Giants

Brian Sabean - a man amongst bloggers

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Brian Sabean - a man amongst bloggers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brian Sabean is the notorious hidebound ageist Luddite who will never change what he does, the way he does it, or explains in his own specific idiom how it is done to only a precious few. Thats the M.O. that has defined him to the outside world, to his convenience and his detriment.Thus, when he spent some time at the Giants Media Day in a question-and-answer session with a number of bloggers, the representatives of the constituency who tolerates his methods least willingly, an eyebrow or two went up. This is not the Sabean who leads with his face, P.R.-wise, the Sabean who doesnt matter who says what or why. This is a sea change in how he views the business of explaining his business.

Actually, it was a lot like talking to the beat guys, the Giants general manager said Saturday, the day that the pitchers and catchers reported. They asked pretty much the same questions, by and large. They seemed pretty knowledgeable for the most part.Now maybe he expected different. Maybe he expected more savagery-based-on-stereotype. Maybe he thought the questions would be dominated by decimal points and impenetrableacronyms. Maybe he thought...Well, I really didnt give a lot of thought about it one way or another, he said. It was just a Q-and-A with reporters, is the way I looked at it. Our P.R. department thought they were a part of the fan base that we could reach better. It was fine.And while the effort involved was not particularly onerous, or the gesture overly magnanimous, there is reason to think one or several of the old Sabeans would have dismissed the idea as preposterous, a spectacular waste of time.But this Sabean and there have been several over the years, be quite sure saw no harm and acknowledged that there might be some benefit to expanding his audience, and by extension the baseball operations department. Its an admission by someone who have never worried much about perception that no segment of the perception class can be taken for granted.Honestly, I wasnt really sure how much of the fan base these guys reach, because Id never given it that much thought, he said. I know they were talking to Boch (manager Bruce Bochy) earlier, and that seemed to go well. In the end, it wasnt a big deal at all, and if it helped some, fine.Sabean has been pigeonholed over time as the anti-youthanti-numbers guy; the first is palpably false simply by looking at the pitching staff, the catcher, two of three first base candidates, the shortstop, the third baseman and the right fielder. The second is not easily disproven, except for the fact that he has the same level of numbers-crunchers as any other front office.He does not speak numbers-crunching, though, and therein lies much of the misperception about him. He speaks as a scout would, because he was a scout. But he doesnt think solely as a scout would, and he doesnt ignore the metrics of the day. Others in baseball operations do the metrics, and bring their findings to him.And it all is part of the process of making decisions, along with the bottom line, and the clubhouse fit, and a lot of other things, he said. Most decisions get made by time and space, to be honest with you. Whats going on at the time a decision has to be made, and how much space (money, contract length, roster flexibility) there is to make it.Sabean, in fact, has been different operators at different times for different people. As the second-longest serving general manager in one place, he has survived 15 years of ebb and flood tides, with the best divisional record, third best league record and sixth best major league record interspersed with down years in the mid-90s and late 2000s.He has changed managers twice, had two ownerships changed above him, and for the most part kept the bulk of his baseball ops department together. And he has been, if not the most reluctant public speaker, then at least one who picks his spots more judiciously than most. Hes never viewed the audience as his I figured the players in the room and what they do on the field explains what we do better than anything else.But with an information glut that needs constant tending and feeding, he has been forced to consider other outlets for advancing the organizations methodologies. So he had a Q-and-A with bloggers, and though nothing is scheduled, he is willing to expand the conduits to the audience more in the future.Its what you have to do in this day and age, and like I said, it was like to talking to the beat guys, he said, squinting into the sun as players came and went in front his dugout perch.He did not say whether that comparison flatters, flat-lines or shames beat writers, bloggers, or the media en masse. Some views of the outside world he continues to keep to himself.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

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Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches

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Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches

SAN FRANCISCO — Late in a 98-loss season, general manager Bobby Evans met with members of the coaching staff to discuss new roles. The shakeup of the staff ended up being a stunning one. 

Pitching coach Dave Righetti was one of three coaches to be reassigned Saturday morning. After 18 seasons as pitching coach, Righetti will now serve as special assistant to the general manager. Bullpen coach Mark Gardner was given a “special assignment role to assist in pitching evaluations.” Assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will be a special assistant for baseball operations. 

The moves cap a 13-month run in which the coaching staff has taken much of the blame for a $200 million roster that was poorly constructed in places and played embarrassing baseball for long stretches of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Third base coach Roberto Kelly was let go after the 2016 season and first base coach Billy Hayes was reassigned. More changes appear on the way. 

“It does raise the level of attention to change when you struggle as much as we have, but you’re always contemplating making changes to try to help keep pushing your guys and make sure you continue to have different perspectives and new voices and reflections on how to get the most out of them,” Evans said on a conference call. 

Throughout September, multiple coaches expressed concern about their future roles, but the Giants held off several weeks before announcing changes. At least two members of the staff were involved in managerial searches elsewhere, and third base coach Phil Nevin is reportedly still a candidate for the open job in Philadelphia. 

Evans confirmed that he has interviewed outside candidates for a hitting coach role, but he would not go so far as to say Hensley Meulens will be reassigned as well. He also would not speak to the future of Ron Wotus, although the longtime bench coach is expected to be mixed up in future changes as well. Evans indicated he would announce further moves after all the open managerial vacancies are filled.

For now, the Giants are in the process of trying to find a new pitching coach. They are focused on experienced outside candidates, and they have plenty of options, as several other teams have made changes this month. Evans hinted that he wants the next pitching coach to have a more analytical approach. 

Righetti's replacement will have massive shoes to fill. His run was the longest for a pitching coach in franchise history. The Giants, usually so reliant on pitching, finished 16th in the Majors with a 4.50 ERA, but it’s hard to see how Righetti takes the blame for that. Madison Bumgarner missed a chunk of the season after a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto had a brutal injury-plagued year, Matt Moore battled himself and had the worst ERA in the National League, and the bullpen struggled, with closer Mark Melancon pitching through an injury that required season-ending surgery. 

Righetti was credited with helping to develop a rotation and bullpen that won three titles, and the bond he shared with pitchers was on display during the final weekend of the year, when Matt Cain talked repeatedly about their close relationship and went straight for Righetti after he came off the field for the final time. While it’s often hard to figure out where to give credit, even in a down year for the staff, Righetti played a role in Sam Dyson’s resurgence, and he helped Ty Blach and Chris Stratton break in as big league regulars. 

“Ultimately a change for us in the clubhouse is really an opportunity just to put a new voice with our pitching staff and try to keep pushing to the heights that we aspire as an organization and a club,” Evans said. “Changes sometimes are needed as much for the sake of that new voice as anything, and I think that was really the priority here.”

Righetti will help Evans in a front office role. Evans admitted that Righetti’s “heartbeat is in uniform as a coach,” but said he was willing to take on a new role for an organization he loves. 

Gardner, a former Giants pitcher, had been on staff since 2003. He will now help to evaluate pitchers inside and outside the organization, and Evans said Gardner could serve an important role in evaluating trade options. Decker joined the big league staff in 2015 after a long run working in the minor leagues. The 2017 season was his 23rd with the organization. He will have a “blank canvas,” Evans said, working in different roles inside the organization. Decker will also help with draft preparation.