Giants’ Bochy triggers spring scout controversy
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz – Diamond Spygate it wasn’t. Violating an unwritten rule it was – twice over.
Manager Bruce Bochy had a scout from the Los Angeles Angels – a team not even in the same league as his San Francisco Giants – removed from the stands. Besides being a ham-handed move by a normally classy manager, forcing scout Jeff Schugel to stop watching a morning workout breached the following:
Unwritten rule No. 1: Don’t impose on a scout from another team a restriction you wouldn’t want imposed on your own scouts.
Unwritten rule No. 2: Anything worth keeping secretive in baseball can be taught in the privacy of the clubhouse. Once the team is on the field, a manager cannot control eyeballs in the stands.
Funny thing was: Bochy and Schugel have been pals for years. They had dinner together last season. And Bochy’s brother, Joe, is a scout for the San Diego Padres, so he does grasp the job description.
Bochy said “there were a couple of things we wanted to work on” that he didn’t want Schugel to see.
Like what? Are the Giants going to use a bunt defense nobody has tried before? Did they devise a new way to defense a double steal? Was Bochy teaching the guys the old phantom pickoff play?
Other scouts were told to remain in the press box at Scottsdale Stadium and at least one – Chief Guyton of the Arizona Diamondbacks – was stopped from going into the stands to watch the Giants’ workout. Schugel, apparently, had been the first to arrive and was in the stands before Giants officials noticed.
“Maybe they were out there early trying to work on some pickoff plays or putting in some hand signals,” one veteran National League scout said. “It’s become such an international game that sometimes it’s tough for players to communicate. You have hand signs.”
Schugel said he was grading the arms of Giants outfielders. The Giants will face the Angels in a three-game interleague series June 18-20. But if the Angels run wild on Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, it’ll be because the Giants’ outfield is no better than Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, not because Jeff Schugel’s scouting report from the first week of March said to take the extra base.
Unlike the NFL, personnel secrets and innovative strategies seldom exist in MLB. Baseball people like to say, “This game hasn’t changed in 100 years,” and they say it because it’s true.
The Giants tried to portray the incident as adhering to policy, but within hours they announced that opposing scouts can watch workouts and take notes to their hearts’ content. Two sources said Giants scouts were worried they’d be banished from other stadiums as payback. Giants general manager Brian Sabean said it was all a misunderstanding.
“As long as the stadium is open and workouts are going on, scouts are allowed to observe,â said a longtime advance scout for an American League team. “If a manager is implementing signs or something out of the ordinary, that can be done during a team meeting in the clubhouse.”
Bochy spotted Schugel in the otherwise empty stands and within moments a security guard asked the scout to leave. He dawdled for a bit and the security guard became a touch more forceful, escorting him out the gate.
“I was doing my job,” Schugel said later that day. “I thought [Bochy] was kidding around.”
Bochy is admired for his easygoing nature. But managers can be periodically overcome by waves of paranoia. It’s irrational most of the time. Eventually they come to terms with the fact that everything done between the foul lines is watchable and scoutable. Bochy, who is beginning his 13th season as a manager, knows this.
Schugel has undoubtedly filed his report on the Giants by now. So in a turnabout, here’s a quicky scouting report on him:
• He led New Ulm, Minn., to the American Legion World Series in 1978, then was team captain at Minnesota State-Mankato in 1982 and 1983.
• He was an 18th-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1983 and played three seasons in Class A as a corner infielder before beginning his scouting career with the Twins in 1987.
• He became the Colorado Rockies’ national cross-checker in 1994 and in 2000 moved to the Dodgers as a special assistant to the general manager and director of international scouting.
• He went to the Angels in 2005 and oversees potential trades and free-agent signings.
Potential trades? Maybe Schugel was watching the Giants to find a player that can fill a need for the Angels. Bet that Buster Posey kid looked good behind the plate.
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