult to replace. Also, Bochy is typically known as a player’s manager and viewed favorably by many of his own players. And, if history shows us anything, it’s that there is no given that the Giants could do better by replacing Bochy.