Listen to the full podcast with Larry Baer on Apple Podcasts:
Full Transcription Below:
Host: All right, time to talk to the President and SF Giants CEO, Larry Baer. Larry, what’s going on?
Larry: Hey Tommy. How you doing? Just off the plane a little bit ago, about an hour ago from the Big Apple.
Host: So you were in the Big Apple and now you’re back home?
Larry: Back home.
Host: Nice. You got to get ready to go to the Hella Mega Tour?
Larry: I don’t know what that is, maybe that’s a good thing. I can tell you one thing that is happening tonight, that’ll be nice is Green Day at the Ballpark.
Host: That’s called the Hella Mega Tour Larry.
Larry: Oh, okay. I didn’t realize they were calling it the Hella Mega Tour.
Host: God dang it. It’s a damn tour in your own ballpark. [laughs]
Larry: I’m down the loop. Okay. The Green Day guy called it the Green Day concert.
Host: You know what, Fallout Boy and Weezer are going to have to have speak with you because they’re on the bill too.
Larry: Ah geez, okay.
Host: That’s okay Larry, I don’t even recognize Fallout Boy.
Larry: I’m a little fuzzy. The Big Apple made me a little fuzzy. I did know it was a Hella Mega tour, but you got me like off the plane here.
Host: Yeah, yeah, good try. Would you say… I mean, look you guys in the last 10 years, 11 years have won three championships, and I was talking about the 40 man roster of this team and how it kind of exemplifies a team, a deep team. That team had some stars on it, some star power on it. I mean it had, young Buster Posey, Lincecum was about as big a star power as you could have at that time, Bumgarner was just coming around. Wilson was a name, kind of a brand, all that stuff. This team doesn’t really have that. But what it has is depth.
And what I’m wondering is when you guys hired Farhan, was that part of the vision? Like we don’t necessarily have to have the biggest names and spend the money, but what we do need to get is a deep 40 man, even though it doesn’t sound sexy, that’s what’s going to get us more wins?
Larry: So you know what, I think that it’s all related and it’s super interesting question, because when we brought Farhan on board, what was music to our ears, but it’s not what a lot of the candidates said, and I would say probably not conventional wisdom or wasn’t at the time and probably still isn’t, is that, you have to unplug everything in order to get the team back to the top. That you need to pretty much undo everything, whether the word’s rebuild, or whether the word is kind of take it down to the studs, whatever the expression is.
And it’s related to your question Tom because I think that what he said was, I don’t believe we have to take years off. It’s win and develop at the same time, which is really hard to do. But, the approach in doing that, I think what you’re seeing is you’re seeing a deep roster, where maybe you don’t get the star free agents to come in, but you build the roster kind of maybe backwards to forwards a little bit more, and get the depth.
But it was his belief and really everybody that’s been brought on with this group, Scott Harris and Gabe and everyone, and the coaches that you can really compete every year. And look 2019 wasn’t the greatest year, but we made progress, we were 19 and 7 in July. And then last year we made progress and one game from making the playoffs. Then this year is what it is. so far.
So I just think that there’s a real view that you can do it differently and you’re going to have to do it. I don’t even want to even say depth, because when you say depth, sometimes like, roster number 24 player is the depth piece and roster number 14 player is not, there’s kind of more like an equilibrium across between six men. And really, a lot of very strong players that are in AAA, or from the 26 to 35. I mean, when we brought up Estrada yesterday, when Longo went back on the IL from getting hit with a pitch, you know, Estrada’s a strong player.
Host: What impresses me about this turn around, if you want to call it, is not just the fact that Farhan was able to get his style and his style of people to push along the agenda, which has obviously helped you guys greatly here this year, but the fact that the veterans who really lit the fuse here for you guys this season are the ones who bought into it, they didn’t have to. When we talked to Brandon Crawford last week and I’m paraphrasing here, but he said — I kind of didn’t have a choice because things were not going the way that he wanted him to at the plate.
But still though we know of plenty examples in professional sports where guys who have have skins on the wall say, no, I’m not changing things. So for your core guys, you know, obviously the Brandon’s and Buster, especially, for them to get on board immediately. to me that’s the impressive thing where you were able to get this unconventional style to make sense of these guys that have won championships.
Larry: Huge, huge. And I think you take Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, Johnny Cueto, and to get them on board, don’t forget a complete new slew of coaches other than Ron Wotus, right. So, with Gabe, you have 12 new coaches and I can’t give the veterans enough credit for not just adapting and adopting, but also embracing. I mean, they really have, and I don’t want to go coach by coach, but each coach has brought something a little different and new. And when you’ve been in the league 10, 12 years, different and new isn’t necessarily the recipe that somebody wants to hear. But to your point Rod, I mean, you know, Craw has evolved his game so that it’s as good as it ever was. But they had to be open minded.
