Thankfully, managers are chosen by a general manager and team owners and stuff and not by player referendum. Because if that were the case, it would be pretty awkward in Nats Land these days. Sarah Kogod reports that Jayson Werth is pro-Cal Ripken as the next Washington manager while Ryan Zimmerman is behind bench coach Randy Knorr.
I really don’t get the Ripken love. He’s basically pulling the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar thing, right? Wishing he was a manager and having people say it’s a good idea because he’s famous and was a good player while not having done the first thing that normally prepares one to be a manager like coach or work in the minor leagues or what have you? Maybe he’s a hell of a guy. Maybe he’d be a good manager. But being a good player is a totally different thing than being a good manager. Don Mattingly worked an apprenticeship under Joe Torre. Jim Leyland worked his way up. Farrell too. I guess Mike Matheny took the fast track, but he was always talked about as a coach-type even when he played.
It’s not about paying dues, even. It’s about seeing the game from a different perspective than you would as an individual player. Ripken hasn’t really ever done that. And nothing about his color commentary this playoff season suggests that he has any deeper insight into the game than guys who have actually managed and coached. Maybe Ripken’s fame and superior abilities as a player is enough for Werth and other Ripken people. I just can’t see how that would, in and of itself, translate into a good manager.
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.