Now more than ever, Melky Cabrera for MVP


Now more than ever, Melky Cabrera for MVP

Everybody done hating Melky Cabrera yet? Got your prohibitionist rage out of your system?

Good, because as of right now, he is so much the Giants most valuable player that a vote for anyone else can only be regarded as election fraud.

Hey, you slice it any way you want. Complain about the effects of synthetic testosterone, or dishonesty, or even Web-based fraud until youre red in the eyes.

I know this, though. They got to 64-53 with him in left field, tied with the Los Angeles Planet-Eaters. They are 9-4 without him.

That means "cause" just put a steel-capped boot right in the groin of "effect." It also means, at least if you squint hard enough and forget the laws of small sample size, that Cabrera jump-started the Giants while present, and has spurred them forward while absent.

If that isnt MVP stuff, then . . . well, youre just wrong, okay?

It is of course far too early to assign such things, because 33 games is a century when youre only three and one-half games ahead. It is of course an eternity when youre 39 games back, but thats CSN Houstons problem, not yours.

The point is this: When people shrieked about how Cabreras absence would destroy the Giants, they assumed one fact not yet in evidence: Nobody knows the future.

The As lost Bartolo Colon a week ago but are 6-1 since because they traded his testosterone-enriched arm from Brett Andersons, which must be regarded rationally as an upgrade.

And the Dodgers have not shot into the stratosphere since their megatrade with Boston because apparently Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez do not yet equal the loss of Chad Billingsley and Matt Kemp, and have no power against the world-bending powers of the Colorado Rockies.

So yes, nobody knows the future.

But we know what we know up to this moment, and the Giants were doing well enough without Cabrera, and to date the trauma of losing him has only made them better. Or maybe it isnt trauma, but ire. Maybe they do better on the business end of the steel-capped boot.

And you cant prove otherwise. Yet.

This isnt just the benefit of the Giants gooey, crme-filled schedule either, because that part has barely begun. Since getting Melkyd, the Giants beat San Diego, swept the Dodgers, split with Atlanta and then played the Astros, which implies that they beat the Astros because meeting the Astros is the same as beating the Astros.

Thats 9-4, and 9-4 is 9-4 every time, because in baseball, style points are replaced with bulk.

Would we recommend getting your best hitter suspended under shady and humiliating circumstances? Not as such. But baseball has shown time and again that easily understood causes do not automatically produce the predicted result. Losing Melky Cabrera, in short, has caused no immediate harm to a team that we have always assumed doesnt have enough hitting to survive such a blow.

The As, we can see, merely traded up, although losing Colon would have enhanced the other spots in the rotation. And the Dodgers have not yet figured out how to stop treading water even after two deals that logically should make them dramatically better.

The Giants, though, are used to defying logic. Losing Cabrera threw the fan base for a loop, but the team neither mirrored nor shared that feeling of doom. Betrayal? Maybe. Doom? No evidence. Inspiration through subtraction? Maybe.

But the MVP doesnt go to a team, so were going with Cabrera. He helped make their offense credible, and through his disgrace they became at least nominally better for the moment.

And if you believe the schedule is a healthy barometer of the future, theyre not likely to get dramatically worse. You can ascribe that to any reason you like; were going for the moment with the ghost of the left fielder, just as we would have gone with the actual left fielder two weeks earlier.

So it is, at least for the foreseeable future Melky Cabrera, Most Valuable Player. Sounds like the Giants may get some use out of those T-shirts after all especially if he becomes the first player to win the batting championship from his hammock.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for

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.

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches


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.