Giants

Should Sabean get Giants a new closer?

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Should Sabean get Giants a new closer?

When Brian Sabean goes to sleep, chances are he dreams ofacquiring a reliable closer and a power hitter. When the Giants GM wakes up,however, he must face the fact that a utility infielder and a mediocre relieverare the only additions he can afford.Santiago Casilla, filling in for Brian Wilson while the All-Star closer sitsout the 2012 season, has performed admirably. But he has run into trouble moreoften than not since the Giants series in Oakland from June 22-24.Just because a portion of the fan base is screaming for anew stopper doesnt mean Sabean is working the phones for one. And he is limitedby a weak farm system and budget room. Regardless, lets examine five obviousoptions for him to kick the tires on in case Casilla cant continue to getthe job done:Jonathan Broxton: An overweight ex-Dodger is probably notGiants fans No. 1 choice, but its hard to ignore his 2.14 ERA and 22 saves.Filling in for Joakim Soria in Kansas City, Broxton has allowed just one home run in 33.2innings and is making 4 million this season on a one-year deal. Because of hisimpending free agency and the Royals lack of playoff hopes, Royals GM Dayton Mooremight not ask for much in return. On the other hand, because of the way theMelky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez trade has worked out, Moore might just hang up when he seesSabeans name on his caller ID. Broxton, a right-hander, has much more experiencethan Casilla in the closers role, but is still working on his first sub-4.00ERA season since 2009. With that in mind, its safe to assume that Sabean hassome concerns about Broxton regressing and if he truly represents an upgradeover the in-house options. Finally, presented without comment, is this pictureof Broxtons baseball pants being put to good use.
Huston Street:In his MLB career with the Athletics, Rockiesand Padres, Street owns a 1.80 ERA and 12 saves against the Giants. Currentlystuck with a fourth-place team in San Diego, Street owns a miniscule 1.08 ERA and 14 savesand has yet to give up a home run in 26 games this season. In the final year ofa three-year, 22.5 million contract he signed in 2010 when with Colorado, Street is thePadres highest paid player in 2012 with a 7.5 million salary. If the Padresdont move their right-handed closer before the deadline, they will be facedwith a choice of a 9 million option (player decides, club can decline) or a500,000 buyout. Trading Street makes sense for San Diego and it shouldnt takeSabean more than a mid-level talent (maybe from the catching prospect surplus)to send Street to San Francisco.Matt Capps: With 138 career saves and a lifetime ERA of3.50, Capps is certainly a qualified candidate to take over for Casilla. Afterstruggling in 2011, his first full season with the Minnesota Twins, Capps had astrong start to his 2012 campaign before soreness in his right (throwing)shoulder made him miss about three weeks. Now healthy, Capps is being easedback into ninth-inning responsibilities with the Twins, who are certainlyshopping Capps and his 4.75 million 2012 salary and 6 million 2013 option (or250,000 buyout). At 36-52 entering Mondays games, the Twins have no need forsuch a seasoned closer. If Sabean believes the Giants have that need, heprobably has the prospectspayroll to give Bruce Bochy a new bullpen optionbefore the trade deadline. Brett Myers: Like Street, Myers is thehighest paid player on a losing team. Those types usually get traded, and thestarter-turned-closer-turned-starter-turned-closer is unlikely to be theexception. A 31-year-old right-hander making 11 million with the HoustonAstros, Myers has a 3.64 ERA and 18 saves, but has given up four home runs in29.2 innings and has struck out just 19 batters. Myers owned a 1.99 ERA inmid-June, but has had some ugly outings over the last month. So while his tradevalue has certainly taken a hit, Sabean may still view Myers as an upgrade overCasilla, in which case he will be asking first-year Astros GM Jeff Luhnhow whatit would take to acquire Myers.Francisco Rodriguez: Just like Broxtonsties to the Dodgers, Rodriguezs affiliation with the 2002 World Series loss tothe Angels wouldnt make him very popular as a Giant. However, K-Rods dominantintroduction to the big leagues is water under the Bay Bridgeand he could certainly help the Giants bullpen. Now the Milwaukee Brewersright-handed set-up man, Rodriguez owns a 3.76 ERA and still has his strikeoutpitch working, with 38 in 40.2 innings. Its a far cry from his 2004 season,which included a 1.82 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 84.0 innings, but Rodriguez isstill a valuable bullpen arm. With John Axford holding down the closer role inMilwaukee, Rodriguez hasnt faced the pressure of getting the final three outsas often, but with 292 career saves he certainly has proven himself to be capableof closing. If the Brewers continue to fall from contention, look for Sabean tosee if he can get GM Doug Melvin to part ways with Rodriguez at a discount.The aforementioned five names would all be realistic possibilities for Sabeanand Co. to bring to San Francisco.However, is it realistic to think that any of these candidates would be able toavoid the natural ups and downs that any big league closer goes through?Casilla has struggled lately, but has still stepped up in Wilsons absence. When Casilla has control,his high-speed arsenal makes him one of the most dominant closers in the game,as he demonstrated earlier this season. Is it worth the risk of giving up aprospect or two and taking on added payroll for what might be a modest upgradeat best and a downgrade at worst?

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.