The SF Giants are so good at recognizing history. The exhibition on Tuesday night was another example of that as Sergio Romo got to walk off of the mound one last time. He was met by Hunter Pence and got to be embraced by a fanbase that adores him.
It was a proper sendoff for a franchise icon and one of the great relievers in Giants history. I was happy to see it and there have been many sendoffs over the years. However, there is one sendoff that is missing and it is Santiago Casilla.
The one SF Giants player I wish got a proper sendoff
You cannot really plan these things. Players never truly know when they will walk off of the field for the final time. In most cases, they do not make that decision. However, in certain cases, especially when it comes to the stars, they get to retire on their own accord.
With all that being said, the Giants have found a way to give players and coaches that final moment on the field. Jeremy Affeldt, Tim Hudson, Javier López, Hunter Pence, Matt Cain, Buster Posey, and Bruce Bochy all received a moment in the spotlight.
Tim Lincecum joined in on the Bochy festivities. It is probably what he would have preferred as it never felt like he wanted the spotlight even if his starts were must-see TV.
Someday soon, Brandon Crawford will get that moment as well. I have to think the same could be said for Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval when they each decide to hang up their spikes.
Where would Giants history be without these players? Unfortunately, Casilla never got that proper sendoff despite being a key member of the Cour Four along with Romo, Lopez, and Affeldt.
Winning three championships in five seasons requires a lot of talent and a bit of luck. The Giants front office was very shrewd on the minor league free-agent market in the late 2000's and early 2010's. This included additions like Casilla, Juan Uribe, Gregor Blanco, Andrés Torres, and Ryan Vogelsong. You just do not find success like that in such a short time span.
Of the names mentioned, Casilla was the only one who contributed to all three titles. The right-hander was added prior to the 2010 season and his tenure was nothing short of spectacular.
However, many remember him for the struggles that he endured in his final season with San Francisco as he converted only 31 of 40 save opportunities with a 3.57 ERA in 2016. Even the saves he converted were an adventure.
By the time the Giants reached the playoffs in 2016, the team's confidence in Casilla had eroded. He was on the NLDS roster against the Chicago Cubs but he only made one appearance. One of the better Giants relievers in franchise history watched as the bullpen squandered a three-run lead in Game 4 of the NLDS to lose to the Cubs in agonizing fashion.
That is the lasting memory many have, but the 6-foot-2 pitcher was a lockdown reliever for much of his Giants tenure. He posted a 2.42 ERA with 123 saves in seven seasons with the Giants. You just cannot do much better than that and it feels like his career has been overlooked.
Though, it was not only how he performed during the regular season. It was how he thrived in baseball's biggest moments. In 19.2 playoff innings, Casilla yielded just two earned runs with four saves. Whether he was tasked to face the middle of the order in the eighth inning or close out the game in the ninth inning, he was about as effective as a reliever can be in the playoffs.
After the 2016 season, The closer signed a two-year deal with the Oakland A's. He was released in 2018. Oddly enough, his final major league outing came against the Giants where he recorded two scoreless innings. He did the job and still got the boot as they say.
Casilla's career ended after the 2018 season. He caught on with the Colorado Rockies organization to finish out that season, which is why he is wearing a Rockies hat in his Baseball-Reference photo.
The hard-throwing reliever quietly had some stellar moments in a Giants uniform, but did not garner the type of attention as a Romo, Lopez, or Affeldt. Perhaps, that was his style and a perfect analogy for his career.
I should reiterate that these things are hard to plan, but you may not have three championships without a sturdy reliever like Casilla. I was happy to see Romo walk off of the mound one last time. It made me think of who we missed, and unfortunately, it feels like we missed a big part of the championship run. Perhaps, that is how he wanted it.