Giants

Cain really torn' over his future

704178.jpg

Cain really torn' over his future

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Amid a report that contractnegotiations have stalled between the Giants and Matt Cain, the right-hander acknowledgedthat he is really torn about whether to commit long-term or test the marketas a free agent after the season.

Asked whether he was optimistic or pessimistic that anextension could be reached before the April 6 season opener, Cain pondered thequestion for a time.

I guess I dont know, Cain told CSNBayArea.com. Imhesitant to answer that question because Im thinking about the times Ive hadplaying with these guys, growing up in this organization. Im definitely goingto enjoy this season to the fullest with whatever happens. But you also thinkabout going to free agency, and you might not have that chance again. So youreally are torn between the two sides. Itd be hard to say its one way or theother.

For now, the choice is not difficult. Although Cain declined todiscuss specific terms, he made it clear the Giants havent offered a contractin line with his perceived market value. Cain made one more thing clear: hisagents have a firm idea of what that value may be.

We feel like we do, he said. Yes, we do.

Industry sources estimated Cain would fetch more than 100million on the open market, perhaps exceeding a six-year, 120 milliondeal.

Fox Sports reported Wednesday night that the chances of theGiants re-signing Cain this spring were rapidly diminishing. A sourcedescribed that characterization as overly dramatic, but confirmed the two sidesremain far apart in talks. Although no further talks were scheduled, both sidesremain open to continuing the dialogue which by all accounts, has not beencontentious.

RELATED: Contract talks stall between Cain, Giants

Giants GM Brian Sabean has said the organization has thefinancial wherewithal to sign Cain to an extension and also commit long term toTim Lincecum, who will be a free agent after his two-year, 40.5 millioncontract expires following the 2013 season.

But with the Giants rotation becoming ultra-expensive, theteam would assume a major risk by signing Cain long term with a year remainingon his deal. They could mitigate some of that risk by waiting until theexclusive negotiating period in October to extend him.

Waiting runs its own risks, though.

Baseball sources expect the Giants archrival, the LosAngeles Dodgers, to be major free-agent spenders next winter once a newownership group drops more than 1 billion to purchase the franchise. There would be nothing more painful to Giants fans thanseeing Cain, one of their most loyal favorites, in Dodger blue. Such a signingcould tilt the balance of power in the NL West, too.

REWIND: EXTRAS -- Cain mum on contract

Cain said the negotiations, even this deep into the spring,havent weighed on his mind. His teammates agreed.

I think he has a really great ability to let things go,left-hander Barry Zito said. Hes always been able to do that. Hes a verymature pitcher and a mature guy."

Although many observers expected a swift resolution to Cain's contract situation, Zito said he wasn't surprised that it hasn't turned out that way.

Its more complicated than, The Giants want Cain and Cainwants to stay,'" Zito said. "This is a game and we try to keep it that way in most aspects.But the fact is, its a business. Youve got to be as tedious about gettingbusiness handled as you are about stuff on the field. Thats just a fact.

Cain would start the Giants home opener April 13 if theclub uses four starting pitchers in the first turn through the rotation. Thatsa possibility because they have a day off on their season-opening road trip,which could allow Ryan Vogelsong more time to build arm strength after missingthree weeks because of a lower back strain.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

gillaspie-moncrief-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

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

righetti-dugout-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

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.