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Giants will bring back Astros bench coach Joe Espada for a third interview

It sure sounds like he’s the heavy favorite.

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game One Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

10/27 UPDATE:

Joe Espada has conducted a phone interview and already one in-person interview and now he’s scheduled to return to San Francisco for one more.

It’s very easy to read this as “it’s his job to lose”, and it sounds like it’s a job he really wants. Possibly not just because it’s the only manager job open to him now, but we might never know that part. What we do already know is that Ron Wotus has been told he’s no longer in consideration, and Henry Schulman’s piece in the Chronicle this morning suggests that others might have already been given the same news, too.

If you haven’t read the original post, scroll down to get the Joe Espada Starter Pack. He seems like a very good hire, if not a very good fit.

10/24 UPDATE:

On the heels of the news that the Giants are taking a look at Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro comes this news from the reliable Jon Heyman:

This is the first candidate that pits the Giants against another team, potentially, for the services of their next manager. Espada figured to be on the Giants’ short list not only because of his current position with the Astros but because of his track record of coaching younger players. Before you get too excited, though, know that he had nothing to do with the Astros’ World Series win in 2017.

He was twice a coach for Team Puerto Rico in the WBC (2013 and 2017) and in the Puerto Rican Winter League, he managed the Atenienses de Manati (2012-2013) and Gigantes de Carolia (2014-2015). So, the Giants could very well hire a former Giants manager . . .

The A’s drafted Espada in the second round of the 1996 draft, but he never made it to the majors, playing in 644 minor league games across nine seasons. The middle infielder played two more years in the independent leagues before joining the Marlins as an A-ball hitting coach. Then he moved his way up the system as an infield coordinator before becoming their third base coach from 2010-2013. He caught on with the Yankees after 2013 and was a pro scout for a year before becoming the major league team’s third base coach in 2015, a job he held onto through 2017 before becoming Houston’s bench coach in 2018.

Here he is showing off some of his instructional talents by showing YES Network viewers the new slide and defensive rules at second base . . .

Here he is as third base coach perhaps recklessly sending Mark Teixiera, leading to an out at home plate . . .

. . . and the Teixeira’s post-game annoyance with him.

Does this mean he’s a bad third base coach or that Mark Teixeira’s a jerk? Either way, maybe they both got better. The misplay was a while ago, and it’s included here just because there wasn’t much video of Espada on YouTube that I could grab quickly.

And just because, here he is speaking Spanish with a Puerto Rican news outlet (you can use the YouTube settings to translate it into English):

The Astros’ website says, “In addition to his day-to-day duties, Espada is in charge of infield positioning, a large task, as Houston shifts as much as or more than any other Major League team.” It’s easy to imagine how he can help someone like Mauricio Dubon.

But it’s more than his bilingualism and data-soaked coaching strategies. He seems like an affable guy, and his pictures in the photo tool reminded me of Bruce Bochy a little:

MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Oh wait. Not that one. I just thought it was funny.

San Franciso Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
MLB: San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco Giants Workout Sessions Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Ah. Well. These aren’t the pictures I’d quite hoped for because over the years, at least as far as I can recall, there have been shots of him during pregame on telecasts and at other times in the photo tool where’s he’s holding a bat running infield drills. Here’s Espada throwing BP —

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Steve Mitchell/Getty Images

Doing some infield drills —

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Two Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
Minnesota Twins v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

I don’t think this makes Espada unique, but I’m definitely picking up a father/friend vibe along the same wavelength Bruce Bochy put out. A communicator who’s also a leader and who perhaps really gets what the new front office is trying to do seems like a trio of qualities that satisfies everybody.

You might be thinking, “Hey, he

Like I said in the Quatraro article, bench coaches on top analytic squads have an advantage in the Giants’ search:

That means we might see Houston’s Joe Espada or New York’s Josh Bard wind up on this list before long (pending the outcome of the ALCS) and maybe even Washington’s Chip Hale, if the interview process drags beyond the World Series.

We now know the Giants won’t be picking their manager until after the World Series, unless the Astros somehow lose to the Yankees here in the ALCS, and we now know that the Giants will be competing with at least the Cubs and the Royals when it comes to their candidates, but the wrinkle here is that unlike with Pedro Grifol, it’s two outside organizations trying to pry away someone (Grifol is up for Royals manager, too).

And with that second organization being the Cubs, we can officially label Espada a hot candidate. The Giants would seem to be the underdog in this situation, too, given . . . you know . . . the last three years and the state of the roster. However! Are the Cubs really a more desirable job? The front office looks a bit frazzled. Ownership seems to be even more problematic than the Giants. Ah, who am I kidding. He’s the Cubs manager if they ask him.

Still, the Giants are doing their diligence. He’s a very strong candidate for the job. The list of candidates, by the way, now looks like this:

  1. Hensley Meulens
  2. Ron Wotus
  3. Mark Kotsay
  4. Pedro Grifol
  5. Gabe Kapler
  6. Will Venable
  7. Matt Quatraro
  8. Joe Espada

With up to two more candidates possibly being added to the search.

There are some interesting pairs in this octet: Meulens and Wotus are two internal candidates. Kotsay and Venable are both recently retired players turned coaches. Quatraro and Espada are fast-rising bench coaches. Kapler and Grifol both having scouting and development track records.

If this winds up being the full and final list, I’ll be surprised. Far fewer A’s and Dodgers on here than I expected, and a lot more blank slates than I anticipated, too; but, I admit that a lot of what I expected was based on Bruce Bochy. There was some part of me that thought Zaidi would want to carry over some of those qualities on the next squad, given that no organization he’s worked for has won the World Series recently.

But that is the thought of a small and ignorant mind. It’s not about building a champion, it’s about building a winner, and in order for teams to do that, they need as many people in management on the same page as possible. The players on the field will someday reflect the front office’s philosophy and the manager will become the public face of it, too.

These are all quality candidates with interesting backgrounds that make it easy to imagine why they’re on the Giants’ radar. Ultimately, we don’t know what the secret sauce will be that pushes any candidate past another. And so we wait.