What to do about Brett Pill?


What to do about Brett Pill?

Brett Pill doesn't have anything left to prove in the minors. He's raked at every level, and he's been raking in the big leagues since being called up earlier this month.His 3-for-5 night Wednesday in a huge win against the rival Dodgers highlighted his clean and controlled stroke, raising his batting average through eight games with the Giants to .333 with two doubles, two triples, two homers and eight RBIs, giving him an eye-popping slugging percentage of .733 and an equally impressive OPS of 1.067.So what do you do with him next year? It's a question the club will have to think long and hard about over the winter.

Pill, you see, is a first baseman by trade. But so is Aubrey Huff, whom Giants manager Bruce Bochy recently said will be his first baseman in 2012, when Huff is again going to be pulling down 11 million in salary.And so is Brandon Belt, who made the Opening Day roster with an impressive showing at spring training that came on the heels of a ridiculously productive 2010 season, in which Belt ripped through the minors like he had a deadline to meet.Huff, by the way, could be in the mix through the 2013 season, too. The Giants have a club option on him for a cool 10 million. But unless he lives up to his recent career pattern of good season-bad season-good season, hello 2 million option buyout.It's been assumed since Belt burst onto the scene that he'll eventually replace Huff at first base, and given how badly Huff has struggled in 2011, more than a few folks would like to see that happen sooner rather than later.Yet Belt hasn't exactly been a man on fire this year himself -- unless you count his numbers at Triple-A Fresno, to which he was banished three times. During his time this season with the Grizzlies, Belt batted .309 with a .448 on-base percentage and a .975 OPS with eight homers and 32 RBIs over 49 games.Pill, meanwhile, batted .312 with a .341 OBP, .871 OBP, 25 homers and 107 RBIs over 133 games at Fresno. And suddenly it is Pill for whom Giants fans are pining, in part because Belt's numbers with the Giants have been pedestrian.Granted, Belt's stats for San Francisco -- .212 BA, .701 OPS, eight homers and 16 RBIs over 56 games -- could be the product of being a human yo-yo, and missing considerable time with a broken wrist didn't help, but this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, and Pill has done more for Giants fans lately.So let's re-phrase the question: What do you do not just with Pill next year, but with Huff penciled in by Bochy as the starting first baseman, what do you do with Pill and Belt?Well, Belt can play in the outfield. He's far better at first base, where he's got Gold Glove ability, but he could handle left field with an offseason and next spring to prepare.Pill, though, despite having spent some time at second base in Fresno, isn't cut from any sort of legitimate middle-infield cloth. He's 6-foot-4 with average lateral range. Besides, the Giants have Freddy Sanchez (they hope) and Jeff Keppinger (under club control via arbitration) to man second base.Seems like a trade is in order. But which guy do you trade? Belt is 23 and has more upside, so his trade value is likely highest, but he's also a highly popular player and could very well blossom into the power-hitting first baseman for which the Giants have been searching for years.Pill, on the other hand, is 27. How much upside is there? He might not fetch much in return. And hey, if Belt can transition into the outfield, what would be so wrong with Pill serving as Huff's backup for 2012 and taking over at first in 2013?As for trading Huff ... yeah, right. Not after the season he's put together this year. Not with that salary looming.So again, the big question, and this time it's posed directly to Giants fans: What do you do?

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.