Ron Wotus

Wotus' take on trade for Longoria: 'When you're trying to win the division...'

Wotus' take on trade for Longoria: 'When you're trying to win the division...'

While the Giants are still looking for outfield help as spring training creeps up on us, they checked one off their to-do list with the acquisition of third baseman Evan Longoria in late December. 

"Getting Longo at third base is a huge hole for us that we needed to fill," Giants third base coach Ron Wotus said to Friday on MLB Network Radio

In trading for Longoria, the Giants had to give up one of their top prospects. Christian Arroyo, who made his MLB debut at just 21 years old this past season, hit .396 in 25 Triple-A games for the Sacramento River Cats. He struggled at the big league level, batting .192 in 34 games. 

"We had Arroyo, the kid, but when you're trying to win the division and compete with the Dodgers and now Arizona's much better, Colorado's much better, we got a sure All-Star caliber player there," Wotus said on the trade.

The Dodgers won the National League West in 2017 and the D'backs and Rockies squared off in the wild card game. Over in Tampa Bay, the Rays missed the playoffs while Longoria posted his worst offensive season in years. 

Longoria, 32, hit .261, his lowest batting average since 2014, with 20 home runs, his lowest since 2012. Still, 20 home runs would have led the Giants in 2017 and they believe he's a much needed power boost to the lineup. 

"We filled one of our needs. I think his leadership and experience in being able to hit in the middle of the order -- he's done that his whole life -- is really gonna benefit for us," Wotus said. 

As Wotus showed excitement in the Longoria addition, he recognized the team needs to keep adding to their roster after a 98-loss season. 

"It's a great addition... but we still have more work to do," Wotus said to finish his interview. 

What to make of massive changes to Giants coaching staff

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USATI

What to make of massive changes to Giants coaching staff

SAN FRANCISCO — In retrospect, we all probably should have seen the massive coaching changes coming. Not because the Giants lost 98 games this past season, but because they talked openly at the end of the year about adding multiple stats-inclined people to the front office.

The Giants are trying to catch up to a game now built on homers and strikeouts, and while it’s yet to be seen what they can do on the field, general manager Bobby Evans has taken a sledgehammer to the coaching staff. The first hire, Matt Herges as bullpen coach, is perhaps a sign of things to come. Herges comes from a Dodgers organization that is on the cutting edge and has a huge office at Dodger Stadium dedicated to analytics and new ways of attacking the game. In discussing the reassignments of Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner last week, Evans hinted that the next pitching coach would have more of an analytical background. 

On Friday, on a conference call with beat writers, manager Bruce Bochy said that when all is said and done, “you may see maybe a little bit more of (that analytical approach).”

“I know that’s certainly been part of the discussion,” Bochy said. “It’s not that this staff wasn’t open-minded — some guys were maybe more into it than others. I think as a staff we’re open-minded and I think the front office certainly feels like that. I think Bobby feels like that."

Bochy noted that conversations have been had in the organization for a couple of years about where the game is going. This wasn't something that started during a brutal 2017 season. The Giants are not nearly as old-school as outsiders might think, but they did have a coaching staff that had been together for a while, and the sense in the front office was that some new voices were needed. At the very least, these changes should allow for more engagement between the front office and the coaching staff, a trend elsewhere in the game. 

“We have a tremendous baseball ops (department) that provides all the analytics that we need,” Bochy said. “We try to use them and we try to stay on the cutting edge of what’s going on with the game. I think like with all clubs, you’re seeing more and more of it being used. It’s become more prevalent with all clubs, including with ours.”

A second hint that this is an emphasis came with the second round of shuffling. As hitting coach, Hensley Meulens worked hard to get his hitters to embrace launch angles and exit velocities and all the new metrics that rule the cage. He will now serve as Bochy’s bench coach. From the outside, Ron Wotus appeared to be another member of the staff who fully embraced the changing game, and he helped lead the Giants into the defensive shift era. Like Meulens, Wotus was kept in the dugout, and Bochy said he will continue to position the defense as he serves as third base coach. 

We should know in the next couple of weeks how far the Giants are truly going with all this. They are interviewing candidates for both hitting coach positions as well as pitching coach. While the new coaches should bring a new approach, Bochy noted that he hopes the next pitching coach also brings many of the same qualities Righetti did. 

“He was one of the iconic pitching coaches in the game,” Bochy said. “We don’t get three World Series in five years without Rags.”

They also won’t get to a fourth without a slew of other changes. Perhaps the new staff will help lead the organization in a new direction. Perhaps the Giants really do need to catch up to the behind-the-scenes work being done by the likes of the Dodger and Astros, two of the more stats-based organizations in the game. 

But in talking about the changes to his staff, Bochy offered a reminder that you can’t just try and emulate the Dodgers and Astros off the field and hope for the best. 

“It starts with the talent (on the field),” he said. “And they’re certainly not lacking there, as you can tell.”

Giants continue to make changes to coaching staff

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USATI

Giants continue to make changes to coaching staff

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants continued to shake up their coaching staff on Thursday, announcing another series of moves. 

Hensley Meulens will move from hitting coach to bench coach, bumping Ron Wotus from bench coach to third base coach. Matt Herges was named the new bullpen coach. Phil Nevin, the previous third base coach, was let go. 

Last week, the team reassigned Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Combined with two dismissals after the 2016 season, the Giants have now made seven coaching changes in the last 13 months. Since the end of the 2016 season, they have changed their pitching coach, hitting coach, bench coach, bullpen coach and first base coach, and made two changes in the third base coaching box. 

The Giants are still interviewing candidates for pitching coach and both hitting positions. There will not be any other changes, as Jose Alguacil (first base) and Shawon Dunston (replay analyst) will remain in their current roles. 

In a statement put out by the team, manager Bruce Bochy said the organization is “tapping into our coaching expertise to improve all levels of our organization.

“Rags. Gardy and Deck bring on-the-field experience to the table and I know their input is going to be invaluable in putting together a winning roster,” Bochy continued. 

Meulens had been on staff for eight years as the hitting coach. His new role will have him assisting Bochy as well as handling outfield instruction. The Giants did not have a dedicated outfield coach last season. Wotus will be on staff for a 21st consecutive season. He was the third base coach for the organization in 1998. 

Herges pitched for the Giants from 2003 to 2005 and spent 11 seasons in the big leagues. He spent the last seven seasons in the Dodgers organization and was their Triple-A pitching coach the past two seasons.