Giants

Romo, Giants continue to dispel myths

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Romo, Giants continue to dispel myths

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The last time a team won three consecutive games twice in a year to win postseason series was 1985, when the Kansas City Royals were the best team in baseball.Thats right. When the earth was still cooling.But to those who believe in vibes, thats all the throb in the San Francisco Giant clubhouse. Having punched holes in myths this entire postseason, they enter the all-in game with the St. Louis Cardinals Monday night with their best pitcher going, their bullpen rested, and their lineup healthy.I dont know how else to put it, Sergio Romo said, the words running over each other in a rush to escape his arrhythmic emotions. We dont want to go home yet. I dont want to go home yet.Well, the Giants ARE home, to be precise. Sundays 6-1 win over St. Louis in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series kept them from scattering to the nine vectors of offseason life, and anyway, home is what you make it.Or in this case, what Ryan Vogelsong and Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval and yes, Sergio Romo, chose to make it. The Giants, who allegedly struggled at home this year (and yes, allegedly is the word), gave the Cardinals all the home cooking a person can stomach. Between the atmosphere and the unique hops from an unusually choppy infield, the Cardinals got a weeks worth of San Francisco baseball in one night.
BAGGARLY: Vogelsong helps Giants stay alive
Romo is probably the spokesman for the rumble and hum of the Giants ascendant. If the Giants bullpen is closer by committee, he is the committee chair, and pulls the team and crowd with him. Indeed, he is one of the enduring myths of this season the closer who gets everything but the official title.Then again, the starting rotation itself is a bit of a myth. It has been saved three times in October alone by the fourth and fifth starters, Ryan Vogelsong and the redoubtable Barry Zito, if you go by the pecking order established at the beginning of the year. Vogelsong defied the reaper and his preseason place Sunday by overwhelming the Cardinals with fastballs early and baffling them with breaking balls the second time through the order. By the time he had allowed St. Louis first hit, to David Descalso in the fifth inning, the Giants had already scored five of their six runs.And theres another myth dispelled. For all the focus on pitching matchups, postseason games are truly won by scoring first and establishing advantages that can be held. The team scoring first in San Franciscos 11 games is 9-2, and the team scoring first has fallen behind only twice as well. The Giants won one of those two games, Game 3 in Cincinnati.The first Vogelsong start.Which, oddly, is the one of his three that impressed him the least.I actually think that my stuff was better in Game 2, he said. I threw the ball extremely well tonight, obviously, but I feel like I had some good misses (that they swung through). It comes down to executing the pitches then getting lucky on the ones you dont make, the ones they foul off or swing through. So I think Game 2, my stuff overall was better. Tonight I just had some good misses and some good fortune.
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And Scutaro, the other logical choice for series MVP if the Giants win, had another eye-popping game, walking and scoring the games first run, doubling home two runs in the second, and kicking in a third hit in the fourth just to reinforce the suggestion that he is part of the true nucleus of this team, after only three months in town. Remember, he was once a Colorado Rockie, a level of punishment that is hard to describe. Except, of course, by Scutaro himself.I wish I could see Dan ODowd, so I could kiss him right on the lips, Scutaro said of the Colorado general manager who moved Scutaro west largely to save the Rockies a million dollars. He told me he was going to work to put me in the best place he could, where I had a chance to win. He kept his word.And Scutaro has kept his since his unfortunate 2011 in Boston. He is hitting .471 since Matt Holliday steamrolled him in the first inning of Game 2. People notice that sort of thing, especially in October, as in one step closer to overcoming his difficult end with the Red Sox.I remember the last out in Cincinnati, when (Jay) Bruce was fouling all those pitches off, he said. I was saying, Please God, dont make me feel like that again.Bruce flied out, Scott Rolen struck out, and Scutaro survives. So yes, some of it is timing. And some of it is luck. Good, and bad.The Cardinals have injuries to Carlos Beltran (knee) and Holliday (back) that are impacting the St. Louis lineup, and catcher Yadier Molina has struggled in the five-spot. In addition, Game 6 starter Chris Carpenter was pitching the equivalent of his final spring training start after missing almost the entire year with an injury, and couldnt find the feel of his sinker at any point of the game.Plus, the Cardinals have allowed 10 unearned runs in this series, making them a team-wide version of Brooks Conrad, the unfortunate soul who committed four errors against the Giants in their NLDS win over the Braves two years ago.All that, though, is filed under tough cheese. In October, explanations become excuses, and excuses are the last thing to be packed on the plane. You win, or you lose. You live with the recriminations, or you live with the ambient noise of a city that envelops you.And right now, San Francisco is all noise.For all the credit Hunter Pence gets for his pregame speeches, and Bruce Bochy gets for his calm yet creative work at the rudder, bouncing out of the corner after losing the early rounds is as much a matter of vibe as anything else. And Romo carries that vibe to its overwhelming conclusion.I dont know if theres a knack to winning when your backs are against the wall, Romo said, but I will say that doing it alone is impossible. You need everyone. In uniform, in the stands, all of it. We want to do well for ourselves, and this city. These people deserve our best efforts, and our best games.Well, one game, anyway, one which will tell just how much this city will get what Romo says it deserves. At home, where the Giants are not supposed to play well. With their best pitcher, Matt Cain, who will have to go very deep and very strong to beat the work of his two predecessors, Vogelsong and Zito.And with Romo finishing, to the roaring strains of his own entry music, El Mechon.The Lock.

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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USATSI

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.