Former SF Giants manager Bruce Bochy came out of retirement to join the Texas Rangers this offseason. He signed up for a team that won just 68 games in 2022, but in a parallel universe, he might have decided to manage the Chicago White Sox after the 2020 season.
Former SF Giants manager Bruce Bochy made the right call in choosing Texas
When Bochy decided to step away from the game after 2019, ending his 13-year run as the Giants' skipper, it felt like he would return to the dugout sooner or later. One opportunity presented itself after the 2020 season - the White Sox.
Chicago reached the playoffs with a 35-25 record in a condensed, 60-game season. They lost to the Oakland A's in the first round of the playoffs, but it felt like they were on an upward trajectory and that their competitive window had opened.
To really push forward, White Sox manager Rick Renteria was dismissed despite leading the White Sox to their first playoff birth since 2008. The White Sox wanted an experienced manager who had the skill to manage a bullpen among other qualities. Oftentimes, bullpen management is the biggest influence a manager can have when the game starts.
Bochy certainly fit that description. He had been known as an excellent bullpen manager with both the Giants and the San Diego Padres. When he had the right pitchers in the bullpen, he knew how to put them in a position to succeed more often than not.
Though, the longtime Giants manager was known as an old-school skipper who relied more on instinct than the analytically-inclined managers of today. While there might be an element of truth to that, Bochy still makes decisions with the numbers in mind. He is excellent at reading what is taking place on the field and adjusting his game plan to that.
So, Bochy would have been an excellent fit for Chicago, right? Well, the ownership leaned heavily into nostalgia by hiring Tony La Russa instead. La Russa had managed the White Sox for the first nine years of his career beginning in 1979. It was reported that Bochy had finished in second place for the gig.
Chicago's loss turned out to be Bochy and Texas' gain. The White Sox thrived to a 93-69 in 2021 while losing to the Houston Astros in the ALDS in four games. It has been a steep decline since then as they went 81-81 last year as La Russa announced his retirement at the end of the year.
Things do not look any better as the White Sox have a 47-69 record in a weak AL Central. There have been questions about the team's leadership as they look to begin what could be a lengthy rebuild.
On the other hand, Bochy has evidently made an excellent decision by joining the Rangers. On the surface, it did not appear that way as they finished in fourth place in the AL West. However, the 26-year veteran knew that Texas had a farm system that would soon feed the major league roster and an ownership group that signaled that they were willing to spend.
Both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager agreed to lucrative deals in the year before Bochy's arrival. Since then, they have added Jacob deGrom (who is on the injured list) and Max Scherzer. There is plenty of star talent on the roster and a manager who has had a lot of success on the baseball field.
The Rangers have a 68-47 record while sitting in first place in the AL West. Bochy has added to his Hall of Fame résumé by surpassing both Leo Durocher (2,008) and Walter Alston (2,040) on the all-time wins list by a manager. He sits in 10th place on that list and should pass a handful of managers before his three-year deal expires.
Bochy is back in San Francisco as the Giants face off against the Rangers for a three-game series this weekend. He looks to be in a great position and the early returns from his new role look promising as it appears that Texas' competitive window has just opened up.