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Advice for Gabe, Joe, and Pedro

The search for the next Giants manager appears to have advanced to the final stage. Here’s what they need to know.

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We’re probably less than a week away from the Giants announcing the next manager, but before that time, the rumored finalists will, presumably, have one last interview with members of the front office and team ownership. Per Alex Pavlovic, who cites industry sources, the final three are Philadelphia’s Gabe Kapler, Houston’s Joe Espada, and Kansas City’s Pedro Grifol.

If you click on the names you’ll go to our write-ups on their candidacies, including an overview of their possible strengths and weaknesses. Still, we don’t know what we don’t know, and the team has been very quiet about the entire process ever since Farhan Zaidi laid out the general parameters of their search at the end of the season.

Mark Kotsay was thought to be the top candidate, but he’s returning to Oakland to resume his duties as their quality control coach, so, it’s impossible for any of us to say how this will sort itself out in the coming days. But it will be sorted out, and if the rumors are true, then one of these three guys could become the next guy to lead the Giants through another losing season.

For Espada and Grifol, it would be a reward for all their hard work advancing up the coaching chain. For Gabe Kapler, it’d be a second chance to prove himself and this time, with a more stable organization led by a professional friend. Obviously, each has done enough to warrant multiple interviews. Now they’ll get one more chance to earn the job.

In every interview situations, candidates need to put their best foot forward — really find a way to be genuine while at the same time highlight pertinent attributes. They also need to work around any soft spots in their resumes or obvious problems as it relates to the job and their background. And, finally, since we’re dealing with the world of sports here, the candidate will need to suggest an air of authority. If he can’t get there through conversation, then a power move will be necessary. Here’s what I think they need to do to put them over the top.

Joe Espada

Attributes to highlight

  • Minor league coaching experience to demonstrate the ability to work with young players, leveraging his own major league player and coaching experience to help with their transitions.
  • Was a special assistant to Brian Cashman, so knows how to work directly for and with a front office, especially one that’s analytics-driven. As Cashman told the New York Times:

He was a big reason we were able to be transformative eventually with the shift [...] When he was in charge, it was still something that was resisted by our players, by our field staff. Other people were constantly poking fun at it, questioning it, whether it was our media, our radio broadcast team, whether it was the fans, the YES Network broadcasters.

Whenever it failed, there was a lot of tension, a lot of animosity from all involved, including the pitchers, so he was on the front line having to push it.

  • Became the Yankees’ third base and infield coach in 2015, which was Didi Gregorius’ first year with the team. Why is Didi Gregorius important? From 2012-2014, he was a mere +2.8 Defensive Runs Above Average with two different teams. In that first season with the Yankees, he posted a +14.3 with a +5 DRS. He was the best shortstop in the AL.

Play this down

  • When they ask, “So, are you suggesting that you singlehandedly transformed Didi Gregorius into an elite shortstop?”, say, “I worked closely with the analytics team to incorporate positioning data into our coaching practices, and I helped Didi make sense of the numbers.”
  • Any input you had in the decision to pull Zack Greinke after only 80 pitches in Game 7.
  • Any input you had in the decision to not bring Gerrit Cole into the game after he had warmed up twice.
  • Anything about Brandon Taubman.

Suggested power move

Telling Farhan Zaidi everything the Dodgers did wrong in 2017, not because Espada was there (he didn’t become Astros bench coach until last year), but because it’s something people in Houston’s front office still talk about.

Pedro Grifol

Attributes to highlight

  • Experience as the Mariners’ Director of Minor League Operations.
  • Quality control coach for a young team.
  • Catching coach (helpful for the eventual Joey Bart callup).
  • An All-American catcher at Florida State (helpful for working closely with Buster Posey).
  • His one-on-one work with Jorge Soler to coach him up this season led to a career-best year for the 27-year old DH/OF. He was the 20th best hitter in baseball, by wRC+. You can read about that part a little bit more on how that came about here (subscription required).
  • He convinced Ned Yost of all people to accept the benefits of defensive shifting:

The analytics department swore by the benefits of the shift. And they had an ally on the staff in Pedro Grifol, the club’s catching and quality control coach. The goal was simple: If the infield could shift nearly 2,000 times, or close to 12 times per game, the decision would save runs.

“The numbers are validated by the sample size,” Grifol says, “so it makes 100 percent sense.”


The reluctance has forced numbers-fluent coaches such as Grifol to integrate the strategies in a way that makes sense to players.

Play this down

  • Alcides Escobar batting leadoff.
  • The Mariners’ talent pipeline during his tenure as farm director.

Suggested power move

Flash the ring . . . but be prepared to see three shining back at you.

Gabe Kapler

Attributes to highlight

  • Player development background.
  • The guns.
  • In-jokes only he and Farhan would understand.

Play this down

  • 26 pitching changes in the first five games of his managerial career (by way of making it a story about a tough time that he learned from).
  • The discomfort from Rob Dean & co. when they don’t get his and Farhan’s inside joke(s). Try to explain it in the most light-hearted and inclusive language possible.
  • What he knows about the Dodgers’ “Crimes.xsl” spreadsheet.

Suggested power move

Pop that shirt off, bro. Show them what they’d be missing out on.


Who will be the next manager?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Gabe Kapler
    (155 votes)
  • 9%
    Pedro Grifol
    (88 votes)
  • 61%
    Joe Espada
    (556 votes)
  • 11%
    Gabe Kapler’s arm veins
    (104 votes)
903 votes total Vote Now