Indians acquire Bixler from Pirates

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Clearing a 40-man roster spot for Brendan Donnelly, the Pirates on Monday traded infielder Brian Bixler to the Indians for fellow infielder Jesus Brito.
The Pirates looked at Bixler as the most expendable player on their roster, and they had made it clear he wasn’t in their 2010 plans after they signed Bobby Crosby, giving them four veteran middle infielders on major league deals.
Bixler, 27, hit .275/.343/.439 for Triple-A Indianapolis last season. He actually had a rather remarkable major league line, as he managed to bat .227 despite striking out 26 times in 44 at-bats. He was 10-for-18 with five doubles when he put the ball in play.
Overall, Bixler has hit .178/.238/.237 in 152 at-bats as a major leaguer. He’s a below average defensive shortstop, but a pretty good second baseman. He needs to really step it up if he’s going to have a career as a utilityman. The Indians could keep him as their second baseman against left-handers if they decide Jason Donald would benefit from more Triple-A time.
Brito, primarily a third baseman, hit .353/.431/.567 in 224 at-bats between the Arizona and New York-Penn Leagues last season, but as a 21-year-old, he was quite a bit older than most of the competition he was facing. The Indians didn’t view him as one of their better infield prospects.

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.