The Return Of The Beard?


After a Spring and Summer in seclusion, the ever-elusive Brian Wilson has emerged in San Francisco.

Much to the delight of Giants fans- or chagrin depending on who you ask-  the former All Star Giants closer appeared at USF last Friday and again on Tuesday.  Wilson threw 35 and 25 pitches, respectively, in front of Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen catcher Billy Hayes.

August 21, 2011; Houston, TX, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson (38) in the dugout between innings of a game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

According to assistant GM Bobby Evans, Wilson looked “not far from Major League ready” and could be set to showcase himself for teams this Thursday. The word from multiple sources is that his stuff is almost at the level that made him a star with the Giants.

If this is the case, expect there to be multiple teams in on the Beard sweepstakes in the coming days as quality bullpen help is sought for the stretch run.

So do the Giants, or should the Giants go after him?  The answer-by my estimation- is yes on both counts.

“We’ve tried to stay in touch throughout the process and monitor his progress,” assistant general manager Bobby Evans said. “His rehab is our responsibility. He’s a Giant, and we’ve been in touch with his people as he considers his options.  We’ve kept the door open the whole time.”

Through all of Brian Wilson’s unordinary antics over the years, he was not only a valuable teammate in the clubhouse but also a valuable commodity on the field.  It wasn’t always pretty, but the Beard did save 171 games for San Francisco and compiled a 3.21 ERA over 6 seasons.

The now infamous “Giants torture” was due in large part to Wilson’s tendency to allow base runners, and find his way out- almost every time.  While that may have increased the blood pressure of Giants fans everywhere, it sure was exciting to watch in retrospect.

From a purely baseball standpoint, bringing back Wilson makes sense.  Bruce Bochy has repeatedly requested bullpen help and Jeremy Affeldt is out 6 weeks.  But the Giants have a closer in All Star Sergio Romo, so the question is can Brian Wilson live with a setup-type role? Can they coexist?  It’s something this Giants team needs to try.

Offering Brian Wilson a low base salary with incentives makes sense, after all he is coming off his 2nd Tommy John surgery.  But he rejected a similar deal in the offseason and other teams are certain to offer him something more if only to keep him away from San Francisco- see Ricky Nolasco trade: Dodgers.

October 31, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson waves to the crowd while riding in a cable car during the World Series victory parade at Market Street. The Giants defeated the Detroit Tigers in a four-game sweep to win the 2012 World Series. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

While some think Brian Wilson was unreasonable this past offseason with his contract expectations, myself included, the Giants could use him.  The Beard was a key component to San Francisco’s title in 2010, and if he and Romo can exist together in that bullpen it would certainly be an upgrade.  At the very least, having Brian Wilson back would be interesting.