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Giants interested in ex-Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey

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The Giants have moved on from Dave Righetti, and they might be targeting another one of the most respected pitching coaches in the game.

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays
“Stop walking people.”
Photo by Brad White/Getty Images

The offseason is coming, complete with dumb rumors and dumber rumors, and I can't wait. Are the Giants in on Ohtani? Are they out? Are they trapped in a nebulous purgatory from which there is no escape on Ohtani? Looking forward to it.

One thing I wasn't expecting, though: pitching coach rumors. Dave Righetti will be wearing clothes to work instead of pajamas, and it's going to take a while to get used to. In the meantime, we'll have to sift through a pitching coach rumor or six, and the first one will probably be the best one. From Jerry Crasnick:

Jim Hickey had been, until two weeks ago, the pitching coach for the Tampa Bay Rays. He’d been there since 2007, and his firing was something of a shock.

(Alex) Cobb was equally effusive: "I'm not going to try to explain how great Jim Hickey is. There's really nothing I can say that would speak louder than his track record. All I can say is how fortunate I was to have him when I got to the big leagues. No one could have prepared me better."

The Rays have been, for several years, one of those organizations that seems to come up with arm after arm. Matt Moore, for instance! But more recently, Alex Cobb, Blake Snell, Jake Faria, and Matt Andriese have emerged as useful-to-excellent options for a team that can’t really afford to pay market price for their pitchers. Before that, Hickey was in charge of shepherding Nate Karns, Drew Smyly, and Erasmo Ramirez. Before that, he worked with James Shields, David Price, and, yes, Matt Moore. Wade Davis, Jake McGee, Chris Archer, Alex Colome ... and we aren’t even getting to the early part of Hickey’s tenure.

Which isn’t to suggest that Hickey was responsible for all of those pitchers and their success. But he sure didn’t get in their way, and he is at least familiar with one way to build a pipeline of young, productive pitchers. I am very, very into this idea.

But so is everyone else. The Cubs have an opening, and they’re “good,” to use some industry jargon. The Mets have an opening, and that seems like a fascinating challenge. The Giants have a pitcher’s paradise and money, so it’s silly to pretend that they aren’t a plum spot for someone like Hickey. It’s just that they aren’t the only plum spot.

One thing that sticks out for me, though, is Hickey’s philosophy, which is (roughly) high fastballs to combat a generation of hitters taught to face pitchers who work low in the zone. It worked brilliantly until the home run spike, at which point the Rays had to reorient their organizational philosophy on the fly. It makes me wonder if AT&T Park would hold some additional appeal for someone who still believes in the high fastball and the fly ball.

Hickey will have his choice of suitors. The Giants are one of them, and that’s a good thing. He isn’t a miracle worker, but he’s done a lot in Tampa without a lot of high-priced talent. The Giants have already mentioned that they’re looking for someone analytical with previous experience. Well, here they go.