clock menu more-arrow no yes

Brad Wilkerson makes the most sense for the Giants. He's relatively cheap, left-handed, coming off a down year, and can also play in the outfield. So, when exploring the Giant first base options, let's start with the best option first, and move on to, say, Mo Vaughn by January. Then, maybe by February, we'll get to Mo Vaughn again, but this time considering him as if he were rolling around on one of those things Eddie Murphy has in Trading Places. Or would that variety come before the other Vaughn?

Wilkerson hit .248/.351/.405 this season, which is just not right for a first baseman. The difference between Wilkerson and J.T. Snow last season was about .40 of slugging, and just a teeny bit of speed. Even in Wilkerson's breakout year of 2004, when he hit 32 homers, he didn't crack a .500 slugging percentage. That's a whole bunch of red flags if you are looking for a first baseman. It's Wilkerson's combination of perceived value, potential, and cost which makes him attractive. Wilkerson is young enough to get better, and the Nationals have to be terrified of what he could get in arbitration. Most importantly, even in a year where Wilkerson hit .248 he could still take a walk. The power wasn't there for 500 at-bats, but the eye never left. Banking on Wilkerson's power to return, even at Mays Field, is more prudent than hoping for a player like Lance Niekro to start waiting for his pitch.

The other reasoning behind slotting Wilkerson at the top of the list has to do with the management of the Nationals. Specifically, Jim Bowden. Bowden is a man who looked at Vinny Castilla, studied him and his career, weighed the pros and cons of acquiring him with whatever metrics he saw fit, and said, you know, one year just isn't going to do it for me. I need this guy for two. For all we know, Bowden has been consumed with the thought of getting Pedro Feliz, silently plotting such a coup for the past season.

A general manager who signs both Castilla and Cristian Guzman as his first masterstroke in building a team can't be too concerned with on-base percentage. And, to be honest, that's about all that Wilkerson has going for him right now. Pretend you don't give one whit about OBP, and start to look at Wilkerson with a critical eye. He can't hit for power like he used to. He's about to get expensive. The money it would take to bring him back could go toward another outfielder, like Brian Giles or Sammy Sosa if the Orioles decide against Sosa's $174M option. Wilkerson might be the most fan friendly of the new Nationals, but this is a business here.

Wilkerson is a better player than he showed last year, and he should be available. As to what it would take to get him, that's a mystery. How much more past Todd Linden and Jeremy Accardo would the Giants have to go? A lot, or would that almost do it? That's what I'd start with, only considering adding a top-ten prospect if there is competition for Wilkerson. If Bowden decides to put his Operation: Get Happy into effect, though, try not to laugh out loud, Sabes.