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Pat Burrell named co-hitting coach as Bob Melvin (mostly) sets new coaching staff

The Giants salute their past with several familiar names.

San Francisco Macy’s Tree Lighting Ceremony With Katharine McPhee
Look at that mischievous twinkle. Just look at it.
Photo by A. Doheny/WireImage

For reasons unknown, the San Francisco Giants announced most of Bob Melvin’s new coaching staff for the 2024 season in a Friday evening news dump.

Now, maybe that’s because most of the front office was recovering from norovirus picked up at the GM meetings earlier this week (wash your hands!!) or maybe it’s just because — ah, well, no. It’s probably for no other reason.

Anyway, the headline here is that Pat Burrell — yes, that Pat Burrell — rises from roving hitting instructor to co-hitting coach alongside the regrettable Justin Viele (who had a year left on his deal). It’s going to be very tough for me to make a witty observation or even just a solid joke, not just because I’m usually not all that great at those but because this one is really tough — nay, impossible — to top:

We can be sure that none of Pat Burrell’s proclivities will factor in to teaching the worst lineup in the sport how to hit better, but there will no doubt be several moments over the course of the season where there will seemingly be an overlap — “Wow, J.D. Davis looks really loose out there. Pat the Bat must’ve taken him out last night,” et cetera et cetera.

Burrell’s received positive reviews from across the organization for his work with the team’s prospects, some of whom have really managed to advance in the years since the 2020 minor league shutdown. We’ve seen that Giants minor leaguers are minor talents in the major leagues, but coaches advancing through the ranks of an organization alongside their prospects actually seems like an organization ascending.

And then you’ve got Justin Viele there making sure Burrell sticks to the script — swing decisions only, no actual ability. His presence in the clubhouse alone should help a lot of players relax and also channel their anxiety about being a part of the worst lineup on the planet into something more constructive.

The rest of the hires stick to what I mentioned just a couple of weeks ago in this tongue in cheek article about all the oldheads the Giants could bring back to appease a cranky base.

  • Matt Williams becomes the new third base coach.
  • Mark Hallberg moves over to first base.
  • Alyssa Nakken and Taira Uematsu will return as assistant coaches.
  • J.P. Martinez will return as an assistant pitching coach and Pedro Guerrero will be back as the assistant hitting coach.

Not mentioned in the announcement is the new pitching coach or the Director of Pitching. Brian Bannister has already left the organization and Andrew Bailey has been expected to leave since the start of the offseason, so, it looks like a change there is forthcoming.

That leaves bench coach. Looks like Kai Correa is gone (along with Antoan Richardson), and the new bench coach will be Ryan Christenson, who was Bob Melvin’s bench coach in San Diego and Oakland. Christenson, of course, played for the A’s from 1998-2001, and had a .666 OPS across those four seasons. He managed for the organization starting in 2013, first in Class, then Double-A and finally Triple-A Nashville before becoming the A’s bench coach.

I only really knew him from that time he had to apologize for doing a Nazi salute in the summer of 2020. Definitely not something anyone else remembers, but I only mention it here because, well, I like to paint these posts with the last thing I remember about a guy and this is one of those times where it’s not just “oh, he was a former A whom Zaidi knows.”

It’s tough to look at Melvin, Christenson, and Williams’ coaching careers and say they’ve had a lot of success — they’re mostly known for their failures. Even Bruce Bochy had been to a World Series as manager of the Padres. Dusty Baker invented the high five. But for a franchise desperate to hold interest while they tread water, reaching back to the past to stabilize the present is their last, best move (short of getting betting players). These names should appease fans because it builds in certainty: they’re former Giants, therefore, it’s Giants Baseball.