Curt Young

MLB Winter Meetings Notes: Familiar faces abound; Giants' John Barr honored

MLB Winter Meetings Notes: Familiar faces abound; Giants' John Barr honored

SAN FRANCISCO -- On the first day, Stephen Strasburg got $245 million. A night later, Gerrit Cole blew that away with a record $324 million contract. Finally, Anthony Rendon got $245 million to switch leagues. 

By the end of the four-day MLB Winter Meetings, super-agent Scott Boras was within striking distance of watching his clients -- led by those three -- get more than $1 billion in new money. So, there was a reason Boras was smiling as he walked through the lobby at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego on Wednesday night. 

Boras met with the Giants, as he always does, but they weren't involved with the big fish this time around. So far they have spent $9 million, but general manager Scott Harris said the team wasn't spooked by the frenzied pace this week.

"That happens every winter," he said of the market, smiling. "We just sequenced it differently this winter."

It's true that most of the heavy lifting was done much sooner than a year ago, but the Giants still have plenty of time to put together an improved roster. As they work the phones, let's look back on the four days in San Diego with some news and notes ... 

A Giant honor

John Barr, who now serves as a special assistant in baseball operations, was honored Wednesday night as the Scout of the Year for the East Coast region. The award was particularly meaningful to Barr because it was voted on by his peers. Barr was in charge of drafts for the Giants for more than a decade, bringing in Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Matt Duffy among many others. He recently had another huge day, watching Mike Mussina get into the Hall of Fame.

Barr was the scouting director who selected Mussina for the Orioles, and he is Barr's first Hall of Famer. 

The Giants kept Barr around even after Michael Holmes took over amateur scouting, and they have leaned on him during the transition and brought him back in a new role. In fact, new boss Farhan Zaidi was the one who gave the speech introducing Barr at the ceremony. 

"He commiserated with me when I first started about moving from the Dodgers to the Giants and the fact that we both got aired out by Tommy Lasorda," Zaidi joked. "He's been a tremendous resource and support for not just myself, but obviously Michael Holmes, as well, and the entire scouting staff. It's a super well-deserved honor."

Forever Giants

Kevin Frandsen, now a broadcaster for the Phillies, was in San Diego. At one point, he found himself in conversation with Brett Pill and Dan Runzler. That was quite common over the course of the week.

Among those spotted in the lobby in San Diego: Yangervis Solarte (who is looking for a job), Bobby Evans, Jake Peavy, Moises Alou, Aubrey Huff and, of course, Bruce Bochy, who will manage next spring for Team France. 

Pill will also be on a new staff. He's joining the Dodgers as their Double-A hitting coach, and Manny Burriss will be their Triple-A hitting coach. The Giants aren't the only ones hiring from a rival. Carl Kochan, their former strength coach, apparently also works for the Dodgers. 

Still Looking

A couple of former Giants expressed disappointment that Curt Young, the pitching coach the last two years, is not on a big-league staff anywhere. Young has had a good career but the Giants went in a much different direction, hiring Andrew Bailey, who actually pitched for Young in Oakland. 

The Giants may hit it big with their young staff, but it's disappointing to see the sport turn its back on so many experienced coaches. Jose Alguacil, once a rising star in the organization, is managing in the Dominican Republic and looking for an opportunity elsewhere.

The Giants have not yet decided if they'll bring Shawon Dunston back but it doesn't sound likely, and it's unclear where Rick Schu has ended up.

The same thing is happening on big-league staffs around the game and at the minor league levels, although some people around the game believe it will swing the other way in a couple of years. The Phillies, for example, followed Gabe Kapler with Joe Girardi. 

Oracle Changes

The big news Thursday -- other than the potentially crushing news about Madison Bumgarner -- was that the Giants officially announced their dimensions. Triples Alley might not play all that different, because studies have shown that the wind and cold weather actually has the biggest impact, but I do think we'll see a lot more homers to dead center. A ton of balls die on the warning track there every year and last year's track now will be beyond the wall. 

There was one other bit of ballpark news. All 30 MLB teams will expand their netting and the Giants are one of seven that will have the protective nets go all the way to the foul poles. 

Panda Party

My favorite part of the Winter Meetings came late one night when a team employee walked up and asked, "Did you hear about Pablo's wedding?"

