Giants

The Lincecum deal -- what it means

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The Lincecum deal -- what it means

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Oh no! Doesnt Timmy like us?

Seriously, that seems to be the prevailing sentiment about the news that the Giants and Tim Lincecum have agreed on a two-year 40.5 million contract that buys out his final two years of arbitration and makes everyones favorite Giant a free agent in 2013.

Why doesnt Timmy want a long-term relationship with San Francisco? Is he flirting with other cities? Is he just dating the Giants, not ready to commit forever?

Grab a paper bag, people. Breath deep. Stop hyperventilating.

In truth, the deal works just fine. For all parties: Lincecum, the Giants and even for the oxygen-deprived fans.

From all accounts, two years was the spot for mutual agreement. They got a deal done. But it doesnt preclude a longer-term deal being done before the contract expires in 2013 and the Yankees and Red Sox come courting.

Lincecum, 27, just became the highest-paid Giant in history. Good for him. He deserves it.

Hes the one taking all the risk. In a two-year contract theres no room for a down season. No time for a let up. He has to stay -- as he has for the first five years of his career -- at the top of his game. If he does, he reaps the benefits in 2013. If he doesnt, then he may have to take a pay cut.

But Lincecum, to his credit, doesnt seem to care about long-term security. Thats interesting for a guy whos been told his whole career that his body wont hold up, that hes too little. But hes already proved all the doubters wrong, a thousand times over.

Hes of a generation that has compressed time into microseconds -- two years might as well be two centuries. And I take his own words at face value. A few months ago, he told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle I just dont know how Im going to feel five years from now, or three years. Thats why Id kind of like to take things step by step.

Lincecum may very well want to be a Giant for life. But I dont blame him at all for taking a wait-and-see approach. The Giants have new leadership -- after the ouster of Bill Neukom -- and no one knows what that means. Are they going to be pinching pennies? Are they going to break up the rotation? Are they going to get some offense or continue to put the burden of winning on the back of Lincecum? All the talk this winter about maxing out on the payroll has to be a red flag.

Lincecum has also had a front-row seat to the horrors of the long-term pitching contract with Barry Zito. Why would he want to put himself in that position?

For the Giants, the deal works because theres no concern about getting into a long-term Zito situation. They showed their good faith to Lincecum by making him the highest-paid Giant ever and they bought time to work on a contract extension.

Yes, theres risk involved. The face of the franchise could walk in 2013. But there would also be risk in a long-term contract, if for some reason Lincecum doesnt perform at the Cy Young level hes been at most of his career.

And, despite the hyperventilating, the deal also works for fans. Lincecum is still a Giant. And now the pressure is on the Giants to make sure he stays: which means not ignoring the offense or the payroll. The Giants need to be competitive and remain the most attractive option to Lincecum, more than the Mariners or any other team.

If they do that, theyll be happy, Lincecum will be happy, the fans will be happy. And if they dont do that itll be pre-Lincecum 2005 all over again. And everyone will be miserable.

Freelance writer Ann Killion is a regular contributor to CSNBayArea.com and Chronicle Live.

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.