SAN FRANCISCO – None of the seven franchises currently looking for a new manager has had time to prepare for the recruitment process like the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants have known since February that Bruce Bochy was planning to retire and that the president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi would have spent the first four to eight weeks of offseason interviewing potential successors.
Zaidi insisted on spring training to enter the process with an open mind, which is good news for the two internal Giants candidates, Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus.
CEO Larry Baer made it clear last fall that Zaidi was hired to turn the Giants into a cutting-edge and far-sighted organization in all aspects of their baseball operations. This year Zaidi made structural changes behind the scenes, but Bochy believed he and his staff were never around the curve when it came to embracing data, analysis and technology.
Meulens and Wotus now have the chance to show how prepared they are to manage in the modern game and impress Zaidi as they each try to secure their first job of managing the big league.
What I like about Meulens: Part-time player for the Yankees from 1989 to 1993, Meulens has extensive experience in the league as a player and coach and also boasts a managerial experience in international competitions with the Netherlands. The 52-year-old has been with the Giants since 2010, first as a top coach and more recently as Bochy's bench coach. These two jobs provided him with a solid background in dealing with players and also in understanding the flow of the game, the timing of in-game decisions and the role that communication plays in helping all members of a roster understand their individual roles.
Meulens is affable but competitive, friendly but hard and respected by both novices and veterans. These qualities make him a viable candidate to lead a great team in the league, and it will not be a surprise if asked to interview elsewhere this fall.
What you like about Wotus: Wotus has spent the last 28 seasons in the audition of the Giants organization for the work of managers of the great league and while the opportunities are not as abundant as they once were for the 58-year-old coach, Wotus it has a lot of support in its curve. The Connecticut native appeared only in 32 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1983 to 1984, but all the lessons he lost in a brief career in the league are those he learned during training with Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou and Bochy.
Wotus, a successful coach of the minor league and a longtime giant coach of the giants, is a master of preparation that ranks among the best gaming teachers of the fundamentals of the infield. Many coaches who have spent more than two decades in refuges of the big league could be more skeptical of the analysis than they do, but Wotus is sincere in his belief that the data provided by a front office to a coaching staff allow teams to gain an advantage.
A bonus quality to appreciate for Wotus: it understands that players learn and process information differently and that they are willing to do everything necessary to ensure that details are communicated clearly.
What is working against the internal candidates of the Giants: During last week's Giants end-of-season press conference, Zaidi emphasized the kind of value that the previous Major League managerial experience can provide and noted that many candidates are much more prepared to succeed in a second job later having learned from their failures the first time around.
Both Meulens and Wotus succeeded in their careers, but neither of them did it for an MLB club and did not have to take too much heat for a team with insufficient performance.
Working under Bochy will surely make both candidates more attractive to the managers they hire for other organizations, but it could be a difficult transition if one of them were to be hired by the Giants. Bochy's successor should not have the same kind of decision latitude under Zaidi that Bochy enjoyed during the 2019 season. After seeing the freedom that Bochy had this year, dealing with a front office that will be more practical in daily decision-making processes could be a difficult adjustment for both coaches.
What is next in the interview process
The giants will not be able to interview the coaches of other teams in the league until they are eliminated from the post-season game, but now they are free to ask permission to speak with candidates who spend October at home.
This could mean that Oakland A's quality control coach, Mark Kotsay, is one of the following to receive a call from Zaidi. A highly respected character within A's organization, Kotsay has publicly expressed management wishes and has already been linked to work on the Giants and Padres' work by national journalists.
Jon Heyman, a member of the MLB Network Insider, also tweeted that quality control technician Pedro Grifol of Kansas City Royals should receive an interview for the work of the Giants. Grifol has never reached the majors as a player, he has never worked as a coach on the bench and has no clear links with Zaidi, so his inclusion in the process would be relatively surprising. He has experience as a minor league manager and is reported to be considering a vacancy for the Royals manager, however, so his profile may be increasing.
With all four Series Series close to closing, many other names including Ron Washington, Braves' third-base coach and Chip Hale, coach of the National team bench, could be linked to the work of the Giants. As the Yankees have moved on to the ALCS, all the potential interviews for the respected bench coach Josh Bard will have to wait.
Who will not interview
Former outfielder MLB Moises Alou and Raul Ibañez are considered potential managerial stars, but several reports in recent days have indicated that neither has an interest in launching again into the daily routine of this offseason.
ESPN reported that Alou had dropped out of consideration for the San Diego Padres job while the Los Angeles Times reported that Ibañez, a Dodgers special assistant, is not interested in quitting his job.
Quality control on the way?
The giants have never hired a quality control coach, but it wouldn't come as a surprise if they joined the growing group of teams that installed a recently retired former player as soon as next season.
A quality control coach helps players prepare for matches and is another channel between the front office and the club house. With more information available to players on a daily basis, quality control coaches can help sift through data and put players in the best mental condition to succeed.
Our suggestion for the position: Nick Hundley. If the former giant hunter is considering retirement, it would be an excellent addition to a technical staff and could be treated as a future manager.