Nevius: New Giants GM Scott Harris can help carry the load
Farhan Zaidi was excited.
“I’m wearing a tie,” he grinned. “I didn’t even wear a tie to my own press conference.”
He was also relieved.
The Monday press conference was to introduce preppy Scott Harris as the Giants’ general manager. On Tuesday night, Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations, announced that former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler would succeed Bruce Bochy in that job in San Francisco.
Filling those two high-profile roles puts a cap on what must have been an extremely weird year. He was hired so late last year (November) that there was no time to interview or hire a GM, so he had to do both jobs. Then CEO Larry Baer was suspended after a domestic altercation, so Zaidi was even more isolated as he attempted to revamp and modernize the Giants.
Oh, and we now read press reports that say Zaidi and his wife welcomed their first child, a boy, into their life in July. So how would you say the year has gone, Farhan?
“I am going on vacation immediately after this,” he joked.
Which, of course, he isn’t. Besides the new manager, there’s a balky roster to trim, trades to be made and presumably, late-night diaper changes.
But say this for him, he’s not afraid to trust his instincts.
Take the choice of Harris. The safe way to do this is to call in a familiar face from the past. The A’s and the Dodgers, where Zaidi worked before, must have several fresh-faced guys (or women) who can crunch analytics into a fine powder.
But he went with Harris, when each of them said they hardly knew each other before the interview process. Harris said he “immediately started calling people around the game to know what it was like to work with him.”
“I think we did a good bit of investigation of each other,” Zaidi said.
What Zaidi found, it seems, is a young guy who was generating some buzz while working on the staff of Cubs team president Theo Epstein. In fact, there was talk that if Epstein left at the end of his contract in 2021, Harris would be second in command to GM Jed Hoyer.
So it was no sure thing that the Cubs would give Harris permission to pursue the job. (Harris made a point to thank the club at the press conference.) Zaidi said he had a bit of concern this would be seen as a lateral move. After all, wasn’t there a chance Harris might end up running the show in Chicago?
“Still might,” the ever-candid Zaidi said. “He might be a loaner.”
Maybe. But that’s down the road. Harris is a local guy. Born in Redwood City, he got plenty of encouragement to come back home. He jokingly thanked his family “for their relentless pursuit to get me back to the Bay Area.”
And, by the way, he seems like a nice guy, but don’t tell me he’s not preppy. He played lacrosse at Menlo School, for cripes sake.
But more than anything, it looks like Zaidi has found a fellow nerd. You get the impression the two of them could discuss the spin rate of the typical left-hander’s curveball for half an hour.