Scott Kazmir turned in another ugly start at Triple-A last night and Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes that “it now appears to be just a matter of time before the Angels release the struggling left-hander and swallow his $14.5-million contract.”
Kazmir coughed up six runs in 3.2 innings last night, walking five batters and plunking three more, giving him a 15.15 ERA and 13/16 K/BB ratio in four starts at Triple-A.
Sam Miller of the Orange County Register examined Kazmir’s mechanics via some video of his poor Triple-A outings and found that he’s “in completely different positions in each pitch” and his delivery is such a mess that “he finishes off the pitch almost with his back to the batter.”
It seems hard to believe, but Kazmir led the league in strikeouts in 2007 and had a 3.49 ERA with nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings as recently as 2008. Since then he has a 5.42 ERA in 54 starts and now he seems incapable of even getting Triple-A hitters out despite still being just 27 years old.
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.