Sandoval's wedding last weekend was apparently one of the parties of the year, and it was full of present and former Giants, all of whom saw their old manager, Bochy, who made the flight out to Miami. I mean, how many can you count in this photo alone? 

Yes, that's Albert Suarez. Yes, Mike "Glass of Whiskey" Yastrzemski formed such a bond with Sandoval over one season that he ended up at his wedding. 

I won't get into all the details, and hopefully Sandoval is back late next season to give us the full scoop, but the wedding started late and dinner was apparently served at midnight, and then again and again throughout the night.

One guest said the party lasted until 9 a.m. and breakfast was actually served at some point. There were multiple bands and singers who were flown in, and plenty of panda hats, as Hunter Pence shared:

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I don't know how true this is, but one guest told me Pence showed up for the wedding and was told that he was actually the best man. Surprise! Maybe Sandoval just knew that nobody else could give a better speech? 

MLB rumors: Giants targeted Georgia's Sean Kenny as next pitching coach

MLB rumors: Giants targeted Georgia's Sean Kenny as next pitching coach

The Giants' coaching staff under manager Gabe Kapler is starting to take shape. 

The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly reported Sunday that San Francisco was in negotiations with Indians defensive coordinator Kai Correa, and sources told NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic on Wednesday that Brian Bannister, a former big leaguer who spent the previous five seasons with the Red Sox, will join the Giants as their director of pitching

Speaking of pitching, the Giants appear to be on the hunt for a new pitching coach. And their search seems far and wide. 

D1Baseball's Kendall Rogers reported Wednesday that the Giants targeted the University of Georgia's pitching coach Sean Kenny for the same role in the big leagues. But, UGA made sure Kenny stayed in Athens. 

Kendall says the Giants have looked at several candidates from college and the pros, and Kenny looks like a prime coach on the rise. The former 17th-round pick of the Mets became Georgia's pitching coach before the 2018 season and instantly made a huge impact. 

Georgia's pitching staff lowered its team ERA 1.05 points to 3.97 in Kenny's first year on the job, and set a school record with a .236 opponent's batting average. That number dropped to a lowly .200 last season, as UGA's ERA fell to 3.24 while setting a school record with 601 strikeouts. 

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The Giants haven't formally announced that Curt Young will not return for a third season as their pitching coach, but it was expected that Kapler would bring in several new coaches. The only known coach to come back next season is Ron Wotus, who will be in his 33rd year with the Giants organization.

Bench coach Hensley Meulens has joined the Mets, and hitting coach Alonzo Powell accepted a job in Japan in the same role. 

What Farhan Zaidi's manager search means for longtime Giants coaches

What Farhan Zaidi's manager search means for longtime Giants coaches

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus, two longtime Giants coaches, find themselves in an odd situation. 

Both will be part of the first round of interviews for the team's manager vacancy, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Tuesday. But both could also find themselves looking for entirely new organizations in six weeks or so. 

Zaidi met with all the coaches for one-on-one exit interviews and informed them that any staffing decisions will be put on hold until a new manager is in place. That man, whether Meulens or Wotus or somebody from the outside, will decide who stays.

"It'll kind of be at the new manager's discretion to pick up those conversations once he's in place," Zaidi said.

Bochy's coaches were told that they're free to "pursue other opportunities in the interim." Zaidi noted that this search might go on a while, and he doesn't want holdovers to be waiting around as other vacancies are filled. 

The entire staff had contracts that went through the 2019 season and there was uncertainty throughout the season about whether any would be back. It is common for a new manager to keep a couple of people in place, but for the most part, new staffs are brought in with a new leader, and much of the decision-making is based on previous relationships. 

The concern Giants coaches have is that so many of them have been in San Francisco for so long that they don't have as many of those existing relationships elsewhere. An external choice for manager might not really know a Meulens or Wotus or Jose Alguacil, etc. 

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Those three, along with Shawon Dunston, are the longest-tenured coaches. Alonzo Powell and Curt Young are relatively new and could be in the most precarious position since a new manager generally hand-picks his hitting and pitching coaches. Assistant hitting Rick Schu and bullpen coach Matt Herges are also in limbo, although Herges is considered by many in the organization as the most likely to stay, given his previous connection with Zaidi as a Dodgers minor league coach. 

The Giants already have let go of eight pro scouts and several minor league coaches. Zaidi said department heads are in the process of deciding whether there will be changes on the amateur scouting side and elsewhere in the front office.