Red Sox prospect has eye on BCS title game

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We don’t do a whole lot on college football here at HBT — for obvious reasons — but this story from MLB.com’s Peter Gammons was too good to pass up.

Gammons writes a nice profile on Red Sox prospect Brandon Jacobs, who committed to play football at Auburn before his senior year of high school in Liburn, Ga., before deciding – like many of us in this space – that baseball was his true love. Jacobs, who at 6-1, 225, was called a “tailback in a fullback’s body,” could have been playing behind Cam Newton in Monday night’s championship game against Oregon. Instead, he’ll be watching the game in television.

“I have no regrets,” Jacobs said. “I don’t miss [football]. I love baseball, I had a great experience playing in Lowell [New York-Penn League] this past summer, where the ballpark was packed every night.

“A lot went into my decision to sign with Boston. I thought a lot about the longevity of the career, the injury risk. I really thought baseball was what I was going to play in the long run, and why wait four years to get started. I know I have a long way to go, but I’m very pleased with the decision I made.”

Smart kid, though it probably didn’t hurt that he signed a deal in the $800,000 range, well above slot for a 10th round draft pick.

Another interesting part of Gammons’ story is that the Red Sox employ a consistent strategy of drafting multi-sport stars – players other teams are scared to waste picks on – then luring them to baseball with above-slot signing bonuses. They did it with Jacobs, as well as Casey Kelly, Ryan Kalish and Will Middlebrooks, all of whom had football scholarships in hand when they signed with Boston.

As far as Jacobs and his baseball skills go, Gammons quotes one scout as comparing him to a young Kevin Mitchell, raw but athletic. In 72 games in the low minors, he has a .242/.310/.404 line with six home runs and 31 RBIs. He has a long way  to go, but does not regret his decision to play baseball.

“I’ll be watching [Monday],” said Jacobs, “but, to be honest, I’m more excited about Spring Training. I’m a baseball player. I’d love to be there in Arizona, but I’d rather be playing in Boston someday.”

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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.