Little Sarge is tired of being a fifth outfielder:
“I don’t expect to be back; it’s time to move on,” outfielder Gary Matthews, Jr. said as he packed his belongings in the team’s Angel Stadium clubhouse
today. “I’m ready to play for an organization that wants me to play
every day. This organization has other plans, and that’s OK . . . I just feel like it’s time for me to play for an organization that believes I can contribute every day, from day one.”
Even if Gary Matthews has had no business starting games in Anaheim these past few years — and he hasn’t — it’s still not hard to understand his frustration. Like Juan Pierre across town, (a) it’s not Matthews’ fault that his team gave him so much damn money — you wouldn’t have turned it down either; and (b) it’s not unsurprising that he thinks he can still play, even if people who aren’t Gary Matthews make a compelling case that he’s wrong about that. He’s a ballplayer and he wants to play ball. He doesn’t sound like he’s being too much of a crank here — he knows the Angels don’t want him and he’s not grousing about that — he just wants to do what his maker intended.
But the money is still obviously the problem here. He’s owed $23 million over the next two years, and no one is going to want to pay that for what Gary Matthews is capable of giving them. And of course, even if the Angels eat almost all of it — which they probably should — I’m not sure if an “organization that wants [Matthews] to play
every day” exists.
I think a lot of teams could use him as a fourth outfielder, though, and that would represent something of an upgrade for him. For the Angels, simply bidding adieu to a bad business decision may be rather satisfying as well, so look to see Matthews either dealt or released sometime soon.
The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.
Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.
Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.
While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.
“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”