We’ve taken many a shot at T.J. Simers over the years. And for good reason, as he’s taken many a shot — often extremely cheap shots — at ballplayers. It’s his shtick and he often does it with a wink, but it wears way, way worse when he’s using that shtick to attack undeserving targets like Marcus Thames than when he’s speaking Truth to Power or whatever it is he’s often credited with doing by his fans.
But whether you love Simers or love to hate him, you may not have him to kick around anymore. He’s been absent from the pages of the L.A. Times for pushing three months now and Mark Heisler writes today that Simers is likely on his way out.
The reason on the surface, the column notes, could be an ethical issue in which he based a column on his daughter and Dwight Howard having a free-throw contest days before it was announced that a TV comedy revolving around Simers and his daughter was in the works. The column goes on to suspect, however, that there may be deeper issues at play here in that Simers has a history of butting heads with the increasingly annoying L.A. Times hierarchy.
Heisler — who worked with Simers at the Times for years and provides all kinds of delicious backstory for those of you who like newspaper politics — uses the Simers story to launch into some thoughts about Simers’ role and the role of newspapers in today’s new media age. For all the interesting backstory, I think Heisler’s views about what Simers specifically and newspapers in general mean in the grand scheme of things are a bit anachronistic. Maybe newspapers are now being run by shortsighted, bottom-line-obsessed micromanagers and maybe that is a shame (I think it probably is). But to suggest that Simers’ departure is illustrative of the evolution of media is wrong. Great newspapermen from the past would’ve been just as wise to kick him to the curb as the empty suits are today.
To put it another way: maybe Simers is being pushed out for the wrong reasons, but it certainly is the right thing.
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.