The Nationals will pursue Brandon Webb

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A pursuit, eh? Hopefully he’ll try to get away by swimming. With that shoulder, they’ll surely catch up to him fast!

The Nationals will be one of several teams to pursue Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander and former Cy Young award winner Brandon Webb, according to someone close to the Nationals. Webb, 31, ranked third in the majors with a 3.13 ERA from 2006 through 2008, but he has not thrown a major league pitch since opening day 2009 because of right shoulder surgery.

Well, that’s certainly way more realistic than chasing after Cliff Lee.  Even if it’s nothing approaching a sure thing that Webb will ever be able to get major league hitters out again (and so far, so bad).  When you’re Washington, and you’re both unable to develop your own, non-Strasburgian pitchers, and unable to attract top free agents, going after rehab cases isn’t the worst plan in the world.  If it works, genius, because Webb was once a great pitcher. If it doesn’t, well, you’re not out too much. That is, unless they do what the A’s did with Ben Sheets and give him way too much money.

This isn’t the first trip to the scrap heap for the Nats, of course. Last year they signed Chien-Ming Wang on the same theory. That bore no fruit, but there are worse approaches than trying to get lucky with a fixer-upper.

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.