On Halloween, we got a spooky report that the Giants were interested in the Dodgers’ Field Coordinator, Clayton McCullough, as a managerial candidate. We didn’t write it up because I thought it came pretty late in the process to be completely accurate. That’s not a shot at Craig Mish’s reporting, it’s a reaction to the team’s secrecy about the whole process.
McCullough likely did interview for the position — which, by itself, suggests the Giants blew right past the 8-10 candidates they’d planned to interview at the outset — but as is the case in these managerial hires, the Giants might’ve also been looking to see if he could be a match for the organization in another capacity.
Alex Pavlovic said on Thursday that the Giants are down to three candidates, and this morning, Jon Morosi confirmed those same three we wrote up following Pavlovic’s report:
#SFGiants managerial finalists include Gabe Kapler, Pedro Grifol and Joe Espada, as we discussed on @MLBNetwork Hot Stove this morning. @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 4, 2019
. . . which suggests that McCullough isn’t a candidate and the late-in-the-game reveal suggests that he’s still in the mix somehow. What if McCullough becomes a Quality Control Coach? What if he becomes the next bench coach? The Zaidi-Kapler-McCullough connection seems too obvious to ignore.
Their professional timelines all link up:
- 11/6/2014: Farhan Zaidi becomes Dodgers’ GM
- 11/7/2014: Gabe Kapler becomes Dodgers’ Director of Player Development
- 1/12/2015: Dodgers announce Clayton McCullough as minor league field coordinator
At least two of those three names were Andrew Friedman’s call, of course, but taken together, it’s easy to see that Farhan Zaidi might be attempting to reconvene the successful development pipeline he managed during his time as the GM.
The remaining finalists and the interest in McCullough pretty clearly demonstrates the next evolution for the team involves youth and skill development. The particular emphasis on infield fundamentals (Espada and McCullough, in particular, have vast experience here) really adds to the idea that Zaidi is trying to recreate the successful bits of the Dodgers in San Francisco. Imagine the Giants having their own Gavin Lux, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger.
13 of the Dodgers’ top 30 prospects right now are infielders, and this list doesn’t include catcher Will Smith. If modern analytics and the brains who now run front offices really are nothing more than glorified fantasy baseball operations, then this makes a lot of sense: the key to fantasy baseball is drafting the best middle infielders in the early rounds and building out from there.
Less glibly, the Giants are thin in their system up the middle and, overall, they’re thin on young and exciting talent. That will change over the years, and pairing two trusted allies who helped foster a deep and expensive development machine that was in your charge will only make Farhan Zaidi’s job easier and give him a greater chance to succeed.
We know the Giants aren’t looking to keep around any of the old guard —
The #Marlins have offered Hensley Meulens a role on their Major League coaching staff, source says. Meulens is not a finalist for the #SFGiants managerial vacancy but is receiving interest from additional clubs as a Major League coach. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 4, 2019
— and maybe we all sort of knew in the back of our minds that in hiring Zaidi the future Giants would begin to look like the present Dodgers (still — Bob Geren?), but let’s admit it will be a little surprising if 2020 begins for the Giants as it began for the Dodgers in 2015, with Gabe Kapler leading the charge.
We’ll never know exactly how things went down in Philadelphia, but it’s safe to say that Gabe Kapler will have an easier go of things in San Francisco from the start (if that’s how this all turns out). Yeah, San Francisco’s an easier town to fail in, but he’ll also be surrounded by allies; and, who knows, maybe losing out to Dave Roberts all those years ago will give Kapler a really strong BEAT LA chip on his shoulder that helps win over the skeptics.