According to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, the Mariners granted Scott Baker his release today. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that he asked for his release after declining an assignment to Triple-A.
Signed to a minor league deal over the winter, Baker appeared to have a rotation spot to lose after Hisashi Iwakuma went down with a finger injury and Taijuan Walker fell behind due to a sore shoulder, but he pitched himself out of consideration with an awful spring. The 32-year-old allowed 12 runs (nine earned) in just 12 Cactus League innings. He struck out just one batter and allowed 16 hits and seven walks. He also hit three batters in a row in one of his starts. Put it all together and you have a ghastly 1.92 WHIP.
Baker has three major league starts to his name since 2011, but he shouldn’t be long before he gets an opportunity elsewhere. As for the Mariners, they will now likely go into the season with a rotation of Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Erasmo Ramirez, Randy Wolf, and Roenis Elias.
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.