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The Most Important Reliever on the Giants

The default setting for this site is worry and panic, and I'm pretty sure it all trickles down from the top. At least, you'd best hope that's worry and panic. And all I can do is apologize. When the Giants are down, I'm worried that they're never going to get back up. When the Giants are up, I worry that they'll come crashing down. Between November 1, 2010 and May 25, 2011, I was cool. Getting back into the worrying mode was like riding a bike. Possibly while drunk and on a freeway on-ramp. It's pretty stupid, but now that you're here, I might as well try to steer.

The worst part about the Brian Wilson injury is that Brian Wilson is injured. That stinks as a fan, and that stinks for the Giants as a team. Brian Wilson was quite good in 2010, finishing with a 1.81 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 74 innings. He wasn't the same last year because of injury. Not having the Brian Wilson from 2010 will hurt the current roster quite a bit. Not having the Brian Wilson from 2011 will still hurt. Everyone moves up a rung in the bullpen. The quality and talent is diluted, even if just a tiny bit.

But there are always more worries to invent and ponder at McCovey Chronicles. Sorry about that. And the Brian Wilson injury gives me a big fear to chew on. Hooray! I mean, oh god no oh no oh no! The fear:

The Giants will trade away something substantial for a closer at the trade deadline

I was the wrongest person in the world when it came to Javier Lopez. So wrong. So, so, so wrong. Let's just see how John Bowker is doing in Japan, and OH GOD NO OH NO OH NO! That trade … worked out. It really did. That trade really, really, really worked out. Feel free to print out all of the words I wrote about that trade, roll up the papers, and slap me about the face. I deserve it.

But position-player-for-reliever trades don't always work out, and Brian Sabean was chasing the Lopez ghost for years before it paid off. From Jose Mesa to Tim Worrell to LaTroy Hawkins, Sabean scares the absolute hell out of me when it comes to trading for established relievers.

The not-so-established guys? Pretty good track record. He stole Felix Rodriguez and Alan Embree from the Diamondbacks, just as he nabbed Ramon Ramirez from the Red Sox in 2010. One of the current administration's greatest talents is finding back-of-the-bullpen guys on the cheap. Guys like Ramirez and Guillermo Mota and Scott Eyre and John Johnstone, guys who weren't a lock to make the team out of their first spring in Scottsdale, but who end up pitching their way into a larger role with the team.

Which brings us to Santiago Casilla. He was one of those guys. Back when he was Jairo Garcia, he was something of a fantastic relief prospect, if such a thing exists. He got hurt. He floated around. The Giants took a shot, and it's paid off. Now he HOLDS THE FUTURE OF THE FRANCHISE IN HIS HANDS.

Not really. I mean, kind of. If he stinks in the closer's role -- and I'm fully anticipating that he's the default, full-time closer, by the way -- then the Giants will make a trade. They don't want to put the stress of a multi-inning, back-to-back-days job on Sergio Romo's elbow. There's no way they could feel comfortable with Jeremy Affeldt closing, and Lopez is a situational lefty. Heath Hembree just walked a guy in AA even though he's pitching in AAA, so I can't see the Giants going there for a while.

It's Casilla for now. And he'll probably be fine. He filled in last year, and he was fine. Didn't even notice a difference.


Alright, he probably will be. But the Giants have three catching prospects. And they're all under that premium-can't-touch-'em tier that's perfect for a bullpen trade. If Santiago Casilla picks now, of all times, to throw 90 m.p.h. or get homer happy, I'm a-feared that he'll cost the Giants one of those prospects. At some point, the Giants will trade a catching prospect or two. I would prefer it isn't for a late-inning reliever to tide the Giants over for a couple of months.

So cheer on Santiago Casilla. If he doesn't perform, it could mean the Giants have to trade a prospect for a reliever. And either the prospect pans out and makes the Giants look bad (five-percent chance), or you'll look stupid in five years when someone links and quotes the thread in which you freaked out (95-percent chance). Lose/lose.

Help us, Santiago Casilla. You're our only hope.