Brandon Inge got released by the Tigers in late April, signed with the A’s, and suddenly starting smacking homers in bunches, leading to all sorts of fawning words being written as if the past five years hadn’t happened and he was simply back to being a productive regular at age 35.
Inge’s power surge lasted much longer than I would guessed, as he delivered four homers and 17 RBIs in his first 11 games for Oakland, but that resurgence was interrupted by a disabled list stint for a groin injury and … well, he’s been terrible ever since.
Inge returned from the DL on May 28 and has played 38 games since, hitting .212 with two homers, and a .299 slugging percentage to go with a .281 on-base percentage and ghastly 41/13 K/BB ratio. In other words, Inge has resumed hitting–or not hitting–exactly like he did from 2007 to 2011, when he batted .227 with a .308 on-base percentage and .376 slugging percentage in 671 games for the Tigers.
As the A’s climb above .500 and become surprise playoff contenders in the American League one of the easiest upgrades they could possibly make would be finding a capable third baseman to supplant Inge.
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.