Shohei Ohtani, known as “The Japanese Babe Ruth,” a nickname which it’s definitely possible for him to live up to, is coming to the majors next year, and now he has to pick what team to play for. To that end, his representatives have put out a questionnaire for every interested team to fill out. The better the answers, the more likely it is that he comes to your town. Here are the seven prompts that each team has to answer:
- “An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter;
- “Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities;
- “Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities;
- “Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation;
- “A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization;
- “Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play;
- “Relevant marketplace characteristics.”
As a fan of the San Francisco Giants who is interested in seeing good players come to the Giants and the team do well, I thought I’d help Bobby Evans out and answer these for him. After all, what’s the point of bloggers if we’re not doing everything that the front office does, putting a hundredth of the work in, and assuming we do it better?
1. An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter
Shohei Otani is the greatest talent that the universe has ever seen. After watching San Francisco Giants games — 2017 San Francisco Giants games — Bruce Bochy cheered himself up by watching Shohei Ohtani highlights.
[After watching the Dodgers clinch the division] Bruce Bochy sat in the visiting clubhouse and smiled. He nodded at his laptop, which earlier had been used to pull up highlights of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani.
"He's good," Bochy said, laughing. "I absolutely would play him every day."
The difficulty of this task should not be overstated. You, the Giants fan, presumably watched several Giants games this year and were not left in a great mood by most of them. Bruce Bochy, who for whatever faults he showed this year as a manager certainly cares quite a bit about his team and does not enjoy watching the Dodgers clinch the division in front of his face, was probably left in a worse mood. For one night, Shohei Ohtani changed all that. He could throw 30 no-hitters and hit 85 homers next year, and putting Bruce Bochy in a good mood after watching another in a long line of terrible 2017 Giants games would still be his biggest accomplishment.
Wait, no, that’s ridiculous. The 30 no-hitters would be a way bigger accomplishment. I’m sorry. That was stupid.
2. Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities
The Giants have a track record of success when it comes to player development. From award winners like Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum, to current All-Stars like Brandon Crawford and Adam Duvall, to the next generation of talent which includes guys like Luis Castillo, Giants player development has been outstanding this century.
The Giants prefer to keep their players in top physical condition, part of which is a personalized training regimen. Injuries happen, of course, and when they do the team is always ready to not put the player on the DL, especially if he’s a declining center fielder, and trust that when he says he feels okay, he’s telling the truth. This philosophy of trusting players even when they fail the eye test has been a big part of the team’s performance in recent years.
3. Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities
AT&T Park is a fantastic ballpark, always coming in at or near the top of major league ballpark rankings. It is a thoroughly modern stadium, completely unlike that crap in Los Angeles, ha ha, who would go there, only losers would choose to go there, and has all the amenities that $37 crab sandwiches can buy.
The Giants AAA park in Sacramento consistently ranks high on any list of minor league ballpark experiences, and their short season A park in Keizer, Oregon is also well thought of. Their Low-A affiliate in Augusta, Georgia will open a new park next year, which should be fantastic, and their AA and High-A parks in Richmond, Virginia and San Jose, California sure have a lot of character.
The Giants facility for Spring Training, Scottsdale Stadium, sits right in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona and compared to the other Spring Training facilities in the Cactus League, it has a lot of character.
4. Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation
First off, unless he gets hired by the Yankees at the last minute, the Giants bench coach is Hensley Meulens, who speaks fluent Japanese. This gives him a big advantage because Ohtani, who is himself Japanese, also speaks Japanese. Most other organizations don’t have a bench coach or presumed-manager-in-waiting who can so easily communicate with Ohtani, unless he speaks a language other than Japanese, which I’m not going to check on.
In addition, if Ohtani signs with the Giants relatively soon, they could send Buster Posey to Japan for three months before Spring Training to immerse himself in the language and culture there, just to make Ohtani more comfortable in San Francisco. Not every franchise would send Posey to Japan. Mostly that’s because he only plays for the Giants, but that’s nitpicking.
Also, they hired a translator for Jae-Gyun Hwang, so Ohtani would get, like, 40 translators. At least. It’s just respectful.
5. A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization
Step 1: He can meet with Bobby Evans, Larry Baer, Brian Sabean, and Bruce Bochy to dictate the role he wants on the team, including how many starts a week he would like in the outfield, how far out he would like the fences to be when he pitches, and what song he would like Brandon Crawford to play after a Giants victory.
Step 2: The Club Level will now be renamed the Ohtani level.
Step 3: Barry Bonds famously used to have four lockers. Ohtani will have eight, because he is the Barry Bonds of both hitters and pitchers.
Step 4: Whenever Ohtani is not on the screen of the TV broadcast, all the broadcasters will be contractually obligated to ask, “Where’s Shohei?”
Step 5: The players who don’t like sushi all that much will be forced to pretend that they like sushi, unless Ohtani himself doesn’t much care for sushi, in which case the word “fish” will be banned from the clubhouse.
6. Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play
Let’s be honest: San Francisco kinda sucks now for us normies. But Shohei Ohtani is no normie. Shohei Ohtani is a very successful professional baseball player who will have opportunities that the rest of us never will. Does he want to rent out the Metreon for his friends? Done. Does he want an app that will make eggs benedict every morning? Already on his phone. The city will bend over backwards for him, and he will have a delightful time in San Francisco, unlike the rest of us, who will never be able to afford rent again in the city. Sucks for us! Good for him.
And as for the franchise? Well look, it’s indisputable: they absolutely have the core to go deep in the playoffs and win the 2014 World Series.
7. Relevant marketplace characteristics
Members of the Giants organization, including players, coaches, and front office personnel, routinely say that Giants fans are the best fans in baseball, which is a rare thing for a team to say about their fanbase.
There you have it: the reasons that Shohei Ohtani should come to San Francisco and be a San Francisco Giant. Just remember that the Giants are an organization that has experienced quite a bit of recent success, they play in an environment known for mild weather and infrequent summer precipitation, and they sure have a lot of character.