The SF Giants have officially interviewed three candidates for the managerial vacancy. One thing that all three candidates have in common is that they have no prior managing experience in the majors. This is something that the front office needs to avoid.
Why the SF Giants should stay away from a first-time manager
The three that they have interviewed are all internal candidates, including Mark Hallberg, Kai Correa, and Alyssa Nakken. Plus, they plan to interview a pair of familiar faces in Texas Rangers bench coach Donnie Ecker and Seattle Mariners quality control Stephen Vogt.
All bring something unique to the table, which is why they are receiving serious consideration. As I have said in the past, it is hard to know exactly where a coach's influence begins and ends. In the case of someone like Ecker, it is quite easy given that veteran players such as Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt praised his work when he was with the club.
Much of the work is behind the scenes, which typically does not get noticed or recognized by the fanbase. Nonetheless, the fact that all three internal coaches are being interviewed is a reflection of the work they have done thus far. The same could be said for Ecker and Vogt.
With all that being said, it is a little concerning that they have not been connected to an experienced manager at this point in the process. It could be a sign that the job may not be that appealing given that the front office is heading into a lame-duck season.
Perhaps, an experienced manager sees this job as only a one-year stopgap. That could change later on in the process, but so far, no one has meaningful managing experience. In fact, the only candidate with managing experience in the pros is Hallberg, who managed the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in 2019. Salem-Keizer was previously a short-season affiliate with San Francisco.
It is extremely risky for this front office to go with a first-time manager. If the regime was new, then maybe they could get away with an inexperienced option. A front office plans to be in place for at least four or five years, so if it is not working, then they can change gears.
This is not the Giants front office. Team president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi burned a lot of goodwill into hiring Gabe Kapler in the first place. For several reasons, Kapler was not a popular hire among the fanbase. There were moments when it looked like Zaidi had made the right call, but four years later, they are looking for a manager again.
The front office does not have much goodwill remaining at this point. In fact, Zaidi will likely be on the hot seat as soon as next season begins. And, bringing in a first-time manager will not inspire a ton of confidence for a front office that absolutely needs to get this hire right.
In fairness, it is hard to exactly measure a manager's influence. The coaching staff and organization could very well have a bigger impact on a team's performance than the manager. You just kind of know when you see it. You know what a good manager looks like. There are not many of them, but you know who they are.
There is just too much unpredictability with a first-time manager whether it be in terms of performance, execution, or perception. The front office cannot gamble with unpredictability. They need someone with experience because their jobs might depend on how the team performs in the first half of the season.
If the Giants are 10 games below .500 and have a first-time manager who looks overmatched in July, it could spell the end for the current regime. At least with an experienced manager, they have an idea of how he manages players and maneuvers within the game. It may not be a whole lot better than unpredictability, but it is just too risky for the Giants to try and think outside of the box.