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NO MANAGERIAL RESPECT FOR SIR BAM BAM

By Murray Chass

March 26, 2017

Brian Sabean’s comment at the end of our telephone conversation last Thursday was a first in my experience. It had to be a first. I’m certain it was a first.

I always thank the person I have interviewed, thanked him for returning my call and his time. It’s the polite thing to do. But after I thanked Sabean, he said, “Thanks for writing the story.”

In no way is that a routine response from a baseball executive to a reporter. But I had told Sabean I was writing about Hensley Meulens and how he has been ignored as a candidate for a managing job with a major league club, and Sabean was appreciative that somebody was recognizing that Meulens deserved to be mentioned in the same sentence as the word manager.

Not only that, but Sabean took advantage of the interview to mention other members of Bruce Bochy’s coaching staff who have been ignored.

In spite of their and the San Francisco Giants’ success in this decade, the World Series championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014, three in five years. That doesn’t happen every day.

Coaches on one World Series-winning team, let alone three, are often considered for managerial vacancies. That hasn’t happened with Bochy’s staff. Meulens, in fact, has gained greater recognition from his position as manager of the Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic this year and 2013.

“The irony there,” Sabean said, “is that it shouldn’t necessitate a second great showing at the W.B.C. It’s very frustrating for us as an organization. Bochy is a Hall of Fame manager-to-be and he has a great staff. It’s pretty disgusting that he’s not on the list.”

Sabean meant Meulens, whose first year as the Giants’ hitting coach coincided with the start of their extended championship run.

Sabean and Meulens share another coincidence 25 years earlier. Meulens was drafted by the Yankees in 1986, the same year Sabean became the Yankees scouting director.

“I go back to when he came into the Yankee organization so we have a long-standing relationship,” said Sabean, the Giants’ long-time general manager who is now the executive vice president of baseball operations.”

The Giants plucked Meulens from the Pittsburgh organization, where had been the AAA hitting coach.

“As it turned out, he was the right man in our eyes,” Sabean said, citing Meulens’ “passion, his work ethic, his love of the game, the painstaking approach he took with each hitter for a team that doesn’t have a cookie-cutter way of doing things, a great communicator, a tremendous man and that makes it even more fun to watch his career finally being recognized for how good it is.”

That Meulens, a native of Curacao, was asked to manage the Dutch team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic without having had previous managing experience was testimony to his perceived ability. That he was asked to return for this year’s tournament clearly showed what baseball people thought of him.

“It looks like he should be good candidate for a managing job,” a major league official said. Unfortunately …

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METRICS MAVENS MATCH MESSAGES

By Murray Chass

March 19, 2017

Remember the name Vince Gennaro. Actually, it’s an easy name to remember if you’re a fan of the Bruce Willis “Die Hard” series of films because Holly Gennaro is the Willis character’s ex-wife. The name came readily to mind the other day.

Vince Gennaro is not related to Holly or Bruce Willis. Actually, I didn’t ask Vince if he is related to Willis, but that really doesn’t matter. What matters is the breakthrough Vince Gennaro made in my metrics thinking.

As anybody who reads this column knows, I am not a fan of the new-fangled metrics that have infested baseball. “It’s well documented, Murray. That’s well documented,” Gennaro said when we spoke on the telephone last Thursday.

Gennaro was the third official of SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) whom I tried to contact last week when I set out to write this column about pitching victories and runs batted in. Both traditional statistics have been downgraded in the statistical community, and I wanted to find out why.

In the course of my quest, I found Gennaro, SABR’s president, who is …

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A PERPLEXING COLLECTION OF DIAMONDBACKS

By Murray Chass

March 12, 2017

If someone, anyone, can explain the Arizona Diamondbacks to me, I would welcome it and appreciate it. To me, the Diamondbacks are inexplicable.

Let’s go back to 2011 to try to understand how the Diamondbacks have functioned. That year, with Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers in their first full seasons as manager and general manager, respectively, the team won the National League West championship and lost the division series of the playoffs to Milwaukee in the 10th inning of Game 5.

Two consecutive .500 seasons and a 64-98 season followed, and Gibson and Towers were gone. In their places for the 2015 season were Chip Hale as manager and Dave Stewart as general manager. But the Diamondbacks also had made a significant addition.

Tony La Russa, a Hall of Fame manager with no front-office experience, was brought in as …

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