Bochy leaving could be good for San Diego

San Diego Padres owner John Moores used to famously state that as long as he was here, Bruce Bochy was his manager and he didn't need a contract.

In retrospect, it may have been a good idea for Boch to have had that contract, regardless of how loudly your owner proclaims his love for you.

"John Moores and Randy Smith gave me an incredible opportunity in San Diego. The last 12 years have been a great ride," Bochy admitted. "You play this game for the ring. Until that happens I will never be content with my career. When this opportunity came along, I wasn't really looking to make a change. Brian Sabean made a strong case that this organization is as hungry as I am to win a World Championship. When I started exploring this opportunity I made a commitment to myself and my wife that if we were to make a change it would be with an organization that I was comfortable and I would have a chance to make an impact and contribution. That is the only reason I would leave San Diego."

On Friday, Bochy accepted a three-year contract worth $6 million dollars with the San Francisco Giants and for the first time since February of 1983, Bruce Bochy is not a member of the San Diego Padres organization either as a player, minor league manager, coach, or big league manager - a position he has held for the past 12 years.

Did the Padres try to stop him?

"I was not forced out," said Bochy. "Sure it is nice to have the security."

Not exactly.

With San Diego President/CEO Sandy Alderson informing Bochy earlier this month that the team would not be offering him an extension it set in motion two things. One is it allowed Bochy to find another team that would provide him with a multi-year contract and two it enabled the Padres to get out of paying him $1.9 million on the last year of his contract.

San Diego was always Bochy's first choice and they could have easily given him another multi-year deal, probably for slightly less money and years. Which begs the question, why didn't the Padres want Bochy back?

A couple of reasons:

Sandy Alderson was brought in for one purpose, win a World Series and do it within the confines of a payroll that would be at best in the middle of the pack of major league baseball.

In order to accomplish this goal, the Padres must build a successful organization from within, to take advantage of a labor agreement that allows teams to sign players at below market salaries for the first six years of a players' career, particularly in their first three.

Bochy was never particularly fond of playing young players, especially position players, and usually had to have nearly all his options taken away before someone like Khalil Greene or Josh Barfield would play regularly.

Additionally, this season saw some questionable roster choices advocated by Bochy, such as the seemingly forced prying of Vinny Castilla from the roster, despite a sub-.600 OPS season. Other veterans such as Mark Bellhorn and Eric Young were frequently in the lineup at the expense of talented younger players such as Ben Johnson.

His preference for veterans over younger players was most evident in his inexplicable retention of Bellhorn late in the season at the expense of Johnson, which cost the Padres a valuable potential right-handed bat and backup centerfielder on the playoff roster in order to keep a third string infielder who hit .190 for the season.

Throw in some questionable managerial decisions during the first round playoffs, and his fate was sealed.

The Giants may be a better fit for Bochy. It's a team that relies on developing home-grown pitchers and acquires veteran players [the Giants haven't developed an everyday position player since Bill Mueller in 1996]. Bochy will be expected to cobble together a team of aging veterans and young pitchers to compete in the NL West, something he has been able to do in the past.

Many of the Giants failures on the development front have been masked by the dominance of Barry Bonds, a luxury Bochy may not have next year.

Since we primarily cover the minor leagues, we have only had limited dealings with Bochy, but every time have found him to be gracious and responsive to our questions and wish him all the best.

However, this is a good move and a continued step in the direction of turning the Padres into a major league organization from a major league team.


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