Daniel Murphy to play second base during winter ball

2 Comments

Luis Castillo hasn’t started a game in 18 days as the Mets give 20-year-old rookie Ruben Tejada a long look at second base and Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports that they’re also giving Daniel Murphy a crash course on the middle infield with an eye toward him playing second base during winter ball.
Murphy was in line to be the Opening Day first baseman this season before a knee injury ruined those plans. After getting healthy he headed to Triple-A and saw some action at second base because Ike Davis had first base locked down, but that also proved short-lived when a takeout slide knocked him out for the season with an injury to the same knee.
Rubin reports that Murphy is currently getting instructional league reps at second base and will continue to play the position in the Dominican Republic this winter. Whether or not his playing there regularly in the majors is a realistic option remains unclear. He’s played a grand total of 19 games there as a pro, all in the minors, and wasn’t exactly a standout defender at first base or left field.
At this point it seems pretty obvious that the Mets will do everything possible to rid themselves of Castillo during the offseason, even if it means eating the majority of his remaining contract. Tejada has shown very little offensively in the majors or minors, so seeing if Murphy can become a reasonable backup plan makes sense. I just can’t imagine “Daniel Murphy, second baseman” working out particularly well.

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

Getty Images
2 Comments

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.