SAN FRANCISCO — When Curt Young met with Giants management last month, he did so with a hell of an endorsement on his resume. In introducing Young on Monday, general manager Bobby Evans said the new pitching coach was recommending by none other than Dave Righetti, the legendary outgoing pitching coach.
Righetti will spend next season working with Evans in a front office role, with Young, the longtime A’s coach, sliding into the seat alongside manager Bruce Bochy. There will be familiarity in the new partnership. Young was the pitching coach for an All-Star squad that Bochy took to Japan years ago for exhibition games.
“We’ve known each other for quite a while,” Bochy said. “He’s going to bring a different perspective in areas and that’s always welcome.”
From the outside, Young — who also worked for the Red Sox — appears to fit right in line with Evans’ push to have a more analytical approach in the dugout. He said his style is a mix of old and new.
“There’s going to be a definite mix of both,” he said, noting that there are more resources than ever for coaching staffs. “It’s common sense and what it takes to be a great pitcher, and anything we can learn from the numbers side to help these guys is also going to come into play.”
Young enters in a comfortable position, and not just because he has spent most of his professional career across the bridge. While the Giants have gaping holes to fill in the lineup and bullpen, their rotation is just about set. Madison Bumgarner and Matt Moore had their options picked up Monday and Johnny Cueto announced over the weekend that he wasn’t opting out of his contract. Jeff Samardzija slides into the mix somewhere in the middle of the rotation, and the Giants have Chris Stratton in line for the No. 5 spot, with Ty Blach and Tyler Beede on deck. Young said he sees five guys who can pitch 200 innings next year.
“I think the staff is going to be in a good place,” he said.
Of course, the Giants felt that way last spring, too. They boasted of having four veterans who would approach or exceed 200 innings, but Bumgarner’s season was wrecked by an off-field crash, Cueto dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness, and Moore had the worst ERA in the National League. As a staff, the starters had a 4.58 ERA, ranking an uncharacteristic eighth in the National League.
Asked about the pitching staff on Monday, vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean called it the roster’s “bread and butter.”
“It’s really a must for us,” he said of the rotation being better. “We know we also have to fortify the bullpen, but we look at last year as an aberration (for the starters), a lot of that being driven by injuries.”
Bumgarner and Cueto have reason to believe they can again be Cy Young candidates if healthy. Samardzija should benefit from improved outfield defense. Moore, acquired in the middle of the 2016 season, is the mystery, and perhaps the greatest potential swing piece on the roster. He has All-Star stuff and he’s only 28, but he posted a 5.52 ERA last season.
Young saw the good version of Moore in Tampa Bay. Bringing that guy back should be at the top of his to-do list.
“He’s just a solid left-handed pitcher with real, real good stuff, and it's just a matter of him making sure he uses the right pitches at the right time,” Young said. “He went through a little bit of a struggle last year. I’m sure he’s the type of pitcher and person who wants to get back on top.”