New Giants pitching coach comes with Righetti's recommendation


New Giants pitching coach comes with Righetti's recommendation

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.”

Giants first round pick makes top 100 prospects list


Giants first round pick makes top 100 prospects list

SAN FRANCISCO -- The annual Baseball America top 100 prospects list backed up two widely held beliefs about the Giants farm system: The organization still does not have a lot of high-end prospects and a newcomer is viewed as the best of the bunch.

Heliot Ramos, last year's first-round pick, was ranked as the 79th best prospect in the game, but he's the only Giant on the list. 

Ramos, 18, is the name just about every opposing front office asked for in trade talks this offseason, but the Giants view him as a potential five-tool center fielder. He already appears to be one of the steals of the 2017 draft. After being selected 19th overall, Ramos hit .348 in rookie ball with a .404 on-base percentage and .645 slugging percentage. He hit six homers in 35 games and stole 10 bases.

Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the top prospect on the list, followed by Shohei Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 

The Dodgers have four players listed before Ramos and the Padres have four of the top 32 prospects as they try to rebuild and get back into NL West contention. The A's have four players in the top 100: lefty A.J. Puk (30), shortstop Franklin Barreto (43), shortstop Jorge Mateo (64) and outfielder Dustin Fowler (88). 

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

SAN FRANCISCO — The field at AT&T Park is covered with patches and small piles of dirt right now, showing the signs of a winter hosting holiday parties and concerts, and a week with plenty of rain. 

For Evan Longoria, though, that grass was a beautiful sight.

A month after a trade that had him switching coasts, Longoria was introduced at a press conference at AT&T Park and ran the usual gauntlet with team employees and season-ticket holders. He spent some time this week looking for housing in the Bay Area, but soon he’ll be back in Scottsdale, getting to know new teammates and preparing his body for the 2018 season. 

Longoria said his workouts have been a bit different with a new staff, but the goal remains the same. He is a player who prides himself on taking the field every day, and that’s one of the traits that drew the Giants to Longoria. He has played at least 156 games in five consecutive seasons, and 160 in four of those seasons. 

It’s no accident that Bruce Bochy has mentioned durability during every media session this season. Andrew McCutchen has a similar track record, and the Giants lineup certainly could use some stability, especially at third base, where seven different players made double-digit starts last season. Longoria will change that. 

“I have a desire to play every day, and I think that that is infectious,” he said. “Players that may feel the grind of a long season or might be in a little bit of a funk offensively or defensively or with pitching, something like that can give you a boost when you have guys around that you know come to play and compete on a daily basis, no matter what the circumstance is.”

[RELATED: Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster]

For Longoria, who turned 32 early in the offseason, the circumstance has changed for the better. After years on the unforgiving turf at The Trop, he comes to a park and division featuring nothing but natural grass. 

“I hope it helps,” he said. “Going on the road (with the Rays), my body definitely felt better when I played on grass. I’m sure that it will help. It’s definitely not going to be a negative. Not playing on the turf anymore is something that crossed my mind as soon as the trade happened.”

Longoria expects to benefit from another aspect of AT&T Park, too. The Rays finished dead last in the majors last year with an average of 15,670 fans per game. Even though their sellout streak ended, the Giants still had an average of more than 40,000 per night. Asked about playing outdoors, Longoria smiled and added, “in front of fans.”

“The environment here is obviously much different, so it’s going to be nice to step into that on a daily basis and play in front of a fan base that’s obviously very storied,” he said. “It helps with energy. It helps with motivation.”