San Francisco Giants Make Righetti Fall Guy For Team’s Failures

The San Francisco Giants, coming off a lost season, have made their pitching coach the fall guy for the team’s shortcomings.

The San Francisco Giants had a bad season. There’s just no other way to put it. After finishing dead last in the NL West with a 64-98 record, it’s not surprising that heads are rolling in the Bay Area. What is surprising though, is that longtime pitching coach Dave Righetti is apparently, the team’s designated sacrificial lamb.

Officially, he’s getting something of what some might see as a promotion – though, it’s hard not to see it as a lateral move. At best.

On Saturday, the Giants quietly made the announcement that Righetti had been “reassigned” to a role in the front office, serving as a “special assistant” to the General Manager. A role he has reportedly accepted.

In a conference call with reporters explaining the move, GM Bobby Evans had this to say:

Ultimately, a change for us in the clubhouse is really an opportunity to put a new voice with our pitching staff and try to keep pushing to the heights we aspire to as an organization and club. Changes sometimes are needed as much for the sake of that new voice as anything, and that was really the priority here.”

Evans isn’t entirely wrong – sometimes changes are needed to bring a new, fresh voice into the mix. But sometimes, change for change’s sake, can be incredibly damaging. The idea of doing something, to give the appearance of – well – doing something, sometimes does more harm than good.

It’s hard to argue with the results the Giants have had with Righetti on staff.

Over the course of his tenure with the Giants, Righetti helped develop a pitching staff that led the organization to three World Series titles, tossed five no-hitters (including a perfect game from Matt Cain), and won two Cy Youngs.

Were the Giants bad this year? Yes. Was it all Righetti’s fault? Absolutely not.

You could talk about the injuries that limited Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. Or the struggles of Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore. You could also talk about a bullpen that seemed to implode more often than it did its job.

This is, after all, a team that had just 32 saves on the year – dead last in the National League and twenty-eighth in the Majors. The bullpen also had 23 blown saves on the year, which puts them in the upper tier of that dubious category.

Or, you could talk about a Giants offense that scored less than four runs a game – down from 2016 and twenty-ninth overall in the Majors this year. The only team worse at scoring runs than San Francisco was San Diego. And that’s not company you really want to keep.

San Francisco, as a team, also had a .249 batting average – also in the bottom tier of the league (twenty-third).

All of this is to say that a whole lot went wrong for the Giants this year – many things Righetti had nothing to do with. Which makes it look a bit like they’re scapegoating him and that his ouster is perhaps, a move designed to give the appearance of action, without a whole lot of substance behind it – which, isn’t necessarily a good look for the organization.

And none of this is to say that change isn’t necessary. Obviously, a team going 64-98 is going to necessitate a little change to get back on the winning path.

At the same time though, a man who’s been with an organization as long as Righetti has been with the Giants – and has had the sort of success he’s had with that team – deserves better than what he got here at the end.

While perhaps they didn’t “do him wrong,” by kicking him upstairs, the Giants sure didn’t do Righetti right by scapegoating him, either.