I think Buster talks openly about how pleased he is with what he’s been able to do with some of the coaches. So, that was a big thing. And I think if you take the half dozen or so veterans who were being blended with newer players, the Yaz’s and the Dickerson’s and the Solano’s, that blending had to work or we wouldn’t be where we are right now.
Host: It sounds corny, there’s an all for one and one for all mentality that permeates this team. They’re not shy in in presenting it, and obviously it’s paying dividends for you guys on the field?
Larry: Yeah. And Joan Ryan wrote about in her book about chemistry. I don’t know if you’ve had Joan on, or seen her book, I think it was written about, I think Susan Slusser actually wrote about it, last week or so. The chemistry thing it’s real, and you can go back to the chicken or egg, is it winning creates good chemistry or chemistry creates winning? And maybe it’s a little bit of both, but it definitely matters, it is absolutely a must, the old adage, you know, long season, small clubhouse.
I mean, just getting a taste being on the road with the team, I haven’t been on the road that much this year with COVID and all the different restrictions, but seeing it in New York at Citi Field, just being around them a little bit more, it’s there. I mean, it’s there, they’re really kind of finishing each other’s sentences. And on the field, it’s interesting, I’ve had a couple of people say, we had the game a couple nights ago where we made two errors and had a chance to lose the game defensively.
I was actually talking to a couple of pitchers who were saying, we really wanted to win that game because the defense has been so good and they’ve saved our bacon so much, through the first 130 games or so. We just wanted to return the favor and come through. So those kinds of comments I think do exemplify what you’re talking about, where it’s a really nice harmony.
Host: All you had to do is ask the Mets and they deliver, they deliver. Well, like I said, it’s like you guys are in a complete different situation than the Mets. Like the Mets right now, whatever button they’re pushing, it’s the wrong button. Whether it’s the right decision to make, it’s the wrong button. And you guys whatever button you’re pushing, and it’s generally the right button, but it ends up being the right decision.
I kind of explained it this way earlier on Larry, that like if Gabe comes with a decision and let’s say it’s a 60% success rate. So it’s the right decision to make. Well, that means it can fail 40% of the time. It’s not always going to work, it should work most of the time over time. But those decisions seem to have been bumped up to 65 or 70% this year. Like the buttons that Gabe is pushing are the right ones, but they seem to be right more often than maybe they should be right in terms of what the percentage is maybe.
And maybe that’s what I was talking about when I say this team has a little bit of pixie dust going on with it this year. And I never meant to take away from the fact that it’s a really good baseball team — that’s first and foremost why they’re winning. But there is something going on as well, like when you guys do need something or a decision needs to be made, it usually ends up being the right decision somehow, some way.
Larry: Yeah, and to the point, Tom, those decisions can be pretty unconventional, or be decisions that could be questioned perhaps by fans, just kind of in an emotional way. So an example would be LaMonte Wade wins the game for us, the Saturday game in Oakland, right with pinch hit home run.
So next game, Donovan Solano comes up as a pinch hitter, who is he hitting for? LaMonte Wade. And it’s sort of like, okay, I get the lefty, lefty, righty, righty and all that. But, somebody could say, you know, if it doesn’t work out and maybe it’s not going to work out seven out of 10 times if you go with the averages, it doesn’t work out, nobody was going to criticize Kap, I don’t think. And Kap, if he gets criticized, I don’t think he cares because he believed in his bones that having Solano up against… That was Puk I think, was just the right matchup for us.
So and then pinch hitters have a thing going where, and I’m not sure exactly how it works, but they have a thing going where there’s a kind of like a routing society. They root for each other, in certain ways when you’re being pinch hit for, there’s this whole thing where they have a little bit of a ritual. So, I mean, that’s just really good stuff. I don’t want to comment about other teams, but it was interesting because we were interviewing a new head of baseball at the same time The Mets were, back in the 2018-2019 off season.
Host: What a novel concept, teammates rooting for teammates. You love to see it. Hey, Larry as always, we appreciate the time. it really doesn’t matter whatever is happening, it’s happening. It’s a lot of fun. A lot of fun to watch this team play baseball, there is no doubt about it. And remember Hella Mega. Hella Mega.
Larry: Do all concerts have little sort of promotional names?
Host: I think tours do. Like tours when they have a bunch of different bands like that could be headlining bands. Like, Lollapalooza was one of the first ones that started at Coachella and all that stuff. So yeah, I guess they kind of come up with something cool. This to me sounded like somebody my age would come up with, like somebody that’s 55 thought, you know what, an 18 year old will find this name really, really cool — Hella Mega.
Larry: I get the Hella and Mega part having had teenagers in recent years. No, it’s good stuff. The first concert in almost two years. So it’s cool, I think it’s a little sign, another sign that things are coming back as we want them. So great, see you next week at the baseball games and see you tonight at Hella Mega.
Host: There you go. Sounds good Larry. Have a good weekend.
Larry: See you guys.
Host: Take care Larry.