Carlos Lee, who played last year with the Astros and Marlins, has announced his retirement at age 37 after 14 seasons in the majors.
Lee came up with the White Sox as a 23-year-old in 1999 and the man nicknamed “El Caballo” by Hawk Harrelson also played for the Brewers, Rangers Astros, and Marlins. He made three straight All-Star teams from 2005-2007, hit .285 with 358 homers and an .821 OPS in 2,099 games overall, and earned more than $130 million.
A rare power hitter who never struck out 100 times, Lee had five consecutive 30-homer seasons and 11 consecutive 20-homer seasons. He also stole double-digit bases in seven seasons despite looking like the last person you’d expect to do any running and was very durable, playing at least 140 games in all but one of his full seasons.
Among all right-handed hitters since 1990 he ranks 12th in RBIs, 15th in total bases, 16th in extra-base hits, 17th in hits, and 18th in homers, although Lee falls to 67th in Wins Above Replacement because defensive metrics show him as significantly below average in the outfield.
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.