A few days ago the San Francisco Giants parted ways with their most eccentric icon: closer Brian Wilson. The Bearded Wonder missed all but two appearances in 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in mid-April, and the world champions, whose bullpen is already loaded with guys like Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, and World Series hero Sergio Romo, felt it wasn’t justified to give at least $6.8 million to a damaged arm that won’t likely be ready in time for Opening Day. With the Winter Meetings about to heat up, it begs the question: what would it take to bring the Beard (and presumably the man) to Citi Field?
Mar 3, 2012; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Brian Wilson (right) during the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Wilson saved at least 36 games for the Giants from 2008 to 2011. His high point came in 2010, San Fran’s first World Series, when he saved 48 games, struck out 93 in 74.2 innings, and sported a cool 1.81 ERA. In his last full season in the bigs (2011), Beardy McGee looked mortal again: his strikeout numbers dipped, his ERA increased to 3.11, and his 55 innings were the fewest he’s tossed since 2008. It’s unlikely that Wilson, who turns 31 during Spring Training, will match his 2010 numbers, but something closer to 2009 (72.1 innings, 83 strikeouts, 2.74 ERA) may be a fair expectation. The biggest question is when he returns from Tommy John will we see 2009 Wilson or 2011 Wilson?
The Mets need about as much help as they can get in the bullpen and anyone with a pulse would be a step up, so in that aspect Wilson’s a perfect match. But in addition to the skills, Beardo’s biggest assets are his intangibles. If R.A. Dickey is the Most Interesting Man in Baseball, Brian Wilson is the sport’s Old Spice Guy: one of the most entertaining men in the game (see his ninja certificate, spandex tux, and the numerous references to his face muskrat in this very article). Baseball needs more guys like Wilson, and while San Francisco is the most likely place to find such a man, New York isn’t exactly Serious City; there’s plenty of room for Brian’s personality in Queens (as long as the team doesn’t make him shave his beard – he may be a descendant of Samson, after all). Aside from keeping the clubhouse loose, he can still be a serious, positive example when need be. He’s a Christian man and is not afraid to show it after every save. In 2011 he established two Air Force ROTC scholarships at LSU in memory of his father. In short, if the Mets end up with both Dickey and Wilson, they’ll be halfway to sporting baseball’s Marx Brothers and will have two good men to boot. And if the Mets end up trading Dickey away before the start of 2013, they’ll need a guy to fill the vacuum of awesomeness his departure will leave. Enter the Beard (cue “Jump Around”).
If money was a concern with the Giants, it’s even more so with the Mets. With the new NL Death Star known as the Los Angeles Dodgers unlikely to get involved, at the very least his price won’t turn into a Monopoly auction. If Wilson is expecting anywhere near that original $6.8 million, Sandy Alderson probably shouldn’t bite; that much can be spent towards getting two or three guys on the cheap. The most similar case to Wilson’s, as Dylan Hernandez of the Dodger article above notes, is that of Ryan Madson, who had a similar surgery and signed with the Angels for $3.5 million guaranteed and another $3.5 million in bonuses and incentives. If the Wilson market comes down that far and Alderson can get him interested in relocating from one coast to the other, bringing Wilson in would be worth a shot.
An obvious concern is his availability for the coming April, which is what kept Mike Pelfrey from being tendered a contract. Another one is that after a year off of the pitcher’s mound the Beard will have lost some luster (Keith can help with that) and he won’t be the pitcher he was before surgery. But to be honest, I’ll take half a Brian Wilson over a whole Frank Francisco. We can’t do any worse.
I think it’s worth preordering some foam face decorations, but what say you, valuable contributor? Should Sandy Alderson “Jump Around” for a chance at Brian Wilson?