Zaidi Faces Challenge Of Changing MLB Giants' Culture, Philosophy
The Giants' hiring of Farhan Zaidi to be their next President of Baseball Operations "signals a big change" in that analytics will be incorporated into more aspects of the organization that in the past, according to Scott Ostler of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The team has used analytics in "scouting, team-building and game strategy, but they haven’t cannonballed into that pool like some teams have." It now is "bouncing up and down on the end of the diving board." Giants President & CEO Larry Baer said that he "knocked out by Zaidi’s 'transformational thinking'" during his interview. Ostler notes it is natural that there could be a "potential clash" between the new school of thought (Zaidi) and the old school, as represented by Giants manager Bruce Bochy. Zaidi said, "It’s a convenient narrative to see this as kind of a clash of schools of thought. I don’t see it that way at all" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/8).MLB Network's Scott Braun noted the Giants "wanted a 'next-gen' exec, and they found that man" ("MLB Now," MLB Network, 11/7). MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal said Zaidi was a “statement hire by the Giants,” though it is "going to take intestinal fortitude on the part of the organization to let Zaidi do what he needs to do to establish the Giants as a next-gen team” (“Hot Stove,” MLB Network, 11/7).
GETTING TIME TO REBUILD: In S.F., Henry Schulman notes Zaidi received a five-year contract, which was the "cost of prying" him away from his GM position with the Dodgers. It also reflects the "time it takes to walk into a situation like that of the Giants, create a long-term blueprint, execute it and, if all goes well, turn Market Street into a sea of cheering humanity again" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/8). MLB Network's Rosenthal noted Zaidi is "going to need all five years" on his deal. Rosenthal said, "It's not that the Giants are in a horrible position, because they have resources. But they have some players on big contracts who are in the declining phase of their careers. They also don't have a great farm system at this moment, so they’ve a lot of work to do” (“Hot Stove,” MLB Network, 11/7). MLB Network's Dave Valle noted the Giants "got old very quickly," and the large contracts on the books will force Zaidi to be "pretty creative." But Valle added, "I don’t think the San Francisco area is a place that you’re going to rebuild” ("MLB Now," MLB Network, 11/7). SI.com's Jack Dickey notes Zaidi "spent the first decade of his baseball career" working under A's Exec VP/Baseball Operations Billy Beane. He knows how to "wring value out of modest payrolls, which is what his task will be until he can shed some of those bigger contracts" (SI.com, 11/8).
TRIBUTE TO SABEAN: The CHRONICLE's Schulman notes Zaidi yesterday "made a point of thanking" Giants Exec VP/Baseball Operations Brian Sabean for his "counsel in their initial conversation this week." Zaidi said that he is "'looking forward to having more of those' as the new boss leans on the old one to gather information about the players and prospects the Giants have, and thoughts on those they might acquire." Sabean will "not only will advise the new front office but will do more scouting, his passion" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/8).MLB Network's Chris Rose noted the Giants are "loyal ... maybe to a fault" to their players, coaching staff and front office members. Rose: "That's why I really love this hire, because he's an outsider and he’s got some really tough decisions. I don't know if this organization needs to be turned on its head, I don't think it's that drastic, but there are some changes that need to be made and that means tough decisions are going to have to be made” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 11/7).
COMPETING WITH THE WARRIORS: NBC SPORTS BAY AREA's Ray Ratto wrote Zaidi is not just trying to make the Giants "win more games," but he also is "being asked to make the Giants cool again, not just by winning more games than they lose and playing in October, but by doing so with players whom citizens gravitate toward with an eye toward emotional allegiance." The Warriors have won three titles since the Giants' last World Series win in '14, and it is "not lost on Baer that the Chase Center is rising at great pace and cost just a few blocks down what is rapidly becoming San Francisco’s new gold coast." Ratto: "The A’s are not the competition in the stakes at which he and the organization plays" (NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com, 11/7).
WHERE DO THE DODGERS GO? In L.A., Andy McCullough notes Zaidi during his four seasons as Dodgers GM "distinguished himself with a keen eye for talent on the margins." He served as an "innovative voice and preached the importance of versatility." The Dodgers now will "confront an offseason without Zaidi," and his absence will "rob the Dodgers of a crucial off-field asset." The Dodgers "must determine how to replace him." Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman indicated that he had "not determined if the team will need to hire a new general manager, or will operate without one." Zaidi’s portfolio "ranged from analytics to trade negotiations to amateur scouting" (L.A. TIMES, 11/8). Friedman said that the decision "not to immediately look to hire a replacement is about 'not forcing it.'" He added, "It’s just with everything we have going on, figuring out when it makes sense, who. I just really haven’t had time to wrap my arms around it" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 11/8).