I didn’t know that Dallas Braden had a perfect game going until the
eighth inning when I checked Twitter and saw everyone yammering about
it. But hey, I was busy with family stuff and was monitoring a bunch of
games yesterday afternoon, so I can be excused for only seeing the eighth and ninth innings. If I worked for the Athletics, of course, I’d have seen the whole thing.
Or, maybe I wouldn’t have. Billy Beane is the team’s GM and is a minority owner, so you’d figure that he’d see it all. You’d figure wrong, however, because he almost missed it.
Usually general managers watch games from the team box, but anyone who read Moneyball knows, Athletics’ GM Billy Beane works out during the game, sometimes not even watching it. Ken Rosenthal reports that was basically the case yesterday, as Beane had the raw feed of the game on with no sound and no stats graphics as he listened to a soccer game on his iPod and ran on a treadmill. It wasn’t until the ninth inning that he knew — after asking the guy on the treadmill next to him — that Braden had a perfect game.
Not that he was alone in not paying much attention. Only 12,228 fans were in the seats at the Coliseum for the perfecto. Though if form holds for these kinds of things, a good 50-60,000 people will tell their friends they were there.
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.