If you're reading this on Friday night or Saturday, there's a strong chance that Brian Wilson has already been non-tendered by the Giants. This will be neither travesty nor tragedy. It will be a baseball move. There's a good breakdown over at Bay Area Sports Guy if you're so inclined.
What should Wilson get? There's actually a really good comparison out there. Ryan Madson, also a closer coming off Tommy John surgery, just signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Angels. So if Wilson is looking for a multi-year deal and a guaranteed closing gig, that's his prerogative. But the Giants clearly shouldn't be interested. If Wilson is looking for a little extra money because of services rendered, I'd suggest that a deal like Madson's would already include a lot of it -- Wilson's surgery is his second, which makes it riskier. Madson is an imperfect analogy, but it's as good as we can find.
There are baseball reasons not to sign Wilson. If his $4 or $5 million is the difference between getting an outfielder or not, it's impossible to argue for Wilson. So I don't begrudge anyone suggesting the Giants shouldn't re-sign him. It's an easy case to make.
What I've grown tired of over the last few weeks, though, is the idea that Wilson should be a total afterthought. As in, "You want how much? Haha, smell you later, chump. Thanks for the memories, but you were getting annoying anyway." That kind of thing turns me into a 67-year-old P.E. teacher with a buzz cut and gall stones, yelling, "SHOW SOME DAMNED RESPECT, YOU MONSTERS" as my face reddens and swells like I'm in a deleted Willy Wonka scene.
You might think of the caricature that Wilson became, from the giveaway beards and gnomes to the "these monsters are stacked!" low point. But I'll always think of this. Until he puts on a Dodgers uniform and clotheslines Buster Posey in an on-field brawl, that will be Brian Wilson's legacy with the Giants, and it's a grand legacy. The guy saved us from Armando Benitez, and then a few years later, he was on the mound for the division-clinching game, the NLDS clincher, the NLCS clincher, and the World Series clincher.
That's not a small thing. Go ask Indians fans what it's like to have a closer fail in the playoffs. Go ask a Nationals fan. Even though closers might be an overrated phenomenon, having the wrong guy in place at the wrong time can ruin everything. Tim Worrell played a part in two straight Giants playoff collapses, mostly because he was Tim Worrell. Rosters shouldn't be constructed based on legacies and past wonders alone, but Brian Wilson played a substantial role in the Giants' recent renaissance. Because of that, I want him back. That's an emotional response, but then being a fan isn't exactly rational to begin with. I don't want to see him on the Dodgers. Don't want to flip the channel and see him on the Red Sox.
I'll also understand, of course. Given the choice between Xavier Nady starting every day with Wilson in the bullpen, or the Giants getting a real outfielder and signing Scott Atchison instead, that's an easy choice. But if the options are a) a roster with Wilson or b) 24 of the same players as a. but with Wilson's low-budget replacement, I'd be more than a little disappointed.
I'd understand. But I'd be disappointed.
That's the only possible way you can feel without being a horrible Giants fan and a horrible person. To the people who are taking the don't-let-the-door-hit-you approach: Show some damned respect, you monsters. Now run a lap.