Ah, the good stuff: a Hank Schulman tweet. That’s right, the reliable Giants beat writer had this to say earlier this morning about the industry’s interest in David Bell:
At least one of the multiple teams considering David Bell for its managerial opening believes the #sfgiants view Bell as an in-house candidate for head of baseball ops. Bell is one year into remaking the SF farm system.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) October 19, 2018
This makes a lot of sense. Evans and Sabean brought in Bell last season to overhaul the team’s farm system and most of the candidates who have been linked to Baer’s search — particularly, Jason McLeod and Amiel Sawdaye — have made their names through the young talent they’ve been able to scout and develop.
The Giants’ struggles in the Sabean era (with the exception of the post-Bonds years that led to favorable drafting and excellent luck on those high picks working out) and Evans epoch have been largely related to the farm system and international scouting (such as it is) to reliably generate depth for the major league team.
The team has largely built and maintained itself through trades and free agency — which most teams tend to do anyway — but developing better pieces for better trades and a cheaper free agent shopping list is exactly the type of thing the Dodgers and Yankees have going for themselves and while the Giants don’t necessarily have their money, they certainly do have a lot of money, and figuring out a leaner, meaner way to “win and develop” starts with a great prospect pipeline.
As Mike Petriello wrote on MLB.com today, while teams got the most Wins Above Replacement via players acquired in trade, 29% of team value came prospects.
David Bell has already put in a year of work revamping the Giants’ system and getting a feel for the entire operation. Again, going back to that article in The Athletic that I cited in yesterday’s Bell update, he clearly committed himself to the job. There’s nothing in Melissa Lockard’s interview that suggests he was halfway out the door or keeping his options open.
On moving the fall instructs from the fall to January:
After we made that decision, I found out that there are several other teams having that same thought process [...] What I think is going to happen with all these teams sort of switching over to a similar schedule is that we’ll be able to play more games in (minor league) spring training at an earlier date.
On Joey Bart:
The transition he made was seamless, physically from a baseball standpoint, mentally, the maturity level [...] He stepped in and really became a part of the team and was a great teammate.
On Heliot Ramos:
He exceeded my expectations. I had a lot of confidence in him, which is why the organization had agreed to send him into such a great challenge, playing in that league at his age [...] and how he learned to make adjustments will stay with him for the rest of his career.
On the organization’s offensive philosophy:
We do have a hitting philosophy and one of the main points of that philosophy is being able to control plate discipline. It’s also to do damage. We want to be aggressive, but we also want to have great discipline. That’s the idea behind hitting and it kind of always has been.
He also opted to add a fourth coach to every minor league team. So, on a structural level, he went in there and adapted to new industry practices and perhaps demonstrated a bit of “next gen” thinking by moving the instructs — the reasoning being that prospects need an offseason for rest, too.
I like what he said about Bart and Ramos because they focused on two different things. Bart was the #2 overall pick — he had built in expectations. Bell examined his integration into the organization and mentioned that above the remarkable power, because, again, the hitting and fielding are more or less what’s expected of him.
Ramos, meanwhile, is the youngster and the greater unknown, but a talented asset the organization has high hopes for — and Bell made it clear that he wanted to push the talent to see how he reacted. We know that Bell went through the Cardinals organization as a coach (hitting and bench) and we also know that the Cardinals churn out random quality young players all the team.
Is aggressive promotion and high expectations part of their equation? We know the Giants have usually been aggressive with their talented players, too — aggressiveness is not a “next gen” pattern — but Heliot Ramos was 18 this season. Bell’s decision as farm director was to teach a still-teachable player how to deal with adversity. That’s good practice.
Of course, none of this means David Bell will become the next President of Baseball Operations and we don’t actually know that he’s interviewed for the job, but familiarity helps him here and the Giants might be reluctant to blow up a key part of their operation a year after blowing it up. Then again, he’s taking interviews to be a manager, so there’s some ambiguity there regarding his intentions.
Keeping it all “in house” sort of goes against Baer’s public declaration, but at the end of the day, once they’ve kicked every tire and done all their diligence, David Bell could still be the guy. Did you foresee this possibility?