Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Friday, December 28, 2012

OK, Go Ahead, Sign Wilson

When Brian Wilson was non-tendered by the only organization he’s known, the San Francisco Giants, it was a popular topic on the blogs to see his name dangled as a possible signee by the Dodgers.  Frankly, I didn’t put much credence to the rumors because at the time the Dodger bullpen appeared stacked.  Brandon League had just signed a hefty deal.  Kenley Jansen had a fine season, as did Ronald Belisario and aside from those three there was the emergence of Paco Rodriguez, and a starting staff of seven, meaning that someone would be going to long relief.

Brian Wilson in 2010 Dodger Stadium action (photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Now as time passes, that Dodger bully, that seemed to be loaded is showing some question marks. 

Belisario was booted off his Venezuelan Winter League team for not reporting on time after a requested leave of absence for personal reasons.  When he returned, the team G.M. released him.  Belisario said there was a communication problem and misunderstanding.  What the truth is we really don’t know.  All we can do is compare Belisario’s recent antics to his past history, and that isn’t encouraging.  He has a history of alcoholism, drug abuse and unexcused absences. This time he couldn’t report on time to the team on the doorstep of his home.  Has he returned to his old ways again?

Kenley Jansen had open heart surgery to correct a blockage problem and hopefully resolve the recurrent irregular heart beat issue he has had for a few years.  Though medical staffs are encouraged that this procedure will take care of the problem, the Dodgers must be proceeding with caution.  That issue isn’t only career threatening, it’s life threatening.

Brandon League has little experience as a full time closer, and now he has been thrust into the role with the team with the highest payroll and expectations in the league.  Is he up to the task in this high pressure situation and if he fails do the Dodgers need another backup plan?  League’s stuff was electric in September, but we also saw a slumping reliever when he first came over from Seattle.  I like League’s makeup, but a proven closer he is not.

Javy Guerra was inconsistent last year after an amazing rookie season in 2011.  By season’s end he was having difficulty getting back on the major league roster and he finished the year on the D.L.  Guerra seems to be a fourth or fifth option as a closer now.  Scott Elbert went down with injury and is now seen mostly as a Loogie that comes in for one or two batters.  Matt Guerrier is signed to a big money contract, but was probably the reliever we had the least amount of confidence in when he returned to the roster for the playoff stretch run in September.  He gave up some crucial runs at critical times in the pennant race last season.  The organization appears to not be convinced in the abilities of Shawn Tolleson, as his name has been repeatedly dangled out in trade talks.

Then the Dodgers let Randy Choate leave to St. Louis, so he’s history.   As valuable as Jamey Wright was to the ball club last year, both on the mound and in the clubhouse, he hasn’t been re-signed.

So, with all these question marks, I say.  Why not Brian Wilson?  I know the concept is tough to stomach.  The clowning, the post game celebrations, the orange and black images, the weird outfits off the field and bizarre interviews, the associations with celebrities like Charlie Sheen right at the time Sheen was having a complete media meltdown.  You either hate him or love him because he is definitely a character.  It’s really unbelievable to fathom the man in Dodger blue but there are a few things going in the favor of him joining the club at Camelback Ranch.

First off, Wilson wants to be here.  He’s got an axe to grind with his old organization since the Giants didn’t tender him a contract and he wants to prove them wrong.  He feels that he gave a lot to them and that that he deserved more respect and a chance to return from injury again.  Though I can’t fault the Giant administration for the non-tender situation with Wilson due to his injury history, facts are facts.  Wilson feels slighted.  With what team could he really hurt the Giant brass?  The Dodgers, of course.

Second, Wilson lives in the southland and deep down I believe that he thinks that his public persona and antics will play well in Los Angeles.  He has shown a desire to expand into other pursuits in the entertainment industry.  I  imagine that would be acting or a reality TV series.  Wilson loves to appear on national television talk shows and he has regularly appeared on the Jim Rome radio and TV shows.  A Los Angeles based team would fit perfectly for him.

Third,  Wilson is a smart man and he knows that the Dodgers are the biggest spenders in the game.  Becoming the closer on this star studded team will play well to point # 2 and upset the executives from the team in point number 1  He knows the National League West and could serve valuably to any ball club in the division.

Wilson, believe it or not, is a team leader.  He thrives on emotion.  In 2011, he called out injured Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez for not being with the club during his rehab process.  Sanchez, an Arizona resident, didn’t even show up to the Giants dugout when San Francisco was in town to play the D-Backs.  That didn’t set well with Wilson who called up his teammate and told him to get his butt over to the stadium, something that he did real quick after their conversation.

Wilson callled out teammate former Freddy Sanchez in 2011 for not being with his team during his rehab. process.

Wilson still has a few months to go on the injury rehabilitation and won’t hit the one year mark from TJ surgery until mid April.  Seeing him at 100% won’t probably happen until mid-season, but he’d make quite a contribution during the pennant stretch run late in the season.  I say pull the trigger on this deal.  Offer him an incentive laden contract.   I’m over the anti-Giant bias.  Wilson could contribute valuably.  Hopefully the beard schtick will be a thing of the past and he can establish a re-birth and new routine in Dodger blue.  This is one former Giant signing that I would endorse completely.


  1. Evan - since you and Ron both hit the same topic on the same day, I will post the same comment on both blogs. I liked the different perspectives in both articles. In any event, this is waht I also submitted to TBLA.

    My answer to another reliever who can be a closer – ST. No, not Spring Training – Shawn Tolleson.

    Some express concern that Luis Cruz is questioned as a starting third baseman, others are concerned that AJ Ellis does not seem to get a vote of confidence. Now we are talking about Brian Wilson coming off his second TJ surgery and maybe not at full steam by mid season when we have Shawn Tolleson. Shawn will be at full steam long before then.

    How can Shawn match Brian Wilson? Quite well, I submit. First he is healthy. Secondly he is beginning a second season. Shawn struggled at the beginning of 2012 but finished strongly. He made it the majors quite quickly, being a 30th round pick in 2010. Wilson was a 24th round pick. Shawn (4.30 ERA – 1.32 WHIP) had a better first season as a 24 year old than Wilson (5.40 ERA – 1.76 WHIP)had in his first year, also at 24. The next season Wilson pitched only 23 innings with six saves.

    As a 26 year old Wilson saved 41 games with an ERA of 4.62 and a WHIP of 1.44. In 2011 (29) he had another good season, yet his WHIP was still high at 1.47, striking out 53 and walking 31. Shawn’s rookie WHIP (1.372) matches Wilson’s career WHIP (1.338}.

    So how could Shawn Tolleson step into a closer’s role? He has no experience as a closer at the MLB level. Shawn had 30 minor league
    saves in a a full season and part of another. Kenley Jansen had no minor league saves. Javy Guerra had 3. Brian Wilson had 21.

    Brian Wilson would be a good pick up, insurance, but a better bet is Shawn Tolleson, in my opinion.

  2. Interesting take Harold. My opinion of Tolleson isn't quite as high as yours, but his ceiling is certainly high. Much higher than a player on the wrong side of 30, coming off TJ surgery and commanding about $8 million per year. I know we saw some signs that Shawn can be a fine reliever, especially in the September stretch. Hopefully he will grow this spring and develop intimidating traits that closers usually need. An upper 90s heater might do that.