Blundering Reds fire pitching coach, retain rest of staff

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Blame the pitching coach. That’s what the Reds did Friday when they announced that Dick Pole was being terminated while the rest of the coaching staff would return in 2010.
So, why Pole? The Reds have boasted above average pitching this year, with an ERA+ of 105. They rank seventh in the NL in ERA and eighth in the league in runs allowed despite playing in a ballpark that’s kind to hitters.
The offense, in comparison, has been brutal. The Reds have an 83 OPS+, barely ahead of the Giants at 82. The league’s next worst team comes it at 89. They rank 11th in runs scored anyway, but they’re closer to last place than they are to the Nationals in 10th. Only the Petco-deflated Padres have a worst average, and the Giants are the only team with a lower OBP.
So, I ask once again, why Pole? Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Aaron Harang have all improved from 2008. Homer Bailey has also shown signs of progress. Nick Masset has gone from fringe property to middle-relief stud, and Daniel Ray Herrera has proven a bunch of people wrong by succeeding in a setup role. Pole can hardly be blamed for Edinson Volquez’s injury, and if he failed to turn Micah Owings around, well, maybe Owings just isn’t destined to make it as a starter. The only pitcher to take a big step back this year was setup man Jared Burton, and even he’s been much improved over the last two months.
Better if the Reds had just fired Dusty Baker. Pole would have been gone anyway, too, but at least the blame would have fallen where it belongs.

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.