Dodgers Fear the Beard No More, Sign Once-Hated Giant Brian Wilson
The New York Yankees are in town for a much-anticipated interleague series beginning tonight at Chavez Ravine, and it was going to take some doing to upstage all that. But it's been done.
The Dodgers have signed free agent reliever Brian Wilson, with the expectation that the former San Francisco Giants' closer will join the L.A. bullpen by mid-August. There are mixed reports about whether this is a guaranteed major league or minor league deal, and the salary figure hasn't been released yet, but the signing is about depth, about options and about experience, all of which Wilson brings to Los Angeles. The Dodgers have acquired a potentially impactful arm at the cost of not a single player, and contract details matter little.
As Ned Colletti told ESPNLA.com's Mark Saxon about the "intriguing" possibility of a Wilson signing earlier, "He's somebody that has a great track record and has been on the mound for the final out of a World Series, so there are a lot of things to like."
The final out of a World Series. Think about that for a moment. The Dodgers were buried in last place a month ago and now we're talking about the final out of the World Series.
My first thought when the rumors about a possible deal for Wilson starting swirling over the weekend? I'm intrigued because it's intriguing, and I couldn't be happier now that it's done. Sure, the man pitched for the Dodgers' most bitter rival, the hated San Francisco Giants. Yes, he was a bit of a clown with the rabbi-like beard, the talk show appearances and the Taco Bell commercials.
And the contrived controversy with Casey Blake in 2009 was more than a little annoying, but it was all very Dodgers-Giants, wasn't it? And now he's on our side. Can you imagine the hoopla when the Dodgers, fighting for a pennant, visit San Francisco the last week of the season, with the Giants 30 games out of first place? I'm falling down laughing right now just thinking about it.
The plan is for Wilson to report to the Dodgers' training center at Camelback Ranch, Arizona and then begin pitching with a minor league affiliate -- most likely the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes -- and join the big club in about two weeks. My guess is that's two weeks at the absolute most, so look for the bearded wonder to debut in Blue sometime during the Dodgers' next homestand, against either the Tampa Bay Rays between August 9 and 11, or the Mets August 12-14.
During San Francisco's run up to the 2010 championship, of which Wilson played an integral role -- in a fit of jealousy over the Giants even being in a World Series, much less winning one for the first time in 54 years -- I made a personal statement mocking both the team and the city, with the photo below.
I let my beard grow obnoxiously-long ala Wilson (which didn't take long because I'm so manly), went to a beauty products shop recommended by my stylist, sprayed the most disgusting-smelling blue crap ever produced all over myself, and had a buddy photograph me grinning impishly for maximum effect.
Clearly, I was grasping at straws with the effort, and since that time the Giants won another Series in 2012, their second in three years, this one without their former ace reliever and team leader. Wilson had Tommy John surgery -- his second such procedure -- in April of last year and sat out all of last season.
He'd hoped for a return to the majors this past spring, and expressed interest in signing with Los Angeles, but hadn't recovered enough to impress the Dodgers or any other team. With his work for scouts during throwing sessions in L.A. and the Bay Area last week, Wilson did enough to create interest from more than one club, and now he is a Dodger.
L.A. has a complementary piece for its bullpen, and someone who could in the end turn out to be much more. We're talking about a man who recorded 163 saves between 2008 and 2010, with 340 strikeouts in 320 career innings and a postseason earned run average of 0.00, with six saves over 10 games.
When he joins the team, Wilson will give the Dodgers three relievers with some form of playoff experience, the other two being Ronald Belisario and J.P. Howell. Carlos Marmol pitched in the 2007 and 2008 National League Division Series as a Chicago Cub, but few expect him to be in the L.A. pen by the time Wilson gets here.
The non-waiver trading deadline is tomorrow, July 31 at 1:00 p.m. PST. The Dodgers may have more in store for us during the next 24 hours, and it's going to be exciting one way or another. In the meantime, we have the Yankees to consider. Zack Greinke versus Andy Pettitte tonight at 7:10 p.m. and Clayton Kershaw vs. Hiroki Kuroda at 7:10 p.m.