The Giants are reportedly close to announcing the hiring of Curt Young as their new pitching coach. Young was the A’s pitching coach from 2004 through 2010, the Red Sox pitching coach for 2011, and the A’s coach again from 2012 through last June. The Giants said they wanted experience, and they found themselves the East Bay Righetti.
The left-handed Young played 11 years in the majors, mostly with the A’s, though he had stints with the Royals and Yankees before returning. As a pitching coach, he presided over the development of several young pitchers, including Rich Harden, Gio Gonzalez, Dan Haren, and Joe Blanton, as well as veterans like Barry Zito and Bartolo Colon. As to how instrumental Young was in their career paths ... well, heck, it’s the same thing as hitting coaches. Do you give him credit for Harden and Haren? Do you give him demerits for Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill?
Dunno. What I do know is that for years, the A’s seemed to get more than expected out of whatever starters and relievers they threw against the wall, whether it’s Kendall Graveman, Chad Gaudin, or Justin Duchscherer, the A’s always seemed to have someone cheap and at the ready, even if they weren’t All-Stars. He was also part of the crew that helped Sonny Gray get his career back on track.
On the other hand, he wasn’t so empirically effective that the A’s wanted to keep him. While the A’s pitching was disappointing this year (with Jharel Cotton taking a huge step back), it’s worth noting that they’ve been one of baseball’s worst defensive teams for several seasons now. And his single season with the Red Sox happened to come in 2011, when the entire pitching staff caught on fire, to the point where they were considering a trade for Bruce Chen at the end of September so that he could make one start.
Young’s new duties, in rough order:
- Figure how why Matt Moore is broken
- Help Jeff Samardzija’s ERA match his strikeout-to-walk ratio
- Get Johnny Cueto back on track (assuming he doesn’t opt out of his contract)
- Nurture the calvary of young bullpen arms the Giants are likely to introduce
- Try not to annoy Madison Bumgarner
- Foster the development of whichever young pitcher the Giants decide to use as their fifth starter (Chris Stratton, Ty Blach, Tyler Beede)
Young has spent time with two analytically minded teams, and one of them was pleased enough to keep him around for more than a decade, so the combination of neo-baseball think and experience checks off the boxes the Giants were looking for. At the same time, the analytics that were being minded in the last decade are different than the ones being paid attention to now. It’s not enough to mumble something about Moneyball and assume that Young dreams of spin rates when he closes his eyes.
The Giants were looking for experience and analytics with their new hitting and pitching coaches, and with hires from the Astros and A’s, it looks like they found what they were looking for. Check back in July when we can all use too little information to form opinions that are too solidified.