Giants

Giants' reunion weekend forcing focus on future

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Giants' reunion weekend forcing focus on future

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Heres how much history matters to Dusty Baker: When asked after Saturdays 2-1 Cincinnati victory over the Giants whether he would be participating in Sundays 10-year fete for the 02 World Series team, he said, and you should clip and save this for future notation:

I guess Im supposed to. The sent me a notice. But right now, Im going fishing out in the Bay.

And heres how much history matters to Mat Latos: When asked how to explain his success in San Francisco, which by the way there hasnt been of since his 2010 grumble about Brian Sabeans roster restock, he said, Its just a team. A team is a team. It doesnt matter who Im facing.

In other words, history is for the customers, to amuse themselves while they wait in a concessions line. The participants dont look backward a lot.

Latos can look backward at one of his best starts ever, though. In holding the Giants to a third-inning single by Brandon Crawford and a ninth-inning triple by Brandon Belt, he consolidated the mastery he showed five days earlier in a complete game win against Milwaukee, and gave the Reds not only a leg up on the Giants in the National League race, but gave Baker another alternative to ace Johnny Cueto.

At least on days when the Reds pitch in the airport that is American Telephone and Telegraph Southwestern Bell Corporation Pacific Bell Park -- that is, as opposed to the Peet's Coffee kiosk that is Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park.

More than that, he sent a brief but pointed message to the Giants that they have more than just the Los Angeles Dodgers to worry about.

That last part is not something that should come as news to the Giants. Like Washington and Cincinnati and Los Angeles and Pittsburgh and St. Louis and Atlanta and New York and Arizona, San Franciscos position is fluid, and even stretches like their four consecutive shutouts this dont figure to be prolonged things.

Put another way, theres more error than margin here for everyone.

And put still another way, the nostalgia fest Sunday, in which all the ups, downs and all-arounds of the 2002 season are a lot like the history of World War I. The immediacy of a long and likely confusing playoff race is already beginning to take shape, with two natural standings breaks beginning to take form after the nine-hole (Arizona) and then after the 14-hole (Colorado).

It is not hard to imagine that those will hold and even widen as Colorado, Houston and Milwaukee drop out of contention, perhaps close enough to the trade deadline to make them sellers in an eager market. But it is equally fathomable that Miami and Philadelphia might get their acts and health together and join the top nine in a real contender pigpile, the kind that induces Bud Selig to broaden the playoffs every few years whether they need them or not.

So 2002 can hang. And while youre at it, fretting about Barry Zitos departure from the strike zone in the fourth and fifth innings is also yesterdays news, even though it is still today. Zito walked six of eight hitters in those two innings but was saved a righteous beating because of a strikeout of Latos to end the fourth and a line drive by Jay Bruce with the bases loaded right into Crawfords glove.

In other words, though you might not know it looking at his pitches out of context, Zito did meet his burden by giving the Giants a chance to win, just as Latos was insuring that they actually had no chance at all.

Not complaints about Sabean stacking the deck two years ago from Latos. No grumblings about the way 2002 ended from Baker. Latos had a win to enjoy, and Baker had some fish to subdue. In baseball, now and forever, nothing is as important as the here and now.

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.