One thing many of the Biogenesis players have in common is their representation: Nelson Cruz, Jordany Valdespin, Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona and Melky Cabrera, are all represented by ACES, the agency headed by Seth and Sam Levinson. You probably first heard of ACES’ connection to PEDs last year when it was named in stories arising out of Cabrera’s efforts to set up a fake website to explain away his positive drug test.
A more significant name which spun out of that website story, however, is one Juan Carlos Nunez, a “paid consultant” of ACES who is said to have been the one who set up Melky’s website. As the New York Daily News reported last winter, MLB banned Nunez from associating with any of the 30 MLB clubs, and from all team facilities. The Players Association censured the Levinsons for not adequately supervising Nunez, but the agency maintained certification.
Despite multiple clients appearing in the Biogenesis records, a source tells NBCSports.com that Nunez was freelancing, essentially, and that “there is absolutely no evidence” that ACES knew of Juan Nunez’s activities. This would jibe with the Daily News’ report that Nunez was a frequent visitor to Bosch’s clinic.
The source says that MLB and the union are looking at ACES once again now that the investigation of Biogenesis players is nearing an end, but there is no indication that the agency will face any discipline or further censure.
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.