The Giants have added two former Oakland Athletics to their 2024 coaching staff. In addition to manager Bob Melvin, the Giants have brought third base Matt Williams, bench coach Ryan Christenson, and hitting coach Pat Burrell.
Christenson and Williams both spent time coaching in Oakland under Melvin. Christenson served as a bench coach from 2018 through 2021. Williams was with the team for the 2018 and 2019 seasons as third base coach. Burrell has worked in the Giants system for a number of years but this will be his first year coaching at the major league level.
Christenson faced scrutiny for an on-field incident where he briefly appeared to make a Nazi salute, before being corrected by reliever Liam Hendriks. Christenson publicly apologized for the incident and no punishment ever came from it. It was a deeply weird situation, but one that teams have obviously moved past.
It's a reunion on the other side of the Bay
After leaving Oakland, the trio of Melvin, Christenson, and Williams reunited in San Diego where they all worked together on the Padres staff for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Melvin clearly enjoys the stability and the input that the other two have to offer, as this will be the third organization where they all work together.
All three of the Giants new coaches played in the majors, with Williams having the most successful career. He played in San Francisco from 1987 to 1996, finishing top-6 in MVP voting three times and leading the league with 43 home runs in 1994. He won a World Series ring in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.
Christenson’s career was short, spanning just six years. He spent time as a utility outfielder with the A’s but wasn’t a good enough hitter to keep his career going. He entered the coaching realm in 2013 when the A’s hired him to manage their Class-A team in Beloit.
Burrell spent the majority of his playing career with the Phillies. He won two World Series rings, one in 2008 with the Phillies and the second in 2010 with the Giants. After he retired, Burrell worked as an assignment scout for the Giants, as well as the hitting coach for the Giants’ High-A team in San Jose.
Melvin, Christenson, and Williams were all part of the last run of success in Oakland during the 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons. The 97 win teams of 2018 and 2019 feel lightyears away at the moment. The A's future is completely up in the air, with limited on-field talent and an owner that isn't interested in investing the money to make the product better.
That lack of effort from A's owner John Fisher is part of the reason Melvin left for San Diego in the first place. Talking about leaving Oakland, Melvin was quoted saying "There are limitations...there are restrictions of how things can go in Oakland and then when there's a conversation and someone calls on you and you get a chance to go somewhere else and you have a conversation, sometimes things transpire."
The Padres have been open about cutting payroll this winter in order to get back in compliance with the little-known debt service clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Whether that played a role in Melvin leaving San Diego is unclear. But one this is certain - the A's aren't a destination for anyone who wants to play or coach for a big spending franchise.