This is the week! The San Francisco Giants are back. Baseball things are happening. Pitchers and Catchers report on Tuesday February 13, with workouts starting the next day. The rest of the players don’t need to be in camp until February 19th, but I bet we see a few faces earlier than that.
As you would expect, there’s been some changes with the Giants. The team lost 98 games last year and nobody wants that to happen again. Bobby Evans is not allowed to just wave a neuralyzer and wipe away the memories of awful baseball in 2017.
Wouldn’t that be nice? Let me dream for just one more moment.
Ok, so where was I? Oh yes, the Giants are not looking to repeat anything that happened last season, so changes were necessary. Bruce Bochy’s coaching staff has a new look amid a shakeup through the whole front office. Dave Righetti is no longer the pitching coach but stays with the team in a new special assistant role. The team didn’t stop there and was also active during the offseason by changing players on the field and getting some veterans into the clubhouse.
Let’s roll through some of the moves that were made, starting with the front office and coaching staff. Later this week I’ll take a look at all the new players who will be in Scottsdale this spring. Well, some are brand new, others are just old friends returning to chase glory. Anyway, camp begins this week. Let’s get this party started!
Front Office and Coaching Staff
There were quite a few changes to the staff all around. For starters, David Bell was named the new player personnel director by the Giants. Yes, the same David Bell you’re thinking of. He replaces Shane Turner in the role, and after all 5 minor league teams posted losing records last season it’s probably a positive move. I mean, only one of them has to have a winning record next year for there to be improvement.
Bell started coaching after his playing career, starting in the Reds organization. In 2013, he was the 3rd base coach for the Cubs, and for the last 3 seasons, Bell has served as Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s bench coach. The only year Bell spent in a Giants uniform was a productive one for the former 3rd baseman. In 2002 he knocked in 20 homers, scored the run that sent the Giants to the World Series, and won the Willie Mac Award which was voted on by his teammates.
One year with the Giants and Bell won the Willie Mac. You gotta hope he can see some of that magic in other players the Giants want to sign and develop.
Back to Rags. As I mentioned, Dave Righetti will no longer serve as the San Francisco Giants pitching coach. He’s been in the job since 2000. That’s 18 straight years as a pitching coach. He held that role under the guidance of 3 different managers, Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou, and finally Bochy. After being the longest tenured coach in Giants history, Rags will slide up the front office and be a special assistant to Evans.
The new pitching coach for the Giants is Curt Young. He’s most recently held the same role with the Oakland A’s. Young had pretty much been with the A’s his whole playing and coaching career. The one season as a pitching coach that did stand out was 2011. For that single season, Young left the A’s and became the pitching coach of the Boston Red Sox. That team collapsed down the stretch in historic fashion and Young was let go, then resumed his role back with the A’s. I don’t know what to make of it but I guess we’ll see.
On the hitting side of things, Bam Bam has changed roles and a new addition has been brought in. Alonzo Powell is the Giants new hitting coach after serving as the assistant hitting coach for the World Series Champion Houston Astros. Powell was born in San Francisco and signed with the hometown Giants in Febrauary of 1983. After 2 years in the organization, Powell was sent to the Montreal Expos in a deal for Bill Laskey, who had just been traded from San Francisco to Montreal a few months earlier. That’s kind of weird.
As a coach, Powell helped lead one of the more terrifying offenses in the American League last season. During the World Series we watched as Astros hitters were patient, yet ready to attack the right pitch from Dodgers pitchers. I’m going to take it as a huge positive that Powell had a hand in coaching the offense who beat LA. A small part of him must have loved defeating the Dodgers to win a ring.
Since the World Series ended, Alonzo Powell was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had surgery on January 30, and doctors said everything went well. Apparently his lab tests came back in an encouraging way and the new Giants hitting coach will finally get to put on the orange and black when Spring Training gets going. If you can (it may be locked), click that Baggs article in the tweet, after you finish here of course, it’s really a great read and a chance to learn a little more about Alonzo Powell.
More good news from Alonzo Powell to his prayer brigade: initial post-op lab tests were so encouraging that it might be an option to avoid radiation treatments. He’s in high spirits. Here’s a link to the earlier story: https://t.co/mQ7UE9AqEZ
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) February 8, 2018
In some other shuffling of the staff, Ron Wotus is now the third-base coach. Phil Nevin is off to join the Yankees. He will not be missed. Wotus last coached at third in 1998 when he first joined the Giants staff. He’s been Bochy’s right hand man as bench coach the last few years and now gets back on the field in the middle of the action.
That brings us back to new bench coach Sir Hensley Meulens. The two-time manager of the Netherlands WBC squad, Bam Bam has been the Giants hitting coach since 2010. He interviewed for the Yankees managerial position this past offseason, and has been regarded as manager material in baseball circles for quite some time. This begs the question, are the Giants trying to line up Meulens to take over when Bruce Bochy finally rides off into the sunset? I’d love to know the answer and will definitely be looking into this during the season.
Matt Herges is the new bullpen coach. Mark Gardner has taken a role with the front office focusing on pitching development. First-base coach Jose Alguacil will remain in his spot and Shawon Dunston will continue helping with infielders and manning the Giants replay decisions during games.
Later this week I’ll profile the new players in camp with the Giants this season and maybe try to guess who to keep an eye on as we move towards Opening Day in Los Angeles.
Chad was at media day for fanfest this past weekend. Check out his interviews with new additions Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, as well as the two Brandons and our beloved Bochy.