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David Bell will manage the Reds and the Giants will become more analytics-driven

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The Reds have been in a perpetual rebuild, but David Bell is well-versed in developing young talent and rebuilding organizations.

Cardinals v Giants Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Giants need a new farm director after the Reds announced this morning that they’ve hired David Bell to be the team’s manager. If you’ve been following the front page news saga of the past few days, then you already knew that Bell was one of three finalists for that job. He was also in the mix for Toronto’s managerial opening. Congratulations, David Bell. You’ve gone from a tough situation to a... tough situation.

Meanwhile, the Giants will need to replace their farm director for the second year in a row, which does not sound like the mark of a stable, successful organization. Sure, there are mitigating factors here, but if ever there was a time to reconsider the Giants’ stature, now’s the time. Success is fleeting and that’s a terrifying thought, but the Giants’ run of success has given way to a lot more uncertainty than just the end of a “competition window”.

The team is searching for a new identity. Hank Schulman’s tweet from the other day that indicated the Giants could be considering Bell for the open baseball ops position has proven to be total bunk, so I’m going to be a bit more skeptical about his follow-up article regarding the front office hiring search.

The Giants’ direction [“a young, sabermetric-minded GM and executive.”] is evident from the potential candidates who have been or will be interviewed, according to other media outlets and industry sources who have spoken with The Chronicle.

The new hire will now have the ability to create some upheaval in the scouting and farm systems without making too many waves. The appointment of a new farm director or a general manager who can oversee the farm system will be a big factor in attracting the right candidate.

Schulman’s piece goes confirms the names of some of the people the Giants have already interviewed...

Jason McLeod (Cubs VP Player Dev)
Amiel Sawdaye (Diamondbacks Senior VP and AGM)
Chaim Bloom (Rays SVP of Baseball Ops)

... and mentions other potential interviewees, mostly pulling from other sources, but who I’ll list here just to continue the discussion:

Kim Ng (VP Baseball Ops, MLB)
Mike Elias (Astros AGM)

Schulman also nixed the possibility of the Giants pursuing the assistant generals managers of the A’s and Brewers — David Kantrovitz and Matt Arnold, respectively — for interviews, but doesn’t dismiss the possibility of the Giants seeking one with the A’s GM, David Forst.

So, let’s go back to our big board, the one put together from Alex Pavlovic’s initial candidate article published on October 2nd (bold candidates have or will be interviewed):

Jed Hoyer (CHC GM)
Farhan Zaidi (LAD GM)
David Stearns (Brewers GM)
Mike Elias (Astros AGM)
Jason McLeod (Cubs VP Player Dev)
Mike Rizzo (WSN Pres Basell Ops, GM)
Jean Afterman (NYY AGM)
Ben Cherington (Blue Jays VP Baseball Ops)
Kim Ng, (VP Baseball Ops, MLB)
Chaim Bloom (TB VP of Baseball Ops)
David Forst (A’s GM)

Cherington removed himself from consideration and Mark Attanasio nixed a Stearns interview, but I’ve crossed off the others for various reasons:

  • Farhan Zaidi was hired at the end of 2014 — the Justice Department’s potential RICO case against the Dodgers for their crimes in Latin America hinges at least in part on “internal communications [...] regarding illegal activity [that] were from 2015 and 2016, after the Dodgers cleaned house — so he could be in legal hot water that might make hiring him more trouble than it’s worth. And then there’s the whole Dodger connection. Kim Ng has had some time to hose all that Dodger blue off her, but Zaidi is the Dodgers at the moment.
  • Mike Rizzo doesn’t really fit the idea of “next gen” and if the Giants are going to go with a dude, then the pursuit of someone David Stearns’ age feels more appropriate. Rizzo might help land Harper and he might even hire that “next gen” guy, but he still has a year left on his deal and just seems like he’s very much of a baseball wave that’s about to pass.
  • In Pavlovic’s own article, he mentions that his sources dismiss Jean Afterman’s candidacy.
  • I can’t imagine the Giants would ever hire someone from the Oakland A’s. That would be tricky PR for a team that strenuously manages its own PR.
  • Amiel Sawdaye should go up on that list now, since he did interview, and it will be interesting to see if any more surprise names wind up there.
  • We’ve heard nothing on the Jed Hoyer front and it seems highly unlikely that the Giants could lure him away from the Cubs, but maybe that could change in the next few weeks.

The Giants aren’t in a rush to finalize this deal, apparently, and it’s likely Brian Sabean will be the team’s representative at the GM meetings in just a few weeks. As Schulman points out, that’s not the end of the world because any of the Giants’ potential candidates will be at those meetings anyway, gathering intel for their current team or whatever team they wind up generally managing.

In the meantime, the Giants will be run by lieutenants and half-retired veteran executives. It’s a weird time.