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Rumor: Mark Kotsay a potential managerial candidate

This comes from solid source Jon Heyman and would seem to check a lot of theoretical Farhan boxes.

Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

The Giants do not have a GM yet, but the plan is to conduct simultaneous hiring searches for both that key position and the role of manager. That means if Zaidi hires a manger before a GM, it will strongly suggest what type of GM the team might hire. We already know Bam Bam Meulens and Ron Wotus are the internal candidates interviewing for the job, and this morning Jon Heyman tweets that Mark Kotsay is “a strong candidate”.

Kotsay is currently the A’s “quality control coach”, which is basically the coach who helps the players prep for the game using team-sanctioned tools of instruction and scouting info. Here’s how the A’s team site describes his responsibilities:

He will assist Bob Melvin and the ML coaching staff in all areas and will also consult with the front office in other facets of the organization.

That sounds a lot like an administrative floater, but with a hat on. But Kotsay’s not a temp who got hired full-time with an organization. He began his coaching life as the Padres’ hitting coach in 2015. That team was just 22nd in MLB by FanGraphs’ offensive runs above average (-63.2), but it did feature eight players who hit above league average: Brett Wallace (149 wRC+), Justin Upton (119), Wil Myers (115), Yonder Alonso (110), Melvin Upton Jr (110), Matt Kemp (109), Yangervis Solarte (109), Cory Spangenberg (105), and three useful players who flirted with league average: Derek Norris (98), Will Venable (96), and Jedd Gyorko (93).

Obviously — obviously — a hitting coach is only as good as the players on the roster, but he managed to parlay that one good year into the job of A’s bench coach in 2016. Mid-way through 2017, he took a leave of absence to deal with a family matter — and came back last season in this new quality control role.

Kotsay played for the A’s from 2004-2007, but most of you might remember him as a Padre, where he played from 2001-2003 and 2012-2013. At least, that’s how I choose to remember him. That way, it’s a neater line to draw from former Padres becoming the manager of the Giants to the Giants becoming a good team again.

But nothing is assured. Kotsay’s A’s connection certainly gives him a leg up in the search, but it’s still early. His quality control coach status means he works with players directly every day, funneling information from the front office into their young, impressionable minds. Having someone who can communicate data analysis in such a way that it can both be a direct coaching moment and form of heuristic learning will be key for the new baseball operations department. Coaches and potential managers who can pull this off would figure to still be in short supply at this point in the industry’s evolution.

Here’s an interview he gave just two days ago, before the Wild Card game, to MLB Network’s genuinely awful “Intentional Talk” team:

He seems pretty chill. On the other hand, we have no idea what the Giants will be looking for in their search and we’re probably not going to have a good sense of the new hire until well into their first season. Oh, don’t worry, we’ll be bringing back some of the site’s archival stuff after the Bochy hire. Only the team knows what it wants and who might satisfy them.

One thing I’m going to try not to do is get bummed out by the Giants potentially going the way of the rest of the league by bringing in front office mouthpieces to cheaply and blandly lead a collection of talent brought together by a proprietary algorithm.

But Farhan Zaidi and Michael Holmes are former A’s and, so, we should steel ourselves for the possibility that the team will continue to get very A’s-y, if not Dodgery. And Zaidi & co. might not be too concerned with bringing in a guy who “feels” like an appropriate follow-up to Bruce Bochy. They might even be eager to go the opposite direction and go with someone without experience and maybe even a little unorthodox.

It’s unclear when or if the Giants will confirm most or any of these additional candidates, though Farhan Zaidi did mention that they would be interviewing 6-8 external candidates (8-10 overall). With the A’s and Brewers having been eliminated already, any candidates — for both manager and GM — would figure to be next in line for any potential openings, presuming current playoff teams contain the entirety of the Giants’ hiring pool.

Let’s start the manager’s list:

  1. Hensley Meulens
  2. Ron Wotus
  3. Raul Ibanez [per Jon Morosi]
  4. Mark Kotsay

One name that won’t be on the list, sadly, would appear to be Stephen Vogt, per this Schulman tweet from earlier:

Who are your top candidates?