Trade analysis: Washburn to Tigers

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Tigers acquire RHP Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners in exchange for LHP Luke French and LHP Mauricio Robles.

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Can’t blame the Mariners for this one. Realize that they gave up a
35-year-old southpaw with a 4.02 career ERA and 43.6% career flyball
rate. He benefited greatly with the best outfield defense in the sport
this season (+14.1 UZR/150), putting up a 2.64 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 79/33
K/BB ratio in 133 innings. A quick look at his FIP (3.75) and BABIP
(.249 as opposed to a .280 career average) tell you that he was getting
more than a bit lucky this season.

Still, he’s a solid veteran who throws strikes and he should hold
down the back of the Tigers rotation. While I expect him to fall off a
bit, Comerica Park is pretty spacious too, and their outfield defense
isn’t that bad either.

This isn’t a great return for the Mariners, but the move made sense
considering Washburn was going to leave as a free agent, anyway.
Interestingly, French, who had a 3.38 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in seven games
(five starts) with the Tigers this season, has a 50% flyball rate in
the majors thus far, and a 39.7% flyball rate in parts of four seasons
in the minors. While he may have some trouble sticking as a starter in
the majors, he could have landed in a far worse situation. As for
Robles, he is just 20 years old, but boasts a 111/41 K/BB ratio in 91
1/3 innings pitched between Single-A West Michigan and High-A Lakeland
this season.

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.