Giants

Mota is back because Giants need his fastball

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Mota is back because Giants need his fastball

Maybe its just me (and it typically is), but I long ago stopped thinking sports would teach lessons like right and wrong and ethical and dishonest.

Thus, Guillermo Motas return to the Giants as they prepare for the most difficult road trip of their lives (except for every other one theyve ever had) moves me not in the slightest. Hes a serial PED user, hes done his time twice, hes eligible again, and the Giants have re-retained his services.

So you go be outraged. I dont have it in me. I've already read the book, and I have the ending memorized.

I neither defend nor condemn his return to the bullpen. His history of cutting corners so loud that even Major League Baseballs testers can hear the sawing may tell you something about his character, or maybe even the Giants corporate view, but all it tells me is what we long ago should have known:

Sports is about getting by. Its about doing whatever you think you need to do at the moment, and worrying about possible consequences later. Its about looking out for No. 1, or in the alternative, trying to figure out how to screw No. 2.

What it isnt, is a guide to living. It is at its essence the most egalitarian of pursuits, making as few moral stands as it can get away with in pursuit of a championship ring, trophy, or endorsement.

Now dont get us wrong here. Any athlete or coach who prefers the ethical path is fine by us. Were not against fair play, charitable instincts, devotion, loyalty, empathy, a basic sense of right and wrong . . . we frankly prefer them all to the alternatives.

But we dont go to sports to find them. In fact, as the money to entertain us grows, the pressure to do the pragmatic thing grows with it. There will be no forgiveness for the Giants if they end up a pitcher short in Game 162, and they know it.

And you know it. We all know it. Why anyone would think otherwise is the mind-boggler.

Or have you not heard the defenses for Lance Armstrong, or before that Joe Paterno, or before that name-your-favorite-team-player-or-entity? Sports is about results at any cost, as long as that cost can be defended later. It has always been thus, and the fact that is more brazen now only means youre paying more attention to the brass.

But lets go beyond that for a moment and ask a more existential question, because we know you like those. When is an athlete to be let off the hook for prior misdeeds?

Think about that for a moment before we give you the answer.

Okay, here it is.

1. When he or she has served his punishment as mandated and agreed upon by the employer and the athletes union.
2. When he or she can help your favorite team win.
3. When he or she is your favorite sports figure from days or years gone by.

You want a different answer? Go follow entertainment. No, wait, that wont work. Try business. No? How about politics? No again? Then maybe pipe-fitting. Oh, hell, you know the deal.

You are let off the hook when someone feels like letting you off the hook, based solely on whether that someone thinks you can help them do something, or feel good about themselves. It is an entirely capricious matter. Some people get let up, and others dont not by virtue of morality, but by the vicissitudes of practicality.

In short, Guillermo Mota is back with the Giants because the Giants need his fastball. Why you would think otherwise is an exercise in the art of the daft. The Giants arent for or against PEDs theyre for winning and against losing. Like every other sports team ever.

If you are of the mind that sports should be clean here and forever, change the penalties. Players are banned for life, and every team that employs a player who gets caught gets fined a percentage of its annual gross revenues. That way, nobody has an incentive to chase down the perfect testosterone martini.

Sure, that wont be a measure of ethics or morality but of brute force. But isnt that truly and realistically the essence of sports in America, from the owners suite to the trainers room?

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

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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

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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.