Lincecum the closer? It's nothing new to Kontos


Lincecum the closer? It's nothing new to Kontos

CINCINNATI The baseball world understood the impact Tim Lincecumcould make out of the bullpen in the Giants Game 4 victory Wednesday night.

But for one of his teammates, it was nothing he hadnt seenbefore.

This isnt the first time Ive played with Timmy as areliever, said right-hander George Kontos, who left two baserunners in thefourth inning that Lincecum cleaned up on the way to 4 13 brilliant innings inthe Giants 8-3 victory.

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Kontos and Lincecum were teammates with Harwich in the CapeCod League. Lincecum was a junior at the University of Washington trying hishand as a closer, mostly for the benefit of scouts. Kontos was at Northwestern,building up innings as a starter.

Ive seen how dominant he was, Kontos said. He was nasty.Throwing triple digits, punching people out.

I was a starter and I was third in the league instrikeouts. And he finished fourth, one behind me, as a reliever. It tells youwhat kind of stuff he had.

Lincecum went back to starting at Washington on his way to aGolden Spikes Award and the 10th overall pick in the draft. TheGiants had an eye toward making Lincecum a potentially dominant short relieverif he didnt prove durable enough as a starting pitcher.

Its still an option that could be entertained down the line.More than one scout has mused of a day when Lincecum takes the career path of aDennis Eckersley or John Smoltz.

Thats not likely to happen next season; Lincecum has onemore year left on his contract before hed be eligible for free agency, and startingpitchers command far more money on the open market.

But his ability to get loose in a hurry and rebound from oneday to the next is legendary. Even Kontos had to marvel when Lincecum threwjust two warmup pitches in front of the rubber, no less before enteringSundays game.

I think I get loose pretty quickly, Kontos said. I hadfour pitches in Houston, but I think he beat me the other day at home.

If the Giants advance to the NLCS, Lincecum is likely headedback to a starting role. Giants manager Bruce Bochy emphatically agreed thatthought will be entertained, if the club finds itself moving on to face the St.Louis Cardinals or Washington Nationals.

But for now, Kontos has enjoyed sitting in the bullpen andreconnecting with his old teammate from the Cape.

Hes the same guy. Hes Timmy, Kontos said. Whether itssomething in the stands were talking about or a song over the loudspeakers andhes singing the lyrics, hes the same fun loving guy.

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far


Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.

But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.

Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.

General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.

Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.

But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.

So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"

I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


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.