*title hat-tip to Ryan
Happy Veterans Day!
Even though he’s in a Diamondbacks uniform (from when he was their third base coach), I thought a cover photo of Matt Williams, “the Big Marine,” was fitting for this Veterans Day holiday. For all TWGers to whom this applies, thank you for your service, with a special shoutout to my pal Crawnik (shown here with his pup, Bailey).
New Giants Coaches
Since Bob Melvin’s hiring as the new Giants manager was announced a couple of weeks ago, there’s been a lot of speculation about his coaching staff: Whom might he bring with him from the Padres? Which of the incumbent Giants coaches would be retained? What new names might be added? Well, last night we got some updates.
From the Padres: Bench coach Ryan Christenson, third base coach Matt Williams
Newly hired to the coaching staff: hitting coach Pat Burrell (that’s “The Machine”)
Retained from Gabe Kapler’s staff: Mark Hallberg (moving to first base coach), hitting coach Justin Viele, assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero, assistant pitching coach J.P. Martinez, assistant coach Alyssa Nakken, and assistant coach Taira Uematsu.
Already hired elsewhere: former bullpen coach Craig Albernaz, who has joined the staff of new Guardians manager, Stephen Vogt.
Unknown fate: bench coach Kai Correa, first base coach Antoan Richardson, pitching coach Andrew Bailey
So this is quite a shakeup and seems like a great blend of the old school and the newer, younger talent. Christenson is a former minor league manager in the A’s organization who became Melvin’s bench coach in 2018, moved to the Padres with Melvin, and then was promoted to associate manager before 2023. Williams and Burrell, of course, are both beloved former Giants (Williams from 1987-1996 and Burrell in 2010-11), but they are otherwise quite different from each other. Williams is 57, so not that much younger than Melvin, and has had a long coaching and managerial career, including winning the Manager of the Year award in 2014 with the Washington Nationals. Like Christenson, Williams coached under Melvin with the A’s and later the Padres.
Burrell just turned 47. He served as a special assignment scout for the Giants and as the hitting coach for the San Jose Giants. So he brings a lot less coaching experience to this major league role than do Christenson and Williams, but he adds other value in his own way. Like Williams, Burrell was a top prospect (the first pick in the 1998 draft, while Williams was the Giants’ #3 pick in 1986), and has been considered especially astute in working with scouting and development of young players, a critical need for the Giants at this stage of their organizational history. He and Williams also share qualities of being tough-minded and old school about their approach to the game, though Williams is more stoic (like a “Marine”) while Burrell can have some fun (the “Machine”). To the extent there was any truth to the reports of the Giants having a “soft” or “country club”-type clubhouse, neither Williams not Burrell will put up with anything like that.
Beyond the big three hires of Christenson, Williams, and Burrell, the coaching news is equally notable for who wasn’t mentioned, especially Correa and Richardson. Are they out of a job? Being hired elsewhere? We don’t know yet. As for Bailey, it’s been out there for awhile that he’d like a job on the East Coast, where his family lives. The Giants have discussed with him a job title that he could do remotely as former Director of Pitching Brian Bannister did. A name that’s been mentioned for pitching coach is Bryan Price, another local guy (Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, Cal) who’s a former manager of the Cincinnati Reds and a pitching coach at several stops. He’s been working for the Padres as an advisor to the coaching staff.
As to the “retained” group, coaches who were in the Giants organization before Kapler was hired (Nakken, Uematsu, and Hallberg) kept their jobs, with Hallberg accepting a slight demotion to first base coach. (I get it about bringing in Williams, but Hallberg was really good at the 3B coaching job, and it’s kind of a shame to lose that.) I have to say that I’m surprised about the two hitting coaches keeping their jobs, considering how dreadful the Giants’ offense was the past two seasons, and it will be interesting to see who’s in charge: Is it Viele? Burrell? Richardson also (slightly) predated Kapler, but he may just have been pushed out because Melvin wanted Williams and the Giants valued Hallberg more (and, of course, Hallberg has ties to Buster Posey).
Other Offseason News
- Next Friday (Nov. 17), teams will have to either agree upon contracts with their arbitration-eligible players or offer them arbitration. I was planning to write this week’s column about the six Giants players in that category, but then Farhan Zaidi from this week’s GM meetings said that they would tender all six of them, so there’s no drama remaining. The six, as a reminder, are J.D. Davis, Thairo Estrada, Tyler Rogers, Austin Slater, LaMonte Wade Jr., and Mike Yastrzemski. It might seem a bit odd that the Giants would “run it back” with all six of these guys along with others they’re already stuck with (like Mitch Haniger, Michael Conforto, Anthony DeSclafani and Ross Stripling), but it really should be seen as a short-term move. The Giants are almost certainly going to pursue free agent outfielders, especially a centerfielder, and possibly other upgrades elsewhere. Any of these arbitration-eligible players will be signed to reasonable one-year salaries and could become instant trade bait if the Giants add free agents. Worst case, they can be cut during spring training for just a fraction of their salaries, which are not fully guaranteed before the season starts.
- At 1 p.m. on Nov. 14, players who received qualifying offers from their current teams have to decide whether to accept or reject them. The QO this year is worth $20.325 mil, and the following free agents received them: Cody Bellinger (Cubs), Matt Chapman (Blue Jays), Sonny Gray (Twins), Josh Hader (Padres), Aaron Nola (Phillies), Shohei Ohtani (Angels), and Blake Snell (Padres). It seems likely that all seven will decline their QOs, making them free agents. Any or all of these free agents are names that the Giants could be interested in, so that raises the question of whether the Giants would/will burn the draft pick(s) they would lose by signing any of them. As a reminder, you cannot lose your first-round pick, but since the Giants are (a) not Competitive Balance Tax payers or (b) not revenue-sharing recipients, they would lose their second-round pick for signing a player with a QO, a third-round pick if they signed two of them, and so forth. (In my opinion, the Giants should do what they need to do to improve their major league roster, and if that turns out to be losing draft picks, whatever. It’s not like the Giants are so great at drafting, anyway. I suppose if they got super-lucky in the draft lottery during the Winter Meetings, maybe I’d feel differently, but I just don’t care that much about a mid-round second- or third-round pick. I’d rather have Bellinger or Gray or Snell or whomever.)
- The other date coming up this week is when teams must protect minor leaguers on their 40-man roster from the Rule 5 Draft (that’s also on Nov. 14). The Giants currently have 36 players on their 40-man roster, so it will be interesting to see how many players they protect and if any current 40-man occupants are cut before the Tuesday deadline. See below for your final opportunity to join this year’s MyRule5Guy™ contest!
MyRule5Guy™ Contest–Last Chance to Join!
As noted above, one of the dates coming quickly in November is when teams must add minor leaguers to the 40-man roster or risk losing them in the Rule 5 Draft. Last year we had a contest to see if we could pick which prospects the Giants would protect, and our ContestGuy™, HaakAway, has set it up for us again. Though the Giants have a lot of minor leaguers potentially eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year, HaakAway has picked out the most likely/familiar names from among that longer list.
It’s easy to enter. Just click on the link below and check as many names as you would like: There’s also an “Other” choice where you can fill in a name(s). You’ll get an email confirming your entry, and you can use the link in that email to edit your entry until up to the deadline. Because teams must make their decisions by November 14, the deadline for entering the contest will be midnight on Nov. 13 (this coming Monday).
One way or another, this will be an eventful week. Then everyone will focus on turkey and football until the Winter Meetings. Lefty out.